Instead of dining out, where can we go to get out?
February 21, 2016 8:51 AM   Subscribe

We're a middle-aged couple who just want to get out of the house for a change. This means we eat out at the local restaurants. It's getting a bit dull and truly, I'm tired of looking at the menu and feeling sad about all the foods I shouldn't eat. (Got to skip dessert, got to cut back on drinking, got to avoid the plate of mega carbs, etc.)

What kind of activities can we do that won't take us too far for a break in our routine? Restaurants are within a 15 minute drive. Are there any other activities that you do when you want a change of scenery?
posted by Coffeetyme to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (34 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Walk in nearby scenic area (park, nature reserve, lake) when weather permits; this has additional benefit of sunshine which is good for the mood.

There are a couple spas near us that have tubs for couples, those are nice if you want to stay inside.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:59 AM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Where do you live? What are you interests?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:00 AM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Cinema. Bowling. High school sports games (you don't have to have a student.) Art gallery openings and exhibits (though less of the exhibits at night.) I mean, if you have a selection of restaurants within 15 minutes, you have at least a town and a town means events. So if you want to break the routine, do the thing the community offers that you would not routinely do.

My folks are now in the suburbs but are within 15 minutes of community theatre, political canvassing HQs, many truly terrible art shows, adult education classes at a community college, a library that hosts guest lecturers, the high school baseball field, a pool with a weekly late-night session, a bowling alley and crazy golf.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:00 AM on February 21, 2016 [8 favorites]

What do you normally do? We go to the park, or to museums, or shopping or to a bookstore, etc. on the weekends.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:03 AM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A small, gentle yoga class? Sometimes they are called Yin. Call up a few studios and see what they offer.
posted by saucysault at 9:20 AM on February 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm going to assume you're someplace cold and fairly small... Around where my family is in rural MI, winter means movies, snowshoeing, visits to the coffeeshop, going for drives to see the scenery, visiting friends for an hour or so, ice fishing, going to the high school to swim in the indoor heated pool, game night with neighbors, and local community theater (which is god awful, but entertaining in it's terribleness and the admirable way the local performers put themselves out there).
posted by cecic at 9:38 AM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Look into Geocaching.
posted by the webmistress at 9:38 AM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Coffee shops are like restaurants, only cheaper. $4 each and you can hang out as long as you want. I don't even drink coffee, and they're fun. (If you're not a coffee drinker, there's hot chocolate, tea, steamed milk, etc.)

Getting outside is always nice. Hiking, cycling, etc., but even if you're not feeling active, just go lay on a blanket in a park.

There's a Facebook page called "Free Things to Do in [my neighborhood]". Check to see if there's something like that in your area.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:43 AM on February 21, 2016 [5 favorites]

If you are near a college that has any kind of music department, there are probably a number of free concerts and recitals you can attend.
posted by dilettante at 9:49 AM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Explore random local places where you've never been. Get on the first bus that comes and see where you end up. Find local elderly people who need someone to do their shopping or take them for a drive or go play backgammon with them. Take an evening class. Go to a meetup. Make friends and start a dinner club (or book club or whatever other kind of thing). Volunteer at the soup kitchen. Take up golf.
posted by emilyw at 10:05 AM on February 21, 2016

Winter sports! Squash, yoga, swimming, etc.
posted by ageispolis at 10:06 AM on February 21, 2016

We do martial arts, yoga and soon meditation together (my husband has been going for a few months). I mention these because 3 years ago I would never have guessed this would be us, and some of the change is due to working to shore up our bodies' aging infrastructure.

But it could be any kind of class or drop in activity. If you have equally bored friends, healthy appetizer potluck and board games on a rotating house basis can be neat.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:21 AM on February 21, 2016

Board games, karaoke, pub quiz(you don't have to drink alcohol if you don't want to).....
posted by brujita at 10:22 AM on February 21, 2016

Best answer: Going for random walks around the neighborhood. Sometimes interjecting additional twists like taking pictures of whatever catches our eye, or playing a sort-of-game where we contemplate what we would do to a particular house or garden we pass by.

Going to the coffee shop. Bringing a deck of cards, or a crossword puzzle to work together, or one of a number of portable games that are meant for or play well with 2 players (some faves off the top of my head: lost cities, guillotine, morels, Jaipur, battle line...)

Going to public events at our public library or the nearby college campus.

Going out for "bookstore dates" at bookstores with cafes. we split up when we get to the store to find whatever interests us that day, then regroup after about 30 minutes in the cafe with our respective stacks of finds and spend time in a mix of companionable parallel perusal and sharing bits and commentary as the spirit moves us.
posted by shelbaroo at 10:29 AM on February 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

You can go to a pool hall and play each other.
posted by w0mbat at 10:31 AM on February 21, 2016

I second pub quiz or any trivia nights you can find. I also love watching karaoke, although I never have the courage to try it myself. Also look into improv groups or stand-up comedy nights at local bars. I make an effort to watch comedy acts at least once a month. I've discovered I love watching comedy more than I like live music, which is quite a surprise to me! It may take some effort to find or to travel to, but I think it's really worth it.
posted by areaperson at 10:35 AM on February 21, 2016

What is middle age? I go to NY And see plays, walk HighLine, stay over. I do yoga, pilates, go to films and restaurants, local gym, museums...I am going on 87
posted by Postroad at 10:37 AM on February 21, 2016 [27 favorites]

If you are in a cold place you could try ice fishing! Takes some practice to get the traps in but boy is it fun. We haul lawn games out on the ice and make a day of it.
posted by pintapicasso at 10:53 AM on February 21, 2016

Response by poster: We live in the suburbs of Toronto. I'm really looking for a quick jaunt on a Friday or Saturday night. We're middle aged but still enjoy metal concerts etc. but don't care for musical plays.
posted by Coffeetyme at 11:03 AM on February 21, 2016

I know you didn't say it had to be free, but there are a lot of options in this list.
posted by essexjan at 11:43 AM on February 21, 2016

This sounds fun to me.
posted by cestmoi15 at 12:00 PM on February 21, 2016

There are a lot of inexpensive plays, music performances, etc. around town that you can go see. When I was in college, for one of my classes I had to go see like five plays or something so I could write assignments about them. Because I was living at home at the time, I took my mom with me, and they turned out to be really fun outings. Neither of us had any idea there were so many things to see and do around town until I had to look. I didn't even know how many different theaters my city had, let alone all the performances all the time.

Beside that, I agree visiting with park, if you're near water you could rent a boat/take a boat ride, bowling, golf driving range, putt-putt, laser tag, cycling classes, yoga, cooking classes (maybe a healthy one), coffee or tea tasting, art classes (also with my mom in college we took some painting classes that turned out to be fun), etc. Check out your newspaper's night-life and entertainment insert (usually comes out on Thursdays) and check out the community education classes in your area (you can just google "CITY community education".)
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:04 PM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Universities in Toronto should have all sorts of things going on - theater performances, lectures, guests speakers, sporting events, etc. At least in the US, all that stuff is always open to the public.
posted by COD at 12:25 PM on February 21, 2016

We often end up going to the farmers' market or a nice butcher or the Hmong grocery store and cooking for ourselves. Makes for a nice leisurely weekend day, with more control over the food side of things.
posted by yarntheory at 12:47 PM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Join a museum or two, or look for one that has reciprocal entry privileges with other Toronto museums. That way you can go for a brief visit and hang out in the coffee shop without feeling like you're spending a lot of money on a ticket and you have to stay a long time to get your money's worth. When my wife and I are in Paris long-term we join the Louvre and the Jacquemart-André museum so we can stroll over, stop in for a 30-minute tour of one of the galleries, and then stop somewhere for a coffee or beer.

We also go for walks, hikes, and bike rides, either for their own sake or with a lunch/coffee shop/bookstore/etc. as a destination.
posted by brianogilvie at 1:23 PM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Dance lessons?
posted by falsedmitri at 1:56 PM on February 21, 2016

When I lived in Germany, our weekend hobby was visiting castles. When I lived in San Diego County, I liked checking out local architecture and pedestrian bridges. If my life had been more together during that time, I would have taken more photographs of public art and architecturally interesting things and blogged more about it than I did.

Go see the city you live in with new eyes and read about the history and hit museums. Most places have rich histories that are frequently vastly underappreciated by local residents.

You might see if you can Google up local walking tour maps.
posted by Michele in California at 2:03 PM on February 21, 2016

Become a Feline Enrichment Volunteer at the Toronto Humane Society?
posted by Munching Langolier at 2:19 PM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Pick a foreign language (learning it is great for the middle-aged brain!) and go to a coffee shop, pub or restaurant where the staff speaks that language and practice together if you can't find a class. As a side project, plan a vacation to Italy or Vietnam or wherever and travel there in a year or so.
posted by cyndigo at 2:43 PM on February 21, 2016

Best answer: Me and my guy have the same issue a lot of the times. We basically developed a short list of things to do in the area or places to check. They included

- the local comedy shop (and Groupon which would have cheap tickets)
- the local small college which would sometimes bring speakers in
- the local big library which would sometimes have programs or speakers (and there were a few in my area so I'd check them all)
- the local adult education opportunities which are sometimes doing one-off classes. I literally just signed up for a one night bellydancing class last night and got a neighbor to join me
- the local coffee place where we'll sometimes go and bring a board game or even postcards to write to people (and not our laptops)

If we're looking for daytime activities we'll often look at the local nature center (they do daytime hikes, usually pretty simple) or just go on an "urban walk" along some particular area, sometimes historical societies have pre-set walks you can take and bring a printout (or your phone) that will tell you about the places you are. We've also gone to the driving range, gone miniature golfing, checked out a big antique mall and we've thought about going to the batting cages or getting in to the bowling alley.

Often Craigslist or other online places will have listings of events which may not wind up being the exact thing you want to do but you can get an idea of what is out there.
posted by jessamyn at 3:03 PM on February 21, 2016

Depending how far out in the 'burbs you are, Toronto Public Library has tons of (usually free) events, exhibits and classes. Some may be jaunting distance from you, depending on location, or your local library system will have their own programming, n-thing checking that out.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:29 PM on February 21, 2016

Live comedy such as stand-up or improv has been something my better half and I have often enjoyed that falls in the category under consideration. We live in a city about a third the size of Toronto population-wise and any given weekend there are a large array of comedic options available, often quite affordable to boot (~10 USD/ticket). I've found it to be less of a gamble than catching a random musical act at a club. Usually the hours are more sane too.
posted by eelgrassman at 10:23 PM on February 21, 2016

You could combine indoor and outdoor activities by researching either local phenology or local history.

Read up, go out and find and photograph the historically or phenologically interesting things, and come back to fill notebooks or web pages about what you discover.

You get to exercise your legs (walking and hiking and bicycling), research skills (library, historical or phenological society, internet), camera skills, writing skills, web skills, powers of deduction, etc., all to make pages that show where something may or may not have happened, or to show the days and seasons and climate changing.

I realize these are not exactly fast-paced workout routines, but you are a middle-aged couple looking to push yourselves away from the table and get outside, not a couple of future triathletes, right? And these things -- history and climate, the past and the future -- are important.
posted by pracowity at 4:59 AM on February 22, 2016

Trampoline Hall is an amazing, fascinating, hilarious bar-room lecture series in Toronto.
posted by Prunesquallor at 4:31 AM on February 23, 2016

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