Every relationship starts with a first date.
Those fortunate enough to develop into long-term relationships attest to how important it is to make the right first impression.
You don’t want to look too boring or too needy; you don’t want to look sloppy or too fancy; you don’t want to cross the line between interested and overly creepy.
While it’s not the end-all and be-all of all relationships, it does help you and the other person decide whether or not you are a good match for each other.
First dates signal a lot about you as a person and are enough to determine whether you should continue to hanging out together or not.
Arranging the first date is a lot like baking. You need the right amount of ingredients to get a cake that is just right.
We have come up with what we think to be the 8 best first date ideas of all time.
What’s more, they are affordable, accessible, and universally enjoyable for most personality types.
But First: What Makes A Great First Date?
Novelty: Chances are you have been to hundreds of coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and movie houses with so many people in your life. That means your date has been, too.
If you want to stand out, plan activities that you normally wouldn’t be doing with your friends and family. Choosing an interesting location such as a butterfly garden or a planetarium forces you to leave your comfort zone and channel your more adventurous spirit.
Lively Conversation: First dates are pretty much a compatibility test. If you thought finding attractive faces to swipe on was the hard part, wait until you actually have to talk to each other.
A great face and body are not the only things that make a person. Having the opportunity to get to know each other and converse helps the both of you gauge compatibility and attraction.
For your first date remember that lively conversation is key. Select a place that will allow the two of you to talk uninterrupted. This means no noisy stadiums, bars, and other public spaces.
It’s better to pick activities that encourage you to interact face-to-face, which promotes attraction and intimacy, as opposed to sitting beside each other the entire time.
Appropriateness: First dates don’t have to involve a different continent to be considered novel. They don’t have to involve a billion dollars or a glamorous yacht trip.
The key to a successful first date is value. You want a mix between casual and intimate, planned and spontaneous.
Find the balance between what you’re willing to spend and the experience you want to create.
What you plan on your first meeting will set the tone for your future dates, and pretty much says a lot about you as a person. Be warned: you will be evaluated based on one date alone.
A Dynamic Setting: No matter how interesting you are or how engaging your date is, awkward lulls in the conversation will become inevitable.
There’s only so much you can talk about and the reality of first dates is that no one wants to extend conversations beyond what is necessary.
You will run out of things to talk about but that doesn’t mean things have to end there.
To keep the conversation going, choose a setting you can interact with. A zoo, for example, offers a lot of opportunity to talk. Ideally you’ll have a background that presents unlimited opportunities for conversation, which will make your first date all the more enjoyable.
Here’s how you can take these elements to create the perfect first date:
1) Go To An Amusement Park
Amusement parks are always a great first date option. It’s inexpensive and provides plenty of opportunities to get up and close with your date.
From riding roller coasters to winning arcade prizes, amusement parks give you plenty of opportunity to impress your date. All the laughing and screaming you’ll be doing should make for a memorable experience.
2) Spend Time Drinking Coffee Or Tea
Skip the bar and head straight to a coffee shop.
What better way to get to know someone better than by actually listening to their stories?
Having a nice ambiance in the backdrop is sure to make the day more romantic without crossing over to cheesy.
It’s a step down from a fancy restaurant but still cozy enough to encourage a more intimate conversation between you and your date.
3) Arrange A Picnic
When we think of dates, we usually think of hitting cool restaurants downtown or going to a cool speakeasy bar, while picnics are typically left for family and platonic affairs.
In reality, picnics have their own charm to them that make them a great first-date candidate: they’re inexpensive, incredibly thoughtful, and very comfortable.
The laid-back quality of picnics should certainly appeal to some people, plus being around nature is always a nice option.
5) Attend A Minor League Sports Game
Some would think that doing anything sports-related on the first date is a complete bust, unless of course your date is an athlete.
This is mostly true for big league games where there are hundreds and thousands of fans screaming at the top of their lungs, which is exactly the last thing you want when you’re in the getting-to-know-you phase.
But in minor league games, the environment is relatively more relaxed, giving you enough space to talk. It’s a great way to bond and connect, especially if you’re betting on the same team.
5) Take A Museum Tour
Forget what you know about lousy and boring museum tours. Novelty places like art galleries, museums, and even zoos provide lots of things to talk about.
You are guaranteed to never run out of conversation fodder.
Being in a place like this allows you to talk about your interests in culture, film, the arts, and nature, all of which are great conversation points for any first date.
6) Mini Golf
Mini golf is the go-to first date setting of Hollywood romcoms, and for good reason. There is something about mini golf that is romantic and casual and amusing at the same time.
It showcases your fun personality and gives you a chance to show off your ‘athletic skills’. It is laid-back, casual, and entertaining, which is exactly what a first-date should be.
If you’re not the type who is keen on keeping conversations flowing, the prospect of shooting holes all night should be a welcome change.
7) Trivia Night
Drinks and nerding around the same stuff might just be the perfect combination for a happily ever after.
Awkwardness is easier to navigate around with and the spirit of competition creates a certain bond between the two of you.
Just make sure you know your stuff and the evening should go smoothly.
8) DIY Bars
There are many ways to commemorate your first time together, and creating something with your own hands is definitely one of them. With all the workshop-bar hybrids popping up everywhere, there are plenty of options to choose from if you want to get crafty and chatty.
Whether you’re making pottery or sipping wine and painting, DIY bars helps you bring out your playful and creative side, which should make you more attractive in your date’s eyes.
Does What You Do On Your Date Really Matter That Much?
We’ve all heard that a partner who’s a good match will be somebody you don’t get bored around no matter what you’re doing, and there may very well be some truth to that.
But it’s also true that choosing an interesting and unique activity or date setting – especially when you are first getting to know someone – can be highly important.
Not only do varied activities and places provide different ways to get to know someone, but they also say a lot about who you are and what you enjoy and communicate to your crush that you care about organizing an amazing time when you’re spending time with them.
We have already shared eight date ideas for what to do with your crush.
Now, we’ll share some more general themes that may get your creative juices flowing.
Keep in mind that your choice is going to reflect what you know your partner likes and will vary a lot depending on age and lifestyle – although even a couple in their mid-40s can have a great time at mini-golf.
In terms of active choices, the sky’s the limit – but not actually, because unless you’re both adrenaline junkie daredevils then skydiving isn’t the best thing to do with your crush.
Instead try slightly more toned down activities like rollerblading, bowling, mini-golf, bicycling, ice skating, sailing, surfing, walking through an interesting neighborhood or area of downtown, attending an outdoor tai chi class, going for a hike, cooking a delicious meal together or even taking dance lessons.
From tango to salsa you are sure to have a sensational time. More choices? How about spending some time at a batting cage or competing in an epic fantasy esports tournament together – maybe your video game characters will even fall in love.
This is where you can put your candlelit dinner at a fine Italian restaurant or picnic at the park timed to get to dessert and wine just as the sun sets in its rosy splendor.
What about a poetry reading at the vintage bookstore downtown?
Just keep in mind the chance for a fire hazard, because serious sparks may fly. There’s nothing wrong with choosing an intimate setting or date idea and its one of the best things to do with your crush.
More ideas include an intimate romantic concert such as a classical guitar performance or singer who your crush really loves. Surprise him or her with tickets and watch the smile light up their face: it will almost be as good as the music itself.
Just ensure that it isn’t too over the top and reflects something that both of you really enjoy, rather than an overt attempt at increasing physical intimacy, or trying to fast-forward the relationship more quickly than it is already moving naturally.
Fun choices include visiting an animal shelter or petting zoo, doing pottery, or art together. Clearly you are going to have a lot of overlap between all these categories especially fun, active and quirky.
However, fun things to do with your crush can also include really relaxed times together like doing painting by the lake or watching a movie on the back porch that makes you both laugh until your sides hurt.
Fun could also mean going to a museum or natural history, walking by the river to look at flowers, checking out some standup comedy downtown or a theater production or going to a concert together.
At the end of the day, the definition of fun is going to depend a lot on what you and your crush both enjoy and find fun, so remember that even though you may want your date to be a surprise it’s good to have open communication and know what your crush will enjoy.
Quirky choices can be a great ice-breaker and bring out sides of someone’s personality you might not otherwise get to see.
This can include ideas like going to an escape room, playing a board game, visiting the animal shelter to make new furry friends, meeting for drinks and karaoke, going on a boat tour around the city, volunteering for a cause or organization that’s close to your heart and even attending a protest that you and your crush both care about.
These days it’s a good idea to stay cautious, however, so be careful if you are really thinking about a protest date. Another date idea that could be fun, intimate, quirky or all three depending on your personality and interaction is the good old coffee shop date.
Sip those delicious liquids and stare into each other’s eyes and see what happens. In the worst case scenario you’re looking at awkward silences and subtle disapproval and social judgments accompanying the pumpkin spice latte one of you ordered; in the best case scenario you might even extend the date and go on all sorts of adventures after the coffee shop.
Keep the Conversation Flowing
One of the best parts of doing things with your crush is the fun interactions and conversations that occur – hopefully naturally, but sometimes with a little bit of encouragement as well.
The ironic thing is that sometimes when you’re very attracted to someone you can say bizarre things or find yourself clamming up and unsure what to say. “What do you like to do?” and “what music do you like?” aren’t necessarily bad questions to ask, but they’re a little bit of a cliché.
The thing about keeping the conversation flowing by asking more when your crush talks including stories that sound funny or interesting – maybe ask about his or her pet peeves, they’re closest friends, what they’d take to a desert island, what they’d do if they won the superball jackpot, are they reading any good books lately? What are their favorite foods and – if you’re willing to take a bit of a risk – you can even delve a little into spiritual or philosophical topics. Do they believe in destiny? What’s the point of life? If it gets awkward just transition into a joke or witty comment: it’s no problem.
More Things To Do With Your Crush
Whether your crush is someone you just met, your romantic partner or your spouse, it’s always a great time to things with your crush even if it’s just sitting sipping glasses of wine or enjoying the sun at the beach.
If you’re both feeling a bit cooped up try going to the gym and working out together; just make sure you can catch your breath when you see your partner’s physique in the mirror.
What about visiting some auctions, thrift stores and estate sales in your area or playing ping pong at home? What about going canoeing on a serene lake or camping in the foothills of a verdant mountain in the spring? You could even go camping and canoeing, if you have a good roof rack on your vehicle and your crush is up for it.
After an amazing day of time together you can also try bringing your crush breakfast in bed – yes even in a tent! Breakfast in bed is one of the most romantic things in the world, especially if it involves Belgian waffles with chocolate chips, whipped cream and strawberries (please excuse me while I go salivate heavily and pant). Later in the day you could go check out a local baseball game even at the nearby high school, teach your partner photography and bury the photographs in a time capsule in the forest.
Just make sure you don’t get arrested by the police for overdosing on romance.
Get To Know Your Crush By Heart
If your crush is someone you’re still getting to know then keep track of what they like and use this as a basis for deciding on dates.
Did they say they love tortellini? Well, look at you inviting your crush to your place next Saturday night and cooking up the most delectable tortellini they’ve ever had in their life. Did they tell you about how they loved to play Donkey Kong growing up?
Fast forward to a night spent playing retro DK in a video arcade and having the time of your life. Maybe there’s a comedian that your crush keeps telling you about or telling jokes from. Why not see if that comedian is performing in town in the coming weeks or nearby? It could be a laugh-tastic experience.
At the end of the day, you’re going to have an enjoyable and romantic time out with your crush. Stay calm and centered, be yourself and don’t try to make overly strong impressions or “act” a certain way.
Your crush is going to appreciate the real you if they are a good match. It’s nice to pay compliments and be respectful as well as communicate openly, but try to stay fairly low-key and don’t tell the whole history of your parents’ divorce or your brother’s struggle with substance abuse on your first date.
As you continue to do things with your crush keep reasonable boundaries and show interest without being overbearing or trying to define and control your growing relationship too much. What will happen, will happen naturally and often factors like timing and another person’s outlook and situation are outside of your control anyway.
Don’t jump to answer texts or badger your crush incessantly – just enjoy your time together and live in the moment. If you’re lucky it could turn into many years of moments together. Remember: you are enough and for the right person you are just right.