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Dry January Date Ideas: Spark Romance without Alcohol

Dry January Date Ideas: Spark Romance without Alcohol

dry january

Last Updated on December 13, 2023

Dry January Date Ideas: More than Just Drinks

Dry January is here! For many, this month marks a fresh start and an opportunity to reassess lifestyle choices, including the decision to ditch alcohol for a month. But let’s face it; dating without alcohol can feel … different. So, how can couples enjoy date nights without the buzz of alcohol? Let’s dive in.

Why Opt for Alcohol-Free Dates?

Trying something besides the usual wine-and-dine routine can open up a whole new world of dating. New activities can offer a much-needed breath of fresh air and create even more opportunities to truly get to know someone. 

Benefits of Sober Dates

Believe it or not, sober dates can be even more rewarding than their boozy counterparts. Here’s why:

1. Less Awkwardness

Let’s face it, just sitting across from someone doesn’t offer a plethora of conversation topics. You can easily find yourself in uncomfortable silence with no idea of what to say next. 

But if you do something different that offers some external stimulation, you’ll likely have more to discuss. So if you sometimes feel nervous about not knowing what to say, especially on sober dates, keep reading to see the 50-plus sober activities for couples that will definitely give you something to talk (and laugh) about. 

2. Deeper Connections 

Without the haze of alcohol, conversations can be more genuine. You get to know your date more profoundly, uncovering interests and quirks you might have otherwise missed. 

3. Memories that Last 

Ever had a date where the details are, well, a little fuzzy? With sober dates, you remember the laughs, the conversations (and maybe even that embarrassing dance move you tried).

4. Healthier Choices 

Alcohol can negatively affect your bodily functions, like your libido, and pack on the calories. Not just from the drink itself, but from the potentially poor food choices it can lead you to make. Plus, it might give you a worse night’s sleep, hangover, or next-day blues (maybe especially so if the date went badly). But opting for a non-alcoholic date means you’re making a healthier choice for your body and mental health

5. Clearer Judgment

Without alcohol potentially clouding your judgment, you might be able to get a better grasp of your feelings. You might notice more in common, or not, or if there’s any authentic chemistry brewing. Plus, having a sharper mind might help you see red flags more brightly. 

6. Improved Current Relationships

Dr. Lea McMahon, chief clinical officer at Symetria Recovery, stated, “Alcohol can affect even an established relationship, causing arguments and conflict. Because of the euphoric feeling alcohol can produce in the brain, people tend to make rash decisions or say inappropriate things.” 

Going dry(ish), with or without your partner, can help disrupt your current cycle of alcohol-related fights. Becoming a more mindful drinker can create a domino effect that leads to more mindfulness in your relationships, too. 

Sign Up for Dry(ish) January

Breaking the Stereotype

A lot of people feel pressured to drink on dates. Just think of all the movies showing a typical date out at a restaurant or bar, ordering a drink to feel less awkward. But now, there’s a huge movement of people realizing that good company is more than enough for a fun time.

If you still “depend” on alcohol to feel comfortable in dating or social situations, licensed psychotherapist and relationship expert Rachel Wright recommends stepping back and asking yourself why. 

Using alcohol as a social lubricant is ultimately unhealthy. Alcohol, Rachel says, “doesn’t heal the underlying anxiety or fear — it simply changes the brain temporarily not to have as many inhibitions. I’d ask yourself why you’re inhibiting yourself. Are you recovering from a trauma? Are you scared to be rejected or not liked?”

If you can’t answer these questions yourself, Rachel recommends finding a therapist who can help you feel more comfortable in your own skin, sans alcohol.

Fresh and Fun Alcohol-Free Date Ideas for Dry January

Dry January doesn’t have to mean putting fun on hold. You can fully embrace going dry with refreshing, unique, and memorable dates that don’t require raising a glass. Here’s a list of 50-plus non-alcoholic date ideas that’ll keep the excitement and romance alive:

Outdoor Adventures

Nature effortlessly provides the perfect backdrop for a bit of peace and quiet, along with intimate conversations and shared experiences. So step outside, breathe in the fresh air, and embark on an outdoor escapade together:

Hiking and Nature Walks

Imagine escaping the city for a scenic drive or train ride, walking along a babbling brook, and settling down to share lunch together. Or picture yourselves hand in hand, meandering along wooded trails, the tranquility surrounding you. 

Plus, the activity can help release endorphins and boost both your moods, making the date even better. And if you’re not up for hiking, what’s more romantic than finding a spot to watch the sunset with your date atop a scenic viewpoint? 

Bike Rides

Dust off those bikes and explore your city or countryside together. Not only is it great exercise, but it also allows for spontaneous pit stops and discoveries.


There’s nothing cuter than your date showing up with a picnic basket and blanket. This kind of prep shows your date just how much effort you’re willing to put in to deepen the connection. Plus, you get a calming, chill day where you can just relax in some cortisol-reducing green space. 

Star Gazing

Find a quiet spot away from the city lights, cozy up together under a blanket, and let yourselves relax as you look up at the stars. Whether you’re spotting constellations or marveling at the vastness of the universe, it’s an especially calming experience to share. 

Read more about activities for Dry(ish) January to get set up for success.

Art and Culture

Whether you’re marveling at artistry or solving mysteries together, these activities provide a unique blend of entertainment and connection. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Escape Rooms

Escape rooms make a great sober date since working on problem-solving together can boost dopamine. The novelty of it all, challenge, excitement, sense of achievement, and collaboration can release those feel-good chemicals. Since alcohol can give a short dopamine boost, finding an activity that replaces how you get that can make not drinking feel easier.

Museum Visits

Engage your creativity and intellect by exploring a museum together. The visual stimulation, learning new things, and discussing your perceptions can enhance your connection and give you endless topics of conversation. 

Comedy Shows

Laughing is one of the best things you can do to reduce stress, and adding it to a date can help trigger endorphins and build a bond. Plus, you might be too busy having fun to even notice you don’t have a drink in your hand. 

Board Game Cafe

Something cute, different, and very interactive is taking your date to a board game cafe. The two of you can learn what it’s like to work together or have fun competing against each other. Either way, your brain will be stimulated and you’ll always have something to talk (or argue) about. 

Murder Mystery Dinners

Immerse yourselves in something outside of the box that’s equally intriguing and silly. Have some fun problem-solving, acting, and creating a memorable date. Besides, everyone will be too busy figuring out “whodunnit” to be focused on the alcohol. 

Scavenger Hunts

Adventure and challenge all in one come with the novelty of a scavenger hunt. Put yourselves to the test and see how you work together as you scour the city for the items you need. 

Trivia Nights

If you love trivia, heading out to a trivia night or setting one up at home with friends can engage you enough to focus on the game instead of drinking. 

Themed City Walking Tours

Check out the tours available nearby because nowadays, you can find anything from haunted city tours to cheese-making ones.

Bookstore Dates 

Learn more about your date by making a game out of picking out books for each other. You can head to a cozy cafe after or just go for a stroll in the city and keep it alcohol-free. 

Sign Up for Dry(ish) January

Hobby Classes

Make your date an experience to let your creative sides out and bond over something new and fun together. Even if you’re not the most creatively skilled person, you can at least laugh together about the disaster of how your project turned out. Here are some ideas to try out:

For foodies:

  • Gourmet pizza making
  • Chocolate making
  • Ice cream making
  • Cheesemaking
  • Bread making 
  • Coffee tasting
  • Tea blending
  • Sushi rolling 

For creatives:

  • Photography walks or workshops
  • Terrarium workshop
  • Perfume crafting
  • Mosaic making
  • Glass blowing
  • Woodworking
  • Sculpting
  • Pottery
  • Art 

And hey, even if the date doesn’t go well, at least the skills learned from the classes are sure to come in handy (like cooking dinner for a new date). 

Mindful Date Ideas

These experiences offer a space to explore inner peace, growth, and a sense of shared spirituality. Try some of these mindful dates to nourish the soul and deepen your connection: 

  • Chakra healing sessions
  • Meditation workshops
  • Mindful cooking class
  • Guided forest walks
  • Breathwork classes
  • Journaling together
  • Tantric workshops
  • Vision boarding
  • Mindful retreats
  • Couples Yoga 
  • Sound baths
  • Qi Gong
  • Tai Chi 

Mystical and Esoteric Dates

Whether you’re into the mystical world or not, you’ll definitely get plenty of interesting conversation topics from these dates:

  • Astrology chart reading
  • Numerology workshop
  • Past-life regression
  • Tarot card reading
  • Aura photography
  • Palm reading 

Fit and Fun Dates

Get your heart rates pumping and connection intensifying with these energetic and fun sober date ideas:

  • Roller skating or ice skating
  • Indoor trampoline parks
  • Kayaking or canoeing
  • Indoor rock climbing
  • Ballroom dancing
  • Couples Yoga
  • Mini-golf
  • Bowling
  • Salsa


Something definitely out of the box that could benefit your bond and the community:

  • Tree planting
  • Community gardens
  • Animal sanctuary visits
  • Serve at a soup kitchen
  • Events at community centers
  • Participate in a charity walk/run

At-home Adventures

You don’t have to leave the house to have fun. After all, there’s something magical about getting cozy and making care-free memories at home: 

Game Nights

Board games, video games, card games — the options are endless. It’s a chance to be competitive, work as a team, or simply have a laugh.

Cooking Together

Cooking isn’t just about the food; it’s about the experience. Choose a recipe, shop for ingredients together, and enjoy the process of creating a meal.

Movie Theme Marathon

Whether it’s thrilling action, intense suspense, or a silly rom-com, cuddling on the couch with snacks is a classic. 

DIY Spa Night

If you know your date’s been going through a tough time and really needs some TLC, it’s likely they’re going to love this date. Create a relaxing environment for them with candles, calming music, and maybe even a massage. Or why not get silly and do face masks together? You can even make a jug of fruit-infused water just like they do at the spa to sip on throughout the night. 

Sign Up for Dry(ish) January

Tips for a Successful Sober Date

A sober date means choosing communication, authenticity, and shared experiences over the familiar crutch of alcohol. It might feel awkward at first (as almost anything new does), but with time and these tips, you’ll get the hang of it.

1. Communicate

If you’re new to sober dating, feel free to let your partner know. Plus, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with ordering a non-alcoholic drink. If they happen to ask why you don’t order an alcoholic one, you can be honest and use one of these phrases. Tell them you’re going the mindful route or just choose a more casual, “not feeling it tonight” response if that’s what you’re ready for. 

But if you’re feeling any apprehension about it, setting a clear expectation about your mindful goals before the evening can get it out of the way and help calm any nerves around the topic. 

Dr. Lea McMahon states, “There can be an underlying pressure to drink if you’re on a date with someone who orders one. If this is a concern of yours, the best thing to do is draw a boundary that you feel comfortable with, and be upfront about said boundary, especially if your date suggests that you should join them with a drink.” 

Learn more about communicating your drinking choices to your date.

2. Focus on Connection

If you think of alcohol as a way to help you take the edge off on dates, now’s the time to flip that old script. Without alcohol, you’re in a great position to respond genuinely, listen carefully, and have deeper conversations. You can learn more about yourself and what you’re truly looking for, too. 

Plus, jitters usually fall away naturally as soon as you start talking anyway (and the nerves mostly come before the date).

3. Embrace New Experiences

With alcohol off the table, you might find yourself more willing to get outside of your comfort zone and try dates where there’s no temptation around. Try being open to totally new experiences — you never know, even if the date goes badly, you might find a hobby you’ll fall in love with instead. 

4. Plan Ahead

Since you might not be doing the usual, “Let’s meet at the bar” date, planning ahead can save you the last-minute “where should we meet?” headache. Scout some places and activities in advance — and use our lengthy list above to do a big online search. And if you do choose to go somewhere where there’s alcohol, you can still plan ahead of how much you’d like to drink or what you’d say to your date about it.

3. Celebrate the Little Moments

It’s the little things that often leave long-lasting impressions. And without alcohol, you can really take the time to cherish that smile, laugh, or “me too!” moment. 

Sign Up for Dry(ish) January

What if I’m doing a Dry(ish) January?

A Dry(ish) January is going to give you more flexibility when it comes to drinking, but you’ll still want to stay mindful. Here are some tips to help you navigate a dry(ish) month:

Decide your limits: Choose how many drinks you’ll allow yourself before the start of each week. This will give you a clear boundary while still giving you some leeway.

Avoid temptations: Try something new and take your date out on one of the 50+ dry date ideas we mentioned. It can be easier to avoid alcohol if the temptation isn’t right in front of you. Plus, it might be helpful to keep your favorite alcoholic beverages out of your house during this month to reduce the urge to drink.

Learn how to identify and combat your drinking triggers.

Embrace alternatives: Get out your fancy glassware and stir up some non-alcoholic drinks with your date. Buy cool new ingredients, exotic fruit, and have fun creating your own drinks. Check out this list of brands we love if you’d prefer to buy some interesting non-alcoholic drinks to keep at home. 

Get an accountability partner: Find someone to join you in the challenge or at least someone who’ll hold you accountable to your dry(ish) goals. Research shows that if you think someone is watching, you’re more likely to set higher goals. This makes joining the Dry(ish) January challenge and participating in the Sunnyside Facebook group even smarter — you’ll be surrounded by thousands of people watching and participating right alongside you. Plus, the app is full of coaches to help you accountable. 

Reflect on your relationship with alcohol: Use this month to dive in deeper to understand your relationship with alcohol and other substances, noting patterns or triggers that make you want to drink. Journaling, tracking drinks with Sunnyside, and even speaking with a therapist can help. 

Keep your “why” in mind: Before starting any challenge, you need to have a strong enough reason why you’re doing it to hold you over the hard times. Think about ways to keep it in mind, like changing your cell phone screen cover, putting an image in your wallet, or writing it in your journal every morning. 

Focus on mindfulness: Mindfulness isn’t just for drinking. Adopting mindful approaches throughout your day can make it easier to pause, appreciate small wins and quiet moments, reduce overall stress, and think about how you’d like to respond when triggered. 

Sign Up for Dry(ish) January

Sunnyside’s Dry(ish) January Challenge Can Help

We all start the year with good intentions, but turning those intentions into a reality takes effort. That’s where Sunnyside comes in: we support a dry(ish) challenge your way with science-backed tools to make it last long-term.

Benefits of a Dry(ish) Challenge

By going dry(ish) you can start slow and think of the long game. It’s about moderation, which works, and improving your relationship with alcohol. You’ll get:

  • Flexibility
  • Less pressure 
  • Easier transition
  • Balanced approach
  • Health improvements (sleep, mood, liver function, energy levels, weight, etc.) 

How Sunnyside’s App Supports You

Taking on a challenge is easier with the right tools, mindset, and community. Sunnyside’s app is tailored to make your dri(ish) journey smooth and rewarding with:

  • Daily prompts
  • Goal planning
  • Free resources
  • Community support
  • Live or next-day drink tracking 
  • Professional coaching support
Sign Up for Dry(ish) January


Sober dates aren’t just for Dry January. They offer a refreshing change, helping couples connect on deeper levels. With a plethora of activities available, who needs alcohol to have a good time? Remember, it’s not about what’s in your glass; it’s about the person sitting across from you.

But if you’re new to sober dating, Dry(ish) January is a great time to start. Sign up for our Dry(ish) January challenge here. And while you’re at it, take our 3-minute quiz to learn how Sunnyside can help you become a more mindful drinker.


Do I need to avoid places that serve alcohol?

Not necessarily. Lots of places offer delicious non-alcoholic beverages. It’s about your comfort level and the experience you want. But if bars or restaurants are too triggering for you, it might be best to avoid them and wait until you feel ready. 

What if my date suggests a bar?

You can always order a non-alcoholic drink or just propose one of the 50+ date ideas that don’t involve drinking. Most people suggest a bar simply because they don’t know what else to do, so your new idea might be a very welcome surprise. Plus, you can always be honest about your preference for alcohol-free dates. Most people are understanding and open to alternatives. 

Are sober dates only for people who don’t drink?

Absolutely not! Sober dates are for anyone. You never know, your date might be thrilled to try something totally different and alcohol-free.

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