Us humans are predictable creatures of habit. When planning a first date, it often seems like the easiest, low-risk move to ask your match to meet you at 1) a coffee shop 2) a restaurant or 3) a bar. And while these are all acceptable — popular! — date locations, even the most amateur dater can admit they’re not always memorable. Dating rituals were built to evolve (100 years ago, we needed chaperones and dance cards), so why not think outside of the box? Leaning into your own hobbies and quirks, rather than just the old standbys, can be a great way to determine if you and your date share some common interests — or if they’re at least down to try something new. So, whether it’s taking a trip to your local aquarium or getting goosebumps on a ghost tour, we’ve outlined some unique first date ideas that might get you a second… and third.
Take an art class
Painting, crafts, design — whatever your date’s creative interests are, we’re sure they’ll love this artsy date idea. Paint-and-pour nights can feel overplayed; instead, opt for something a little more legit, like a sketching or collage class inside an artist’s studio. This might require more research than you’re used to in order to find the right spot, but that just shows how much effort you’re willing to put into planning a night that gets everyone’s creative juices flowing.
Go coffee tasting
Think: wine tasting for the sober and sober curious — or anyone who really loves staying caffeinated. Yes, coffee tours are a real thing, but even if you can’t find one near you, there’s an easy way to DIY the idea. Pick your favorite coffee shop, their favorite, and then one cafe neither of you have been to; spend the day taste testing the best drinks (and pastries, obviously). The cozy atmosphere coffee shops are known for will quickly replace the appeal of a dimly-lit bar.
Get spooky with a ghost tour
One way to find out if someone is the right partner for you is to ask whether or not they believe in ghosts. Trust us, it’s a better conversation starter than “hey!” Ghosts tours sound like the kind of thing you’d only find in tourist-heavy cities, but that isn’t true. If you both live near a historical district, there’s most likely a spooky twilight tour offered by a museum or local cemetery. Think of it as the grown-up version of making your crush play with your ouija board. Even if you aren’t the biggest believer, swapping ghost stories is one way to bond while skipping over awkward small talk.
Highlight your humor with improv
If not having a good sense of humor is a dealbreaker for you, this date idea will definitely weed out any contenders who can’t crack or joke — or, at least, have a laugh at themselves. While improv classes can be terrifying, they can also be a great space to shed inhibitions. Who cares how ridiculous you look if everyone is just as, if not more, ridiculous? Think of it as an upgrade to the usual stand-up date. Giggling at each other – and however you choose to follow up a “yes, and” — is more memorable than hearing an amateur comedian practice their flops.
Get inked together
One of the easiest ways to connect with a date is to get specific. If you notice someone has a lot of tattoos in their profile photos or makes note of their embarrassing first in a prompt, call it out! Loving ink might not be the most inexpensive hobby, but it’s one you and your partner could share. These days, a lot of tattoo shops offer walk-ins for flash tattoo appointments, which are no-brainer options for spontaneous thrill seekers. Matching tattoos can be a major red flag — if someone offers to get your name etched into their chest, it’s time to head home — but being there to hold someone’s hand while they get a small, maybe silly design, is the kind of bonding experience you probably won’t have with many other people.
Take a road trip
If there’s any date that sounds like it’s straight out of a romantic comedy, it’s this one. But romantic it will be. It might seem risky pitching this date idea to just anyone, but if you spot a “Road Trip” or “Exploring New Cities” badge on their Bumble profile, you can feel confident tossing out the option. While a cross-country trip is most likely out of the cards — you being strangers and all — a one-hour drive out of town is manageable. Pick a spot on the map and plan a day’s worth of activities. No car, no problem; a train trip means not having to fight over who gets control of the aux cord.
Book a cooking class
Food is the sixth love language and the only thing sexier than getting cozy over a romantic meal is if you get to make it together. Cooking classes come in all shapes and sizes, so even if you don’t know the difference between a julienne and chiffonade cut, you can find something right for you. A cooking class is built for you to focus on the task at hand, so don’t stress too much about conversation starters.
Schedule a tee time
The driving range might seem like the kind of place that’s reserved for your retired father and his equally retired friends, but it’s secretly a cool date spot. Golf enthusiasts of any age — and dead-serious competitive people — will love the challenge of smacking a ball as many yards as physically possible. While this can be a casual competition, we say make a wager: next round is on whoever can hit the 200-yard marker first. Unfamiliar with local ranges near you? Bumble is hosting IRL hangouts with cocktails and, yes, golf balls. TopGolf instructors will be there, too, to offer instruction. Can you think of a better excuse for getting a little closer to your date than passing on the knowledge of a proper backswing?