26 Fun Things to Do on a First Date—Whether You're a Match or Not

a woman getting a drink at a rooftop bar
Nicole Franzen

So you've finally asked out that neighbor you've been crushing on, matched with a promising person online, or hit it off with a mutual friend, which means a first date is looming—suddenly the pressure is on. Admittedly, meeting up with someone for the first time—or just seeing them in a new, unfamiliar context—can be nerve-racking, especially if you recently started dating, consider yourself a shy person, or loathe small talk. And sometimes it's just plain awkward. But jitters and long lulls in conversation aside, dating has the potential to be a ton of fun.

Even if you don't end up feeling a spark, first dates are never a waste of time if you're doing something you enjoy. Think of it this way: If you feel a spark and get to practice a hobby or indulge a passion, then it's all the more meaningful. To make sure you relax and feel fulfilled, we rounded up nine fun things to do on a first date (though they're just as fun to do on your own, with a friend, or with a long-term partner). Some make for grand gestures, while others upgrade the classic "let's grab drinks" to something a bit more memorable.

We made sure to include a fun first date idea for outdoorsy adventurers, city slickers, and everyone in between. Ready to scroll through these nine ideas with us to meet your match? Great—it's a date.

a couple sitting in front of a fireplace
Nicole Franzen

Head to High Seas

When it comes to romantic and fun things to do on a first date, nothing beats the beach. That being said, not all of us like long walks on the beach; some would rather keep it short. Or we'd rather just sit on the shore and soak in the views. If you happen to be more active, go sailing on a lake, hike to a cliffside view, or take a surfing lesson together. Thanks to the panoramic views of a beautiful landscape, you can't go wrong.

Pick a Memorable Bar

Who says grabbing a casual drink doesn't qualify as a fun thing to do on a first date? The trick is to choose a location that's quirky, scenic, or special in some way. This could mean a funky dive bar, swanky speakeasy, or a rooftop bar with a view and a fire pit. If you choose a memorable spot, then the old drink date isn't boring in the slightest.

Plan a Scenic Picnic

This can be a great way to bond with someone while also enjoying the outdoors and soaking in the good weather while you still can. Actually, come to think of it, a winter picnic date can be just as romantic, as long as you pack what you need to cozy up. If you live in a city, plan to have the picnic in a public park or during sunset on a rooftop (if you have access to one).

Go Wine Tasting

Okay, so you really want to make an impression, and you'd love the idea of grabbing drinks, but it feels too bland for a first date. Your solution? Go wine tasting! It's a bit more sophisticated and requires more planning than just meeting at a bar. Plus, if you two don't hit it off, at least you'll learn something new from your guide. You could also spice things up with a mezcal tasting or mixology class

Visit the Local Zoo

Day dates can be super romantic, and though it may feel like there's more at stake, they can also feel more casual if you go into it with the right attitude and activity. That's where the zoo comes in. Chances are, that the cute animals will give you something to laugh about, and nothing eases first date jitters like a laugh. A petting zoo or puppy shop will also do. 

Go to a Gallery Opening

If you and your date have a mutual love of art, you'll bond over this shared interest even more during a first date. Plus, you'll get to attend a cultural event, support local artists, and perhaps even be moved by some of the work on display, so not much can go wrong. If all goes well, grab a bite to eat after.

Go to a Reading

If you have a favorite independent bookstore in the area, or if there's a university nearby, check the calendar for upcoming events. There may be a reading, book tour, poetry slam, or Q&A that piques your interest. Bring your date along, and then grab a coffee or a drink afterward at a bar close by to debrief. It's sort of like the classic movie date, except it will be well-lit, and you don't have to sit in silence (well, during the event you probably should). If this sounds too intellectual for either of you, attend a comedy show or a live music event instead.

Hit Up an Arcade

Arcades are so much fun. Yes, even if you don't like games (I kid you not, as an anti-gamer, I had my all-time favorite date at a Dave & Buster's, and I even beat my date to a not-so-playful game of air hockey). Arcade bars are trending in major cities for a reason, and even if you go somewhere slightly cheesy, challenging your date to a round of Dance Dance Revolution, table tennis, or pinball can get you out of your head so you can enjoy the moment.

Visit a Flea Market

If you plan a date around an activity you know you want to do regardless of who you go with, it won't feel like a waste of time. So if your favorite flea market coincides with a first date, then simply bring them along. The fun, relaxed environment will make it easier for you to get to know one another. Who knows? All the fun knickknacks and retro furniture may inspire some small talk and banter. And you'll probably go home with the perfect pair of jeans, your dream table lamp, or a sticker collection you didn't even know you needed.

Pack a Picnic

Picnic Time Plaid Catalina Picnic Basket Set
Picnic Time Plaid Catalina Picnic Basket Set $56
Dot and Army Gingham Cloth Napkins
Dot and Army Gingham Cloth Napkins $32
Pedal Happy Leather-Handled Wine Carrier
Pedal Happy Leather-Handled Wine Carrier $65

Wear Bold Kicks

Attico Monica Metallic Leather Mules
Attico Monica Metallic Leather Mules $197
Zara High Heel Velvet Ankle Boots
Zara High Heel Velvet Ankle Boots $60
Loeffler Randall Vera Ruffle Slide Sandal
Loeffler Randall Vera Ruffle Slide Sandal $325

Better Than a Life Coach

Dating Detox by Lisa and Kevin Cotter
Lisa and Kevin Cotter Dating Detox $10
121 First Dates Wendy Newman
Wendy Newman 121 First Dates $12
It's Just a F***ing Date by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola
Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola It's Just a F***ing Date $7

Now that you've picked out an activity, here's what to talk about on a first date to keep the conversation flowing (and actually get to know each other). 

This post was originally published on August 11, 2017, and has since been updated.


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