First dates can signal the beginning of a beautiful, sweeping romance...or they can be a real drag. Alas, we can’t guarantee that sparks will fly, but we do have a few first date ideas that will minimize the awkwardness, bring out the best in both parties and optimize your chances for success. Read on and start swiping.
45 First Date Ideas That Are 100 Percent Fun (and Not at All Awkward)
1. Go to the Movies
This tried-and-true first date idea has stood the test of time for a reason—namely because if you get weird vibes or the chemistry isn’t there upon meeting, you don’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) do much talking during the main event.
2. Take a Pottery Class
This one has topped the list of intimate date ideas ever since Demi Moore got her hands dirty on a pottery wheel to the tune of “Unchained Melody” in Ghost…but in reality, a pottery class is just a fun, new experience that’s only as sexy as you want it to be.
3. Attend a Concert
If you already know you have the same taste in music, score a couple tickets (or better yet, find a free event) where you can enjoy some live music together. Research says listening to music with someone releases lovey-dovey hormones—but even if romance isn’t in the air, at least awkward conversation will be replaced by quality tunes.
4. Go to a Bookstore
You can learn a lot about someone’s interests and personality by browsing books together. Plus, you’ll literally be surrounded by conversation starters.
5. Play Chess
Grab a set and head to the chess tables at a local park for a little friendly competition that will test both of your critical thinking skills while still leaving room for a casual chat.
6. Get Your Palms Read
Bonus points for whoever has the longest, straightest love line—but this isn’t science, friends, so take the results with a grain of salt.
7. Binge-watch a Show
Also known as ‘Netflix and chill,’ this one is best reserved for a first date with someone you have already spent quite a bit of time getting to know (i.e., a coworker or old friend who is maybe turning into something more).
8. Tour Food Trucks
Nothing says ‘carefree first date’ like sampling a bunch of street food on a sunny day. Just maybe steer clear of skin-tight outfits—you know, so you can chow down comfortably.
8. Get Ice Cream
Ice cream parlors appeal to everyone’s inner child (and sweet tooth), and there’s nothing more wholesome than heading to one with a person you’re eager to get to know.
10. Take a Hike
Definitely find another way to suggest the outing (‘take a hike’ can be easily misinterpreted), but a little physical activity on a scenic trail, plus a picnic lunch to be enjoyed at the lookout point, is a recipe for first date success.
11. Volunteer Together
If you don’t want to rush into romance and prefer a more casual opportunity to get to know someone, a shared volunteer activity checks all the boxes, whilst providing a meaningful experience for both parties, whether you hit it off or not.
12. Go for a Bike Ride
The science says that exercise releases pheromones that are good for bonding (and libido), but if you’re not interested in getting totally hot and sweaty on a first date, a casual bike ride on a local trail is an easy-breezy way to explore the environs and be active together.
13. Tour a Brewery
News to no one: A couple of cold ones can calm first date nerves like nobody’s business. That said, we suggest you take a pass on the dive bar meet-up (you can do better) and schedule a local brewery tour instead for a more interesting, educational experience that includes some frosty brew.
14. Go Gallery Hopping
Learn about each other’s aesthetic preferences and soak up some culture with a little gallery hopping in town. Bonus points if you stumble upon one that’s serving complimentary wine and cheese.
15. Go Bowling
In case you missed it, the bowling alley is a great place to find love—namely because there’s friendly competition, plus turn-taking that makes stilted conversation totally expected.
16. Take a Trip to the Arcade
This nostalgic outing promises hours of gaming fun in a lively, public place where you can even win a giant teddy bear for all your hard work. It’s also way less awkward than, say, playing video games on your living room couch with a brand new love interest.
17. Go Ax Throwing
Forget the firing range, ax throwing is the latest and greatest way to blow off steam, calm your nerves and get a workout on a first date. It’s also not nearly as difficult or dangerous as it looks. (Why else would most venues serve adult beverages on-site?)
18. Do Karaoke
Presenting the easiest way to see if your musical tastes align. Will they sing along to pop favorites like “A Thousand Miles” with just as much enthusiasm? And, most importantly, will they cringe or give you a standing ovation when you totally botch Celine Dion?
19. Visit a Comedy Club
There’s no better icebreaker than a comedy show, and this night out on the town has the added benefit of allowing you to assess a very essential compatibility factor: a shared sense of humor.
20. Try a Dance Class
Learning something new is a great way to bond with someone new…just make sure your date is at roughly the same skill level as you, so you’re looking foolish together.
21. Join a Trivia Night
Pair up and show off your combined general knowledge at a trivia night while throwing back a few beers. It’s how power couples are made.
22. Go to the Zoo
Exotic animals to observe, a large outdoor space to explore and plenty of concession stands—let’s just say the zoo has all the makings of an interesting and entertaining first date.
23. Go Thrift Shopping
Here, a light-hearted first date idea that involves making style suggestions and dressing up in the funkiest second-hand apparel you can find. The BFF vibes will take the pressure off while still leaving room for a romantic spark.
24. Have a Picnic
Schedule your first date for a sunny day, pack a spread of picnic-friendly foods (bottle of wine optional, but recommended) and head to a local park for some fresh air, good eats and quality conversation—just don’t forget to bring a blanket, ‘cause nobody likes a wet bum.
25. Go Record Shopping
If you don’t have a record player, get one—they’re the bee’s knees—and then invite your date to browse the vinyl selection with you at some nearby shops, so you can learn about each other’s taste in music. (We’ve hinted at this already, but that’s another significant compatibility factor.)
26. Go to an Indoor Rock Climbing Gym
This active and totally safe indoor physical activity promises an adrenaline rush and an endorphin-boosting workout that bodes well for romance.
27. Check Out a Flea Market
It’s like thrifting, but with more variety—in case fashion isn’t of much interest to one or both of you—and extra opportunity to learn about one another’s hobbies, interests and personal style.
28. Spend a Day (or Night) at the Museum
Whether it’s science, art or history, there’s certain to be a museum around that speaks to a mutual interest. Pick a location and enjoy a healthy dose of culture and education with a potential new love interest.
29. Do Some Stargazing
If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with little light pollution, pack some snacks and a blanket for a nighttime picnic under the stars—and, by all means, geek out and bring a telescope if you’ve got one. Live in a big city with no stars in sight? No problem—just admire the heavens at a planetarium instead.
30. Cook Dinner Together
Inviting a date over for a home-cooked dinner might seem like a good idea…until you factor the time spent sweating over the stove and the extra awkward part when the whole conversation revolves around their approval of your cooking. Avoid this scenario by working together to put together a meal for a fun and intimate activity that keeps everyone on the same page from beginning to end.
31. Go to a Poetry Slam
Check out a poetry slam in the area for some spoken word entertainment; then, grab a drink after and compare notes. (We see you, Lib Arts majors.)
32. Take a Stroll at the Botanical Garden
A botanical garden is a beautiful place to spend the day under any circumstances, so why not stop there and smell the roses with someone who’s piqued your interest.
33. Shoot Some Hoops
A game of one-on-one is an energetic and playful first date idea, with a dose of physical competition that’s sure to heat things up.
34. Play Bocce Ball
Find a beer garden or bar where you and your date can play a few rounds of bocce ball, a seriously fun lawn game that pairs well with frosty brew and good company.
35. Get Brunch
This one is kind of a no-brainer—namely because this beloved weekend tradition was basically invented by couples. Pick a place with bottomless mimosas and the best benedict and you’ll have set yourself up for first date success (or at least a good meal).
36. Crash an Open House
Keep things light-hearted and goofy by playing the part of a married couple on the market for a new home. The ruse will be a whole lot of fun to maintain and you can rate the model home decor of each place you visit.
37. Visit a Sculpture Garden
This first date locale boasts cultural appeal, romantic picnic potential and an outdoor environment that’s way less stuffy than an art museum.
38. Attend a Sporting Event
The lively environment and crowds at a sporting event are sure to loosen up both parties, and the excitement of the game will have you cheering for the home team together.
39. Make a Playlist Together
At this risk of sounding like a broken record (pun intended), music is a great way to bond. Compare music taste and collaborate on a playlist that features both of your favorite songs for a first date memento that will be meaningful if all goes well.
40. Go Roller Skating
If you’re not a seasoned skater, it just means hand-holding is in your future.
41. Play Cards
Find out where your love interest falls on the sportsmanship spectrum, while enjoying all the excitement and entertainment that a pack of playing cards brings to the table.
42. Try an Escape Room
You can learn a lot about another person by puzzling your way through an escape room together (and seeing how they handle mild frustration).
43. Get a Tarot Card Reading
If you’re not easily spooked, dabble in the occult with a tarot card reading that might just send you into each other’s arms.
44. Visit the Community Garden
In case you missed it, gardens of all kinds are wonderful places for romance. Park yourselves on a bench at the community garden to enjoy the flora and the scintillating conversation, free of charge.
45. Go Window Shopping
Start by lusting for things you can’t afford, and you’ll be lusting for each other in no time. (Clever trick, right?)