Romance is hard. It’s difficult enough finding somebody you like, and it’s even tougher to convince that person to get into your car and let you take them someplace that you swear is nice. However, dating shouldn’t be stressful — it should just be a pleasant time between two people who may or may not kiss at the end of the date. So, in the spirit of helping you put a little spring into your dating life, here’s a collection of the best fictional places from books we’d like to plan a date at, plus a real life alternative you might be able to pull off!
Window Shopping in Hogsmeade
A little town so perfect that it “looks like a Christmas Card,” Hogsmeade of Harry Potter fame is the perfect place for a little window shopping excursion. You can buy your date some chocolate frogs at Honeydukes, grab a Butterbeer at The Three Broomsticks, or generally enjoy the wintery adorableness of the town. Just avoid Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop, the painfully pink monstrosity that lead to one of the most awkward dates ever recorded in literature.
Real-Life Alternative: You can actually visit a replica of Hogsmeade at Universal Studios, with the added bonus of some holiday charm in California weather.
Party it Up at Rivendell
Described by Bilbo Baggins as “a perfect house” in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Rivendell is one of the most beautiful, picturesque places in Middle Earth. It’s where Bilbo and his posse of dwarves go to relax before the most dangerous part of their journey, and Rivendell’s owner for all intents and purposes, Elrond, throws them a fabulously well-to-do party. It’s a great place for a romantic get-together; come for the architecture, stay for the elf wine. Just be careful not to be upstaged on your date by an otherworldly good looking immortal being.
Real-Life Alternative: Visit an art museum, followed by a wine hike — it would be essentially the same trip, but without all the elf competition!
Ride Pterodactyls on The Island of Dinotopia
For the more rough-and-tumble type, the ideal date location would be a throwback to a childhood classic. The Dinotopia children’s novels, by author and artist James Gurney, are filled with sentient dinosaurs, perilous rainforests, spooky caves and amazing adventure. However, the best parts of the books (in my opinion) were always the descriptions of characters learning to ride pterodactyls. If you could actually get to the rather isolated Dinotopia, this would easily be the most breathtaking date opportunity on an already unbelievable island.
Real-Life Alternative: Go zip-lining or paragliding! You’ll both get the wind in your hair without having to bond with a dinosaur.
Eat some Lemon Cakes at Highgarden
Our last, and possibly most charming date location is the castle of Highgarden, from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (of Game of Thrones fame). It’s a great date location for two main reasons: first, it’s one of the safest places (so far) in the fictional kingdom of Westeros, which has recently been ravaged by war (not to mention an impending invasion of ice zombies). However, Highgarden is in the beautiful southern breadbasket of Westeros, and has been untouched by the horrors of the rest of the series. Secondly, it’s home to beautiful tiered walls, flower-filled courtyards, beautiful groves, fountains and colonnades, and a famous rose bush maze. It’s the perfect place for a romantic dinner and walk with that special someone, plus it’s relatively safe compared to the rest of the extremely violent world of the book and television series.
Real-Life Alternative: Easy: take your date to a botanical garden. It’ll be both scenic and educational! (But, not like, too educational.)