19 First Date Ideas That *Aren't* Dinner & Movie

by Laken Howard

Coming up with creative first date ideas can be super tricky. If you're like me, you automatically default to grabbing drinks, just because it's an easy and seemingly foolproof choice. You also have the option of choosing the cliched dinner-and-a-movie date that's mentioned in almost every romantic comedy but which, in practice, can be pretty boring (and awkward AF, if things aren't going well and you're stuck sitting through three courses and a two-hour film). So if you want to branch out a bit on your next date, what are some other options?

In a recent AskReddit thread, users gave their best suggestions for first dates that aren't dinner and a movie, because the best way to make a lasting first impression is to make fun memories together — something you can't do in a dark, crowded movie theater. “First dates are the beginning of something, and like with first impressions, these first dates are the door that opens your relationship with this person,” April Masini, aka “Ask April,” New York–based relationship expert and author, tells Bustle. “The best first dates are those in which you not only do something together, you learn about yourselves and each other, and create this great experience together.”

For the next time you have a ~hot date~ lined up, here are 19 out-of-the-box first date ideas (and if you're already happily coupled up, consider this inspo for your next date night).


Grab Breakfast At A Diner

There's something about snuggling up in a diner booth over bacon and eggs that's just plain romantic.


Hang Out In A Park

If your area has a beautiful, scenic park, pack a picnic lunch and spend the day together taking in the romantic views. (But obviously don't wander off alone with someone you just met.)


Walk Around A Summer Festival

See what your city has planned for the summer — if there's a cool art, music, or food festival coming up, check that out for a super interesting first date.


Check Out Local Botanical Gardens

Botanical gardens are an often underrated source of entertainment: they're usually cheap (or free!) and are both fun and romantic.


See Stand-Up Comedy

What better way to figure out if your senses of humor align than to go to a stand-up comedy show on the first date? No matter how the date itself goes, at least you got to laugh your ass off for a couple hours.


Play An Impromptu Version Of 'Chopped'

If you want to show off your cooking skills, let your date pick out some ingredients and whip them up something delicious. Warning: do not attempt if your specialty is burnt toast.


Go To An Aquarium, Zoo, Or Museum

Roaming around and looking at animals or art gives you plenty of conversation fodder, so you won't have to deal with any awkward silences.


Grab A Hot Drink

Should you be resisting the call of the cold brew? A 2014 study from the University of Colorado Boulder found that people perceived others more warmly after just holding a hot beverage, so it might be worth a shot to sip some tea or hot cocoa on your next date.


Paint Your Own Pottery

If, unlike me, you take pride in your painting skills, invite your date to a DIY pottery painting store and make some cute mugs (which can be easily smashed if the date turns sour).


Play Laser Tag Or Mini Golf

When you're in the mood for a little friendly (or flirty) competition, take your date to a mini golf or laser tag course for a more active, hands-on date.


Go To An Arcade

For some friendly indoor competition, go to an arcade (or arcade bar) and play all of your favorite video games from your childhood.


Wander Around A Bookstore

There's nothing more romantic than browsing bookshelves together and showing each other your favorite stories.


Check Out A Hockey Game

For the sportsy types out there, going to a minor league hockey game is a great way to bond over hot dogs and beers while you watch grown men throw punches.


Go To A Cat Cafe

If you and your date are cat-lovers, see if your city has a cat cafe. You can snuggle up with a coffee and a kitty while you get to know each other.


Double Date (With Your Dogs)

Or, for the dog-obsessed, you can plan dog park outings for the first date, so you, your date, and your dogs can all get to know one another (butt-sniffing optional).


Try An Escape Room

If you like puzzles and can keep your cool under pressure, doing something adventurous and exciting like an escape room can help you make super fun first date memories. Plus, if you really aren't feeling your date, that's just more motivation to escape in record time.


Browse A Farmers Market

Walking around and sampling local treats at a farmers market together is a super cute (and delicious) way to get to know someone.


Team Up For Bar Trivia

If you think you have the smarts to conquer bar trivia as a team, you'll be sure to win over your date — or at least get a round of free drinks.


Go Bowling

Yes, you'll have to wear those lame shoes, but you can make up for it by splitting cheese fries and picking up all the spares.

Ultimately, a great first date isn't about what you do — it's about who you're with. No matter what activity you choose, if there's a romantic connection, you'll be sure to land a second date.

Check out the “Sex & Relationships” stream in the Bustle App for tips, tricks, and advice on friends, sex, dating, and everything in-between.