Either you’ve finally gotten the nerve to ask out that cutie you’ve long had your eye on, or — to your delight — they mustered up the courage to make the first move. Congrats! Now that you know there’s some mutual interest, the question inevitably becomes: What’s your plan? It's time to start brainstorming some clever first date ideas. Sure, you could suggest grabbing drinks at that local dive or swanky cocktail lounge for the zillionth time, but you’re getting a little bored of hitting up a bar. Dinner is always a safe fallback idea, but that can get expensive. Alas, it’s time to think outside the box.
There’s no denying it: The first date comes with an inherent excitement — as well as a bit of pressure. What's the ideal outfit to wear to strike that balance between put-together yet totally nonchalant? When the bill comes, do you do the awkward fumble for your wallet or let them pay? If it’s going well, should you invite them back to your place? Most importantly, though: Where do you go and WTF do you do?
First impressions can be powerful, so it’s definitely worth putting a little thought into your plan. Ditch the typical meet-ups and try one of these creative date ideas to get to know someone on a deeper level.
For Active, Adventurous Types
Picture this: You and that cutie are cycling side by side, soaking in the stunning scenery on your route through the city, by a river, or along the beach. You plan a pit stop at a park or a dock to lay out a little picnic lunch before continuing your adventure. At your final destination, with an endorphin rush from your ride, you share a smooch and treat yourselves to a couple ice creams — or IPAs — to cap things off.
If that doesn't spell romance, I don't know what does.
For Beer & Wine Aficionados
There are more interesting ways to indulge in your penchant for wine or craft beer than to simply meet up at your neighborhood bar. Consider taking a tour of a local brewery or winery. The best part? These tours are often free, and you’ll typically get to sample some beverages at the very end.
Not only will you likely learn a lot of interesting details around the steps it takes to make your favorite libations, but you may even find a new one you like while taste testing the lineup. Then, you can purchase a bottle at the on-site shop to bring home with you. Voilà! You now have an excuse to meet up again.
For Music Fans
An open mic night presents the perfect opportunity to scope out some up-and-coming acts in your area, as well as see if you and your date share the same tastes. Who knows? You may even discover a new favorite band or singer-songwriter to follow on Spotify. And if you and your date both happen to dig the same artist, you can keep tabs on their gig schedule and line up another date down the line to see them again.
If music isn't your thing, try a comedy show. Lots of bars and clubs host open mic nights with local standup acts, and there's hardly a better way to ease the tension of a first date than by ROTFL.
For Trivia Buffs
Admit it: You know a lot of random facts about Ancient Greece and Game of Thrones. So why not flaunt it? Head to a local bar that hosts a trivia night to test your and your date’s knowledge of pop culture, history, and more.
There’s something innately bonding about participating in something competitive with each other. Plus, this date takes some of the pressure off: Participating in trivia means you won’t be forced to find ways to keep the conversation flowing over your drinks.
For Animal Lovers
Nothing brings two people together quite like QT with some furry friends. Animal lovers should scope out a local no-kill shelter, where you can interact with a wide array of critters from cats to bunny rabbits. You can learn a lot about someone by how they interact with animals, and you’re bound to catch a glimpse of their nurturing, affectionate side. If you and your date have a good time, you might even make it a regular volunteering stint to spend some quality time with homeless animals. The only challenge, of course, will be resisting the temptation to bring one of them home.
Put simply, a first date is a chance to learn about each other — as well as to gauge your compatibility. Not only are all of these date ideas budget-friendly, but they set the scene for some quality bonding that goes beyond just talking over a couple of beers. You'll hopefully share a few laughs, learn something, and perhaps even try or discover something new. Most importantly, you'll bond in a meaningful way — and of course, determine whether or not you want to get that second date in the books.