That all-important first date is about conversation and bonding—and usually, it's a make-it-or-break-it evening. But if you are soooo done with all the restaurant reservations and silence-filled movie dates, or if you're just needing to break out of your routine, these activities should provide the proper inspiration to think outside the box. Even if your date doesn't end up being The One, you'll still be doing something you enjoy.
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.
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 new respect for how hard yoga is.
If you both have a cause you support (or, if there's a place nearby that needs your help), consider signing up to volunteer. There'll be plenty to keep you busy, you'll feel like your time went to good use, and you may even bond over the experience.
This may not be for everyone (a person who doesn't like getting up early, for example), or for every time of year, but there's something magical about trucking out together in the early morning to watch the sky change color. Bonus: Go to brunch after.
It's pretty much a guarantee that you'll find a local play, open mic night, poetry reading, dance troupe, or other public event to attend—and it's supporting local culture, even if it doesn't end up being your cup of tea.
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.
There are plenty of open-air venues like parks and rooftops that you can go to during the summer months; Even better, a lot of them have old, classic movies or shows (my first date with my husband was Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief at a park in Brooklyn, so I'm FULLY in on this one). The shared atmosphere and classic flick are a perfect combo.
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.
If you and your new date are the athletic sort, what better way to bond than through a shared passion? For anyone hoping for a more...let's call it low-key activity, an exercise class, going to the gym, or even just walking at a decent pace can all fit the bill.
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.
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.
It's been a rough week. You deserve some relaxation! Obviously, this doesn't have to be a massage where you're both naked—getting a back massage or foot massage is just as great, and lets you quietly relax without the pressure to talk too much.
We take our sense of humor very seriously. If they laugh at the meta joke the rest of the room doesn't get, or they have an offbeat sense of humor like yours, that'll tell you a lot. It’s always fun to share a laugh with somebody new.
Get some fresh air and ride some bikes together. It’s the perfect intro to part two of your date: a picnic in the park (keep reading)—where you can sit down, relax, and enjoy each other’s company. And the food will be worth it, because you exercised!
Get your hands dirty and make some art together—you can get to know each other while making a new addition for your home. So, even if the date is bad, you’ll at least feel like your time wasn't wasted. And if the vase looks ridiculous but the date went well, you'll have a funny story!
“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, Eataly is the perfect place to explore and eat some great food. 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.
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.
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.
When you're both book nerds, a day spent browsing your local bookstore is the ideal setup 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.
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 shenanigans that might occur once you get there. Alternative: Go and walk the dogs at your local shelter.
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 they key is a killer ambiance.
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. Alternative: Go to a thrift store and see who can find the most ridiculous item.
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.
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 (see below).
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. My now-husband dragged me to a planetarium early on and I was surprised by how much of a blast I had.
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.
Since the #Gram is a big part of everyone's life these days, go and be amateur photographers together. 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.
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 your personality. Be sure to ask first before you spring it on them, though.
The best way to beat the heat and get to know each other (without a time commitment) is the ice cream parlor date. Enjoy the cool A/C and sample all the flavors together. There are SO many places to pick up a sweet treat these days that you won't have to go far to get some delicious, and occasionally ridiculous, local offerings.