Making time to connect with your loved ones is essential for mental health, and it’s important not to get stuck in a rut. Scheduling regular date nights with your special someone – or someone new! – is a great start, but what happens when you’ve exhausted all the usual options? Try something new and different with these accessible date night ideas (and save your favourite for Valentine’s Day!).
Private dining experience at SEA LIFE Aquariums
If your loved one enjoys nature and wildlife, level-up your dinner date by taking it under the SEA (LIFE). SEA LIFE Aquariums offer private dining experiences for adults, serving delicious cuisine in a pretty special underwater setting. Choose from a glowing world of graceful moon jellyfish, the heart of the reef complete with fish, sharks, and turtles, or moonlit beach views with nocturnal sea creatures illuminated by lowlights.
SEA LIFE Aquariums have excellent accessibility, though it varies slightly by location. Most spaces are accessible for people using wheelchairs and mobility aids, and staff are on-hand to assist with any questions or concerns. Their kitchens can accommodate dietary requirements with advance notice. Find out more about private dining experiences at your nearest SEA LIFE Aquarium on their website.
iFly Indoor Skydiving
Did you know that high-adrenaline experiences lead to dates feeling more attracted and connected to each other? That makes iFly Indoor Skydiving the perfect date night activity, if both of you are up for it!
Unlike traditional skydiving, at iFly you get to experience the thrill from the relative safety of a controlled indoor environment. Spread your wings and fly on a cushion of air in a purpose-built tunnel.
The team at iFly work hard to accommodate everyone, and have extensive experience helping people with disabilities try indoor skydiving. Some locations offer ‘All Abilities Nights’, with support for people who may face additional challenges but want to give it a go. If you contact the team at your nearest iFly location in advance, they will be happy to talk to you about how to make the experience safe and enjoyable for you and your date.
Visit iflyworld.com.au to find out more.
Go tenpin bowling
Tenpin bowling is a fantastic inclusive option for active date nights that get you up and moving. With small accommodations like ramps, bumpers, and pushers (which most venues have onsite), everyone can feel the energising effect of a strike. Plus, some healthy competition can get sparks flying. It’s also a great family-friendly option, if your date night includes little ones in tow.
The governing body, Tenpin Bowling Australia (TBA), recognises the importance of access to their sport and encourages participation for people of all ages, abilities, and experience levels. Their website is a treasure trove of recommendations and resources for people with disabilities who want to give tenpin bowling a try, including introductory videos, location maps, NDIS information (did you know you can include tenpin bowling in your Plan?) and more. Visit the TBA website to plan your date.
Look up to the stars
If you love your date to the moon and back, show them just how far that is on your next date night. A visit to a planetarium or observatory is the best combination of learning something new and a beautiful view.
The Launceston Planetarium, located in the Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery in Tasmania, offers an accessible stargazing experience, with nearby disability permit parking and level access. There are lifts between floors, and multiple bathrooms for guests with limited mobility. If you call the team ahead of time (on (03 6323 3777), you can arrange for wheelchair rental and discuss any specific accessibility needs.
If you’re looking for a more low-tech or budget-friendly option, try DIY stargazing in the great outdoors. Get out of town, away from the city lights, on a clear night for the best experience. The great news is, you can look up to the stars from your vehicle if you’re worried about finding somewhere to stand or sit; bring snacks and have a picnic in your car while you take in the stars. The Tourism Australia website has a great guide for amateur stargazers, with advice on where to go and what to look for.
Go all-out on movie night
Dinner and a movie is a date night classic. Why not turn it into an indulgence, and go all out? Find a cinema near you that offers something special: extra-large screens, VIP seating and service, 3D spectaculars…. in the age of streaming, movie theatres are pulling out all the stops to make sure your experience is better than you could have at home.
Best of all, most cinema chains provide comprehensive accessibility information on their websites, so you can make sure you’ll have the access you need before you leave. Take the IMAX in Melbourne: they have accessible parking nearby, lift access to all levels, seating for wheelchair users, hearing loop and Closed Captioning options, audio description devices, and more. You’ll feel comfortable and relaxed, ready to lose yourself in a fictional world on one of the world’s largest cinema screens. Find out more to plan your date on the IMAX Melbourne website.
Take a cooking class together
Sharing a meal is lovely, but learning how to create something wonderful from scratch (under the supervision of an expert, of course) is even better. Tania Pietracatella at The Little Italian School in Perth offers an authentic Italian cooking experience. The family-style classes are guided by Nonna, and use fresh ingredients from their own backyard. The building doesn’t have accessible bathroom facilities, but there is step-free entry and access, and seating available. Contact Tania ahead of time if you need help arranging parking or other accommodations, via her website.
If you’d prefer a more private date night, or you’re just more of a homebody, you can re-create the cooking class experience at home. Your go-to resource is The Accessible Chef, an amazing website that has a huge collection of visual recipes, adaptive cooking utensil recommendations, and many helpful tips for people with disabilities who are spending time in the kitchen. Start gathering date night inspiration on their homepage.
Share a laugh at a comedy club
They say laughter is the best medicine, and sharing a laugh together is a fantastic bonding experience. If you have a favourite comedian, you can check their website and book tickets for a night they’re performing near you. If you’re willing to give anything a try, find a comedy club near you and see whoever they’ve got on stage for your next date night.
The Sit Down Comedy Club in Brisbane is a wonderful example of a comedy club that puts inclusivity at the forefront of what they do. The club has live shows every week, a combination of big name international acts (like Arj Barker and Ross Noble) and local comedians. The venue is wheelchair accessible, they have dedicated bathroom facilities, and they accept Companion Cards. The friendly staff are only too happy to help with arranging any accommodations you might need, contact them at the time of booking or ahead of time via their website.
This story first appeared in Travel Without Limits magazine. You can subscribe here.