5 Date Night Ideas to Get Your Heart Racing

written by Brenna Needham | photography courtesy of THE PAINTED PIN; IFLY; RED PHONE BOOTH; AMALFI PIZZA; HOTEL INDIGO ATLANTA DOWNTOWN 

Although Netflix, popcorn and sweatpants are a tempting way to spend an evening, sometimes we need to step into a nicer outfit and onto the town with our favorite person. Whether you want to stay somewhat close to home or you want to mix and match zip codes from the suburbs to the city, the choice is yours.

RIGHT UP YOUR ALLEY

FOUND IN THE HEART OF MIAMI CIRCLE in Buckhead, The Painted Pin takes all the fun of bowling and elevates it to a much more chic and romantic experience. From the moment you walk through the doors of The Painted Pin, you know this is not your average bowling alley. The lighting is low, the décor is elegantly modern and live music resounds from wall to wall. As you look around, stunning chandeliers, leather couches at each lane, a dance floor and large bar grab your attention more than anyone’s score. If you aren’t careful, you may even forget you came to bowl, which works well for novice bowlers like myself.

Each lane is full service from the beginning to end of your game. Your shoes are brought to you along with a menu, featuring an extensive list of both familiar and signature cocktails as well as tempting snacks. Insider tip: the Moscow Mule Slushie, one of their signature drinks, is absolutely delicious. Their cocktail menu is updated seasonally, so be sure to check out the newest featured drink. The eats at The Painted Pin are also distinctive with options that are upscale, trendy and super tasty. The “Waffle Dogs” beckoned this hot dog lover, and the malted waffle batter surrounding a petite beef frank, served with sweet soy aioli for dipping did not disappoint.

The Painted Pin hosts new games everywhere you turn such as Ping-Pong, bocce ball, Skee ball, shuffleboard, a giant Jenga and basketball at no extra cost. It’s an effortlessly romantic evening spent channeling your inner child, but with cocktails. At The Painted Pin, you experience the same strikes, spares and gutter balls, but with an incomparable sophistication. Typical bowling alleys have definitely met their match. thepaintedpin.com

HEART-PUMPING FUN

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE A LITTLE more daring than most, we’ve found the perfect spot for a date night to get your heart pumping. iFLY lets you experience all the thrills of skydiving in a controlled environment — you know, without the having-to-jump-out-of-a-plane aspect. With 60 locations worldwide, iFLY’s recent expansion brought them to Atlanta and I wasted no time putting on a suit and giving it a go.

When you enter the building at iFLY Atlanta Indoor Skydiving, located on Cobb Parkway just north of Cumberland Mall, your adrenaline instantly starts racing in anticipation. iFLY’s employees are welcoming, friendly and hilarious, making what you are about to do seem significantly less scary. If you hadn’t gathered, I was terrified. The short video explaining the procedure, hand gestures and safety precautions was extremely entertaining, and we were laughing from start to finish, allowing the fear to dissipate a little.

When it’s time to suit up, be sure to note how this factor creates a whole new date night experience — it’s rare you get to see your partner in a onesie, helmet and goggles. It’s impossible to not giggle. Once you are all geared up, it’s time to fly! You eagerly wait for it to be your turn and when it is, you drop through the door and into the tunnel and just like that, you’re defying gravity. Being able to sample what it feels like to fly is truly an invaluable experience. Our instructor made us feel completely safe the whole time and ensured that we were having the most fun possible. You are flying, floating and soaring your way around the wind tunnel and if you closed your eyes, you would never know you weren’t 50,000 feet in the air. It’s similar in both excitement and sensation to how happy dogs look when they have their head out a car window.

After your time is up, the fun doesn’t stop there. In a package of two flights, you’ll also be given two videos from your expedition. Trust me when I say I didn’t look nearly as cool in the video as I felt — but, we were certainly thrilled to check this off our bucket list. iflyworld.com/atlanta

MAKE A SECRET DOWNTOWN ESCAPE

ARRIVING AT RED PHONE BOOTH in the heart of downtown Atlanta on a Saturday evening, my date and I entered the restored antique London red phone booth, just like at the former Prohibition in Buckhead, dialed the phone number for the evening and watched a hidden door appear before our eyes. The Nancy Drew-loving 5-year-old inside me was a little too excited about this magical entranceway. Once inside, we were transported back to the 1920s for an experience and cocktails that would make Jay Gatsby himself swoon. I could tell you the secret code, but that would ruin all the fun of the mystery. However, first-timers are welcome, and once inside you’ll learn the trick to always being in the know. 

The atmosphere inside Red Phone Booth is romantic, inviting and unique. We walked past couches nestled closely beside a lit fireplace to take our seats at the bar. There, bartenders Leo de Rivera and Bob Ruede greeted us. We chose our drinks based on suggestions from them, but be sure to take a look at Red Phone Booth’s extensive cocktail menu that features funny anecdotes as well as pages of decadent drink options. My personal favorite: “No, we don’t serve Fireball, nor do we serve energy drinks. But can we interest you in 130 proof Absinthe, so potent that it was outlawed for almost a century.” I also found the Whiskey Sour is almost too pretty to drink – almost. It’s equally as delicious. Live a little. The drinks are delicately constructed from start to finish with hand shaved ice and fresh squeezed juices, creating a state of-the-art cocktail experience. If you’re looking for a kids-free evening, this speakeasy is the perfect place to hide. redphonebooth.com

ROMANCING THE STONE

IN ONLY A FEW SHORT STEPS, we left the 1920s and were transported to Italy’s Amalfi Coast. The entrance to Amalfi Pizza, adjacent to Red Phone Booth is absolutely stunning. As you enter the restaurant, you pass fountains and a beautiful mural of the Amalfi Coast painted on brick. Seriously, is there anything more romantic than Italy? The restaurant has an open floor plan, ideal for entertaining large groups, but the horseshoe shaped booths also allow for an intimate dining experience. With the recommendations from our waitress leading the way, we spent the remainder of the evening indulging in Amalfi’s amazing flavors piping out of their 6,000-pound wood burning ovens imported straight from its namesake’s country.

To start, we gobbled down their Peppadew Peppers stuffed with house-made ricotta, cream cheese, fresh basil and drizzled with a balsamic glaze. Next we delved into our waitress’s personal favorite pizza — “Pizza Carnevale,” which entails a specially formed crust filled with pockets of their house-made ricotta cheese, topped with spicy sausage and mushrooms. I consider cheese a food group, so you can imagine how much I enjoyed the ricotta-stuffed crust. It gives classic brick-oven pizza Amalfi’s own cheesy flair. We finished the night with both their tiramisu and cannoli, and as a girl who spends summers eating my way around bakeries in Boston, Mass. and New York, I can attest that their cannoli is the real deal. It’s not every day you are able to impress by traveling to a different time period and country in the same night, simply by a short hiatus from the ‘burbs. amalfipizzaatl.com

FANTASY SUITE

SHOULD YOU DECIDE TO extend your night out, indulge in the rare chance to sleep in an architectural masterpiece located in the heart of the city. Walk diagonally across the street from Amalfi Pizza into the lobby of Hotel Indigo Atlanta Downtown, which opened earlier this year and has been touted as the postmodern tribute of revered architect John Portman, the man credited with shaping much of its surrounding skyline. 

The lobby’s objets d’art, abstract paintings and floating glass-and-steel spiral staircase, all meticulously masterminded by the acclaimed Portman, may cause your eye to linger, but the custom design details in every guest suite coupled with soaring windows overlooking 230 Peachtree Street will make it harder to leave. The same could be said of the cosmopolitan sophistication awaiting in JP Atlanta Restaurant and Bar downstairs, helmed by distinguished Executive Chef Julio Delgado formerly of The Ritz-Carlton and Atlanta and Château Élan Winery & Resort. It’s hard to choose, we know, so go big and then go home. indigoatlantadowntown.com