If you're tired of first-date clichés like dinners out, catching a movie, and/or hitting the bar, we get it—there's a lot else out there. 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. You'll both be out of your comfort zones, and you won't fall into those conversational clichés that leave you yawning into your pasta at a local date spot. Plus, you'll get to know a person even better by putting them into a situation they're maybe not so used to, like cycling or going to an arcade. Ahead, 56 ideas to get you started.
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, 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.
It's one thing to attend a poetry reading or comedy show, it's quite another to get up and bare your soul to a group of strangers. Granted, this one's not for people who get stage fright. If that's the case, you can sit and cheer while your date takes the plunge.
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.
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.
Don't be intimidated! These acts are designed to be entertaining, sexy, and/or laugh out loud funny. The scene is loud and boisterous, and the food and drink scene is usually fun too. It's like the ol' dinner and a show—but make it cool.
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?).
Have you ever walked by an open house of a beautiful building and think, It must be so gorgeous in there. Go see how the other half lives, ogle some stunning decor, and talk about what you like and don't like. Best case: It might be useful later on! Worst case: cool architecture, and you don't have to talk much.
Resolutions don't just have to be for January 1! In the interest of making this fun (as opposed to grueling and arduous—you don't want the date to end in a fight) pick something fun. Each of you write out a big-picture goal, and then talk about your hopes for the future.
Regardless of whether your town/city has a ferris wheel, observation deck, or other sky-high view, go and find a location that helps you see your area from a new perspective. That could be traveling a few miles out or even just going to a roof deck to help you look at things in a new way together.
I mean, if you're worried about what to say on your date, this is perfect, right?? Even if you've never done it before, taking beginner's meditation together will help you chill. Then you guys can go grab dinner and talk about how relaxed you both feel.
Obviously you don't know each other well yet, so go to a store that sells knickknacks and see if you can get something small and inexpensive to make the other person laugh. Or just browse the oddities together and enjoy each other's company.
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.
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 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.
If you're definitely not into the traditional first date thing, 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. This can also be a blast as a group activity or with fellow barmates.
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, if a bit bruised. Alternative: When the weather's colder, go ice-skating at a rink.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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. Bonus: You might find a new place for an upcoming dinner date.
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 ceremony at an ASMR volume while both of you sip on calming teas and feel zen.
Channel your inner artiste by participating in an art class of your choice (amping it up with a figure drawing class? It depends on the date, probably.). You can bond over your lack of painting skills and help each other work on your technique. You'll have something to hang on your wall afterwards, and some classes encourage drinking and painting (perfect!).
Whether you live by an ocean, lake, or body of water, a day out on the sand is always a calming date spot if the weather's playing nice. If you're feeling it, rock a two-piece and offer to apply sunscreen. 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.
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.