First Date Ideas
by Dave

Couple on a First Date
First dates can be tough. There's plenty of pressure and awkward moments, but there's also that excitement you get from meeting someone new. Someone who might just become a big huge part of your life.

So how do you approach this potentially big event that's also pretty fragile? Reducing the pressure as much as possible is a good first step. We're conditioned to think that a first date should start with dinner at a nice restaurant, but is that really a good idea? Let's put two semi-strangers across a quiet table from each other and hope they have stuff to talk about. What could go wrong? Plenty. And after those two hours of pressure to keep the conversation going they're told to watch a movie where they don't get to talk at all. Bad idea.

In my experience, the best first dates give people a chance to talk without forcing it. They provide opportunities to observe, discuss, and play, so I put this list together with that in mind. If you want more in-depth first date ideas, check our section devoted to them.

First Date Ideas Indoors

  1. Skating
    Ice skating is an awesome choice for a first date. Guys, if you want to impress a girl, just suggest ice skating; 9 out of 10 times she’ll come back with "Oooo…that sounds fun!" When you're finished, warm up with a cup of coffee or cocoa. If ice isn't your thing, head over to the roller rink or even go skating down at the beach or some other nice spot during good weather.

  2. Got Game?
    Embrace your competitive side by going to the local fun center and challenging your date to the lazy man's triathlon – air hockey, fooseball, and skeeball! Loser buys ice cream.

  3. Eat Fun Food
    Start your relationship on a memorable note by choosing an interesting place to eat, like Brazilian or Pakistani, heading to the wharf for fresh seafood, or munching on oyster shooters or tapas. Make sure the place is worth talking about so that you can fill those first date pauses with real conversation. Much better than "Hey, can you believe they serve curly fries AND onion rings here? Weird…"

  4. Bowling
    Smelly shoes and old balls. You know you love bowling. It's even better at alleys that offer glow-in-the-dark bowling with the music turned up!

  5. Wine Tasting
    You don't have to be a wine aficionado to enjoy a night of drinking and eating cheese. But instead of heading out to wine country, it might be a better idea to stop by the local wine shop for a flight or two and save the road trips for the 3rd date. Read our Wine Tasting date for more ideas.

  6. Coffee
    If you already know your date, this is not the idea for you, but for those who don’t, coffee is a safe way to meet. Make it memorable by meeting at an independent coffee shop with some personality (this is not Starbucks) and bring along a game to play like cribbage, chess, scrabble, or backgammon. You could also impress your date by meeting for coffee at an amazing dessert shop.

First Date Ideas Outdoors

  1. Have a Picnic
    Picnics are an awesome first date because they’re naturally a little romantic but also low pressure. Go somewhere interesting with a view (good for conversation), bring along a game or two like cribbage or backgammon, and set your own pace. See our Perfect Picnics date for ideas about where to go and what to bring.

  2. Biking
    Spend the afternoon cruising through some nice areas on your bikes or rent a tandem and do it in style! Take a look at our biking date for ideas about where to go and what to do.

  3. Where the Wild Things Are
    Have you hit up the zoo, aquarium, or wild animal park lately? Give it a shot, there's plenty of neat stuff to see and talk about while you explore the area. Just be sure your date isn’t one of those people who finds zoos depressing. If they are, opt for the aquarium. Nobody feels bad for fish.

  4. Take a Walk
    It’s a simple idea, but if you pick the right spot for this it can be an amazingly relaxed and fun first date. Read our 7 Great Walks date for ideas about making a regular walk into a great date.

  5. Take a Hike
    Show off your active side with a trip to the mountains, hills, desert, or wherever else sounds fun. Bring a light pack with water and other essentials. Our Hiking date idea has some good tips about where to hike and what to bring.

  6. Play Time!
    Be active together with some Frisbee at the beach, flying a kite, tennis, street hockey, basketball (horse or 1-on-1), or whatever else you can think of.

  7. Doggie Date
    Dog lovers, your little buddy might want to meet this date of yours before things get too serious. Meet up at the local dog park or dog beach for a picnic, some fetch, a long walk, or some other form of doggie fun! See our Dates with Dogs for ideas.

  8. Botanical Gardens
    Many cities have a botanical gardens with beautiful, quiet grounds. Perfect for a romantic walk and picnic.

  9. Putt Putt Golf
    A staple of new relationships for as long as I can remember, the local mini golf course is a fun place to pass the time while you talk and taunt each other.

Creative First Date Ideas

  1. The Science Museum
    In the mood for some fun? Head over to your local science museum and spend an hour playing with the exhibits. After that grab some ice cream.

  2. You're Set on a Movie?
    Okay, if you must watch a movie on the first date then please at least freshen it up just a little by going to a drive-in or one of those outdoor films. Please.

  3. It’s Vintage!
    The local flea market has loads of vintage crap stuff you can sort through and laugh about. Who can find the best item for under $5?

  4. Be Tourists
    You know those poor confused folks who stumble by, pointing and snapping photos of everything they see? Be one of them for an afternoon! Find something touristy that locals like you would never do and do it.

  5. Carnival
    Carnivals (and fairs) are great places to play games, try a few rides, eat unhealthy food, and watch people go by (carnies!).

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