Whatever the reason may be for not wanting to drink, it doesn’t mean that you can’t go on fun dates. And, with the weather getting warmer in many cities these days, that only means one thing: more outdoor date opportunities. Personally, I *love* going on alcohol-free dates, as I feel you truly get to know the person you’re out with, and they get to do the same if they don’t drink either — no alcohol-induced blinders on. Although some dates may be taken aback when you tell them you want to do something that doesn’t involve drinking alcohol, others won’t mind at all, and the latter can reveal a lot about them.
“The huge benefit of going on dates that don’t involve alcohol is that both people get to spend time together without a social lubricant,” Thomas Edwards, founder of The Professional Wingman, tells Bustle. “They are their truest selves — though that’s not to say they’re purposely hiding their true selves. Rather, it’s just that there’s more of a conscious effort to show their true self as opposed to their drinking-induced self.”
I know — you may be wondering what some non-drinking dating options are, especially if many of your dates suggest going out “for drinks.” But, rest assured, there are plenty of fun dates that don’t involve alcohol — and then you don’t have to worry about having a post-date hangover either.
1Go To An Outdoor Movie Night
In cities across the world, outdoor movies are all the rage in the summer, especially ones where you can bring a picnic along. Of course, it’s easy to replace alcohol with soda, popcorn, and candy instead. In New York City, there are outdoor movies in various parks throughout the city. And in L.A., you can even see classic movies in unique locations — like at the famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery where many celebrities are buried. Or, if you really want to get creative, you can set up a movie projector in your backyard or on your apartment roof.
“Summer is also a great time for drive-in movies,” Kat Haselkorn, a matchmaker who runs the dating blog Unemployed Kat, tells Bustle. “That’s a super fun date, because you get to be entertained outdoors and no alcohol is required for a good time!”
2Hike Or Walk Around The City
No matter where you live, there’s probably a hiking trail to discover, or at least a cool part of town to walk through and explore. And, as far as a thirst quencher, all you need is some water of Gatorade and you’re all set. Plus, activity dates are great since you’ll have a natural conversation-starter, too, whether it’s about the stunning sunset you witness together or a cool vintage shop you find.
“Being outdoors and physically active will give you the opportunity to chat,” Antonia Hall, psychologist, relationship expert, and author of The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life, tells Bustle. “Plus, your body will kick out endorphins and adrenaline, both of which can contribute to feelings of connection between you.”
3Take A Tour
Most cities and towns are known for a certain thing — such as celebrity houses in Hollywood or street art in NYC. Whether you take an organized tour or create a customized one for your date, the two of you are bound to have a good time. You can also both show each other your favorite spots around town, which will help you learn a lot about each other, too.
"Don’t drink and drive" applies to bike riding, too, which makes cycling together a great alcohol-free date idea. Even if you and your date don’t have bikes of your own, it's usually easy to find a place to rent bikes either for the day or in smaller time increments. With some bike rental companies, like Divvy Bikes in Chicago, you return the bike in another location than where you first picked it up, which makes it easy for you and your date to investigate new parts of the city all day long — ride, stop a while, ride some more, stop a while… You can ride along a lake one moment and down random side streets another. And, each time you stop, you can sit and take in the scenery (i.e., the lake) or go to a nearby café. The possibilities are endless.
5Go To An Outdoor Concert
Once again, you can bring a homemade picnic, and even cater the food according to the type of music that’s playing.
“Find a local blog or city-specific publication and search for free outdoor concerts and performances,” Haselkorn says. “Craigslist sometimes has good free music options, too.”
6Find A Local Farmers’ Market
It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like strolling around a farmers’ market — not only can you sample lots of fruit, vegetables, and select foods together, but you can also see what your date’s tastes are, see how they interact with others, and so on. Plus, farmers’ markets usually have the best fresh-squeezed juices at them, so there will be no need (or temptation) for alcohol.
7Be A Tourist In Your Own Town
Similar to taking a tour in your town or city is playing tourist for a day. If you think about it, when’s the last time you did so, if at all? “Find the most touristy thing to do in your city and do it together,” Edwards says. “Chances are, you either haven’t done it or did when you were a kid, so it’ll create a completely unique experience you two get to share together. And, to be honest, tours are so entertaining in the cheesiest way, you can’t help but have fun on them.”
8Go To The Park
I’m a big fan of dates at the park, as not only can you be a kid again and play on all the playground equipment, but you can also then sit back and relax — either on the swings or the lawn. “Grab a couple of fresh pressed juices or cups of tea and head to a local park,” Hall says. “Sitting on a bench or on the lawn in a park is a welcoming, laid-back environment, which can help you get to know each other better.”
9Cook Together And Have A Picnic
With everything you picked up at the farmers’ market, you and your date can cook together, either on the grill or indoors. Then, you can have a picnic with the feast you created together. You can do so inside, outside, at the park, you name it. Or, you can go to the pros for some cooking tutorials. “Places like Sur La Table offer fun cooking classes, which can make for a great date night sans alcohol,” Haselkorn says.
10Do Something Artsy
June is also an ideal time to explore artsy things in town, including museums, art openings, watching street artists perform, you name it. Some places also have a day of the week where the entrance is free, or events that include free food, so they practically plan your date for you. “Sharing in artistic appreciation can be a great way to bond over shared interests,” Hall says.
11Do An Adrenaline-Based Date
If you do an adrenaline-based date, you’ll be so focused on the activity, who will have a free hand to hold a drink? Plus, not only can you and your date can see what types of activities you have in common, but you can also introduce each other to ones you like. “Anything physical — like ice skating, rock climbing, or any other sport — works and makes for a good non-alcohol date,” Edwards says.
Hall agrees and suggests doing something not just adrenaline-based, but also daring. “Get your wild side on together by going ziplining, skydiving, or taking a surfing class,” she says. “It will instill a sense of shared adventure that can create a bond upon which relationships are built.”
In all honesty, you can really make any date activity into a fun date to try in June that doesn’t involve alcohol. Even if your date wants to go to a bar, you can always drink juice, tonic water, or a Coke. However, with the endless amount of summer events happening these days, you’re bound to find non-bar-centric places to go with your date. And, at the end of the day — or night — it’s more about who you’re with than where you are anyway.