If you’re tired of date clichés like dinners out, catching a movie, and/or hitting the bar, we get it—there’s so much out there if you take the time to look. Cities have grown in their capacity to offer truly unique experiences, and if you don’t live in a metropolitan area you can recreate some of these ideas at home.
When you’re trying to get to know someone (and you’ve gone on a lot of first dates—no shame!), you may 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.
A lot of these take place in silence or give you ample opportunity to discuss what’s going on around you—even if the date doesn’t work out, you get to have the experience regardless! 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, 54 fun dates—including cheap date ideas for couples on a budget and at-home dates if you’re stuck inside—to get you started.
Creative Date Ideas
1. Make Pasta Together
Carbs and a significant other? Sign us up. Sure, buying boxed noodles seems easier, but watching someone crank out some dough is an unspoken turn-on. (There, I said it.)
2. Decorate a space
Okay, so caveat that if you’re not comfortable inviting someone over to where you live right away, this doesn’t have to be your go-to move for a first date. But maybe your date could use your expert interior decorating skills! Maybe there’s a common area you could spruce up together! Maybe you could decorate a cubicle or office with some festive decorations! There are lots of ways to decorate, you just have to get creative.
3. Go to wine school
You read that right: Not just wine-tasting, wine school. This will help you both feel classy and cultured as you learn about how to properly taste the beverage, differentiate between types, find what you like best, and, yes, taste some delicious wine. There’s always something to discuss while you sip!
4. 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.
5. Walk around a museum
Similarly, museums have new or rotating exhibits—even if you’ve been before, there might be something new to see. They also have spaces to sit, eat, and chat, and potentially architecture or gardens that offer options to walk around. Museums are designed to spark engagement and conversation, which is perfect. At the very least you can laugh about not understanding the significance of everything.
6. Shop at a thrift store
Hit up your local thrift store and give each other 30ish minutes or so to find the craziest outfits for each other to wear to dinner right after. Look at you being all fun and sustainable! The winner gets to choose where you’ll dine later, so make sure to go all out.
7. Throw ourselves a mini party
On the other end of the spectrum, go nuts with a themed bash (guests: the two of you!) featuring inexpensive decorations, some lights, and festive cocktails. You could try a kids’ party theme, a ’90s costume party, or something the two of you make up. If you want to expand it into double-date territory, great, otherwise just make it the most exclusive party ever.
8. Go window-shopping
Similarly, if your area has a shop-lined street, go looking without making any impulse purchases. Start fun conversations by going into a wildly expensive store with things you can’t afford or a knickknack store with random trinkets. These areas can be bustling around rush hour, with plenty to do and see (plus restaurants if all that perusing works up an appetite).
9. 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.
10. Get to tie-dyeing
Seventies fashion is having a revival for a reason, so it’s the perfect time for you and your date to jump in on the trend. Pick up a tie-dye kit at your local craft store, set it up outside, and go all out to who can create the most colourful tee.
11. Speak at an open mic
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.
12. Find a pottery class
Get your hands dirty and make some art together—you can get to know each other while making a new addition to 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!
13. Hit up a karaoke bar
If it works for mandatory 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.
14. Check out a paint and sip class
If either of your creative skills is lacking, a class that tells you exactly what to paint and how to paint it may be up your alley. Bring along your favourite bottle of vino and laugh at each other’s attempts at becoming Picasso.
Active date ideas
15. Ride bikes
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!
16. 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 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.
17. Take a run around town
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.
18. 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, if a bit bruised.
19. 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 bond you closer together. Stay for the all-couple dance session afterwards once you’re starting to get the hang of it, or retire elsewhere for a bite to eat.
20. Go axe throwing
Not only is this an out-there date idea, but it’s a great stress reliever too. There’s just something about throwing a heavy axe at a wooden target that just makes us forget about all our worries and lets us act as if we were on a one-on-one Bachelor date.
21. Go horseback riding
We gotta love those The Bachelor dates! To emulate some fairy tale romance, spend a day at the stables riding trail horses for the afternoon. If neither of you have much equestrian experience, take a couple of laps around the paddock before trotting out into the wilderness
22. 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.
23. A day of light sports and games
If you’re 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 bar mates.
24. 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.
25. Play a round of laser tag
No, laser tag is not just for 13-year-olds at birthday parties. It’s a great way to have some friendly competition on a date, plus it’s a fun way to work up a sweat. Up the ante with a little wager: the loser has to buy the first round of drinks.
26. Seek out a pool
In the warmer months, this could mean a roof deck with a water feature, in colder months it could mean a jacuzzi or splashing around in a public pool. But if you’re just hanging out poolside it’s a relaxing and chill vibe. If you’re diving in (pun intended) with bathing suits on…that could be quite sexy, right? Just make sure your date’s up for it before you go.
27. Go to the beach
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.
28. Go to an amusement park
Appeal to your inner child by buying tickets for an amusement park. 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.
29. Sample treats at a food festival
Big holidays 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.
30. 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.
31. Go to a comedy show
Sharing a few laughs is one way to become closer to your date. Head to your favourite comedian’s show or pop in at an open mic night for some lighthearted fun. If the two of you are feeling brave, sit in the front row and maybe you’ll get picked on for a few jokes at your expense.
32. 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 vacation, with fun local snacks and sightseeing. Even though it’s just a skip and a jump away, it’s like a whole new world.
33. Go get sundaes
Don’t just walk to get ice cream— 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.
34. 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.
35. Take a boat tour
If you’d rather see things from the water, this can be a fun date option. This requires, you know, a sizeable body of water. Alternative ideas for anyone who’s landbound: you can go kayaking at a local lake.
36. 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.
37. 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 favourite 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.
38. Volunteer locally
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.
39. Support the local arts
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.
40. Try out an escape room
You’ll find out just how compatible you and your date are in a matter of minutes in an escape room. The two of you will have to work together to solve riddles and uncover clues to discover the secret of the room. These can be seriously fun, or seriously infuriating depending on who you’re with, so proceed with caution.
41. Walk around the zoo
Show off your knowledge of your favourite animals at your local zoo. Not only is it a sure way to get your steps in, but it’s a fun way to spend time outdoors. Plus, you can always use the excuse of the chilly penguin house to cuddle up to your date.
Cute date ideas
42. Stargaze together
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, and some snacks, and have a chill playlist for your evening under the stars.
43. Pack a picnic
Keep it simple with a stroll through the park followed by a picnic lunch on the green. Pick out your favourite frozen treats from an ice cream vendor, and chat while you hang out in the grass. You can even people-watch while you’re at it. The best part? It’s cheaper than an expensive dinner.
44. Peruse a farmer’s market
Feel sustainable and healthy (and maybe pick up something for dinner) as you walk by stands of gorgeous fruits, vegetables, and locally made goods. If you’ve never been, it’s also a way to educate yourselves on what’s in season and what cool local vendors have delicious stuff you can add to your meal rotation.
45. Make like tourists in your neighbourhood
Pick a couple of nearby landmarks or activities and commit to experiencing them like you don’t live there. The act of embarking on a local trip will make for a unique shared experience and will give you the fun feeling of “discovering” your area for the first time. Fanny pack optional.
46. 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 midday. If they allow food, this can also be a perfect picnic spot.
47. Get each other a gift
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.
48. Share your favourite 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 doughnuts? Take a walk and share the little details that you love about your area, and encourage the other person to do the same.
49. Restaurant hop
Try and find some local restaurants 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.
50. Get an aura reading
Good vibes ONLY. You can joke with them and say you’re into horoscopes, but 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.
51. Peruse a bookstore
When you’re both book nerds, a day spent browsing your local bookstore is the ideal setup to get you bonding over your favourite 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.
52. Watch the sunrise
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 colour. Bonus: Go to brunch after.
52. 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?).
53. Find a gorgeous view
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 travelling a few miles out or even just going to a roof deck to help you look at things in a new way together.
54. Enjoy a bonfire
If either of you have a yard, then you’re set to have a romantic evening under the stars. Grab some firewood, smores, blankets, and lawn chairs and chat around a bonfire. It’s a cheap way to get to know someone and who doesn’t love the smell of a bonfire?
This article was syndicated from Marie Claire USA
Translated and adapted by Praise Vandeh, Marie Claire Nigeria Content Writer