Tag Archives: Date Night Ideas

Date Night Idea: Painted Kanvas | Lawrence, KS

Painted Kanvas

For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream. –Vincent Van Gogh

For my 29th birthday (yea…I’d rather not talk about it…) I wanted to step outside my annual dinner-out-with-friends and try something a little different. So I decided to unleash my inner Parisian artist at Painted Kanvas in Lawrence, Kansas.

Painted Kanvas Logo

Painted Kanvas, right off Wakarusa and 15th St., is a locally owned paint and wine studio. The concept is simple: For $35, you walk away with a painting you create with your own hands. With provided canvas and paints, an experienced instructor leads you through the steps to create the painting of the evening.

Because I planned on having 15 to 20 people help me celebrate my birthday, I was able to reserve the studio for a private party (you need a minimum of 10 people) and pick the painting we would work on. In high school, I was obsessed with Vincent Van Gogh so I chose to recreate his infamous “Starry Night.” And although most of my friends cursed me for picking such a “difficult” painting, it was a blast to put together and I thought that everyone’s interpretation of this classic piece was amazing!

Starry Night
{My rendition of Starry Night.}

Starry Night
{My husband’s rendition of Starry Night.}

That was my favorite part about this whole setup—seeing everyone’s artistic interpretation. Even though none of us had picked up a paint brush since high school, we surprised ourselves with how much artistic talent we actually possessed. And while most of us took the process seriously, a couple of my friends just had goofy fun with it. Take my husband for example: He turned his moon into The Man on the Moon then added a horse getting abducted by a UFO to the landscape. I can’t explain his sense of humor.

For private parties, you’re allowed to bring your own food, arrive early to set up and then buy from the bar all night long. Ask friends to arrive early as well, so as to settle in with some drinks before the instructor gets started teaching the two-hour class. Our instructor was fun and super helpful. And even though it’s not a paint-by-numbers situation, she was able to deconstruct each step for us in a way that made sense.

Private parties are not your only option at Painted Kanvas. Check out their calendar to find out which nights are open to the public and which are scheduled for private parties. The calendar even showcases which paintings are scheduled for each night. Pay at the door, grab a drink, pick up a paint brush and unleash your creative side. This is a great place to go with your girlfriends and it would also make for an amazing date night. I definitely plan on going again.

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Date Night Idea: Kansas Belle Dinner Train | Baldwin, Kansas

Kansas Belle Dinner Train
Photo courtesy Kansas Belle Dinner Train

Are you looking for a unique date night idea? Step into the 1940s via the Kansas Belle Dinner Train. This adorable dinner train starts in Baldwin, Kansas, which is about 30 minutes south of Lawrence, Kansas, and takes you through the beautiful surrounding fields for about three hours. The husband and I had a chance to enjoy a night out aboard the train this past weekend thanks to a Christmas gift from my mom and her husband. We got all gussied up (because where else can you wear a large hat if not aboard a train?), enjoyed a five-course dinner and experienced the Casablanca Express.

Kansas Belle Dinner Train

Kansas Belle Dinner Train
{Dress: New York & Company; Kimono: Target; Booties: Kohls; Purse: Marc by Marc Jacobs; Necklace: LC Lauren Conrad (Kohls); Hat: Ruche}

Kansas Belle Dinner Train

We went to one of their evening dinners on Saturday, which features a special murder mystery show. The theme to the show changes with each weekend. The evening we went the theme was the Casablanca Express: “As you flee across war torn North Africa, you have an appointment with murder. You may be a black marketer, a Nazi sympathizer, or at the mercy of both—wondering how you’ll ever escape Casablanca.”

The show was performed by two men from the Nebraska theater group The Likely Suspects. (Some of their shows are performed by actors from Theater Lawrence.) They were both very funny to watch (although one of the men laughed at his own jokes one too many times, in my opinion). But they didn’t put on the entire production by themselves, and instead enlisted the help of willing (or persuaded, if you want to look at it that way) passengers to play important roles. I was cast as Sam, the sassy waitress from Bogart’s Bar; and A.J. was cast as Leopold Dietrich, a German passenger. We attempted to solve the murder of one of the train passengers, which seemed an impossible task (there were too many suspects, and it was hard to pay attention to the storyline through all the laughter). We both thought I did it, because it sounds like something I would do, but alas it wasn’t me. It was A.J.’s “wife” Marlene Dietrich.

The best part was at the end of the night when everyone voted on their favorite actors. A.J. and I both walked away with second place for favorite actor and actress! I mean, we didn’t actually win anything, but still. We may need to consider switching careers.

The five-course meal featured a small appetizer to share (cheese, grapes, veggies); potato soup; the pre-ordered main course (I had grilled salmon and A.J. had prime rib); and dessert. Unfortunately, I have to admit that the dinner could have been tastier. The soup was cold, the steak a little fatty, and the fish a little dry. But don’t let that take away from our experience. The actors were fun and the atmosphere was delightful. Plus, where else are you going to enjoy a train ride filled with potential murderers?

Kansas Belle Dinner Train

If you’re looking for a fun and unique gift or date night, you should consider the Kansas Belle Dinner Train. The husband and I had a fabulous time, and fall was probably the perfect time to go because we got to see the beautiful colors of the changing seasons from our window seat. The three-hour ride on Saturday evening, along with the five-course dinner, coffee and tea, costs $65. (Pre-order a bottle of wine and request it be waiting at your table right when you get there. Trust me. The couple we sat with did this, and A.J. and I were beyond envious of their foresight.) There is also a two-and-a-half hour ride on Sunday that features a three-course dinner (and longer daytime views of the surrounding landscape) for $55. Visit their website for more information.

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