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The 20 best first date ideas that are fun and fresh for couples

Do you want that second date? Then skip the traditional and try these for the first date

Two playing a game together on a date.
Bao Truong / Unsplash

The most exciting part of first dates is probably getting to know a new person. Since it’s the first official meetup, it’s understandable how this can cause stress. However, always remember that they also have to get to know you! We all have the same date night nerves, so when thinking of an idea for that event, it helps to put yourself in your date’s shoes.

Fortunately, there are tons of new first date ideas, unlike the overly cliched ones, such as dinners out, catching a movie, and/or hitting the best bars in America. Our creative sides have picked up some pretty helpful ideas for specific activities, making the happy hour for date night more creative, personal, and natural.

Keep in mind as well that not every date has to be a grand event. At times, it’s genuinely the thought that counts — regardless of how overused that phrase is. It’s also the occasion that makes the best memories and strongest connections. To give you some inspiration for your first or repeat date situation, here are the 20 best first date ideas that are fun and fresh for you and your potential partner.

What to do instead of having a sit-down dinner

Couple enjoying a romantic pizza date night
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For some reason, dinner has always been the signature first date. However, I think we’ve all realized over the past year that it doesn’t have to be. While eating is always encouraged, a full sit-down dinner can sometimes feel like too much pressure, or even worse, like an interview. There are so many great alternatives that are all focused on the love of food.

Take a cooking class for two

A close-up of a man and woman taking notes during a cooking class.
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Nothing says love like something from the oven. Whether you’re learning how to make the perfect pasta or bake the dessert of your dreams, a cooking class is a fun way to connect with your date and create something together. Look for in-person lessons at local restaurants and culinary schools.

Visit a food festival

A couple sharing the lunch they bought at the food festival.
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If you live in a big city, chances are there’s always some type of food festival or street fair going down. Food festivals are a great opportunity to get to know someone and get to try out some new local fare. Who knows, you all might find out you have similar taste buds and decide to have dinner after all.

Get ice cream

Happy couple enjoying ice cream
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Keep it casual and classic with a midday date to enjoy a sweet scoop or shake — unless someone has a food allergy. Ice cream is a fun and super laid-back way to get to know each other’s sweet spots. Try out different flavors, or maybe make your own. Either way, something will be melting by the end of the date.

Do a food truck crawl

Couple eating lunch near a food truck.
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You can’t go wrong with some good grub and good company. As opposed to a sit-down meal, food trucks are a casual way to try some new tasty and trendy snacks around your town. Take turns ordering your favorite dishes or try something new together and get to know more about your date’s tastes along the way! Consider walking or biking your way along the crawl.

Have a bonfire and make s’mores

A couple making s'mores at night
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Whether on a beach, the backyard, or a warm-weather-friendly national park, coordinate a bonfire party where everyone brings fun, favorite, or crazy ingredients for s’mores and more. Light the fire pit and enjoy a no-pressure evening of roasting marshmallows and maybe even some shrimp on the barbie.

What to do instead of going to the movies

Young and old couples watching a movie in the cinema.
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While a dinner could be too much pressure, going to see a movie on a first date is not quite enough. For the majority of the date, you won’t get to talk to each other so a lot is relying on what happens next. But it’s important to get to know what entertains each other, so why not talk about your favorite top Netflix movies while doing something more interactive?

Play arcade games

A couple enjoying an arcade game
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A little friendly competition never hurts anyone, and an arcade is a great way to do some playful flirting. Get a bucket of coins and spend the day exploring your favorite games, then divvy up the raffle tickets and pick stuffed animals for one another. Or try an escape room and put your minds together to find the key to a puzzle and maybe your date’s heart.

Go to a planetarium

The Neag Planetarium at the Reading Public Museum in Reading, PA.
Ben Hasty / MediaNews Group / Reading Eagle / Getty Images

Give your date the moon and the stars with an educational and actually romantic trip to the planetarium. Spend an evening gazing at the planets, learning about the constellations, and see if the stars align.

Take dancing lessons

A couple dancing in the morning
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Learning a new dance together can be fun and also funny. Even if neither of you is a great dancer, the simple act of dancing brings you literally and figuratively closer together.

Visit an art gallery

A couple admiring artwork in an art gallery.
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Whether you are an art connoisseur or just creatively curious, an airy and air-conditioned museum can be a wonderful spot for a summer date. Taking a trip to a small gallery is a great way to support local artists or a larger museum is a great opportunity to learn together about the classics with an audio or guided tour.

Take an art class

A couple painting their finished pottery pieces during art class.
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Make more than memories together and get crafty with an art class. From painting to clay, you can get to know each other while creating one-of-a-kind, priceless art.

What to do instead of drinks at a bar

Couples having a good time at a bar
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Grabbing drinks for a first date isn’t the worst option, but it isn’t the most creative. If you want to include some alcohol in your evening, then why not make it more of an experience? Meet for drinks in a place that gives you more to do than just watch the ice melt.

Tour a brewery or winery

A couple holding three bottles of wine
Jeffrey Greenberg / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

If you’re both into vino or brews, take a tour of a local brewery or cidery or the scenic vineyards on a wine-tasting tour. It’s a great way to get to know each other and enjoy alcohol more educationally.

Join a trivia night

A couple talking on the porch at night.
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Put your heads together and really get to know what your date is about when you see who has the most interesting, strange, and obscure facts. Play together or join a random crew and see if you all make a winning team.

Enjoy a local theater

The audience waiting for the curtains to open.
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Supporting local art culture is a great date and a great personality trait to look for. Find a play, poetry, dance, cabaret, or drag show and enjoy the arts and getting to know the new character in your life.

Hit up a karaoke bar

A man and a woman singing karaoke.
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Break the ice and hopefully not any eardrums and meet up for a night of karaoke. Even if you all don’t get on the mic, it’s always an interesting night of people-watching.

Go to a carnival

A smiling couple walking around the carnival.
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Take your date for a roller-coaster ride of the good kind with a fun-filled day at the carnival or an amusement park. Share cotton candy, ride all the crazy rides, and see who can win each other a prize. It’s a great way for you both to relax, kick back, and just be kids for a day.

What to do instead of hiking or physical activity

A couple resting after a long hike.
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An outdoor adventure can be a tough first date idea, especially if you don’t know the person very well. If it’s something pre-agreed, then proceed, but if not, you might want to offer some alternatives. Depending on the activity, it could add more distance being outside, and you also never know someone’s physical abilities or level of comfort. There’s nothing wrong with spending your date in nature — it’s encouraged! The great thing is there’s a whole wide world of low-impact possibilities.

Take a trip to the beach

A couple with sunglasses taking a selfie at the beach.
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If you are lucky enough to live by the beach, you’ve already got the perfect built-in date! A long walk on the sand, the sound of waves, and the heat from the sun are a great mix of romance and relaxation. Add some wine and cheese on a blanket and you’ve got an instant date situation. You and your date can also head to one of America’s underrated beaches, if possible.

Play mini golf

A lower body shot of a couple playing mini golf.
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Hit the greens with this nostalgic and actually entertaining low-stakes game. It’s a silly way to break the ice and bond over doing something you both probably haven’t done in years (and may never again).

Go to an outdoor concert

A couple taking a selfie during an outdoor concernt.
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Summer is a fantastic time for outdoor concerts, so peruse local newspapers or blogs for concert listings. Most cities and towns have some sort of outdoor festival during the season, which you can usually show up to loaded down with your own food and beverages. And the great thing is no matter what music is playing, it’s a great way to groove together and enjoy some good tunes.

Take a scenic bike ride

A couple taking a scenic bike ride.
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Break a sweat and catch a breeze on a fun, free, and mood-boosting bike ride. Take an unseen tour of your city, traverse long-distance bike trails, find a route with beautiful scenery, or just hop on and let your date lead the way! For more adventure (and a test of your teamwork skills) give a tandem bike a try.

Volunteer for a good cause

A couple volunteering to plant seedlings.
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Get closer to your potential new partner by working together to give back to someone else. Acts of service can really bring people together, which is why a volunteer outing could be a great activity for a one-on-one date or a group. There are a plethora of different ways to volunteer during the summer (from outdoor beautification to tutoring and sports programs), so pick one that seems right for y’all and spread a little charity. Maybe not the most outwardly romantic date idea, but one that could teach you a lot about your potential mate.

What to talk about on a first date

Rear view of couple clinking beer glasses in a bar
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As we have already established, first dates can be a nerve-wracking, but necessary experience, however, a good conversation can really set the tone for a great connection. Here are some tips on what to talk about to make sure you both have an enjoyable time.

Casual conversation starters

Comment on your surroundings, such as the ice cream shop, brewery or winery, or karaoke bar and mention how cute or interesting it is. Maybe ask your date if they’ve been there before or how they found it. You could also talk about the activity you doing. If you’re playing min golf, ask your date if they play often or if they have any hidden talents.

Getting to know each other conversations

Ask about their passions, favorite movies, or what they like to do for fun on weekends. Share your own interests as well and see if you find any common ground. Discussing favorite foods or dream vacations can be a lighthearted way to learn about their preferences and spark interesting stories.

Keep the conversation flowing

Ask open-ended questions instead of yes-or-no questions, something that encourages them to elaborate and share more about themselves. Pay attention to what they’re saying and ask follow-up questions to show you’re genuinely interested. And reciprocity is key in conversation. Share your own experiences and anecdotes related to what they’re talking about.

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Lauren Paige Richeson
Lauren Paige Richeson is an author and artist specializing in written, visual, and edible content. She wrote about Food…
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