What are fun new activities my husband and I can try together?
March 11, 2015 6:15 AM   Subscribe

Mr. Pterodactyl and I have realized we enjoy trying and learning new things together. We especially like it if we can take a short lesson or a few short lessons first. What are some (not outrageously expensive) things we could try?

We've recently tried skiing/snowboarding and, even though we were not great at them, trying something new together was a lot of fun (we were in separate classes but could compare experiences e.g. falling down a lot). Similarly, last year Mr. Pterodactyl learned how to sail (I have basic sailing knowledge retained from summer camp years ago) and now we can go sailing together. What are other activities we might enjoy?


-Nothing involving eating or drinking -- I am trying to watch what I eat very carefully so although otherwise cooking classes would be ideal, that's not what we're looking for here.
-Within driving distance (like an hour or two) of Washington DC. Bonus points if we can walk/take public transportation.
-Not crazy bonkers expensive.
-Nothing TOO physically demanding; I'm not in great shape and I feel very self-conscious doing a lot of physical activity in front of people and so I don't enjoy it. That said, we do walk a lot (about four or five miles a day), we just don't want to like climb ropes or whatever.
-Something we can enjoy more-or-less right away, not something at which we need to work for months to pay off (no music lessons, no languages -- we are also PROFOUNDLY not musical).

Other than that we're pretty open! What are things we would enjoy that we can do together that might be new or we haven't considered? What sorts of classes or lessons are available? Thank you for your suggestions!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (47 answers total) 86 users marked this as a favorite
What about square dancing? It's fun and slightly goofy, and my impression is that, at the beginner levels at least, it doesn't require a lot of coordination. Googling led me to a lot of beginner classes in the DC area.
posted by cider at 6:35 AM on March 11, 2015 [7 favorites]

If you enjoy sailing, you might like building your own boat. My wife and I did this one winter and now we have a sturdy dinghy for the boat. The process is quite forgiving and you improve as you go. Lots of youtube videos for technique and inspiration.


posted by humboldt32 at 6:36 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

ping pong? Foosball?
posted by ian1977 at 6:36 AM on March 11, 2015

Trapeze school?
posted by Mchelly at 6:38 AM on March 11, 2015

What about painting/drawing classes? The Smithsonian offers 8 beginner courses in the evening, although a little pricey at $32 a person per course. It looks like this artist Dana Ellyn gets decent reviews for her art classes - and they are $60 a pop, but it looks like they can be bought as single experiences instead of a package deal like The Smithsonian.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 6:40 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Glass blowing (or welding) classes also look pretty cool.
posted by Mchelly at 6:40 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

There is also kayaking nearby.
posted by statsgirl at 6:42 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

The HacDC hackerspace has free workshops.
posted by Sophont at 6:49 AM on March 11, 2015

A cheaper option for art classes would be a one-shot thing like Paint Nite that guide you through a acrylic painting in one evening. (also, see groupon for discounts on this or similar services!)
posted by aimedwander at 6:50 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also, how about ceramics classes? Either a beginners wheel-throwing class, or often can sign up for an 8 week class that teaches you hand-formed pots, slab construction, basic tiles, and a bit of wheel work. Generally this also involves access to the studio to make anything you want outside of class hours. Something like this is a lot of fun; if you do holiday gifts for a lot of people, this could be an opportunity for the two of you to spend a weekend churning them out.
I haven't looked it up, but ceramic places are plentiful enough that there's probably one closer to you than a random "DC" google result.
posted by aimedwander at 6:55 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Paint This! in Alexandria has periodic fused glass workshops. The cost is only for the project you create.
posted by jgirl at 7:08 AM on March 11, 2015

Stand-Up Paddleboarding! If you bonded over falling on skis and snowboards, this should be right up your alley. I did it with a family member and we took one (fun) class together and after that we would have been fine to rent some boards and just paddle around to our heart's content.
posted by hepta at 7:17 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


posted by sparklemotion at 7:23 AM on March 11, 2015

I can't remember if you already do this, but becoming trivia mavens at our local trivia night has been a really fun bonding experience for my boyfriend and me. We take it pretty seriously and spend the week preparing and feeling superior to the people we inevitably destroyed the previous week.

It might be more performative than you're up for, but I really love swing dancing, which is a pretty happy, welcoming group of people. DC has a great scene with a lot of beginners and generally friendly instructors. There's a weekly dance with lessons at the Josephine Butler Parks Center. It is a very nonjudgmental group of people, especially when you're just starting out.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:30 AM on March 11, 2015

3rding glass blowing! Spouse & I had a blast doing this, and we have a very cool set of glassware to show for it. Warning, though: hot and very, very loud.
posted by apparently at 7:33 AM on March 11, 2015

square dancing

The best thing about square dancing/other dancing in the DC area is getting to go to Glen Echo!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:34 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

My husband and I started trail-running together about a year ago. Since you like walking/hiking and skiing, you might enjoy that. I know, it sounds like incredibly hard work, but it actually isn't. We started off running some local 2km circular scenic walking trails. 2km takes about 15-20mins max.

Neither of us ran before, so we did couch25k, and because it's off road you get plenty of breathers at stiles and gates and "navigation" stops. It feels much less competitive than road running - no one-upmanship about splits or speedwork. It's nice to build up to long distances together, running with a buddy is a lot of fun, it's scenic, you notice nature a lot more, and you do feel a sense of achievement after you've slipped and slided 10miles through a muddy field and nearly fallen in a stream and then finally get back to the car for your lunch (finishing at a pub is another good option). I am still a really crap runner (very slow) but it our runs together are now one of my favourite things.

If you've enjoyed skiing you should think about running some of those same trails in spring. You can run slowly and take breaks. Start with short distances and flat routes. Nobody will see you (I hardly ever see other people running on trails). It wil be a surprising amount of fun.
posted by tinkletown at 7:34 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

posted by tipsyBumblebee at 7:37 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Learn new board games. If there isn't a hosted tabletop gaming meetup near you, you can just order a new highly rated two-player game and invite people to your place or to a nearby park, library, etc.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 7:39 AM on March 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

The Torpedo Factory in Alexandria offers lots of classes.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:47 AM on March 11, 2015

My wife and I took a bunch of Bikram Yoga classes together. That was intense but fun. Maybe something like Tai Chi or Capoeira would be slightly more relaxing.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:54 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Definitely some kind of art/craft class.

Also those Paint Nite classes are really fun. Pick one that has options/variations so that yours can be a set instead of matching exactly.
posted by radioamy at 7:59 AM on March 11, 2015

We enjoy this kind of thing too, so these are things my husband and I have done in the last few years:

--Watching Tony Zhou's Every Frame a Painting video essays about techniques in film directing and then discussing them; then we watch a movie together and "apply" what we learned. Each video essay is relatively isolated so it only takes abut 20 minutes and although they don't build on each other they build together. We often go on a walk somewhere for the "discussion" part. (As an aside, we both thought film critique would be the most boring thing ever and now we're both regretting not taking a class in college.)

--We've done a few "classes" together from websites like MIT's Open Courses. They're serious classes but you only need to take them as seriously as you want to, so for example we did a business and a math class together doing every assignment and taking the exams to measure what we learned, but we've also just watched the videos for several of the fine arts/humanities classes.

--We learned how to play Go together. (on preview, seconding Bentobox)

--I know you like hands on hobbies, so maybe you'll enjoy this: We got an Arduino start kit and worked through the projects together. (We did the same thing with Raspberry Pi and built a weather station together, although that might be a lot of programming from scratch learning for you?)

-We've also built/made a few things from the Make Magazine series, which involved learning new things.

--Birding! Neither of us are serious about it, but it's been fun taking a few hours walk or hike in various places with a basic birding book and some binoculars. There might be Birding Basics classes in your area.

--We both love the outdoors and giving back, so we often volunteer at various organized clean-up/trail-building/support activities.

--The Appalachian Mountain Club has a D.C. chapter with various organized activities and classes in the D.C. area.

--Adding to that, REI stores near you will offer both paid and free classes for outdoor activities. (I just plugged in a random DC area zip code, but here's an example, scroll to the Outdoor School section.)

--A photography class
posted by barchan at 8:02 AM on March 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

Do you have one of those places with giant trampolines in your area?
posted by phunniemee at 8:03 AM on March 11, 2015

Mah Jongg! The original tile game, not the online version.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 8:25 AM on March 11, 2015

Just thought of another - the D.C. area has tons of museums of which I'm sure you're aware. Have you checked out classes at favorite museums? A lot of museums offer classes both free and pay, or specific guided tours on, say, one room of art (instead of the regular docent tours) or specialty nights that emphasize one aspect. For example, these are all the activities offered for adults at the National Gallery of Art.
posted by barchan at 8:28 AM on March 11, 2015

Washington Improv Theater class registrations open up next week, and are tremendous fun.

If you bike, I really enjoyed the 4-week beginner repair class I took from the Bike House. They should be starting back up soon and only charge a modest, sliding scale donation. They are super welcoming to newbies and afterwards you can keep building skills by volunteering with them at their weekly clinics.

Also, check out Knowledge Commons DC. Totally free and I've loved every class I've taken from them.
posted by susanvance at 9:00 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Contra Dance is a great easy square dance-ish dance with calling and live music and it's certainly not expensive and requires no special equipment. Most places (the one linked included) offer a lesson before each class, which usually tells you what the figures are and goes through a sample dance.

You can dance with your husband, but people are expected to dance with different partners every dance. It can be pretty physically involving but certainly not strenuous. And you can always sit out a dance if you're tired!

English Country Dance and Scottish Country Dance are similar but more regimented and with more complicated figures, but both fun!
posted by that girl at 9:13 AM on March 11, 2015

If you like a sophisticated and even sexy style of dance, look into Argentine Tango. In my experience, it is often favored by cerebral, smartypants types, so it's a great way to meet such folks. It is exploding in popularity in the U.S., so you should have no trouble finding beginner classes. And I won't even go into the awesome shoes that the women get to wear.
posted by Atrahasis at 9:46 AM on March 11, 2015

Golf! Outdoor in the spring to fall, and indoor in the winter if you have a golf dome nearby. Lessons are a nice way to learn and improve without injuring yourself.
posted by leslievictoria at 9:50 AM on March 11, 2015

Here's a link to discounted classes in Washington via Groupon. It's worth having a look, if only for generating ideas.
posted by kitcat at 9:52 AM on March 11, 2015

We did ballroom dancing, which was fun - even though we were absolutely terrible at it. Second kayaking too.
posted by Toddles at 10:04 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for these suggestions, everyone! There are tons of great ideas here! Mr. Pterodactyl and I are already starting to make some exciting plans based on these and hopefully this awesome list will last us a long time.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:23 AM on March 11, 2015

Learn to curl -- everyone looks silly (I was going to say 'at first', but it really just continues looking silly)!
posted by MarkAnd at 11:20 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Makerspaces are great for this kind of thing. We have one in our community that hosts great workshops--friends of mine went to a silversmithing for beginners and made some lovely simple jewelry. It was a one-evening deal, 2-3 hours I think.

Someone already mentioned hacdc, but another one that's close to you and seems to have some good workshops is TechShop DC-Arlington. Here's their class schedule. (Click on a category for those particular classes.)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:03 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Something I've personally wanted to try for ages is one of these sewing classes at bits of thread in Adams Morgan.
posted by capricorn at 1:55 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Go take the Red Cross First Aid class. You'll learn how to do CPR, for instance. The course takes about 2 hours and it's quite interesting.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:07 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

If Potomac Massage Training Institute can actually muster enough students to run a class, their Touch of Massage class is really good - not dirt cheap, but very reasonably priced for a 6-hour class, and you get to practice a bunch of useful basic massage techniques.
posted by EvaDestruction at 3:48 PM on March 11, 2015

Singing lessons? If you like it, you could join a choir.
posted by fings at 5:10 PM on March 11, 2015

How about life drawing sessions? Dr. Sketchy's is a spicy version of that, and there's a chapter in Baltimore!

Or screenprinting classes? You could learn to print t-shirts or posters! Looks like you can do a workshop at Open Studio DC.
posted by the_blizz at 5:36 PM on March 11, 2015

I'd suggest a digital photography workshop or short course followed by some themed photography outings together--plants at a botanical garden, animals at a zoo, a hike around an industrial area, a visit to the Mall to take photos of tourists taking photos. Having a camera with you and taking on the photographer role can also give you an excuse to do things you might feel a bit silly or out-of-place doing otherwise, which is a plus.
posted by DrMew at 7:08 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

How about NERT?
posted by bendy at 7:22 PM on March 11, 2015

I've heard good things about Classes/ Activities sponsored through PG County.
posted by oceano at 12:36 PM on March 12, 2015

I recently took up rollerskating, having not skated since I was a child (a very long time ago). It is SO FUN, and I am addicted. Assuming there is a rollerskating rink somewhere in DC, give it a try. Its exercise, but so fun that you don't feel like you are working out, plus the music makes it more fun. I'm taking lessons too, and loving it. The demographics at roller rinks are great - lots of in-shape older (than me) people who are amazing skaters, which motivates me to learn new skills, and stay in shape as I age.
posted by Joh at 1:18 PM on March 12, 2015

Some folks may be totally against this on principle, that's ok, but me and my guy had an awesome time at the shooting range.
We got a groupon so it was around $60 for an instructor to guide us through basic safety and technique, our gun rental, our ammo & our targets. Really, really fun!
posted by rubster at 2:29 PM on March 12, 2015

You're in luck if you're open to learning more about mushroom hunting. Washington DC is home to one of the more active mycological societies. They frequently have wonderful guest speakers (Gary Lincoff, a celebrity in the world of mycology, is speaking on April 7th, for example). For the price of a membership you're eligible to go on any of their mushroom forays and learn all about the weird wonderful world of mushroom foraging. There really isn't anything quite like it, and it definitely fulfills a lot of your requirements. Spring is a great time to get started as morel season will be starting in April or May. Some of my favorite people are folks I've met at various mycological society events.

Dave Arora's classic All That the Rain Promises and More is probably the best $15 investment you can make. It's not too big, not too small, and has some great images. Perfect to throw in a bag when you go on a walk in case you spot something. It's slightly more focused on the west coast, but it covers many of the major species that grow back east. My personal favorite mushroom guide for the Mid-Atlantic is a book by William Roody. It's a little more advanced, but hot-damn if it's not one of the best mushroom guides in existence. Beautiful images, well-written and incredibly thorough.
posted by ghostpony at 6:05 PM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Very late here. How about geocaching? Can do it most places, free if you already have a smartphone. Not hard to learn. Gets you outside. Involves the dopamine rewards of puzzle solving and treasure hunting. Can be "park and grabs" or involve some walking. Can be a group activity for adults but also can include kids if there are any kids in your lives (we bring our nieces sometimes). We started 3 years ago and still enjoy it.
posted by TheClonusHorror at 4:13 PM on March 15, 2015

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