Dates are a decision minefield – what to wear (and what to not), where to go, how to end the date, how soon to text afterwards – the list goes on. And if you ace the initiation encounter, there’s the second one to think about.
So, to eliminate at least some of the pain – here are eight stylish date ideas to try because you’re, err, stylish and, you know, not a 13-year-old boy.
Nighttime Date Ideas
1. Get Musical
A night of jazz over some cocktails will never disappoint. Of course, if jazz makes you and/or your date want to jam the nearest object you can find into your ears, find something else. Just make sure you go for a smaller venue with more relaxed vibes. Otherwise, you’ll be going home with an alcopop-stained outfit, ringing ears and no idea what your date’s name was.
2. Show Your Smarts At A Pub Quiz
You probably never thought your encyclopaedic knowledge of Michael Bublé’s back catalogue would help you get a date, but brain power is sexy – even if it involves crooners. The secret is in picking your quiz. If it’s too hard, your date’s mind will wander into ‘bet my ex would’ve known that’ territory. Too easy and… OK, that’s unlikely to be a problem. Use the setting to your advantage – if the quizmaster (and his obsession with spelling eastern European cities) doesn’t have your back, make sure the bartender does.
3. Drink Beside An Icon
Drinks venues are not created equal, so always base your criteria on somewhere your date is likely to stick on Instagram – not stick to the floor walking across. And no watering hole grabs attention (for the right reasons) like one that incorporates a legendary local landmark. An example: Does your city’s cult art gallery have a secret after-dark terrace? Which rooftop bar offers the best night-sky panorama? Or, bite the bullet – by which we mean your Amex bill – and head for the best five-star hotel in town.
First Date Ideas
4. Get Some Culture
Soak up some culture with a trip to a museum – just make sure it’s an interesting one. You can even take it up a notch by seeing which museums are open late for adults and serve booze (that helpful first-date lubricant).
5. Start Early
If your mood before coffee is enough to frighten small children, this may not be your finest hour. However, if the thought of stacks of syrupy pancakes – served with a hot potential romance – is enough to keep you chirpy, make your first date an a.m. affair (well, you know, like 11am). Why? If breakfast goes well, there’s every chance to amble on elsewhere – to peruse a bookshop, say, or a local farmer’s market. And if a bottomless brunch turns into more of a total bummer, well, you still have the whole day and evening to see what else could Happn. (See what we did there?).
6. Unleash Your Inner Picasso
Actually, make that Monet – Picasso’s depressive blue period isn’t going to inspire the sexy kind of go-to-bed vibes. Painting classes have evolved from the nudey set-ups favoured by art schools and bachelorette parties into a creative pastime that’s surprisingly satisfying. Even if your artistic talent peaked with the stick person in hangman, don’t fret – Mark Rothko’s painting of a blue and yellow square sold for $46.5 million. And, of course, there’s wine to bolster both of your brushstrokes.
Fun Date Ideas
7. See Some Comedy
Nothing lightens the mood and releases endorphins quite like a night of laughter. To remove the pressure of having to wheel out your dad’s old favourites, take your date to a local comedy night for some D-list comedy, and you’ll win either way. Whether it’s great or terrible, you’ll have something to talk about on the way home.
8. Get Animals Involved
No, not like that. We all know the number one quality someone looks for in a mate is the ability to get rid of spiders so (providing you can look at a tarantula without screaming) this is the perfect time to position yourself as their Bear Grylls in shining armour. The zoo or aquarium is always a good shout and if you’ve got a dog suggest he comes along for a walk or pub date – just make sure you don’t spend the entire time talking about what a good boy he is.
9. Pit Your Wits In An Escape Room
Look, we wouldn’t normally advise locking a date in a claustrophobic space and seeing how long it takes them to escape – even if they did mention their ex 34 times. But as an activity (and not an illegal act), Escape Rooms are a brilliant concept – you enter a themed space (think: a heist, zombie apocalypse, murder scene, science lab) and, using clues in the room’s props, solve a mystery to get the hell outta there. You’ll work together as a team – which is ace for bonding – and no one else will ever find out that you screamed three times.
Cheap Date Ideas
10. Go For A Ride
If you live anywhere near a bike hire scheme, get your date’s heart rate racing by taking them for a ride somewhere scenic. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you could even stop off for a picnic in the park, or find a country pub to drink back those lost calories.
11. Take A Tasting Tour
Sniffing, swilling and sipping might read like a tongue twister, but a tasting is a great conversation-flower. Proof: it’s literally
12. Go Crazy At Golf
A word of advice: this isn’t the time to bang on about your handicap or the time you saw Nick Faldo in Starbucks. Crazy golf is date genius because it requires absolutely nothing associated with regular, stiff, plaid-wearing golf – zero talent, zero patience, zero over-ironed legwear. In its place, there’s fun, silliness, possible hole-in-ones and some incredible settings, such as junkyards, street-food markets and even dinosaur parks.
Free Date Ideas
13. Get Walking
Be slightly unconventional and suggest an afternoon stroll through a park or along a canal. Or, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous and live near a city, try out a themed walking tour. Whether it’s to learn more about a local historical character, a graffiti tour or an evening ghost walk – it’s one way to guarantee there are no dull moments. Just make sure you check the weather first and have a few backup pitstops in mind.
14. Test Drive A Super-Expensive Car
There’s a definite thrill about picking a car for its engine size rather than its boot capacity, booking an appointment to test drive it, arriving in your good jacket (you know the one) and pretending that burnt-rubber smell permanently belongs to you both. Leave on a James Bond high. No one wants a sexy date to suddenly turn into a three-hour-long slog in a showroom while you debate trim colours.
15. Nose Around An Open House
Peeking around someone else’s pad is one of life’s underrated pleasures (don’t tell us you actually watched Marie Kondo for the folding?), so what better date activity than to have a partner in snooping. Open House events happen for free at countless venues – country houses, property for sale, architectural spaces; there’s even the Open House Worldwide initiative that makes usually closed-off spaces available for public viewings over selected weekends.
16. Take A Hike
Walking boots aren’t just for scoring blisters, you know. Donning your outdoor wear and hitting a trail route is a sure-fire path to adrenaline release, invigoration, butt-toning and some inevitable laughs (obviously you knew the map was upside-down). Make National Parks and beaches your top choice, and don’t forget water and snacks. Sounds obvious, but suddenly getting hangry at the top of a hill wouldn’t even get Ryan Gosling a follow-up date.
Romantic Date Ideas
17. A Cooking Class
Whether it’s sushi, cocktails or pizza, a cooking class is a great date idea. You can suss out each other’s culinary skills, and there’s no pressure for awkward conversation. A cooking class is an opportunity to show how good you are with your hands (easy), and really, it’s like two dates in one because you’ll get to eat your masterpieces together afterwards. Prepare to go top of the class.
18. Hire A Boat
There are plenty of lakes and canals that offer boat hire, especially in parks and tourist attractions. Hire a rowing boat or a pedalo for an hour, and get some private time with a view. There’s nothing like a relaxed boat ride with just the two of you to set the mood and get the conversation flowing. Just try to keep your competitive side in check – no one wants to watch a sweaty mess racing speedboats and knocking ducks out of the way.
19. Plan A Mini Road Trip
If home is where the heart is, a road trip is where the excitement is. But a romantic getaway doesn’t need to involve 186 hours of research on Booking.com. Instead, grab a map, pick a spot that’s around an hour away – it could be a restaurant you’ve always wanted to go to, a town you’ve heard great things about, a sporting activity like a climbing wall, even a tourist site – and set off for the day. A change of scene is the cayenne pepper of spicing dates up.
20. Watch The Sunset
We know, it’s got Instagram cliché written all over it, but it takes a cold heart not to be moved by a sunset. The set-up counts: comfy blankets, a chilled tipple, and bonus points for a dramatic backdrop – the ocean, a river, a mountain or an epic city skyline, for example. Sunrise is equally as impressive, but you’ve got to have a good relationship with your Snooze button to commit to it. Though, hey, serious commitment has to start somewhere.