21 Sober First Date Ideas Where Your Personality Can Really Shine

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

We live in a society that far too often uses alcohol as a crutch. This is so much the case that the idea of a sober first date can seem a bit terrifying for those who drink. As a society, we've become reliant on alcohol to loosen us up and relax us, and there's no place where that feels more necessary than a first date. But it doesn't have to feel this way; first dates without any alcohol can actually be a good idea.

"Sober first dates are a good way to test someone’s intentions and to see if you are on the same wavelength with your wants," Randi Newton, an addiction and recovery assistant and contributor to The Temper, tells Bustle. "If someone says no to a sober date, it could indicate that they are looking to get physical and nothing more than that; they are considering their needs over possibly getting to know someone."

During a sober first date, things are clearer, you understand each other better, and get to see your date (and yourself!) being real because there's nothing to hide behind. It's all right there in front of you.

Whether you're sober or are just trying to keep your dating life sober, here are 21 sober first date ideas to try.

1. Try A Coffee Flight

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Whether or not your date is sober, a coffee date is a natural first date.

"If you and your date are coffee lovers, this is a great one," Newton says. "You hop from coffee shop to coffee shop, trying out different beverages — just get ready to feel really wired."

By the end of the afternoon or night, you might just know everything there is to know about each other — maybe.

2. Check Out Your Local Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Shop

Of all the possible sober first dates, going for ice cream has to be somewhere on the list.

"I feel like every town has one of these, and it's definitely a favorite of mine," Irina Gonzalez, managing editor of The Temper, tells Bustle. "Old-fashioned ice cream can be a real treat and a great thing to do in the summer since you're probably craving ice cream already. My vote is for sharing a banana split if you're adventurous."

3. Take A Cooking Class

Whether it's a pastry class, a bread-making classes, or learning how to cook a seven-course meal fit for royalty, cooking is a great way to have fun and bond.

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." And who doesn't love food?

4. Take Your Dog(s) For A Walk

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"This date is obviously dependent on one or both of you having dogs, or else being dog people, but it can be a great first date option," Gonzalez says. "You can go to the local park and chat while you see how this potential date is with your pup. For me, compassion for animals is key!"

Also, if your dog doesn't seem to like or trust your date, that's a red flag worth noting. Dogs have amazing instinct for who's good and who's bad, among other things.

5. City Tours

Even if you're in your own town, going on a tour can still be a blast.

"It doesn't matter where you live, free tours are always available in your own city," Newton says. "And they're actually fun!"

Besides, if it is your city, there's a good chance you're never done a tour, so maybe it's time.

6. Mini Golf

When was the last time you went mini-golfing? Can you even remember?

"In the winter, I like to do bowling," Gonzalez says. "But in the summer, it's all about mini-golf. What I love about this first date option is that it's fun, outside, and brings out both your childhood memories, as well as your competitive spirit... plus [it] gives you a good amount of time to talk and see what the person is like under pressure."

7. Get Lost In A Park

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No matter where you live, there's probably a park nearby that you've yet to fully explore. So, now's the time. Grab the bug spray, a bottle of water, and stroll around a park, even allowing yourselves to get a little lost. It's both activity-based and a bit adventurous.

8. The Movies

Although going to the movies might not seem like a great first date idea, two words: air conditioning.

"If you want to beat the heat, going to the movies is a good way to do that," Newton says. "Afterward you'll have something to talk about to avoid awkward silences — if that's a concern."

This option is also an awesome way to avoid having to dab your sweat away for the whole date.

9. Head To A Boardwalk

"If you live somewhere with an ocean or lake that has a boardwalk, this can be a great summer date option," Gonzalez says. "I really love people-watching and maybe even sharing a snack while walking around."

Summer was made for hand-holding and walking a boardwalk. With salt-water taffy, of course.

10. IKEA

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IKEA might seem like that place you go to have your first major argument with your partner when you're buying stuff for your place together, but Newton has other ideas in regard to a first date.

"IKEA is the best if you want to keep things sober," Newton says. "You have food, furniture to try out, and you get a mini-Swedish lesson while you're at it."

Those meatballs are a real bargain.

11. Take A Dance Class

Even if you and/or partner think you have two left feet, this is a fun and relaxed way to stay busy and get to know each other.

“You create intimacy by doing,” Rhonda Milrad, founder and chief relationship advisor of 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.”

A tango class might be a great place to start.

13. Go To A Farmer's Market

"Summer is ALL about being outside in most cities, and most cities also have a lot going on," Gonzalez says. "The farmer's market is a great option and street fairs can be super fun."

With the stuff you buy at the farmer's market, you can make a great homemade dinner together, too, extending the date into the evening if it feels right.

12. Have Your Palms Read

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"You don’t have to believe in the occult or even in the results, but getting your palm read or having your Tarot cards read can be a lot of fun on a first date,” Newton says. “Like going to the movies, it gives you something to talk about.”

Not only that but, if either of you (or both!) are believers, it will give you interesting insight into each other that a lot of people don't get on first dates.

14. Dessert Picnic

Picnics are great, but sweets can sometimes feel even better — and less pressured.

"Anyone can have a picnic for a first date but I think that's a bit too much of a commitment," Gonzalez says. "What I love is having a dessert picnic. Meaning, you each bring a dessert, a blanket, and some sparkling water. This is a low-stress date that doesn't have to last as long."

16. Go Rock Climbing

It doesn't matter if you're new to rock climbing or are a seasoned climber, this makes for a great first date. And, depending on the temperature, you can either do it outside enjoying the summer weather, or inside with air conditioning if it ends up being one of those oppressively humid days.

15. Go To A Carnival

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It’s the summer so there are carnivals everywhere. So why not make a night of it, suggests Newton.

What's also fun about carnivals is if you go on the scary rides, you may find yourself turned on by it, too. After a ride on the roller coaster you and your date might be looking at each other in a completely different way.

17. An Outdoor Movie

For those who aren't crazy about the idea of an indoor movie, Newton suggests an outdoor movie. "Grab a blanket, some snacks, and enjoy an evening movie after the sun has set," Newton says. Again, Newton points out that the movie option will make for easier conversation when it's over and you move onto the next part of your date.

18. Try A Ropes Course

If you want to escape the muggy weather with an activity date, then maybe being several dozen feet up in the air is what you need. Up there, on a rope between the trees, you're bound to get a nice breeze, and you and your date will get points for such a creative first date idea.

19. The Beach

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Whether during the day or at night, going to the beach for a first date is always a near-perfect idea, Newton says. Combine that with ice cream afterward and you have a perfect first date.

20. Summer Festival

Because summers are chockfull of festivals, you might as well take advantage of them and use them for an ideal first date.

"My favorite is seeing what summer festival is going on and heading there for it," Gonzalez says.

21. Rent A Boat

Nothing says adorably romantic quite like going out on boat in a lake or ocean. It doesn't matter if it's a canoe, a rowboat, or a paddle boat. It's just you and your date navigating the seas... or a tiny pond.

If you thought that summer first dates needed alcohol, these 21 date ideas should prove that they actually, really don't. Whether you or your potential datefriend is sober, or if you'd prefer to leave alcohol out of things, there's plenty to do without alcohol.