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10 surprising date destinations in Groningen

When it comes to date night options, you’re spoiled for choice in Groningen. But what if you’re looking for an outing that will really surprise your sweetheart? Check out this list of unconventional date destinations to make a distinctly Groningen impression – and they make great unexpected outings for all the relationships in your life, from your grandma to your next door neighbor or your closest friends!

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From the Wadden Sea to your plate

Is your loved one a big fan of fish, oysters and succulent samphire? Why wait for the fruits of the Wadden Sea to show up at the grocery store when you can go on an expedition and gather them yourselves? Join a pair of married fisherfolk at ‘t Ailand and head to Lauwersoog for the best the sea has to offer. Hop aboard a mud sledge and inspect the fish traps for the catch of the day. It’s always a surprise: will it be seaweed? Crabs? Oysters? Cockles? Mullet? Flatfish? No matter what you find, ‘t Ailand will whip up a tasty meal. Or bring your catch home and createyour own culinary sensation.

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A date with jeu

If you thought jeu de boules was only for French retirees, think again. A date at Jeu-de-boule bar BOEL is anything but boring. Sip on some custom cocktails or a special beer while playing a few rounds of this popular beach game. And they have plenty of delicious dishes on the menu, too. It’s the ideal activity for a low key date – so head on over and see which of you will be crowned the jeu-de-boule king or queen.

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A starlit stroll

What could be more romantic than a bit of stargazing? Sure, you can do it at home, but it’s more than worth the effort to visit the beautiful Lauwersmeer park by night. Located far from the light pollution of the city, this designated Dark Sky area is the perfect place to stare deep into the reaches of space and gaze at more stars than you’ve ever seen before. So take a walk through the Dark Sky Park Lauwersmeer on a clear night, and make sure to check out the “Heavens Platforms” lookout towers for an even more stunning vantage point.

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Behind-the-scenes at a Groninger brewery

Located inside a former printing press factory, nowadays you’ll find gleaming brewing kettles bubbling away at the Martinus micro-brewery. They’re renowned for their experimental new beers with a distinctly Groningen flavour: Nuchter (Sober) may seem like a contradictory name for an alcoholic beverage, but it’s the perfect expression of the local character. No matter your beer preference, Martinus has you covered. You can even sign up for a brewery tour every Thursday through Sunday and learn all about the brewing process – accompanied by some tasty beverages, naturally. Cheers!

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Walking with donkeys

The forests surrounding Vriescheloo have something special in store: your chance to cuddle with a donkey (in between cuddling with your date). At Ger’s Ezelstal (mule stable), you’ll find eight friendly donkeys – including two mini donkeys - that you can take along with you on a walk along the tree-flanked trails. The routes ranges from 4.5 to 12 kilometers, and there are ample spots along the way for a romantic picnic. Not a big fan of hiking? No worries: you can also stop by during knuffeluurtje (cuddle hour) to give the donkeys a big ol’ hug, or sign up for a yoga session in the company of the mules.

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Paddle boarding under a full moon

Paddle boarding, or Supping as it’s better known in the Netherlands, is “Stand Up Paddling”, and it’s a popular activity on the city’s canals. Whether you’re up for a leisurely paddle through the heart of town or looking to discover the scenic route from the water in the province, you can do it all – and it’s even more memorable by moonlight. And it’s a good workout, since keeping your balance and paddling along involves basically every muscle in the body. But it’s up to you how much cardio you get out of it, so rent a board and set your own pace!

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Travel by cable car

Walking dates are very in these days, and the Dal van de Ruiten Aa has plenty of lovely routes to explore hand-in-hand with someone you love. But here’s something to make it a little extra special: in this charming hidden valley, you’ll also find the only manually-propelled cable cars in the Netherlands. A 22.4 meter-long cable connects the two sides of the Ruiten Aa, so take a seat in one of the Wes Anderson-esque gondolas and take the wheel to steer yourselves to the other side.

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The full wine experience

Is a nice glass of wine your idea of a perfect evening? Then this wine tasting is just for you. At Barrel Wijnlokaal, you’ll find more than 600 varieties of wine on the menu, so they’re almost certain to have a bottle of your favourite. But it’s all the more fun to sample something new and to learn about the wine making process. You can describe what kind of wines you like to the staff, and they’ll make a selection customized to your tastes with a detailed description of their origins. And cap it all off with some outstanding hand-picked cheeses and charcuterie.

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Eccentric estate buildings

Fraeylemaborg is the ideal date destination in the province – but don’t head straight for the main house when you pay a visit. Walk all the way to the back of the garden, where you’ll discover nine follies spread across the property. Their name suggests something about their nature: follies are eccentric structures that simply serve a decorative purpose. But the Fraeylemaborg gave them their own twist, and made it into a competition: artists were invited to submit their own idea for a modern folly. You can pay each one a visit, armed with a map, or just lose yourself and stumble across them along the way.

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Off-the-beaten path art in Groningen

A city walk may not be the most original date idea, but an off the beaten path one is sure to surprise. This walking route will lead you along the lesser known corners of the city through narrow side streets and highlighting the street art hiding in broad daylight. Dare to look beyond Groningen’s best known tourist spots and explore the rougher edges of the city together.