Now that you've cleared the awkward small talk of a first date, there's room to get creative on the second. Yes, you *could* play it safe and opt for a traditional dinner. Buuuut it always pays to think outside the box and take risks: a new shared experience can draw out details about your date you wouldn't discover, say, chatting over a three-course meal. Click ahead for ideas on how to branch out on your next date night.
If you want a less stuffy environment than a dinner setting, where there's mimosas a'plenty and no pressure to stick around for the rest of the day, try going for a day date for brunch on the weekend. For fellow angsty people, you can at least get the date out of the way and then go about your day instead of sweating it until evening.
If you really vibed on the first date and want to have some alone time beyond your neighborhood or city, plan a scenic drive somewhere with #views. Spread out a picnic or pack some snacks for the ride.
You don't want the game to be too one-sided, so go with something you can really engage in that's well suited for both of you. Toss around a Frisbee in the park or hit up the basketball court for some one-on-one. Teamwork and the natural endorphins are guaranteed to pull you closer.
There's no better time than now to plan for a beach date, whether you're going with a group of friends or hanging out one-on-one. Pack some snacks and sunscreen at high noon or head out to the sands for a sunset stroll.
Wind blowing in your hair plus picturesque views of the skyline are the ideal mood-setters for a date. Take a ferry or water taxi to an unexplored part of your city if you want to make it a longer day trip.
Summer is ripe for yard sales and outdoor flea markets. If you both have a bug for finding cheap records or furniture, take a walk around your neighborhood for the latest sidewalk sales or peruse the odds and ends at a nearby market.
Even if you're not exactly blessed with great balance, you and your date can at least keep each other upright with a couple's skate at your nearest roller skating rink. This one's not for those who get easily embarrassed, but if you let your adventurous side come out, it's guaranteed to be a fun time.
This one's great for a single or group date. Load up some drinks and snacks, then take to the beach or someone's backyard for a bonfire.
Do some strolling in a beautiful botanical garden that's more scenic than your average nature walk. If you've brought snacks, take them to the gardens outside and settle onto a bench to chat.
Whether you're in a city or the countryside, renting bikes is a great way to explore where you live and get exercise at the same time. If riding the open road isn't your thing, find a trail that provides more shade and requires less planning.
Galleries are great events for dates because there's usually not an entry free and you can score a glass of wine. Plus, the surrounding photos and art will provide instant conversation cues to transcend basic small talk.
Here's an easy way to grab a drink and feel cultured at the same time. A wine tasting tour will teach you a thing or two about grapes, vintages, bouquets, and after a glass or two, him.
You don't have to go to an all-out amusement park with roller coasters to have fun. Carnivals are one of those timeless traditions that feel just as exciting on screen as they do in real life. Play some games, eat too much cotton candy, and take a trip on both the ferris wheel and the carousel.
Ghosts tours are great outside-the-box dates for many reasons: they require both of you to tap into your imagination, suspend disbelief, and get the adrenaline pumping.
For a racier warm-weather date, venture for a dip at sunset. Little kids will be gone, and there's something exciting about being in a pool after dark.
Zoos and aquariums are fun options for dates when you want a creative setting—enjoy some light banter under the calming blue lights of an aquarium or trade stories as you take in all of the sights and sounds of the wildlife.
A local dive-bar can provide a lot more entertainment than a stuffy cocktail joint. Split a pint and play some pool to mix things up. Or,when that gets old, you can always play a game of foosball or darts.
The range of tasting options at a farmer's market will give you plenty to talk about and sample. If you're feeling extra ambitious, round up some fresh ingredients while you're there and cook a meal together.
Take a card from your youth playbook by organizing a friendly game of miniature golf. Stakes will be low and there will be plenty of chances to banter while you recover golf balls from tough nooks and crannies (it's bound to happen).
Who cares about gutter balls? If you're worried about striking out, set up the bumper guards or get competitive without them. Grab some beers and pizza to make it a night.
Amaze your date with your catalogue of random facts about history and pop culture and bond over your shared knowledge of obscure SNL skits. Plus, if your team wins, drinks are usually on the house.
Get an adrenaline boost by attending a rowdy sports game. Rooting for different teams? No problem. A little innocent rivalry can get your blood pumping.
See how well the two of you do with public transportation. Choose a beach or a historical site just outside your city—nothing more than an hour away—and get to know each other on the ride.
Even if Ms. Pacman wasn't part of your childhood, an arcade date playing old-school games is bound to loosen you up and create a fun, interactive atmosphere. And if you know a local barcade, you can sling back some IPAs at the same time.
Some quality time in nature never hurts. Come fall, this is the perfect way to stroll in the outdoors while enjoying some delicious apple-cider donuts.
You don't have to Netflix-and-chill on Date #2, but you can set up a cozy movie night that guarantees you some privacy. Settle on a film or a couple episodes of a television series (if you're scrambling for options, a comedy will lighten the mood) and order in some pizza.
After dinner, head to a local show to see some live music—but do your research, since a random band that can't play their instruments can be a serious mood-killer. Here's an opportunity to find out more about his musical tastes and to see how you both gel in a performance setting.
Sailing can be precarious unless one of you has some prior expertise. If you want to keep it simple, rent a paddleboat in the park to reinvent that scene from 10 Things I Hate About You when it's sunny out.
Pick a museum that suits the mood you want to set. Attend an opening you've both wanted to check out or explore the galleries of a museum with enough options to keep you entertained for more than one hour. It's an added bonus if you have any special knowledge you've studied up on (looking at you art history majors).
Whether you believe in the occult or not, a palm reading is sure to spark some interesting conversation. Just don't ask any questions about your love life.
For the uninitiated, find a local stable and schedule a riding lesson. Or, ride out unchaperoned into the sunset if you already know the ropes.
Whether it's with an electric machine or a hand cranker, making ice cream will take you back to a more innocent time—and it's a super sweet treat.
A date option that works for foodies is trying food that's a little out of your comfort zone. Never shucked an oyster before? Always wanted to try Ethiopian cuisine and know a local restaurant with stellar Yelp reviews? Let yourself enjoy a little cultural adventure and learn some things about each other's willingness to take risks. This one's also a great chance to order a spread of different options and to sample it all.
Navigating a corn maze together can create a sense of excitement. This one's an American staple for teenagers, but it's still a fun exercise as adults to consider what it's like to get lost together.
A staple of German culture, Biergarten literally means "beer garden." Stretch your cultural muscles and test your tolerance with this age-old Teutonic festivity.
The summer is prime time for outdoor movies —grab a blanket and a cooler and find one near you. They're just as entertaining as going to a theater, but you get the added bonus of cheap snacks and outdoor air. (Otherwise, find a drive-in movie theater in your area.)
This idea's a tried-and-true classic. Grab a blanket, make some sandwiches, and hit the green. After you're done eating, lay back in the sun and people-watch.
If you're running out of cold weather ideas, get the fireplace going (or a mini grill for city dwellers) and make some s'mores.
Poetry slams can go either way: they can be an enlightening experience or a fidgety nightmare if the poetry is just bad. If both of you are literary people, it's an easier pill to swallow, but if not—come with an open mind and a backup option in case you need to slip out halfway through.
Here's your chance to really show off your cooking skills and your mean mac n' cheese recipe. If your partner's the better cook and you're more of a Seamless girl, sit back and take the sous-chef role. You'll deal with the chopping and peeling, then relish the experience of eating an amazing meal you helped create.
Laughing releases endorphins, which sets a great tone for the night. But be sure to sit in the back—a good comedian will pick up on even the smallest hint of awkwardness and exploit it.
A little skin can be a good thing, so find a local burlesque group and catch a show. Take note though: This one's a racier second-date option, and not made for those who blush easily.
If you like your dates with a jolt of adrenaline in the mix, invite them to a go-cart showdown where you can try your hand at some hairpin Fast and Furious turns.
Agree on a part of your city or town that you've never seen before. Stop in to the local sights, try the food, and get a feel for how to navigate the neighborhood.
Take your date to the local animal shelter and offer to walk a pair of lovable pups. Animal shelters are always looking for volunteers, and you'll be able to gauge his patience with animals.
Board game night is a great option for days when the weather sucks and you really don't feel like going out. Order in and take a stab at some Trivial Pursuit and a couple card games, or school him with a competitive game of Scrabble.
If you live near a ski resort, snowboarding or skiing is a fun way to get to know each other and show off your adventurous side. (Note—not ideal for beginners.)
It may be more difficult if you live in the city, but once you've ventured out into areas with clear skies, you can test out your astrologer skills—no telescope required. Wear some warmer clothing, stretch out on a fleece blanket, and try to spot as many constellations as you can: *very* romantic.
Whether you're hitting a beach, taking a short hike, or following a waterfront path, the key here are the views. The walk will give you plenty of time to get to know each other and the sights will feel special when you're sharing them with someone else.
A well-fed person is a happy person, which makes the appeal of taste festivals kind-of a no-brainer. Take a stroll through the street carts, sample each other's food and simply enjoy each other's company.
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