18 great dates

Katie Wagner and her husband Killian Bowe chat while walking the aisles of Rollier’s Hardware on Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon. Katie says she sometimes has a “date” with her husband at the iconic Mt. Lebanon store to get ideas for their newly purchased home, which they call a “fixer-upper.” /Photo: John Schisler

Considering Mt. Lebanon only covers a little more than six square miles, there really is a lot to do around here! With Valentine’s Day around the corner (We know, it’s still January, but this is our January/February issue), Katie Wagner, above with her husband Killian, thought it might be helpful to put together a list of potential date ideas in our area that go beyond just “dinner and a movie.” The activities range in price and would be equally as enjoyable with a group of friends and family, or could even be used to achieve some peaceful alone time.


(admission for two)

$ $20 or under

$$ $20-$50

$$$ $50-$100

$$$$ $100 or More

#1 Literally just walk around Rollier’s
Rollier’s Hardware, Washington Road

“So what do you say we go to Rollier’s and turn this walk into a date,” I say to my husband with a wink every time we are walking around on Washington Road. This always earns an eye roll. But hear me out on this one. Rollier’s takes your “locally owned hardware store” to the next level, and I love just aimlessly roaming around the store, looking at their various products and discussing fictional home improvement projects with my husband. I find it helps us to prioritize what we may want to work on next. And if I am really lucky, I can get him to buy into some of the crazy ideas I have rolling around in my head, and we wind up leaving with bags full of paint, tools or gardening equipment, completely energized by the project we are about to begin (FYI: the energy usually wears off once the project starts).

#2 Go to a Paint and Sip class
Painting with a Twist, 250 Mt Lebanon Blvd.

Is your partner artistic? What better way to find out than to grab a bottle of wine and walk down the street to a painting class? Painting with a Twist has many events each week. Some are in fun locations with interesting themes (I personally can’t wait for the next Doctor Who Exploding TARDIS painting class from the Van Gogh episode). Plus, for those of us who are less artistically inclined, the appeal of enjoying good company and a glass of wine or two makes the prospect of completely embarrassing ourselves so much more exciting.

Photo: Courtesy Venture Outdoors

#3 Tandem Kayak on the river
Kayak Pittsburgh, North Shore
1 Federal St. (Under 6
TH St. Bridge)

I may be a bit biased, but I feel comfortable making this statement: Pittsburgh is the most beautiful city in the universe. And what better way to experience our majestic shining beacon of a city than by taking a leisurely paddle down one of our magnificent rivers? Kayak Pittsburgh offers solo and tandem kayak rentals every day from Memorial Day through September (and weekends in May and October). Never kayaked before? Not a problem—their flat-water kayaks would actually be difficult to capsize even if you were trying. So grab yinzes hubbies, go dahntahn and git started on some Picksburg-themed romance.

#4 Go on a staycation
SpringHill Suites
611 Washington Road 


Back when I was looking for a house in Mt. Lebanon, I quickly learned that, despite the fact that we are a walking community, there are many neighborhoods that are far enough away from our business district that it’s not reasonable to assume you will be walking to local bars, restaurants and shops. So instead, book a night at our (relatively) new hotel on Washington Road, and go out for a night on the town (or just a nice low-key dinner without worrying about whether or not you should have that second glass of wine). The Spring Hill Suites is very well-rated, has a swimming pool, and you also get a free breakfast in the morning—sounds like it could be fun, no?

#5 Learn to scuba
2905 Banksville Road
$$$ and up

Perhaps you and your SO are more of a lay-on-the-beach-drinking-piña-coladas sort of couple while on vacation, but if you tend to be more adventurous, a diving course could be right up your alley! Splash Water Sports offers snorkeling and diver courses that range from beginner to professional level. The company also organizes various diving trips to different beaches throughout the year. And if you are a shark-fearing individual like myself, do not fret—you can also dive in fresh water. In fact, if you drive two hours north to Lake Erie, you can dive to see some spectacular underwater shipwrecks.

Photo: Shannon Venditti

#6 Take a hike

Here’s the thing, folks: I am the opposite of athletic, but I actually hike sometimes, which means that you probably can too. A common misconception about hiking is that it’s a super-serious sport that you need to be trained to do, but in reality, its most basic definition could be “walking around outside.” So here’s what I’m thinking: pack lunch or stop by Lebo Subs, Ranias or any other restaurant offering sandwiches to go, pick up your other half and drive to a trailhead. Then, you can take a leisurely (or strenuous, depending on your preferred intensity) stroll through the woods, take a break for a romantic picnic and enjoy each others’ company all day long!

#7 Cycle around the city
Bike the Burgh, Downtown 500 First Avenue

Ever wake up on a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning and think “Gee, I wish I were outdoorsy so that I could do something different to enjoy this weather today?” Bike the Burgh could be that “something different.” It offers tours all over the city, including a historical city tour, rides through specific neighborhoods and various themed tours throughout the year. Also, if you are celebrating an anniversary or another special date, Bike the Burgh will work with you to put something special together. And the best part—you don’t even need to own a bike! Bike the Burgh will arrange for you to rent a bike if you don’t already have one.

#8 Take a ballroom dancing class
Steel City Ballroom, Mt. Lebanon 702 Washington Road

Let me preface this by saying that I would need to do some serious manipulating to get my husband to go to a ballroom dancing class with me. Having said that, I was successful in convincing my dad to take one with me in preparation for our dance at my wedding last year, and we had a ball (pun intended). In our case, we simply needed to learn some basic moves so that we wouldn’t look foolish dancing to the upbeat song my dad chose, and our instructor successfully taught us a handful of simple twists and spins with some basic steps to use in the interim. It was actually pretty fun! They made the whole thing brilliantly easy. I could see how a ballroom class could be an excellent outside-the box activity with any important person in your life—whether it be your SO, a group of friends or basically anyone you know who owns a pair of dancin’ shoes.

#9 Learn to cook something spectacular
Rania’s Catering, 100 Central Square

My husband learned to make lasagna recently. He found a recipe, gathered the ingredients and spent three hours making sauce from scratch, assembling and baking the meal. As mid-twenty-somethings, the excitement from this feat rivaled that of many actual accomplishments we’ve had recently, such as awards and promotions. But the joy of learning to cook something new can be appreciated at any age. Check out the monthly cooking classes at Rania’s Catering. In the past year, they ranged from Korean to French Mediterranean to specific dishes from guest chefs around the city. Her classes often include lessons in wine pairing (with a bit of wine tasting, of course), and there are classes for all abilities, even for kids!

Open House Sign

#10 Go house hoppin’

If you say you don’t like nosing around complete strangers’ houses without ever needing to meet them in person, then you are lying. There are so many open houses in Mt. Lebanon every weekend, and the homes come in every shape, size and style. My husband and I started going to open houses long before we started looking for our first home. Typically, we would be on our way to the gym or the grocery store and we would see an open house sign in front of a gorgeous property, and we simply couldn’t resist (so we would find our gym-clothed millennial selves touring some $800,000 property, enjoying ourselves immensely). In the end, though, it helped to introduce us to the Mt. Lebanon area, and the real estate market in general. We even found our agent that way! So whether you are seriously looking, or you are simply curious—don’t be shy: They are called open houses for a reason.

#11 Learn to brew
The Copper Kettle, Greenfield
557 Greenfield Avenue

My husband and I have been brewing beer together since junior year of college—we had a basic starter-kit, a set-up that looked like some kind of moonshine operation, and a carboy that fit perfectly in his closet. In my opinion, brewing beer is the quintessential stay-at-home date, because it takes many hours of working together and relaxing, and there is (hopefully) an excellent product for you to enjoy at the end of the process. If you’ve never brewed before, The Copper Kettle has brewing classes for brewers of all levels, and it’s a great way to find out if you enjoy brewing before investing a fair amount of money into starter equipment. Also, the Copper Kettle rents per kettle, so you could make it a double or triple date with some friends to cut down the cost. Side note: They also offer once-monthly yoga classes in the brewery. Not sure about its date potential, but it’s odd enough that I thought it deserved a mention.

#12 Volunteer together
Pittsburgh Cares

Pretend you just met a girl, and she is a lovely, caring individual who is crazy about animals. So for your next date, you surprise her by taking her the Western PA Humane society to walk dogs, followed by a nice, low-key lunch nearby. In this instance, you are showing her that you are also a caring individual, that you listened to her all those times she talked about animals and that you are interested in learning more about what is meaningful to her (you could also support her animal obsession by offering to send one of the pups home with her. It would make youa more caring than my husband, who will not allow me to pursue my passion for cat collecting). Anyway, all volunteer work is great for relationship-building, and Pittsburgh Cares can help organize and connect you with basically any kind of volunteer work your hubby may be interested in. Besides, why not set yourselves up to be a force for good? Your relationship will be all the stronger for it.

Katie Wagner (middle left) and her husband Killian Bowe (middle right) share a brunch with Katie’s friend from college, Bradley Green (right) and his wife Diana DeMarco at Bistro 19. Katie likes to have brunch at the Mt. Lebanon eatery most Sundays after church mass at St. Bernard’s. /Photo: John Schisler

#13 Go brunchin’
“What about second breakfast?” says a forlorn Pippin in The Fellowship of the Ring. Well guess what, Pippin, it’s called ‘brunch,’ and it’s mankind’s greatest contribution to the universe! Breakfast mixed with lunch mixed with cocktails in the early afternoon on a Sunday sets you up for the most perfect day of your life. Trust me. And not only is brunch a perfect date, it also is also a great time to catch up with family, friends or coworkers. In Mt. Lebanon, my husband and I have had the pleasure of enjoying brunch at Bistro 19 (get the crème brulee French toast) and Atria’s (get the crab cakes Benedict)—both of which are excellent choices, just be sure to make a reservation.

#14 Play Mini Golf
Cool Springs, Bethel Park
3001 Cool Springs Drive

Cool Springs has all sorts of activities to offer, but its mini golf course is quite lovely, and it is probably the closest course to Mt. Lebanon. If you haven’t played mini golf with your hubby, you should give it a try! It’s a fun, relatively low-cost activity that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Cool Springs also has soccer and football leagues, a full golf course, driving range and basketball and volleyball courts, for those of you who are more active and have sporty friends. Note: Mini golf is best enjoyed on a date when accompanied by plans for a romantic dinner following the excursion.


#15 Visit Hollywood
Hollywood Theater, Dormont
1449 Potomac Avenue

This may come as a shock, but the Hollywood Theater offers SO MUCH MORE than late-night showings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show (though if it is your cup of tea, their Rocky Horror productions are truly a lot of fun). The Hollywood is BYOB, and it now plays everything from classics, to indie films to documentaries to movies that are currently in cinemas. It also offers an insane amount of programming such as Breakfast and a Movie, Cinema 412 and SILENTS, please!—each of which would make for an excellent date activity. The Hollywood is a local treasure. I promise it is worth the visit.

#16 Get dramatic

“All the world’s a stage,” said Shakespeare. But he could have said “All of Pittsburgh’s a stage,” because it basically is. I’m always yammering on about how Pittsburgh has a thriving theater scene, but it’s true, and it’s a wonderful resource for us to enjoy. From high school theater programs to community theater to some of the large regional theaters in our area, we have some pretty serious local talent working and volunteering in all areas of the industry. So if you aren’t doing this already, step up your dating game by injecting some culture into the mix and get thee to the theatah! Click here to see what some of our local professional theater companies have coming up this season.

#17 Enrich yourselves
Mt. Lebanon Public Library, 16 Castle Shannon Blvd.

Let me list some of the cool things Mt. Lebanon Public Library has to offer right now, starting with the obvious: more books than you could read in 1,000 lifetimes, book clubs, language groups, author lectures, a genealogical society, a huge vinyl collection, A FLIPPIN’ 3D PRINTER and loads of programming from the informative-ish to Pop-culture-ish (ex: they hosted a Game of Thrones Party last spring. I’m still regretting I missed the chance to try on chain mail). Let’s say your hubby has a favorite book. How impressed would he be if you joined a book club, read that book and then took him to the discussion? Or maybe he has always wanted to speak Gaelic—the library has resources, programs and groups to help teach you both! What I’m trying to say is that our library is an outstanding resource that has the power to take your dating game to the next level, so be sure to use it!

#18 Pamper yourselves
La Pomponnée and Mec, 659 Washington Road
$$$ AND UP

What guy doesn’t want to be offered a beer when he’s getting a haircut? What girl doesn’t want an excuse to get a haircut, manicure or massage while her SO is getting a new do? La Pomponnée’s Spa/Salon/Barber combination has something for everyone in need of pampering, so why not go together and treat yourselves? Now lads, I know Mec may be pricier than you are used to, but I will let you in on a little secret—with haircuts, you get what you pay for—and your hair (and probably your SO, too) will thank you for spoiling yourself, even if it’s only just this once.