9 First Date Ideas For Valentine’s Day, Because You Don't Have To Force Romance

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With February 14 coming up, you may be looking for first date ideas for Valentine’s Day. Yep, first dates do happen on Valentine’s Day! I’m actually living proof. A Hinge/Tinder guy and I had been postponing our first date for months (read: bad sign), then neither of us were single anymore. But, low and behold, the week before Valentine’s Day, we were — and the only day we both had free was Valentine’s Day. Talk about pressure! However, we’d decided in advance it would be NBD. After all, it’s just another day, right? We also decided we’d go someplace where there weren’t Valentine’s Day prix fixe menus or heart-shaped decorations — so the bar would just look like the bar it usually looked like, not one dressed up in a red décor. Plus, the romantic in us (OK, in me) thought it would be a great story to tell if he and I did click.

“Don’t put too much stress on yourself or your date to make it the best first date ever,” Claudia Cox of Text Weapon tells Bustle. “It doesn’t have to be an over-the-top experience. Don’t allow the venue or the activity take priority on Valentine’s Day or any other day. Prepare yourself mentally, physically (go for a run, take a bath, listen to some good music), and then have fun getting to know your date!”

Our date started out relaxed and fun. The lounge-type bar was super empty, so it’s as though we had the place to ourselves. We seemed to have a lot in common, but then he started talking about other dates he’d been going on. No thank you. He even mentioned one girl who had just texted him that day saying she didn’t want to see him again, did I want to see the text? No thank you. Then, he started talking about Bumble, which I hadn’t used yet. He opens the app and shows me the ins and outs of it, but I can tell he’s also reading his new messages.

The end result: I did not see him again (surprise, surprise!), but I did download Bumble the next day and met my future boyfriend on it a week later! (He and I always said we’d have to thank the Valentine’s Day date guy!) So, yes, I’m a fan of going on a Valentine’s Day date. Because the holiday wasn’t the reason the guy above and I didn’t click, you know? If you’re feeling game to try it for yourself, here are some first date Valentine’s Day date ideas.

1Go To A Cooking Class

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OK, a date that involves food, yet isn’t a face-to-face restaurant date? Score!

2Do Something Active

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With all the choices of activity dates out there, there’s never a shortage of wondering what you and your date should do. Plus, doing an activity should help alleviate any date pressure you may be having.

“Because Valentine’s Day comes with a bit of added pressure, keep it light and fun," Christina Coster, MA, Event Consultant for Rapport Relationships, tells Bustle. "Participating in an activity together really helps people to bond, create a connection, and get to know each other outside of their comfort zones. It also creates plenty of conversation material and really takes the pressure off of having to create conversation, especially if anyone is anxious or on the shy side. I love going to a place like SPiN in NYC for a game of ping-pong, a paint-and-sip night, or a trivia night.”

3Attend A "Cringe-Worthy" Valentine’s Day Event

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Chances are, you want to avoid high-pressure (i.e., expensive) places on a date that occurs on Valentine’s Day, and I hear you. “If you’re going to have your first date on Valentine’s Day, you may as well embrace it and go whole hog,” Caroline Brealey, Matchmaker at Mutual Attraction, tells Bustle.

“Suggest to your date that you have a bit of fun and bring each other the cheesiest Valentine’s Day cards you can find — it’ll certainly be an ice-breaker! Avoid the expensive restaurants (it’s still a first date, after all), and do something totally random, but fun, like mini golf. Even better, look to see what Valentine’s Day events are going on locally, find the most-cringey-sounding, and go. The more terrible it is, the better. If your date is good fun, you will do nothing but laugh all night, and it will be a date to remember.”

4Go Wine Tasting

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Yes, outdoor wine tasting places may be closed if you and your date do an evening date, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t go wine tasting. For instance, there are bars where you can get a plastic credit card-type card and have sips of wine versus whole glasses. Cheers to that!

5Go Out For Coffee

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“Make your date simple, like a coffee date,” Tina B. Tessina, PhD (aka “Dr. Romance”), psychotherapist and author of Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences, tells Bustle. “To acknowledge Valentine’s Day, bring a somewhat silly little gift, like a single flower or a single, fancily wrapped chocolate candy. You can do the impressive stuff later, if the relationship develops into something. Plus, you’ll always have Valentine’s Day as an anniversary of your first date.” (See?! I’m not the only romantic-at-heart here!)

6Go On A Walking Tour (Or Walking In General)

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Whether you create your own walking tour or find an organized one, walking tours are easy, fun, and often free! “Once, I bought a ‘walking tour’ book of Chicago and took my now-wife on a sort of scavenger hunt along one of the walking tours,” Sumber says. “I had hidden a card and little butterfly necklace at the end of the walk in a park. Point being, be thoughtful and creative — and the effort does not go unnoticed!”

7Go Dancing

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Dancing is a great first date activity, since it gives you something to do, as well as is fun — and could potentially be romantic without either of you even having to try. I mean, the type of dance (or the dance instructor) will ~force you~ to get close to your partner… Yes, even if you’re not the dancing type (hello!), you can opt for a dance class, like Salsa or Ballroom. Some dance studios even give you a free class the first time you go. It’s a win-win!  

8Go Chocolate Tasting — Or Even Make Some!

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You probably associate chocolate with Valentine’s Day, and you can add that to your Valentine’s Day first date. You can either meet in a public place (since it’s a first date and all!) and walk around to various chocolate shops, sampling some at each place. Or, you can find a place that gives a candy or chocolate tour. Yummm.

At places like Voilà Chocolat in New York, you can also make your own chocolate (yes, please!) and you’ll have an automatic souvenir from the date!

9Do Something You’d Do On Any Other First Date

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You may be thinking: Does what you and your date really matter?! The short of it, no. “I’m not opposed to a first date on Valentine’s Day,” Rachel Russo of Rachel Russo Relationships tells Bustle. “The #1 thing is to keep your expectations in check. Don’t expect overly romantic gestures, flowers, candy, a candlelight dinner, or for your date to profess his/her undying love-at-first-sight. Have drinks, dinner, do an activity — whatever you would normally do; be in the present moment. You don’t want to force intimacy. Just because other couples around you are holding hands, making out, etc., doesn't mean you should feel you have to!”

There you have it — first date Valentine’s Day date ideas. Whether or not you make a love connection, at least you’ll have fun in the process, and that’s really what it’s all about.