Ah, the first date. For so long, it’s been restricted to damp, drizzly park walks at a two metre distance, or the fuzzy pixels of a Zoom screen. Neither are rife with romantic bliss; but, happily, the options for first date ideas are gradually widening as restrictions continue to lift. There’s no longer any excuse for hiding behind a screen, or opting for a walk as an instant date suggestion: it’s time to start putting time, thought and effort into those first dates.
A solid first date idea can go a long way: which is why we’ve rounded up the top 10 best first date ideas. If you’re looking to dazzle your date but need a little more inspiration on how to get started, read on…and be sure to toast us at your wedding.
Keep it chilled with a simple coffee
Less really can be more; and never more so than with the humble coffee date. Coffee is the undersung hero of the date world: it’s often cast into shadow by its more popular cousin, the ‘drink’. There’s a space for the drink, of course (keep reading and you’ll find out what that space is) — but coffee really is the perfect option for a chilled, casual first date.
If you have a good time on a coffee date, that’s a good indicator that you really do like each other — there’s no chance alcohol may have temporarily clouded your judgement. Plus, if the date isn’t going well, coffee can be sipped up in a matter of minutes: leaving you free to dash away if the need arises. And if you need a little coffee inspiration, we can help you out there…
Up the ante with brunch
Of course, you may wish to impress your date with more than a simple espresso (and your stomach may be rumbling, too…) — in which case, we’d highly recommend the beloved (especially by millennials) meal phenomenon that is: brunch.
Brunch is, quite simply, the perfect first date. You can introduce a ‘wow’ factor (bottomless Mimosas, anyone?) without any of the pressure that tends to accompany dinner — or you can keep it calm and casual with a flat white and eggs on toast. The meal can be as long or as short as you want — the beauty of brunch is that it can turn into lunch or even a cocktail hour at a moment’s notice — and if you’re spoilt for brunching choice, we can give you some royal tips…
If you’re both active types, you can’t go wrong with mini golf
Mini golf should win an award for ‘best first date activity’. It’s active enough to appeal to those with a penchant for exercise, but it doesn’t demand too much (if any) actual fitness, which takes away any pressure.
It’s relaxed enough that you can stroll along together, drinks in hand, chatting about this and that — but eventful enough that it can cue laughter, jokes and a bit of light competition. It’s a conversation starter, if ever there was one — and the best part is that it doesn’t go on too long, leaving you free to either go on for drinks or disappear your separate ways.
If you fancy more of a challenge, opt for bouldering
What is bouldering, we hear you ask? Well, it’s the perfect option for any gentlemen who were reading about how mini golf is active with a quizzically raised brow. If you really want to introduce exercise into the first date (we’re not here to question), then we’d suggest opting for this variation on rock climbing — there are centres in Vauxhall and Bermondsey, among other locations.
Bouldering takes place on small rock formations, without ropes or harnesses — so definitely not one to suggest if your date has a fear of heights (though there are varying levels, from beginner onwards). It’s another brilliant conversation starter — if nothing else, your date is guaranteed to comment on the fact that you’ve taken her to a large rock for your first date — and if neither of you feel like chatting, you can blame the silence on navigating your way up the boulder.
Sushi making is far more fun than it sounds
We know sushi making sounds more along the lines of a tame hen party than a romantic first date; but hear us out. It’s fun, it’s different, and it results in a delicious meal at the end. Sound good?
Of course, we’d only suggest this particular idea if you’re both sushi aficionados; but assuming it’s a dish enjoyed by both you and your date, it’s up there with the greatest first date ideas of all time. If you’re surprisingly proficient at wrapping raw fish in rice, your date will most likely be impressed. If you’re terrible at it, that’s sure to lead to good-humoured laughter, as well as a chance to show off your modest, humble side — both of which will make a second date far more likely.
If you’re opting for a drink, be sure to pick the perfect location…
Perhaps you’ve read through our ideas thus far thinking, ‘What’s happened to dating? Can’t we just go for a drink?!’ To which we’d answer: of course you can, but be warned that ‘the drink’ is the most common first date idea by a long shot. “Shall we go for a drink?” is one of the most overused questions in the modern dating lingo. If you’re convinced that a first date drink is the way to go, we won’t argue with you: but allow us to suggest a way to spruce it up.
When it comes to a drink, location is everything. An overcrowded bar with no seats and sticky floors just won’t cut the mustard if you’re looking to impress. Instead, we’d advise picking a trusted establishment by the river. Summer is well on its way, and a riverside location adds a subtle romance. The soothing ripples of the water will make for a far more relaxing atmosphere than dense crowds; and if all other conversation fails, you can always comment on the view. And speaking of the view…
If you want to introduce dinner into the mix, the view is essential
Dinner is another overused date idea; in fact, it’s the natural follow-up to the drink. You’ve established that you like each other enough to spend more time in each other’s company than it takes to drink a glass of Merlot. In which case, we’re thrilled for you — but, once again, let us suggest a way to turn this oft-used date idea into the date of a lifetime.
If you’re taking your date for dinner, go sky-high. Literally. We’d recommend choosing a sky bar or restaurant — think Oblix West, or any of these fine establishments — and letting the view speak for itself. A panoramic London skyline will do wonders for both conversation and atmosphere, and it’ll indicate that you’ve put more thought into the date than googling ‘nice restaurants near me’. Trust us.
Keep it sophisticated with live jazz
There’s something infinitely sophisticated about live jazz. Watching it, listening to it, being in the same room as a skilled saxophonist while you’re drinking cocktails and having the first date of a lifetime: jazz unfailingly lifts the atmosphere from ‘average at best’ to ‘rife with glamour, elegance and suave, subtle sophistication’.
So if you’re starting to feel concerned that all your Hinge photos show you downing dirty pints or covered in mud (we don’t need to hear the full story), and you’re hoping to show her that you really do have a sophisticated side: go with jazz. Where gentility is concerned, jazz never fails.
Liven things up with a comedy night
It may be that you’re fretting over how to keep the conversation going for a whole evening — frankly, after so long in lockdown, we don’t blame you. All our conversational skills are likely to be a little rusty. In which case: why not let somebody else do the talking for you?
We’re not talking about bringing your best mate along, no matter how much he wants to meet your latest crush. Instead, why not take your date to a live comedy night? Laughing along in unison at someone else’s ridiculous jokes can be a brilliant icebreaker; and it’ll certainly give you both something to natter about afterwards. Just try to avoid being subject to audience participation; the whole room doesn’t need to know you’re on a first date. That’ll just kill the vibe.
We’ve saved the best for last: you can’t go wrong with the zoo
Of course, it’s best to check your date’s stance on animals first. If they take an ethical stance against zoos or have a morbid fear of reptiles, then you may be better off sticking with the comedy night. But assuming you’re both zoo fans, then this truly is the ultimate first date.
The animals provide plenty of conversation; but there’s also ample time in between species to chat about anything and everything under the sun. If you go for London Zoo, then Regent’s Park is home to plenty of drinking establishments for a post-zoo chat; or if you’re inclined to go for the smaller Battersea Park option, you could head on to that riverside drink of which we’ve extolled the virtues so extensively. Don’t let it be said that we don’t give you options…
Are you seeking more dating advice? Here’s everything you should know before using a dating app…
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