Tired of first-date clichés like dinners out, catching a movie, and/or hitting the bar? When you're trying to get to know someone, you sometimes just want an experience that feels natural, like taking a class together or trying a new activity.
Visit a Flea Market
If you want to breeze through an hour or two on a date while getting some shopping in, invite your date to a flea market with enough activities so you'll never get bored. Large flea markets like Smorgasburg in L.A. and Brooklyn typically involve shopping, food, and drinks so you can catch up over an iced coffee or peruse the tents together.
Tour a Botanical Garden
There's no better place to explore on a date than the pretty manicured lawns and gardens of a botanical garden. Pro tip: Plan to go later in the day or after the summer rush if you don't want to find yourself sweating in a greenhouse at mid-day. If they allow food, this can also be a perfect picnic spot
Hit Up a Karaoke Bar
If it works for coworker bonding, it's worth a try for a fun stranger date. Even if you're not exactly Zooey Deschanel in the vocals department, it's more about enjoying the moment and showing your personality. Be sure to ask first before you spring it on them, though.
Attend Trivia Night at a Local Bar
Combine powers to form a dream team at trivia night. You'll laugh as you wrack your brains for city names and bond over your shared knowledge of obscure horror films. Plus, drinks are usually on the house if you both end up winning.
Attend an Outdoor Concert
This one's a definite time commitment, so you might want to get to know each other over a drink or meal before going for this option. But the perks of an outdoor show, especially if you both love the band, are the good vibes. If there's space on the lawn, pack a blanket or get up close and personal in the pit.
Take a Wine-Tasting Tour
If you're both vino fans, grab lunch and wander through some scenic vineyards on a wine tasting tour. Both of you can learn to sniff, swirl, and sip like the pros while spending a boozy afternoon together. Just remember to eat something—those tours can lead to immediate tipsiness.
Play Mini Golf
Even though you're way past the age for miniature golf, the low-stakes game allows for some lighthearted fun without feeling like you need to be competitive (and if the other person gets a little crazy about it, that'll probably tell you a lot). Plus, the yawn-worthy pace of golf means you can chat and play without any interruption.
Take a Ferry Ride
The length of a 30-minute ferry ride is the perfect bite-sized date option for people who don't want to have to drag things out over dinner or drinks. It's a good chance to get fresh air, take in some sights, and suss out whether you might actually want to go on a post-excursion drink or coffee.
Head to the Aquarium
No ambiance is more romantic than the hush of a soft-lit aquarium. Stroll through the darkened rooms while you point out your favorite creatures behind the glass. Some aquariums offer interactive educational exhibits and teach guests eco-friendly ways to clean up the ocean, so you'll feel like you got something out of it.
Go to a Carnival
Appeal to your inner child by buying tickets for a carnival. Yes, I know, it seems so cliché. But embrace the cheesiness, share cotton candy, let them try to win you a prize, and ride a roller coaster if you've got the stomach for it. It's a great way to get to know each other while having fun at the same time and talking about your memories of childhood.
Play Some Arcade Games
For those with a short attention span and an adventurous spirit, get to know your date over an adrenaline-racing round of arcade games. Play up your competitive side or join forces as a team against another pair with a game of foosball. And, if you're terrible at games like me, play a couple rounds then cheer your date on as they're crushing it.
Cheer on a Sports Team
The adrenaline rush of watching your favorite sports team with someone else who maybe, possibly shares your fanaticism can be a quick and easy way to get to know each other. Load up on snacks and enjoy the game—even if you don't like the sport, it'll be on in the background if conversation lags, or you can ask the other person to tell you what they love about their team.
Go to a Brewery
One great all-seasons date for booze lovers is a brewery tour. You can sip on the latest IPAs and ciders while getting to know each other it's a win-win. The same goes for a winery or cidery: Most places know that the key is a killer ambiance.
You + the great outdoors + the ideal social distancing meet up + your date who you pray is into this as much as you are = the perfect date. Don't forget to bring a comfy blanket, some snacks, and have a chill playlist for your evening under the stars.
Work On a Puzzle
Call us old fashioned, but nothing is more relaxing than putting together a 500-piece puzzle together with someone. The conversation flows, and if you run out of stuff to talk about, you can just hold up a piece to ask where its counterpart is. BOOM, instant conversation.
Go Ice Skating
Bundle up, mask included, and go support your local ice skating rink. Learning or teaching (you little pro!) someone a new thing helps bring people together, so get ready to watch the sparks fly. Don't forget to grab some hot chocolate after!
Play a Video Game
Thanks to the 21st century, you don't have to be in the same room to play each other in your favorite video games. Gaming consoles that you can take on the go, like the Nintendo Switch, can allow you to indulge in some friendly competition from wherever.
Take a Cooking Class
You’ll know right away if the relationship stands a chance once you find out who’s better in the kitchen. Approaching it from the right attitude, just have fun and be willing to make a mess!, means you'll have a blast.
Yoga in the Park
Put on your workout clothes and head to the park for some fresh air and relaxation. Partner yoga positions are always the move, and you can get to know each other in more ways than one (lol). Plus, they'll have a new respect for how hard yoga is.
Support the Local Arts
It's pretty much a guarantee that you'll find a local play, poetry reading, dance troupe, or another public event to attend and it's supporting local culture, even if it doesn't end up being your cup of tea.
Share a Meal
Obviously, this won't work if either of you is sick or squeamish, but a fondue place or traditional Japanese shabu-shabu lets you prepare your food in the same shared pot. The latter is customizable and gives you something to talk about while you watch your beef and veggies cook leisurely in a simmering pot. Alternative: Go and get big bowls of ramen and compete to see who finishes first.
Host a Movie/TV Watch
Ok, I realize this sounds like a glorified version of Netflix and Chill. But hear me out! Plenty of bars, restaurants, and social groups do these (hello, Game of Thrones), and it's a great way to participate in a shared love. Or, you could host one, but that takes a lot of effort, so finding an existing one feels like an easier choice.
Go on a (Mini) Vacation
For those who love to travel but don't want to (or can't) go far, take a bus or a train an hour away to see the local sights and just get away from your daily routine. Treat it like a real vacay, with fun local snacks and sightseeing. Even though it's just a skip and a jump away, it's like a whole new world.
Go Get Sundaes
Don't just walk to get ice cream, really lean in. Compete to see which one of you can craft the most delicious/ridiculous concoction, then race to eat them before they melt. Bonus points if you can make something that your date wants more than their own.
Make a Three-Course Meal
Cooking, while fun, isn't exactly unconventional. But it is if you up your game: Break out that new cooking tool you got over the holidays (Instant Pots ftw!!). Choose a dish you've always been too intimidated to make. Plan carefully, partner on the execution, and make like you're eating a fancy dinner in your own living room. Make sure your date likes to cook before you rope them in, though.
Head to the Spa
Get solo or couples' massages! Chill out in the jacuzzi! Hang out in the sauna! There's so much to do here, especially after a long, exhausting day. Just make sure you're both at the same level of comfort (maybe one of you prefers a non-nude spa, you know?).
Share Your Favorite Spot
Is there a beautiful mural you love by your home? The perfect place to watch the sunset? That little hole-in-the-wall bakery with the best donuts? Take a walk and share the little details that you love about your area, and encourage the other person to do the same.
Explore a New Coffee Shop
“Grabbing coffee” doesn’t have to be a boring first date. There are plenty of cute spots with amazing vibes to kick back and learn more about each other. Think: Places with yummy pastries, or gorgeous art and high ceilings. Plus, you’ll find out what their drink order is—and that says everything you need to know about them.
If you’re near one of their locations If not, try and find some local food trucks to get a taste (or two or three) of what they enjoy. Instead of settling in and only experiencing one place, hopping around can make for some fun discussion.
Get an Aura Reading
Good vibes ONLY. You can joke with them and say you’re into horoscopes, but really you’re there to find out if you're wasting your time (#priorities). Some people may not be into this, but if you turn it into a fun hangout it’ll make the date way more memorable than dinner and a movie.
Go to a Planetarium
The hushed atmosphere of a planetarium combined with the darkroom make for an ideal ambiance for a first date. Spend an evening gazing at the stars and learning about the constellations, with lots of hand-holding potential. My now-husband dragged me to a planetarium early on and I was surprised by how much of a blast I had.
Visit an Art Gallery
Whether you're a true art buff or just along for the ride, this one's a great quiet place for both of you to gauge each other's interests and conversational skills. Choose a fun, exciting gallery or photo exhibit that's not too obscure if you're anxious about not having enough to talk about. Alternative: Go visit a museum, but pick a topic or gallery that interests you both.
Go Rock Climbing
If you've both got an appetite for adventure and you want to undergo the ultimate "survival test" dating experience, there's nothing quite like being suspended from great heights on a harness while you're clinging for dear life to do it. Alternative: If you'd rather stay Earthbound, try an Escape Room.
Whether you're a strike machine or a ten-pin novice, there's so much fun to be had at a bowling alley, from the beer and cheap pizza to the rush of that first strike. Set up the bumper guards if you want to avoid utter embarrassment or go no-holds-barred for a competitive match. Just...go easy on each other if one of you is better.
Make Like Tourists in Your Own Neighborhood
You know how sometimes you only end up doing "touristy" things when guests are around? Well, pick a couple nearby landmarks and commit to experiencing them like you don't live there. The act of embarking on a trip will make for a unique shared experience and will finally let you check some sights off your bucket list.