19 Date Ideas That Don’t Require Alcohol


After two drinking-centric dates, Dan* told me he was going to do a sober month. I feel like nothing bad can come from someone cutting out booze, but I also wondered what that would mean for our next few dates. While I'm not the biggest drinker, alcohol typically goes hand-in-hand with the first few getting-to-know-each-other dates in NYC, so it often feels comfortable. I didn't know what this would mean for our next dates but I was excited to find out what's beyond the bar — and more about Dan.

On our first date where Dan was sober, we went to the Meatpacking District’s Annual Open Market, a fundraiser to celebrate the NYC neighborhood's business community. The event, which was essentially a vibrant indoor block party, featured food from the neighborhood's hottest eateries, live DJs, and access to sample sales from some of the area's brands. We sampled food, chatted up friendly business owners, checked out clothes, and watched updates from the silent auction (and regretted not bidding on the NYC staycation). While there was drinking at the Open Market, it wasn't the focus of the upbeat, social event. We were mostly on our feet, but we also had plenty of time to chat (and flirt).

This was just the start to the many fun alcohol-free dates that followed. The amazing part? Dates without booze are often ones where you're doing things (versus sitting at a bar) and get to know each other's ~authentic~ personality. And they actually take the pressure off tremendously. “Activity-based dates are a wonderful icebreaker," Susan Winter, relationship expert and bestselling author of Allowing Magnificence, tells Bustle. "By having an activity be the focal point of the interaction, there’s less pressure on the ‘question and answer’ aspect of a date. The format shifts to fun and adventure."

So, if you're ready for an adventure, here are 19 date ideas to check out whether you don't drink, are taking a month off, or just want to mix it up.

1. Attend A Food Event

My favorite part of the Open Market was sampling the food vendors. Instead of a sit-down meal at a restaurant, which I usually don't feel comfortable doing until I've been seeing someone for a while, this kept the energy up. We were moving from table to table, chatting, and trying a variety of dishes. No stuffy environment, long silences, or awkwardness over a check. Try out food tastings, festivals, or food tours for something similar in your area.

Alexander Stein

2. Mini Golf

Another fun date with Dan took place at Brooklyn Bazaar, which has games, a market, dining, dancing, and most importantly, mini golf. Even if you wanted to, it would be hard af to drink while playing a round. This added a little fun competition — and I totally beat him btw.


3. Trivia Night

OK, so this date takes place at a bar, but the focus isn't on drinking by any means. It's all about teamwork — and bar food, probably.


4. Attend A Networking Event

Even if you're not in similar industries, networking events can be a chance to learn about one person's area of work and meet new people together.

5. Go To A Meetup

Feel like being social and learning too? Even just the process of deciding what event to attend will help you learn more about your date.


6. See A Comedy Show

Humor is an aphrodisiac, just ask science.


7. Dance At Daybreaker

Yeah, yeah, it's not easy to get up at 5 a.m., but how often do you start off your day with a morning dance party?

Dan and I went to Daybreaker one morning before work at Eataly in NYC and it was completely alcohol-free and completely awesome. The event started with sunrise yoga, followed by some bites, and then a DJ (and a few saxophone players) came out. Naturally, a massive dance party erupted. You couldn't help but bust a move, even if you were holding a cup of coffee or peeling a banana. It's a super energetic event where everyone's sober and down to have fun.

Andrew Rauner @AJRphotos

8. Go To A Workout Class

Even better, try something you've never done before, like aerial yoga. It'll be a learning (and bonding) experience for you both.

10. Go To A Paint Night

...even if you can't paint to save your life, it'll be something to laugh about.


11. Have A Picnic

In the park, on a rooftop, in your backyard — wherever. And if it's cold and you're not into the snow? Indoor picnics are totally fair game.


12. Play Ping Pong

Another friendly, flirty competition? Ping pong. "Playing mini golf or ping pong allows you a chance for contact through a high five for encouragement or a friendly hug to console the loser," Allison Gerrits, Matchmaker, Three Day Rule, tells Bustle. "You’re sure to walk away with inside jokes and maybe even a new alliance."


13. Rock Climbing

Another way to stay active, competitive, and flirty.


14. Take A Cooking Class

You'll learn about your date and food. Win-win. “You create intimacy by doing,” Rhonda Milrad, Founder and Chief Relationship Advisor, Relationup, tells Bustle. “People create connection by experiencing and engaging in a task together. The event itself creates an opportunity to interact in ways that don’t occur when you are sitting politely across the table from one another. In an activity, you are negotiating, compromising, collaborating, demanding, sharing, and often working toward a common goal.”


15. Go To A Street Fair

If you live in a big city, there's no shortage of street fairs. It's a nice way to spend time outside and get to know your date.


16. See Live Music

See your favorite band or one neither of you have heard before.

Yuri Bizgaimer/Fotolia

17. Go For A Hike

It's a great way to get out town for a bit, stay active, and have meaningful conversations.

Drobot Dean/Fotolia

18. Go To A Carnival

Games, prizes, cotton candy — who even needs booze?

Drobot Dean/Fotolia

19. DIY Food Crawl

No bar crawl, no problem. Pizza, ice cream, donuts — you name it. Pick a food and hit up the best spots your city has to offer.

Whether it's a first date, a fourth or a twentieth, know that alcohol-free dates are not only fun but they may be a much better way to connect with your date, too.