Dating is supposed to be fun, right? I know it may not feel like it when you’re out in the trenches, and going on your standard dinner dates can sometimes feel, well, less than exciting. This is why doing new things is extremely important. Anytime we do something for the first time, we remember it forever.
By introducing the woman you’re seeing to new and fun dates, you’ll make sure a part of you will indelibly be etched into her memories. Below are my top 16 date ideas, and let them be a reminder that this whole experience should be something enjoyable!
Cute First Date Ideas (#1-4)
First dates can set the stage for the rest of your relationship, which is why many people put too much pressure on what to do or where to go. While those things can affect the outcome of your date a bit, don’t stress about them too much. One of the reasons I married my wife is that wherever we found ourselves, we had fun. So use these tips not as gospel, but as a guideline.
1. Get Coffee
Let’s start with the coffee date as it gets a lot of press (both good and bad). Though some people refer to the coffee date as the pre-date date, I think it’s a great way to start because you want to build emotion, create chemistry, and end the date with both of you wanting more.
Now, don’t use this as a license to just show up at Starbucks and assume everything is going to be great. The point of a coffee date is to have some nice, casual, relaxing time with each other. I don’t know about your local Starbucks, but in New York City, Starbucks is anything but relaxing. Find a cute, neat spot instead. If you’re in NYC, I recommend Beecher’s Handmade Cheese Shop.
If you don’t have a fun coffee spot, tell her to meet you at the park and make a thermos of it at home to bring with you. If you don’t like coffee, do tea, ice cream, poké, cotton candy, or anything else you have around you.
2. Go to the Zoo
Zoos today are totally different than what they used to be. The enclosures are better, the experience is more personal, and the animals are more plentiful. And, if you really want to up the cuteness factor, nothing makes people feel warm and fuzzy than animals.
Aside from just being cute, having pets raises the dopamine and oxytocin levels in your brain as you want to hug them and love them. Everybody has a favorite animal, and most zoos have most animals. So find out what your date’s favorite animals are and make sure you get a chance to see them. Fan favorites include meerkats, otters, and lemurs.
3. Spend the Day at an Amusement Park
I don’t care how old you are — everybody likes an amusement park. The sounds, the smells, and the sights are all super unique. Whether it’s a ghost train or a really tall roller coaster, injecting a healthy dose of “feardrenaline” into the body wakes up all your nerves and emotions. Plus, if you’re lucky, he or she might grab onto you for a little moral support.
Don’t forget to try and win prizes for each other. You’ll get to laugh r, cheer, and commiserate together. I had little stuffed bears from high school dates that I saved for a decade! It was a physical representation of great memories.
4. Volunteer at Your Local Animal Shelter
This is tapping back into the cute and fuzzy vein with an extra twist. I’m an animal lover, and all of my cats and dogs since I was a kid have been rescues. There are so many unloved animals that will dote on you at your local shelter. Use PetFinder.com to help locate a rescue or shelter near you.
Not only do you get to play with the animals (which is fun for you), but you’ll also make the day of any animal you come in contact with. Plus, you get to show what a good person you are by offering to help others, even the four-legged kind. Just don’t take one home unless you’re ready! And if you do, good for you for saving a life.
Cute Cheap Date Ideas (#5-8)
Dating can be expensive. I had friends who, when their parents asked them if they were dating, they said it was just too expensive to date in the city they lived in. That’s just lazy talk, though. Not every date needs or requires you to drop bank on it. When I was a starving actor making barely enough money to eat, I would have “walking around town and talking” dates. We just strolled around our favorite streets chatting and pointing at the cool houses and sites. The point is, don’t pigeonhole yourself into thinking you need to spend a lot of money to impress someone. Here are some ideas for great cheap dates.
5. Try Hiking
I grew up in the country, so I love to get back out there and see all that green and blue. I think we all have a primal connection to nature that sometimes goes unfulfilled because we don’t even realize we’re missing it. Get out there and reconnect with it and bring a cutie along. You’ll get some blood pumping, which increases dopamine receptors in your brain, making you happier with your partner.
There are also gorgeous flowers, plants, and trees to see and point out to each other. For more fun, bring along a book on identifying plants and see how many you can name.
6. Play Spy!
Turn a boring walk into daring daylight espionage! Everyone fantasizes about being a spy, so go and try it out. Find somebody you don’t know or just pick someone on the street and tail them as close as possible for as long as possible. Make up stories about who this person is and the things they’ve done in their life. Don’t let the mark see you or you lose the game!
When you’ve been spotted or you lose your quarry, eat at the closest food place. Whether it’s a convenience store hot dog or hole-in-the-wall Chinese joint, it’ll make for a memorable meal.
7. “Bring Over Some of Your Old Records…”
Most of us still have collections of tapes, CDs, or LPs gathering dust. (Bonus if you have eight-tracks!) Pull them out and re-meet some of your favorite albums or mixtapes. If you don’t have the right player for them, it’s easy and affordable to pick one up. You can get a record player, tape player, or CD player at Best Buy, Walmart, and similar stores.
Once you get things going, tell each other stories about learning the music and what it meant to you at the time. As someone who’s currently working through my mixtape collection, it’s a wonderful journey down memory lane as you rediscover songs you had totally forgotten meant something to you in those days.
8. Take a City Tour
Those of us who are lucky enough to be in places with old buildings can see the artistry, talent, and attention to detail. If you’re in a place that’s made up of all relatively new buildings, you can see beautiful modern homes with gorgeously manicured lawns and hedges. Take an architectural tour of your town or one nearby. Learn about the local history of some of the buildings. See if you can find the coolest one in town. Fantasize about what you would do if you lived there. The more outlandish, the better!
Cute Double Date Ideas (#9-12)
Double dates are a fun way to catch up with your friends as well as your significant other. The conversation flows easier, you can play off each other, and there’s more to share and learn. Plus, there are some things that just need more people to be fun!
9. Spend the Night Bowling
Gone are the days of smoke-filled lanes in a rundown old building. Bowling alleys these days are hip, fun, exciting, and offer lots of drink and food choices.
Make it a couple’s tournament and talk smack to the other team. Make a fun and easy bet so there’s a little something-something on the line!
10. Relax in the Water
If it’s warm out, jump in a car and head to a nearby watering hole. Whether it’s the ocean, a lake, a river, or just a swimming pond, it’s always fun to play around in the water. The guys can do dumb stuff, while the girls relax — or vice versa. If you can manage a game of chicken in the water, go for it!
11. Take a Class Together
Sometimes you want to attend something but are nervous and want wingmen. I recently attended a class on wine pairings, and it was great to do it as a double date.
I never felt stupid, and the other guy and I kept making each other laugh when someone would say something overly snobby. Even if it’s not your first choice (your partner just LOVES pasta making), it’s always more fun with friends along.
12. Go Thrifting or Antiquing or Garage Sale-ing
Find where your local sales are or hit one up the next town over. You can wander the aisles together pointing out cool and unique things. Keep an eye out for that thing you know the other couple needs or wants. One of my favorite games of all time is to split up with a $5 maximum and see who can buy the randomest (funniest/oddest/cutest) thing. Winner takes all!
Cute At-Home Date Ideas (#13-16)
Sometimes the best days are the ones when you don’t leave your home. Once you’ve gone a couple of dates and it’s gradually progressing somewhere, go ahead and have that stay-in date. I don’t think it should be any earlier than the fourth date, so no one feels pressure to do anything or is left wondering how the date is going to end. What are some of the best and cutest at-home dates? They’re in this section!
13. Netflix and Chill
We all know what this term has come to mean, and that’s OK. But don’t skip over the Netflix part to get straight to the chill part. We’re thankfully in a golden age of television. There are so many good, niche, uniquely formatted shows out there.
One of the things I loved to do with my dates in the Blockbuster days was for each of us to choose any movie we wanted and we’d watch both. We used it as a time to introduce each other to our old favorites, watch one we knew the other would never watch (yes, I cried at “The Notebook”), or take a chance on something since we’d at least have two. Make a pact to each watch something the other chooses.
14. Make a Meal Together
With the advent of cooking shows and food porn, people are better in the kitchen than ever. Making a meal together can be a lot of fun. First off, the best recipes can take a while to make when you’re by yourself, so by working together, you can elevate the category of the meal you’re eating. Think going from spaghetti and meat sauce to Bucatini with marinara and ricotta with a side of herb-infused bolognese.
And food is sexy! Try feeding each other little bits, put some music on, and dance around the kitchen.
15. Before There Were Video Games, There Were Board Games
My family loves to play board games and card games. I still have Monopoly strategies seared into my cortex.
Games are great because they can tell you so much about another person. Are they competitive? How’s their sense of humor? Can they deduce the strategy quickly? A little friendly head-to-head is always good.
16. Have a Hobby Night In
I have a workshop down in my basement that I love to mess around in building/refurbishing/making things. Also in the basement is my wife’s sewing table. Some nights we’ll have a date night downstairs. We’ll both be doing our projects and chatting with each other, checking out each other’s progress. So we both get to do what we like together. Do you have a scrapbook you’ve been meaning to get to? Maybe it’s time for your Magic cards to get organized and cataloged. Whatever it is, it’s always more fun to do things together.
“I Don’t Know. What Do You Want to Do?” Is No Longer An Excuse!
Like I said before, dating should be fun, and there are a ton of good date ideas out there. This list only scratches the surface, so there’s no excuse to say “I don’t know” when she asks what you want to do this weekend. If you want some other fun date tips, you can check out my video here. Good luck!