5 fab group date ideas

One-on-on dates are a treat, but sometimes it's even better to gather a bunch of friends and head out on a group date.

Group Dates Mission Escape 1 WLast fall, Andrew Miller and a group of friends got themselves locked up. While that doesn’t sound like an auspicious start to a fun evening out, for Miller and his friends, it was a blast.

The group was locked up at Mission Escape Rooms, an Annapolis entertainment destination where small groups of people decipher clues and work together to escape from a locked room.

Miller, a Bowie resident, says he and his friends are “board game addicts.” Mission Escape Room helps feed their addiction.

“It’s kind of like bringing a giant board game puzzle into real life,” he says.

So gather a gang of friends for something a little more entertaining than drinks and dinner. From interactive experiences like Mission Escape Rooms to make-your-own terrarium evenings at local pubs, there’s no shortage of fun events in Maryland that are perfect for a crowd.

Break out of routine

Miller and his friends say escape rooms are a lot of fun, in part because they each have a theme, like military, Edgar Allan Poe or — Miller’s favorite — Alice in Wonderland.

Plus, the nature of the game means you really get to work with the people you’re with. It’s much more interactive than talking to the people on either side of you at the dinner table.

“It’s the whole concept of getting locked up, either with your friends or strangers, and having to work together to solve a challenge. It’s a great time,” promises Mission Escape Rooms’ manager Lena Fink.

Options include:

  • Mission Escape Rooms, 40 West Street, Annapolis
    $29 per person, missionescaperooms.com/Annapolis
  • Breakout Escape Games, 8661 Robert Fulton Drive, #110, Columbia
    $26 per person, breakoutgames.com/baltimore

GroupDate Plant Night group WGet your hands dirty

Sometimes it’s nice to head to a familiar spot and do something totally different there. That’s part of the inspiration behind Plant Nite, a company that organizes tabletop terrarium-building events at restaurants and bars in the region.

“You get together with friends, go to a bar, have drinks and do something creative, with your hands,” says Plant Nite public relations manager Courtney Osgood. “It’s super fun. You get to literally play in the dirt and create these custom tabletop terrariums to take home.”

Plant Nite, various locations

Upcoming events:

  • April 11, 7 p.m. at Ellie's Place in Millersville;
  • April 19, 7 p.m. at Chesapeake Brewing Co. in Annapolis.
    Tickets are $55.60 including materials fee. Food and drinks not included.
    For more local events and to purchase tickets, visit plantnite.com

Tag some friends

The last time most parents were at a laser tag spot, they were probably dropping off their kids for a birthday party. But there’s no reason why adults shouldn’t get in on the action.

With adult-specific party options — including private event spaces where you can bring your own beer or wine — Shadowland Adventures in Columbia is a fun spot for a group to gather. Plan a happy hour or birthday party, or just wage battle on any average night.

“Some people just want a night out away from the kids,” says Shadowland events coordinator Brandi Kraisser. “This involves a little activity, and it’s a good bonding experience.”

Shadowland Adventures, 9179 Red Branch Road, Columbia
Prices start at $8.50 per person, shadowlandadventures.com

GroupDate Bin WSip and learn

Whether you’re one-on-one or with a group, wine bars make great spots for dates. And it's cool to learn a thing or two while sipping.

Some spots, like wine shops Bin 201 in Annapolis and Bin 604 in Baltimore, host frequent classes and tasting evenings. With themes like “Mediterranean Escape,” classes focus on wines from a certain region or grape and cover everything from wine basics to the subtle nuances of the choices.

“In a world where social settings now all require phone breaks, we’re proud to offer a setting where people can pay attention to their senses and talk,” says Tony Foreman, co-owner of both shops. “That is how you feel the most human, don’t you think?”

Option include:

  • Bin 201, Annapolis Town Centre, 201 Harker Place, Annapolis, bin201.com
  • Bin 604, 604 Exeter Street, Baltimore, bin604.com
    Classes and tastings start at $10

Find your sea legs

During the past few years, pirate ships have started docking in local harbors. Sometimes, the crew on board is pint-sized, but local pirate cruise ships offer adults-only cruises as well.

“We play games for shots of rum, so we bring the crowd together,” says Kyle Dembowski, general manager of the Baltimore location of Urban Pirates. In addition to the rum provided, people can bring their own beverages.

Guests are encouraged to dress up for the cruise, which includes about 30 minutes of boarding time and an hour on the water. Everyone is offered a pirate vest and tattoo, but some guests bring their own costumes from home.

Options include:

  • Urban Pirates, Ann Street Pier in Fells Point and Capital Wheel Pier in National Harbor
    $25 per person, urbanpirates.com
  • Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake, 311 Third St., Annapolis
    $19 and up, chesapeakepirates.com

By Kit Waskom Pollard

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