Five unique and inexpensive ways to impress your date

Posted: Sunday, July 04, 2010

We live in a town that is literally one perfect date option after another. How often can one have the option of choosing between romantic walks in fields of wildflowers, watching sunsets drift over mountain tops from a beach (with the optional accompanying bonfire), or snuggling close with a bottle of wine in the shadow of a glacier, all in the very same city? I know there is a significantly disproportionate average between men and women in Juneau, but with all the romantic options available it's motivation enough for any Juneauite to get out on a Saturday night.

Now anyone can resort to the classic dinner-and-a-movie, or the hackneyed coffee get-to-know-you, but why settle for the standard when you can show your date your inventive side? So as summer begins to settle in, why not have some creative, and equally inexpensive options to try out the next time you feel cupid strike.

Mountain Peak Picnic

It doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to notice that Juneau is a mountainous city. With peaks of the variations that we have, recreational possibilities are endless. I suggest adding an endorphin-filled twist to the average stroll by planning a summit-sited picnic. Whether for a unique date or simply a platonic pastime, imagine the novelty of sipping wine and eating cheese while gazing at the shimmering Pacific below. My personal recommendation: Mt. Juneau, which is long enough to have an adventurous edge, yet short enough to not tire out your date. A less taxing option: hike up Mt. Roberts to the tram site, where you can then enjoy a nice glass of wine, or juice, before taking the tram down.

Food Sample Tour of Juneau

For the cuisine enthusiasts out there short on a buck (and not high on maintenance), why not incite your culinary senses by taking the food-sample circuit around town? I suggest opening up your day with a coffee sample at Annie Kaill's gift shop, then moving on to some varied lunchtime samples at our local Costco. Next, dine on a local delicacy with salmon samples at Taku Smokeries before satisfying your sweet tooth with fudge samples from the Alaskan Fudge Company. Finally, wash it all down with a nice cold sampler glass of beer at the Alaskan Brewing Company, where one can try all tastes in unlimited quantities.

Romantic Plane Landing

A cult classic. About 150 yards out on the wetlands trail there is a convenient little clearing that sits adjacent to the airport landing strip and right in front of a column of landing lights. When timed right (which can be done with a simple flight arrival search at, one can position themselves in the perfect spot for a perfect romantic setting. About 10 minutes before landing, suddenly the landing lights flick on in an impressive chain reaction seen best at night. Soon, a distant light can be seen on the horizon growing closer, bigger and louder, and seemingly heading straight at you. Finally, at the last possible moment, the plane swoops low and loud right over your head with a thunderous roar and taxis in for a landing as a mighty wind coming from the engines billows past you. Talk about the perfect setup for a smooch.

Shore-side Dining at Auke Bay

This is a five-step process. Step 1: Plant table, tablecloth, home-cooked dinner and wine in the bushes by the shoreline of the small peninsula by Auke Rec. Step 2: Pick up date for mystery dinner-date, instruct to wear blindfold, then drive to location. Step 3: Guide date by hand along path through the woods to dinner location. Step 3.5: Comfort date with a repeated "don't worry, we're almost there." Step 4: Once at location, instruct date to wait for a couple minutes (still blindfolded) while you set up table and dinner. Your date may have caught on by now, but that only works in your favor. Step 5: Ask if ready, stand behind date, and with one smooth motion lift up the blindfold to reveal a home-cooked dinner, nestled along a beautifully mountain-lined shore. Works best if timed with a sunset.

Follow-the-Sun Day

This particular one can only be done during a sunny day, and essentially it plays out like a progressive picnic. Start your day with breakfast during a very early sunrise at Sandy Beach. Follow this with a midday nap under the temperate Juneau sun on the grass at Twin Lakes (since you will probably be tired from the early morning wake-up). Next, as the sun begins its descent, treat your date to a casual late afternoon stroll along the wetlands' flower-filled trail. Finally, finish your day in each other's arms enjoying a serendipitous sunset on the bluff at Point Lena trail.

This list is by no means the final word on Juneau's dating opportunities, but hopefully it will give you some new ideas to store in your repertoire. And coming from someone who didn't woo his current girlfriend in Juneau, I can attest that it certainly would have been a lot easier if I had.

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