Your first date sets the stage for how the rest of your relationship will go, so you really want to knock it out of the park with a date that’s fun, interesting, and let’s the two of you get to know each other better.
Below are 45 of the best first date ideas. They’ll appeal to all kinds of people, from sports fans to foodies and adrenaline junkies to music lovers.
First, we need to discuss what makes for an amazing first date.
3 Qualities of a Great First Date
A first date can come in many forms, but there are certain characteristics that most successful first dates have.
It’s already stressful enough to meet up with a stranger and try to convince them to like you, so the location and activity you choose for the date shouldn’t add to the stress.
Different people have different ideas of what increases or reduces pressure, so take your feelings and your date’s feelings into consideration when planning the date. Some people prefer to be surrounded by other people on their first date, such as at a game night or group class, so that you’re not totally focused on each other. Others prefer the intimacy of one-on-one dates. Some people like a lot of activity on their first date, while others find that too tiring and prefer just sitting and having a conversation.
Whatever you choose, make sure you don’t pick a date that you can’t afford, or one that involves an activity you aren’t comfortable with (like karaoke if you’re afraid of being in front of an audience). Also, especially if you don’t know your date well, try not to choose a date where you end up trapped together for a long time without being able to leave if things aren’t going well. These include activities where the date follows a set itinerary that is difficult to leave early, or if you’re getting home via public transportation and it doesn’t leave very often.
It Gives You a Chance to Get to Know Each Other
The reason you’re going on this date is to get to know each other better, so make sure your first date activity gives you two plenty of opportunity to talk.
Activities where you’re not supposed to talk (like a movie or theater performance) or activities where holding a conversation is difficult (like racing each other on your bikes), don’t give you a lot of chances to chat, but they can work as first date ideas if you plan to spend some time together, such as grabbing a drink or going for a walk, before or after the main activity.
It’s an Activity You Both Enjoy
Not every date on this list is going to work for every person. Remember, a first date is only a success when both people enjoy themselves, so make sure you think about your and your date’s preferences.
Hopefully you know at least a little bit about what your date does and doesn’t like to do, and you can use that to choose the best first date activity. For example, if your date loves being outdoors, you can choose a sports-related activity, a hike, or a bike ride. If you’re not sure which option to choose, give your date a couple of different ideas and ask if he/she has a preference.
Eating and Drinking First Date Ideas
1. Hang Out at a Coffee Shop
Grabbing coffee is a classic first date idea, but there are lots of ways you can make this a unique activity. Head to a fun local coffee shop rather than a chain, and take advantage of any activities or events they have going on. There may be board games you two could play or live music to listen to. Coffee dates are a great, low-pressure way to get to know someone, so there’s a reason they’re so popular.
2. Attend a Wine Tasting or Beer Tasting
Going to a wine or beer tasting is a fun and unique twist on the standard first date at a bar. These events can be held at a bar, winery, or brewery, and they involve tasting a few different kinds of drinks, often with some snacks as accompaniment.
Trying different kinds of drinks and food gives you something to talk about during the date, and if things are going particularly well, you can invite your date to join you for a full glass of their favorite beverage after the tasting is done.
3. Take a Cooking Class
A lot of people enjoy cooking, but many people are hesitant to invite a stranger over to their house to cook together on the first date. That’s where cooking classes come in. Your instructor will lead you and several other people (unless you take a private class) through all the steps of making several dishes, and afterwards you’ll be able to eat what you made together.
Cooking classes are a great first date option because they give you plenty of opportunities to talk, but you can always take a moment to act like the onions need a bit more chopping if there’s an awkward silence and you need a moment to figure out what to say next.
Cooking classes have exploded in popularity in the past few years, which means there’s a lot of different options that you can use to fit your and your date’s tastes. If you’re both vegetarians, you can take a vegetarian cooking class, or if you know your date loves Japanese food, you can enroll in a sushi-making class.
4. Grab Some Ice Cream
It’s typical to get dinner on the first date, but why not skip straight to dessert? Dessert dates are generally less formal, cheaper, and more flexible time-wise (you don’t have to sit through a certain number of courses) than dinner dates.
You can stop at an ice cream parlor, gelato shop, or frozen yogurt shop and choose between sitting at a table or taking a walk as you enjoy your dessert.
5. Visit a Farmer’s Market
If you want to explore a new part of your town and check out the local food, head to a nearby farmer’s market. You two can peruse the food selection and see what’s on display. There are often some unique varieties of produce being sold in these markets if you need a conversation starter. Many farmer’s markets also sell prepared food, so you have the option of grabbing something to eat and keeping the conversation going longer.
6. Go Out to Brunch
Getting brunch is a great first date activity because you’ll enjoy sharing a meal together but with less of the formality and pressure dinner dates can have. It’s also a great activity if a lot of your evenings are booked (or if you just love pancakes).
Since brunch dates occur earlier in the day, if the date went well, you can always suggest going for a walk afterwards to continue to get to know each other.
Sporty First Date Ideas
7. Take a Bike Ride
Getting on your bikes and exploring the town or the trails is another first date option. You can have a relaxed ride while chatting, amp it up with some more intense biking, or do a combination of both.
8. Attend a Sports Game
If you two have a favorite sport, attending a game can be a first date activity you both enjoy. You’ll have lots of opportunities to talk, and you can focus on the action when you need time to think of what to say next.
Also consider attending a minor league game. Tickets are much cheaper than major league events, and they often have fun activities or entertainment going on if the game starts to drag or you don’t know what to talk about during half time.
9. Go Rock Climbing
If neither you nor your date is afraid of heights, rock climbing, done outdoors or at an indoor rock wall, can be a unique and exciting first date experience. It’s best if one or both of you has rock climbing experience, but if you’re both novices, you can always take a class and learn the ropes (so to speak) together.
10. Take a Hike
Instead of being stuck in a chair for several hours during your first date, take an opportunity to stretch your legs during a hike. Even if you live in a city, there’re likely hiking options nearby, and you can choose a trail based on your fitness abilities and how long you want the hike to last. The fresh air and scenery are sure to help fuel the conversation.
11. Go Skating
Depending on the season and what’s nearby, a great first date idea could be roller skating or ice skating. Head to a local rink or skate park, or just roller blade around town. Also, if you’re feeling wobbly, you can always use that as an excuse to hold your date’s hand.
12. Go Kayaking or Canoeing
It’s pretty hard not to get to know each other when it’s just you and your date out on the water together. Many places will rent kayaks and canoes for a few hours or an entire day. This is a great way to have an active first date outside but still easily have an intimate conversation. Because you’ll often have to paddle from one set starting spot to a set ending spot without being able to bail (pun intended) early, this may be a better first date idea if you already know your date a bit and know you’ll get along during the entire trip.
13. Go Horseback Riding
A horseback ride is a perfect first date activity because it’s romantic without being cheesy. Set your steeds along a path while you two strike up a conversation and see where it takes you. You may have to ride with an instructor or a group, but you two can always hang out in the back if you want more privacy.
14. Play Frisbee
If you’re heading to a park but want to do more than just walk around, consider bringing a frisbee with you. Pretty much everyone knows how to throw a frisbee, or can pick it up quickly, and you can either toss it back and forth or start up a game of frolf (frisbee golf) or ultimate frisbee.
15. Take Some Swings at a Driving Range
This is a great first date if you like golf but your date is a novice, because you can teach them the finer points of perfecting their swing. A bucket of golf balls usually only costs a couple of bucks, and when your arms get tired, you can take a seat on the grass and chat while watching other golfers test their aim.
Outdoor First Date Ideas
16. Visit an Amusement Park
If you want to get your hearts racing (perhaps for each other?), head to an amusement park and let your inner child out. You two can get to know each other while waiting in line, then let your guard down while screaming during the roller coaster loops and water slide drops.
Scientific studies have shown that having an increase in adrenaline when you’re with someone can help you feel more connected to that person, so definitely go for the thrill-seeker rides. As a caveat, trips to amusement parks often last significantly longer than the average first date, so take that into account before you suggest it. A similar alternative, but one that requires a smaller time investment, would be to attend a nearby carnival or boardwalk instead.
17. Visit a Zoo
If you’re looking for a casual, but still fun, first date idea, zoos have the entertainment, scenery and food all in one place. The number of cat videos on the internet is testament to the fact that animals are always doing crazy things, and you’ll be sure to see some antics from the zoo residents that you two can talk about as you view the exhibits.
18. Stop by a Street Fair
Street fairs or block parties are full of eating and activity options, so you’ll probably be able to easily find food and entertainment both you and your date enjoy. Going to a street fair also gives you a lot of flexibility. If the date’s going well, there are often enough things to see and do that you could spend the entire day there. Conversely, if there isn’t a connection, there’s no waiting to finish your meal and get the check before gracefully making an exit.
19. Play a Game of Miniature Golf
Yes, it’s the standby of parents who need to keep their children occupied, but people love mini golf. It’s fun, cheap, easy to play, and you can start a friendly rivalry with your date as you compete to aim your shot between moving windmill arms.
20. Attend an Outdoor Movie
If you want to be a bit more creative than just heading to your local theater and seeing a movie, attend an outdoor movie showing. These are often held in public parks, and most of the time they’re free! Besides being cheaper, attending an outdoor movie is better than a regular movie at a theater because you often have more opportunities to talk. While you’ll quickly be shushed inside a theater if you try to start a conversation, many people are more relaxed about talking during outdoor movie showings, especially if you’re sitting near the back and not too close to others.
Up the date by bringing a bottle of wine or a few beers (if open container laws in your area allow it) and some snacks you two can enjoy as you watch the movie.
21. Go Fishing
Fishing may seem like a pastime exclusively for old men, but it can actually be a great first date idea. You can choose a fishing spot that gives you enough privacy to talk without others listening in, you’ll get to enjoy nature, and you’ll have plenty of time to get to know each other while you’re waiting for the fish to bite.
22. Try Go-Karting
Like mini golf, go-karting is a great way to let your guard down and share some laughs together with your date. Take a few laps around the track, and if you’re feeling competitive, you can agree that the loser has to buy drinks for the next date.
23. Go Paintballing
A favorite of adolescent boys everywhere, if you and your date are both fans of paintball, spending a few hours running around a course and dodging each other’s shots can be a great way to have fun together. Paintball is often done with a group, which you may appreciate to take some of the pressure off the date, but you can also arrange for it just to be the two of you.
24. Have a Picnic in the Park
If you want to have a meal together on your first date but would rather do so outdoors, a picnic may be the perfect solution. It’s a less formal way to get to know each other compared to sitting across from each other at a restaurant and having a waiter check on you every few minutes.
If you’re feeling fancy, you can show off your cooking skills and make your own dishes for the picnic, or you can purchase some pre-made meals to save time.
25. Start a Campfire
Celebrate summer, good weather, and your budding romance by spending your first date seated around a campfire. You’ll be under the stars, (hopefully) sharing some blankets, and the mood lighting will already be perfect. Bring along the ingredients for s’mores and roast some marshmallows over the fire for an added touch.
26. Go for a Boat Ride
You can also take to the water on your fun first date. This can be as simple as taking a paddle boat around a local lake, or you can go all out and charter a private sailboat ride for the two of you. Bonus points if you can plan the boat ride around sunset or fireworks as the perfect ending to your date.
27. Watch the Sunset
For a free, low-key, but still enjoyable first date, consider watching the sunset. Bring along a blanket, something to eat or drink, and grab a spot with a great view. Then chat your date up until the show starts.
28. Take Your Dogs for a Walk
This obviously works best if one or both of your have dogs, but even if you don’t, a lot of animal shelters need volunteers to walk the dogs they’re waiting to adopt. You and the pooches will get some exercise, and it’ll be easy to get close when you’re extracting yourselves from a tangle of leashes.
29. Head to the Beach
Spending your first date in a swimsuit may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but if you and your date are both down for it, why not head out to the sand? You can catch some sun, take a walk along the water, or play a game of beach volleyball. There’s a reason why beach outings are considered a classic romantic activity – the combination of sun, waves, and swimsuits is hard to beat.
30. Take a Helicopter Ride
It’s definitely not the cheapest activity, but if you want to wow your date and give them a memory they won’t forget, consider taking them on a helicopter ride. Most companies offer standard tours that will give you a bird’s-eye view of major sights, and many include a bottle of champagne for you two to split as you take in the view.
31. Be Tourists for a Day
Even if you’ve lived in your town for awhile, there’s a chance you still haven’t experienced some of its most popular attractions. Check some of these activities off your list by spending your first date pretending to be tourists and seeing some of the major sights in your hometown.
Get some tickets to the most popular museum, sign up for the cheesy Segway tour you always wanted to try, or make reservations for the number one restaurant with out-of-towners. You and your date can have some fun pretending you’re new to town and are just seeing things for the first time. If you’re not sure which activities to do, check sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor to see what the tourists enjoy in your hometown.
Indoor First Date Ideas
32. Go Bowling
Bowling is cheap, fun, and, since it’s a staple of children’s birthday parties, pretty much everyone has done it before (though you may want to forgo the bumpers this time). Some bowling alleys will go all out with theme nights and live music, which can also add to the date. This is a great option for a fun first date that is more active but won’t leave you exhausted and without any opportunities to have a conversation.
33. Visit a Museum or Art Gallery
If you and your date are both museum-enthusiasts, you could spend a great first date browsing exhibits and comparing interests. Many museums and art galleries also offer free nights or special events where they serve food and drinks.
You can wander through the galleries and discuss how you feel about the different pieces on display, or you can get creative and each choose a favorite piece from each room you visit. Compare your choices and explain why the piece you chose is your favorite.
34. Visit a Haunted House
If the thought of your first date with someone new isn’t enough to get your heart pounding, consider upping the ante by spending the date at a haunted house. There’s nothing quite like screaming at the top of your lungs together to make you feel close to someone.
35. Take a Pottery or Painting Class
Whether you create a painting, take a spin on a potter’s wheel, or paint a pottery piece, taking an art class will get your creative juices flowing and keep the conversation interesting. Many of these classes are also BYOB, and you’ll be able to take home a memorable souvenir from your first date.
36. Visit a Bookstore
If your date is a book lover, nothing will make them happier than browsing shelves lined with hundreds of books. Whether you go to a large bookstore chain with a cafe on site, or a tiny used bookstore, you two can have a great date browsing the selection and comparing your favorite titles.
37. Sing Karaoke
If you’re feeling confident in your singing skills, invite your date to a local karaoke night. You can impress them with your vocal abilities, and you two may even consider getting up on stage and performing a duet. The atmosphere at karaoke bars is usually very fun and energetic, and you’ll have plenty of options for food and drinks.
38. Play Bingo
It’s not the most popular game among young people, but bingo is easy to play, bingo halls have a fun, communal atmosphere, and little can beat the rush you feel when you get to stand up and shout “bingo!”. If you’re into board games but want to try something a bit more social, head over to a bingo hall and put your names down on the list.
39. Visit a Record Store
If you’d prefer to browse music selections rather than books, consider spending your first date at a record store. You can compare musical tastes and maybe even each purchase a record you think the other person should listen to.
40. Attend the Theater
For a first date that’s a bit more sophisticated than just going to the movies, head to the theater. Live performances usually have a lot of energy and are very entertaining to watch. If you’re looking to keep costs down, consider attending a community theater. Prices are generally low, and you’ll still get all the benefits of seeing actors perform live.
41. Visit an Arcade
If you want to experience the fun of playing games together but don’t want to spend your first date hanging out in your basement, head to an arcade and check out their selection of retro and modern games. There’s nothing like comparing Pac-Man scores to start your relationship off on the right foot.
42. Attend a Trivia Night
Trivia nights are a great date activity if you want to go somewhere with a group and not just the two of you. You’ll learn what your date is an expert on and bond while working to get your team to the top of the ranks.
43. Explore a Thrift Shop
Thrift shops sell all sorts of crazy things, and you could easily spend a few hours browsing the shelves and seeing what’s for sale. To make it more interesting, you can each set a small spending limit (about $5-$10) and see who can purchase the most interesting item. Afterwards, give each other what you bought and you’ll have a unique souvenir from your first date.
44. Attend an Improv or Comedy Show
Laughing on a date relieves a lot of the awkwardness and makes you feel closer to the other person, and, if you spend your first date at a comedy club, you don’t need to worry about being funny because other people will be taking care of that for you!
Afterwards, you can get drinks and discuss what you thought of the performance and compare what your favorite bits were.
45. Take a Dance Class
Instead of spending your first date awkwardly bumping shoulders and wondering if you should hold hands, cut to the chase with a dance class. There’s a huge variety of dance classes out there, from ballroom dancing to salsa. You may not become an expert dancer, but you’ll definitely feel more comfortable around each other at the end of it.
There you go – 45 of the best first date ideas to have a great time. Now relax and have fun!