After the indulgence of the holiday season, many people choose to participate in Dry January as a way to start the year on a cleaner note. Luckily, cutting out alcohol doesn’t mean sacrificing your dating life, as there are plenty of great date activities in the Montclair area that can be enjoyed booze-free. Whether you’re participating in Dry January or are just looking to spice up date night sans alcohol, we have you covered with options that are unique, fun and either get you moving or get your creative juices flowing! Read on for our list of date night ideas in North Jersey for Dry January + beyond.
Bowling at STRYXE | 300 Main Street, Madison
Bowling is a great date activity on its own, and STRYXE has even more to offer than just its lanes. Self-described as an “entertainment venue”, STRYXE feels a bit more elevated than the bowling alleys we remember going to as kids. In addition to 20 lanes of bowling, it also has amusement games, billiards, and shuffleboard. The spot’s wood-fired pizzas are perfect for dining laneside, or guests can grab a pre- or post-game bite at The Eatery. Sleek lighting and music videos playing from the TVs add to the ambiance of the space.
Candle + Fragrance Making at Alchemy Scent Bar | 30 Church Street, Montclair
Playing with scent is one way to cozy up, and Alchemy Scent Bar is the perfect place to do it. This scent shop offers the unique experience of creating custom candles and fragrances. Guests start by choosing their favorite scents from the candle wall, then head to the fragrance bar where one of the alchemists will help craft a custom-scented creation. In addition to being a great bonding activity, guests also get to take a memento home with them — to be burned or spritzed later in remembrance of the shared experience.
Coffee + Browsing the Montclair Art Museum | 3 South Mountain Avenue, Montclair
The Montclair Art Museum is an amazing piece of history and culture, and with the recent opening of its Cornerstone Café, this is an all-in-one date option for a Friday afternoon. Open only on Fridays, the cafe serves coffee from Java Love Roasting Co along with other drinks and snacks. The museum itself features rotating exhibitions in addition to its permanent collection, which keeps things fresh for frequent museum-goers. For those that are feeling extra artsy, the museum has classes and workshops for adults such as collaging, painting, and pottery.
Indoor Rock Climbing at Gravity Vault | 8 Seymour Street, Montclair
A climbing gym is the perfect backdrop for mixing up your dating game, especially for the sporty types. Gravity Vault Montclair is a bouldering-only climbing gym (a form of rock climbing that is done on shorter walls that are scaled without ropes or harnesses) that caters to all abilities and experience levels. Navigate through countless climbing patterns (clearly labeled with the difficulty level) for a fun and challenging experience (plus a killer workout). Day passes are $28 for adults, or half off during Friday Happy Hour starting at 5PM.
Murder Mystery Dinner at Paper Mill Playhouse | 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn
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Paper Mill Playhouse is one of the leading theater destinations of the tri-state area, and is widely recognized for its showings of world-class musical theater (they’re wrapping up a production of The Sound of Music, for example, and the crowd-favorite Rent hits the stage this spring). The production that we’re eying for January has a bit of a twist — it’s a murder mystery performed over dinner, where the audience is part of the show. In The Big Dog of the Baskerton, audience members “may have a chance to BE a suspect and go toe-to-toe with the world’s most famous detective (Sherlock Holmes)”. The show runs from January 13th-29th in Paper Mill Playhouse’s restaurant, Carriage House. Dinner seating is $40 plus $55 per person from a pre-fixed menu.
Caffeinated Open Mic Night at Cedar Bean’s Coffee Joint | 575 Pompton Avenue, Cedar Grove
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It’s all about community at Cedar Bean’s, giving the patrons of Essex County a taste of small-town charm that feels reminiscent of Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls. Every Thursday evening from 7PM – 9PM, this quaint local coffee shop welcomes patrons in for an open mic night. Neighborhood musicians, poets, troubadours, and more take the stage for performances that can only be paired with a piping hot beverage. Cedar Bean’s offers an extensive menu of both caffeinated and decaffeinated beverages (even non-alcoholic beer), with many seasonal options.
Pottery Class at Mud Clay Studio | 409 Main Street, Boonton + 6 Main Street, Madison
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Look no further than Mud Clay Studio if you want to make your date a “claydate”. With locations in both Boonton and Madison and a robust programming schedule of Creative Clay Nights, Couples Nights, + more, Mud Clay Studio offers an array of options for taking your date to the wheel. Classes begin with a quick introduction to hand-building with clay, then move to the potter’s wheel for the creation phase, and end with folks picking their glaze colors for the final product. The best part? Mud Clay Studio is making its way to Montclair soon, with a location opening at 370 Bloomfield Avenue in February 2023.