40 Unconventional First-Date Ideas

Skip the traditional dinner and a movie for something a little more original.

Date numero uno is all about the conversation and bonding: sometimes it's a make-it-or-break-it evening. But if all the restaurant reservations and silence-filled movie hours of your typical date just ramp up your anxiety, get inspired to think outside the box with a host of other creative options that will set a more inviting mood.

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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.

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Peruse a Bookstore

When you're both book nerds, a day spent browsing your local bookstore is the ideal set-up to get you bonding over your favorite titles. It also allows you to give each other suggestions on what to read next. Just making sure you're not getting too lost among the shelves that you're not paying attention to your date.

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People Watch

Secure a spot on a bench or on the lawn on a busy street or in a crowded park and let the people around you serve as food for thought.

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Walk a Dog Together

If one of you owns a pup, take them out to the nearest dog park to catch up and check out all other cute dogs. Note: It might be a mood killer if your dog's not super well-behaved, so just make sure you're prepared to handle any hijinx that might occur once you get there.

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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.

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Head to the Zoo

Who doesn't love seeing exotic animals and cuddly zoo creatures (at a comfortable distance)? This one's an easy date idea if you can sneak by at a time when the crowds aren't too heavy.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Go to a Planetarium

The hushed atmosphere of a planetarium combined with the dark room 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.

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Visit an Art Gallery

Whether you're a true art buff or are 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.

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Catch Some #Views

Whether you're catching the breeze at a waterfront walkway or know an especially scenic park nearby, it's always helpful to set the scene for a date with a pretty backdrop.

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Hit Up a Karaoke Bar

If it works for co-worker 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 a little more of your personality.

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Sample Some Fro-Yo or Icecream

When the temperature creeps upwards of 70 degrees, the best way to beat the heat and get to know each other (without a long time commitment) is the ice cream parlor date. Enjoy the cool A/C and sample all the flavors together.

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A Day of Light Sports and Games

If you're definitely not into the traditional first date schtick, take a lighthearted sports bar approach to the date night with an outdoorsy game of badminton or beach volleyball. If it gets too hot out, retreat indoors for some board games or table tennis.

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Go for a Skate

Not all roller skaters were born with balance, but taking a risk with a roller skating date can take the seriousness out of a first date that typically involves wining and dining. A few falls later and you'll both be a whole lot closer.

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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 heading over to a concert. 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.

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Head to the Aquarium

No ambience 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.

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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 the other person's up to snuff for a post-excursion drink or coffee.

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Sample Treats at a Food Festival

Big holidays like Chinese New Year and annual food festivals are excellent opportunities to sample bites while you get to know someone. All the various food options and the mingling in a crowd will give you a good chance to survey how adventurous and adaptable the other person is, too.

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Go for a Leisurely Bike Ride

If both of you like to bike, plan a trail date in a park or scenic area where both of you can chat while cycling at a *leisurely* pace to avoid any Tour de France-worthy pile-ups.

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Visit a Tea Room

If you're more into herbal blends than java, visit the soothing atmosphere of a tea room for your first rendezvous. The tea room owner will typically lead you in a tea ceremony at an ASMR volume while both of you sip on calming teas and feel zen.

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Take an Art Class

Channel the inner artiste by partaking in an art class of your choice (amping it up with a figure drawing class? Up to you). You can bond over your lack of painting skills and help each other work on your technique. A pottery class will also help you get your hands dirty, Ghost-style.

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Go to the Beach

Whether you live by an ocean or a lake, a day out on the sand is always a calming date spot if the weather's playing along. Soak in some sunshine near the water and as the day draws to a close, take a romantic stroll with the setting sun as an Instagram-worthy backdrop.

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Get Lost in a Cornfield Maze

Come autumn, the age-old cornfield maze is still a classic for your not-so-average cool weather date. It might take hours for you both to find your way through, but the wandering will allow for some necessary time to get to know each other. And when you finally emerge at the end of the path, you'll still have time to snack on cider and apple donuts.

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Go to a Carnival

Appeal to your inner child by buying tickets for a carnival. Yes, we know, we know, so cliché. But embrace the cheesiness—share cotton candy, let him try to win you a prize, and ride the Ferris wheel 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.

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Go Rock Climbing

If you've both got an appetite for adventure and you want to undergo the ultimate "survival test to bring you closer together" 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.

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Take Dancing Lessons

Sign up for an hour of dancing lessons where both of you are beginners. Even if your partner has two left feet, the act of learning a skill will draw you closer together. Stay for the all-couple dance session afterward once you're starting to get the hang of it, or retire somewhere else for a bite to eat.

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Go Bowling

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 the game itself. Set up the bumper guards if you want to avoid utter embarrassment or go no-holds-barred for a competitive one-on-one match.

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Feed the Ducks

Up the "awww" factor with this classic daytime date at the park. Gather up your stale bread and feed it to ducks at a pond, then bring along fresh sandwiches and drinks for a park bench lunch next to the water.

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