My current residence is smack-dab in the middle of nowhere.
I know you think I’m being facetious, but there are maybe 20 streetlights in the town of Empress, Alberta, which has a total of seven streets and six avenues that make it up. The closest place to what most people would consider modern civilization is the nearby city of Medicine Hat, some 90 minutes away.
While this place might sound like a joke (I assure you, it’s very real), this sleepy town is surrounded by rolling plains that stretch as far as the eye can see. That means it makes for the perfect stargazing spot.
But you don’t have to live in a village of fewer than 200 people to get in some serious one-on-one time with the big, bold sky, setting up the perfect stargazing date can be easy, regardless of where you live. So, if you’re looking to add this to your summer date ideas list, this post is for you!
Here’s what we’re going to be talking about:
- What is stargazing?
- What makes stargazing the ideal summer date?
- How to plan a stargazing date
- What to bring on a stargazing date
- Stargazing as a solo date
What is stargazing?
Stargazing is exactly what it sounds like—spending time in nature admiring the natural beauty of the sky. This might sound boring to some people, but as someone who actively seeks out opportunities to unplug and check out the stars shining in the dark night sky, I can tell you it’s wildly relaxing, and the sky is utterly amazing.
It is wild to me how many stars you can see poking through a black night sky. The natural patterns and arrangements are interesting, and it can be a ton of fun to try and pick out constellations. One night, I even had the pleasure of watching a lightning storm from miles and miles away, it was honestly amazing. I cannot recommend this enough.
What makes a stargazing date the perfect summer activity?
I spend much of my stargazing time alone or hanging out with my mom who also appreciates the art and relaxation of spending an evening staring up at the sky. But it’s the perfect candidate for a unique summer date, whether you’ve been dating for a few months or a few years.
A stargazing date basically sees you and your significant other alone outside under the night sky, I can’t really think of anything more romantic. We’ve got warm weather, a cozy blanket, maybe a bottle of wine—what more could you really ask for. Whether you add it to your camping plans or you simply take a night drive out of the city, it really is a great choice for a cute summer date idea.
How to plan a stargazing date
Planning a stargazing date is a piece of cake. Here’s the five-step process I use (though, admittedly, I kind of hang out at the same place):
1. Pick a good location
First thing’s first, you need a good location. The ideal location for your stargazing date night is:
- Away from the city lights
- In a location that has a clear view that’s unobstructed
- Has a space where you can comfortably sit and enjoy the show
I recommend checking this place out ahead of time during the day. That way you can get the lay of the land. I should also mention that if your chosen location is on private land, you should definitely ask in advance for permission to hang out there.
2. Dress comfortably
We all want to look super cute on our dates, but this is one of those dates where it’s OK to look super cute in a pair of leggings or joggers and an athletic jacket. Even if it’s really warm out, I still recommend at least bringing along a hoodie, that way if the weather quickly turns, you’re not left out in the literal cold. And don’t forget to wear a pair of comfortable walking shoes.
3. Pack well
We’ll talk about what to bring down below, but you want to make sure that you’re well-equipped for your stargazing trip. Beyond the fun stuff, you’ll want to consider having a first-aid kit on hand, along with plenty of water, just in case something happens!
4. Arrive during the light
If you didn’t check the spot out in advance, and even if you did, I recommend showing up when there’s at least some light still out. This doesn’t mean you have to show up at noon, around here (right now, anyway) the sun doesn’t disappear until around 11 PM, that’s plenty of time to get over there.
Arriving when it’s light out means that you have less of a chance for any in-the-dark accidents to happen during your stargazing date night. Since that would absolutely ruin it, it’s really the safe way to go.
5. Take everything with you when you go
You want to be kind to both the animals that live in the area, and other humans who might use the spot for the same thing you are by making sure to pack up everything you brought along with you. Including garbage!
I recommend putting garbage back in your bag as you go, then giving your stargazing a once-over with your flashlight once everything is packed up, just before you go. In most cases, you likely haven’t been there long, so it shouldn’t be a big feat!
What to bring on a stargazing date
Binoculars (so you can see the stars)
Depending on where you are, chances are you can see the stars with your very own eyes.
But there’s nothing wrong with getting a little more up-close-and-personal with them. In which case, a pair of binoculars might not be a bad idea. The catch is you’ll want something with night vision or a pair that works well in low light.
These 10X40 HD binoculars could be the perfect choice for your stargazing date. They have built-in weak light vision capabilities that can allow you to see even when you’re in low light (though they’re not high-powered night vision). Finally, they have a water-proof, fog-proof, anti-slip grip that helps keep moisture and dust out of the telescope.
Portable telescope (so you can see them even better)
If you’re particularly geeky (guilty) you might even consider bringing along a portable telescope like the Maksutov-Cassegrain. What’s cool about this particular telescope is that not only is it portable, but you can hook up your phone and take images and videos of what you see through the lens.
This definitely isn’t required for your stargazing date. If the place you pick is dark and the view is unobstructed, you should have no problem viewing the stars. But it can make your night that much more fun, if you both enjoy taking a closer look.
If you are bringing along a telescope, you might want to consider bringing a blanket to lay down underneath it. That way if something falls, there’s a safe space to land. Lenses can be a real b*tch to clean or replace, so this might give them a better chance of being protected.
Picnic basket and treats
Only fools go on a stargazing date without food—I’m partially kidding, but not really. If you’re like me and you like to sit in amazement of the sky for long periods of time, then food is a must-bring. And, if this is a date, a picnic is a super cute addition.
Now, you don’t need a full-on picnic basket, but I’m not going to lie, it makes the whole thing WAY cuter. This way you spread out your blanket (see below) open your basket and serve your date a delicious meal (or snacks will do). What’s not adorable about that.
The great thing about the basket we’ve featured is that it’s insulated, which means if you want to bring a cool bottle of white wine along with you, you can! When it comes to snacks, you want something easy and simple to clean up (and enjoy). I tend to sway towards a selection of fruits. Or, if you’re packing the cooler full of freezer packs, a portable charcuterie plate will do.
What’s cuter than cuddling up on a cozy blanket underneath the stars? Not much, that’s for sure.
If you’re headed out on a stargazing date, you’ll want to bring along something to sit on. I recommend an outdoor blanket that’s easy to clean before you pack it up and go. But if you don’t have one on hand and want to save the cash, you could opt for a towel or throw instead.
If sitting on the ground sounds less-than-cozy to you, you could go with a set of beach chairs. But you’ll probably want to make sure that they can lean back so you can actually look up at the stars. Unless you’re on some sort of hill and already have an unobstructed view of the stars.
If you really want to up your comfort level, you could opt for an air mattress—but make sure that you bring a pump so you don’t have to manually blow it up!
Lantern or a flashlight
The whole idea behind stargazing is that you do it at night… when it’s dark. Which means you’re going in, leaving, or both, completely in the dark. So, having a handy little flashlight or lantern is ideal.
While it’s not the sexiest stargazing companion, the Coleman 1000 will definitely make sure you can find your way around (so long as you’ve got a set of fresh batteries in it). Of course, you could opt to simply use your phone. But I’m one of those people that would rather be safe than sorry—a dead phone will leave you in the dark.
Your lantern or flashlight doesn’t have to be fancy. Go simple, affordable, and reliable on this one.
Nothing ruins a stargazing date faster than being attacked by swarms of mosquitos.
To be honest with you, I’m not sure how I feel about Johnson & Johnson as a company. But OFF! is one of the most popular brands out there, and I KNOW you’ll want to bring something (anything) along to keep the bugs away. So, I’ve gone with something popular and recognizable until I can find a suitable replacement.
Now, bug activity will vary depending on where you are. But around these parts, the warm summer nights mixed with the fact that the sun isn’t out to fry the little buggers means that mosquito activity is at an all-time high during optimal stargazing hours.
With that in mind, if you don’t want your date to end early due to excessive bug activity, I highly recommend you bring something along.
Stargazing as a solo date
I live in the middle of nowhere and there are no, and I truly mean no, dating prospects—I’m related to half the town, and the other half, I don’t want to be. Which means I’m either stargazing solo, or I’m hanging out with my mom (it makes for a great mother-daughter date as well).
The calm that I feel when I look up at the stars is the perfect thing to curb the anxiety I often have. Realizing how many little dots there are millions and billions of miles away, really puts a lot of the world in perspective. But, stargazing alone comes with a different set of challenges… primarily related to safety (and having to carry sh*t from A to B).
First of all, going out to the middle of nowhere alone can be a little unsafe—nine times out of 10 it’ll be fine, but let’s be honest, you don’t want to be the 10th. So, make sure you have your cellphone handy in case of emergencies. It’s also important to make sure you know where you are, so if something does happen you can direct those helping you to your location.
Check out the area beforehand in the daylight so you know what to expect. You can do this prior to, or simply get there ahead of schedule and bring a book. That way you know of any terrain-related issues you could come across.
Anytime you’re headed out somewhere outside of an urban or rural town area of any sort, you should always make sure to bring the following, even if you know your way around:
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Drinkable water (bring extra)
- First aid kit
- Your phone (we talked about this, but just to be sure)
- An extra layer of clothing or a blanket (or both)
- Extra socks (wet socks are no joke)
You can store these in your purse, a backpack, or even grab yourself a plus size hiking backpack!
I would also encourage you to do some research about the animals that might be lurking where you are—in most cases, they’ll leave you alone if you aren’t bothering them (they’re WAY more scared of you) but bigger animals, like bears or big cats, that are often hanging out in wooded areas could be a problem. So, make sure you go somewhere that you’ll feel safe. Food can also attract animals, so make sure you store it safely if you’re bringing it along.
I want to stress that I’ve stargazed alone myself a many times and have had no problems, so I definitely don’t want my safety talk to dissuade you from going. But chances are I’m not familiar with where you’re headed, so I can’t guarantee your safety either. Be smart, play it safe, and have fun!
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