108 Best First Date Ideas (Great For Date Night Too)

First dates can be the start of a big romance, but it’s better not to look at them like that.

first date ideasJust see a first date as a way to have a fun time getting to know someone a bit better and nothing else. That way, you are not overly disappointed if it turns out that you’re not into him, he’s not into you or he’s looking for a casual fling rather than a girlfriend.

If you’re looking for someone special, it’s likely you have to kiss a lot of frogs (i.e. go on a lot of first dates) before you meet your prince, so don’t make every frog a prince in your mind, before he proves his worth.

In some ways it’s better not to build the date up into something extraordinary and make the meeting a casual one. Meeting for a coffee, a drink or a simple meal are all good because they give you a chance to focus on the person and not the event.

I must have had a first date with my husband all those years ago. We were both on the same post-grad course. But I can’t for the life of me remember a thing about where we went. It can’t have been that interesting (at least in terms of a venue!) and we are still together, so don’t worry if you don’t do anything exciting.

Generally the guy will suggest somewhere to go, but if he’s not forthcoming or he asks you where you would like to go, it’s good to have a few ideas up your sleeve even if it’s just to say “Have you been to X. I’ve heard good things about it” or “I’ve thought about going to Y. Have you been there?”

Choose somewhere away from your normal haunts. Sure, it would make you more relaxed if you were there, just the two of you, but you really don’t want to spend your time bumping into other people you know and introducing them to your date and getting knowing looks from your friends.

Avoid suggesting swanky, expensive places unless you know he has the budget for it and both of you are at home in those kind of venues. And stick with public places where there are plenty of people around, if you don’t know the guy well.

Also, it’s better not to make a movie your first date, given that the object of the exercise is to get to know someone and with a movie you will be sitting there without talking for two hours or more.

The exception to all this, if you’re a bit shy, is to take the focus off you a bit and give you both plenty to talk about with a fun first date. My preference is that you use your best ideas after the first date, so that you have not invested too much time, thought and emotion before you get to know someone, but fun dates can be good too and if it doesn’t work out with the guy, you may have a better time that way.

So here’s a collection with over a hundred of the best first date ideas that are not just coffee, drinks or dinner from all the lists out there on the web. (These lists are pretty general so don’t forget to also ask friends about great places in your town where they have been on dates.)

Marie Claire magazine gets the ball rolling with a pretty comprehensive list of 30 Romantic first date ideas

  1. going to the beach (during the day or to see the sunset)
  2. botanical gardens walk and cafe
  3. a cornfield maze (you could try any maze)
  4. beer brewery tour
  5. comedy club
  6. amusement park
  7. aquarium
  8. dance lessons
  9. playing games at the arcade
  10. softball practice
  11. practice your golf swing at the driving range
  12. bungee jumping (you’re on your own with that idea!)
  13. farmer’s market
  14. feeding the ducks
  15. go-kart racing
  16. horseback riding
  17. jazz club
  18. kite flying
  19. karaoke bar
  20. visit to a spa
  21. play mini-golf
  22. visit a museum
  23. tree planting with a local environmental group
  24. stroll through the park
  25. a wine-tasting tour
  26. go rowing on a lake
  27. go sailing
  28. cooking class
  29. play tennis
  30. trivia night
  31.  
    You’d think that would just about cover all the options but there are a whole lot more. Many of the lists overlap with the Marie Claire dates but most of them have a few extras to offer. In this post about first date activities from Lifehacker, you’ll find these additional ideas

  32. going for a walk
  33. watching an outdoor movie
  34. going on a picnic
  35. going for a run together (if running is your idea of a good time)
  36. volunteering at a soup kitchen (the altruistic date)
  37. a date for breakfast
  38. a fitness class
  39. visit a psychic
  40. playing video games
  41. taking a music lesson together
  42. browsing a used bookstore
  43. visiting a tourist hot spot in your town neither of you have been to
  44. attend a film or music festival
  45. invite your date to dinner at your place (if you’re a good cook)
  46.  
    Cosmo has a short list of dates that are sexy (in typical Cosmo fashion) – whether you make them sexy or not is up to you given that sleeping with him on a first date is usually not such a good idea!

  47. challenge him to a game of darts or pool
  48. rent bikes and explore the area
  49. pick up a basketball and challenge him to a game of hoops
  50. meet for lattes on your way to work
  51. picnic in the park
  52. visit a dog run
  53. head somewhere you’re not supposed to go (reminds me of the “Friends With Benefits” scene where they climb onto the Hollywood sign and Justin Timberlake has to be winched off)
  54. in the summer go for fruity margaritas at an outdoor bar
  55.  
    There is a good list of first date ideas at thefrisky.com. From their list we can add:

  56. walking your own dogs (if you both have one so much the better)
  57. playing Scrabble at a coffee shop
  58. a free outdoor concert
  59. go to a book reading
  60. go for a hike and bird watch
  61. play ping-pong
  62. tackle a rock climbing wall
  63. eat dinner progressively, each course at a different restaurant
  64. play chess at one of those outdoor tables
  65. go somewhere with interesting scenery and sketch
  66. canoeing
  67. roller-blading
  68. going to a flea market
  69. badminton in the park on a calm day
  70. the monkey park
  71. just dessert and coffee
  72.  
    And if you haven’t found the right date from all these, here are another eight from How Stuff Works

  73. visit an exhibition
  74. meet at the local cupcake shop and take your pick
  75. take a walking tour downtown
  76. drop by an outdoor arts festival or craft fair
  77. watch a basketball or football game or other sport
  78. a big name concert (make sure your date is a fan first)
  79. local live band
  80. seeing a play at a small local arts venue
  81.  
    Tumblr has a collection of ideas under the tag “first date ideas” and I picked up a few additions to the list, suggested by various entries there. Namely:

  82. dim sum date
  83. a record store
  84. game of Frisbee
  85. take your date to a party
  86. ice skating
  87. study date (for students)
  88. paintballing
  89. gun range
  90.  
    There are some nice descriptions of real dates men have taken their girlfriends on at the Art Of Manliness site. Here are some I noted including those from the comments guys left:

  91. geocaching (a treasure hunt involving handheld gps)
  92. outdoor BBQ in your favorite hiking/camping place
  93. go to the zoo (especially in winter)
  94. picnic on a skyscraper rooftop
  95. tandem bike ride
  96. horsedrawn-carriage ride
  97. helicopter ride
  98. segway ride
  99. star gazing or look for days when there are meteor showers etc
  100. fruit picking
  101. ice fishing
  102.  
    I thought there couldn’t possibly be any more and then I found even more ideas on this dating site

  103. bus or boat trip
  104. visiting a casino
  105. a balloon ride
  106. abseiling (if you’re both thrill seekers)
  107. horse racing
  108. car racing
  109. dog racing (100)
  110.  
    and even more at Love Panky (and then I gave up because I still think the simplest dates are the best LOL)

  111. ice cream parlor
  112. fishing
  113. planetarium
  114. special event in your city or a nearby one – check the tourist office
  115. flower show
  116. spooky date to a haunted house or a tourist ghost tour

8 Responses to “108 Best First Date Ideas (Great For Date Night Too)”

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  1. Ana, Thanks for compiling such a great list of date ideas! We are going to share this with our Twitter and Facebook Page. These are all great ideas for married couples as well. All the Best, Steve & Chrissy @ http://www.spousedates.com

  2. Mai Bateson says:

    We are in our 2 years and I think we’ve finished almost a quarter of the list mentioned. We are currently looking for some fresh ideas! 🙂 This is great!!! Many thanks for sharing.
    Visiting you from the Happy Wives Club Link Up.
    Mai Bateson recently posted…Marriage Mondays: Top 10 Tips to Have Date Night on the Cheap {& Link Up}

    • Ana says:

      Thanks Mai. I’m sure there’ll be even more ideas (and new things that haven’t been invented yet) by the time you get through all the ideas out there already 🙂

  3. Great list! It’s pretty comprehensive. It must have taken a while to find them all.

    Also, I’m happy to be your newest follower! I’d love it if you could take a second to check out my blog and follow me back 🙂

    Thanks so much,
    Tyson@Uplifting Love
    Tyson recently posted…What’s at the Center of Your Home?

  4. Geocashing – what an interesting idea. I’m with Tyson on this one. Great compehensive list! Who knew there were 108 different date night ideas. Fun!
    Fawn recently posted…Marriage Mondays: Top 10 Tips to Have Date Night on the Cheap {& Link Up}

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