101 Date Ideas
Ideas for Dates
Date ideas aren’t always easy to come up with. This is especially true for couples who have been dating awhile and for married folks. And yes, married couples enjoy going on dates sometimes, too. Ideas for dates can be restricted by one’s budget, also, because let’s face it: dating can be expensive! An enjoyable date, however, doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, some of the best date ideas are completely free. People are always looking for dating tips, yet many of these individuals overlook the most basic fundamentals. Places to go on a date and things to do on a date are usually the first steps in dating, and if you make some bad decisions here, you might not have the chance for any future dates. Sometimes you have to think outside the box and do the unexpected. I’ve come up with some ideas for dates of all types: free date ideas, cheap date ideas, creative date ideas, and romantic date ideas, so you should be able to find at least a few that will appeal to you. Among them you’ll find some for young people, some for the young at heart, some for the serious-minded, some that would make great first dates, and a few that are sort of off-the-wall date ideas.
Date ideas should be an important part of dating tips. In other words, put some thought into a date before you ask a person out. What are the other person’s interests and hobbies? Think beforehand about what you want to accomplish with the date. You might want to impress the other person, see him or her having fun, or have a chance to get to know them better. If you’re passionate about something, you might want to use a date to introduce the other person to your favorite activity or place. Learning together can be fun, too. Maybe he or she has mentioned something they’re interested in but don’t know much about. You could plan a “discovery” outing, where you can both experience or learn something new.
When you ask a person out, you can reveal a lot about yourself, especially if it’s a first date. It might be the first impression you make, and first impressions are often hard to shake. The other person will probably deduce things about you by your choice of dating ideas. How do you want to come across – as conventional and conservative, as creative, as fun, or as adventurous and exciting? Your choices of places to go on a date and things to do on a date can make the experience memorable or lackluster, so put this at or near the top of your list of dating tips.
Places to Go on a Date
There’s no shortage of places to go on a date. The problem is finding a venue you’ll both enjoy and one that you can afford without breaking your budget. If you want plenty of time for conversation, you’ll most likely prefer a quieter place. If you’re worried about awkward silences, a busier, louder place will probably be better, and there are places to go on a date where hardly any talking at all is required. That can be a great idea for a first date, but sooner or later, you’ll want to do a lot of talking. How else will you discover whether the two of you have anything in common or are compatible?
Should you keep the venue of the date a secret and let it be a surprise? That’s up to you, but you should at least give your date some idea about what to expect so that he or she will know how to dress. If you’re planning a day of fishing, for example, you don’t want the other person to dress in formal attire. You can offer some basic guidelines without giving everything away. Keep in mind, though, that there are a significant number of people who don’t care much for surprises, as they like to be completely prepared.
Things to Do on a Date
Things to do on a date should be geared toward activity level and interests. Do you want you and your date to be active participants in something, or had you rather be spectators? Take your date’s personality into account when thinking about things to do on a date. Is the person active, outdoorsy, a “brainiac” who enjoys learning, or more of a laid-back, shy individual? Unless you’ve been dating the person for a long time, it’s not a good idea to suggest doing something that might make him or her uncomfortable or nervous, unless you know for sure the person is adventurous and would appreciate and enjoy a thrilling new experience.
If you don’t know the other person well, it might be best to stick to some rather convention activities for a first date. Use the first date as an opportunity to discuss potential date ideas for the future. You can “feel her or him out” to get a good idea about things they like or are willing to try. Be honest and upfront about your own feelings, too. Honesty and openness are two invaluable dating tips. If she says she’d like to go horseback riding one day, for example, and you have a terrible fear of horses, tell her so. Suggest something that’s equally as fun, instead. The two of you can do some informal brainstorming together for some dating ideas. Such choices should never be totally left up to one partner.
Every area in the U.S. has charity events. Even my small town has numerous charity functions throughout the year, including dances, dinners, fun runs, male beauty pageants, and silent auctions, among many others. This provides a chance for fun dates and helping others at the same time.
Check some local dance studios for dance lessons. Some offer introductory classes that last only an hour or so, and you don’t have to commit to continuing the classes.
Study sessions can be great first dates for students of any age. These don’t have to “date dates.” They can be informal ways to test the waters, so to speak.
Even if you don’t believe in the veracity of palm readings, they can be fun. After the readings, you and your date will certainly have things to talk about!
Spending a few hours or an entire day on the water can make for some fun dates. Rent or borrow a canoe, a kayak, or a rowboat. Check with nearby marinas about renting a powerboat or a pontoon boat.
If your “other” is into horses, take in a horse show or a rodeo. If you don’t have any money for a date, visit an equestrian center and watch some practice sessions for free.
Laughter is great medicine, and it might just work as a charm for you and your date. Giggling at the same jokes is often a good ice-breaker.
Going to a show at a planetarium is enjoyable, relaxing, and educational. Sitting there in the dark and looking at stars and planets can be romantic, too!
Go Out for a Decadent Dessert
If you can’t afford to take your date out for an expensive meal, maybe you can afford a scrumptious dessert. The sugar high can make for elevated moods.
Rent a couple of scooters and go for a ride in the country! Scooters are easy to operate and maneuver, especially if you don’t have to navigate around traffic.
If your date is a fun-loving individual, take him or her to a go-cart track. Most guys love go-carts, regardless of their age. My husband and my best friend’s husband are proof of that!
Act like a kid again by spending some time in an arcade. Take plenty of change with you, and choose games for two players.
Pumpkin patches can be lots of fun. Most include corn mazes, and getting lost in the privacy of the towering corn can be pretty darn romantic. The same goes for hayrides!
I think zoos are wonderful places for first dates. Actually, I think their great ideas for dates of any type. You’ll always have something interesting to look at and talk about when viewing all the critters.
Visiting an aquarium has the same advantages that zoos offer. The scenery is great, and fish can be fascinating.
Host a cookout for several couples in your back yard. Have your date invite a couple of her close friends, and invite a couple of your best pals, too. This is a good way to introduce your friends to your date’s pals.
If your date is a music lover, go to a concert. These can range from informal free outdoor concerts to rock concerts to symphony performances. Find out what types of music your love interest prefers and go from there.
Another fun outing for the young at heart. This can be good exercise, too.
Take in a baseball, football, basketball, or soccer game. Watch a tennis match or a round of polo. Attend a swim meet or a gymnastics competition. Sports events range from free little league games to watching professional teams, with everything in between.
Many people enjoy attending plays, whether they’re performed by a professional group or a high school drama class. A related activity would be a mystery dinner theater, where the audience gets in on the action.
This is one of my most beloved activities, whether I’m riding alone, with a group of friends, or with my husband or family. If your significant other is a novice, just make sure he or she has a super gentle and reliable mount.
Hiking can be very romantic when it’s done in the presence of beautiful forests, gurgling streams, and/or waterfalls. Be sure to take your partner’s physical abilities into account and choose an appropriate trail.
There are a lot of people who never outgrow the childhood fascination of carnivals, so these aren’t just dates for teens. If you can win a teddy bear or some other stuffed animal for your date, it’s even better.
There are all types of museums around the U.S., and there’s probably one located near you. Try to match the museum to your date’s interests, like history, science, technology, space, etc.
Visiting an art gallery can provide some great inspiration, and they’re not just for the highbrow art savvy, either. When you use galleries for date ideas, start discussions about the different works you view.
Free Date Ideas
Play a Team Sport
Get some friends together for a game of basketball, touch football, volleyball, or soccer. Make sure you and your date wind up on the same team. Working together as a team can help the two of you bond.
Create Bucket Lists
Get together and have each person create a list of things they’d like to do before they die. When the lists are complete, read each other’s and see if you share any goals.
Attend a Car or RV Show
Most car and RV shows are free to attend, and they can be lots of fun. Pick out your dream car, or get cozy in a motor home.
Take a seine net to a beach, lake, or river and see what you catch. You’re sure to haul in some interesting critters, and you might just bring in dinner.
Smell the Wildflowers
Do some advanced scouting to find where wildflowers are growing. Take your date to see them. You might want to bring a long a book on the subject to help you identify the different flowers.
Make a Movie
Make home movies of you and your date acting silly. If things work out between the two of you, those videos will be cherished reminders of your first dates.
I love people watching! Most humans do, and it’s free and can be done practically anywhere.
Visit a Gourmet Food Market
If your romantic interest is into foods and cooking, take them to a gourmet market. Free samples are often offered, and you might want to take home a snack for both of you to enjoy.
Hunt for Native American Artifacts
I love searching for spear points and pieces of old pottery. All you need is a field, a sharp eye, and a sturdy pair of legs. The best time to look is after a good rain. The best places are often located near sources of water, like natural lakes, rivers, streams, and springs.
Pack some cold beverages, a field guide, and some binoculars and head to a field, meadow, or forest to do some birding.
Every town includes some interesting architecture, and that includes yours. Brush up a little on your knowledge of different styles and periods and give your date a tour.
Did you play this when you were a kid? Basically, it’s like hide-and-seek in the dark. You’ll get the chance to jump out and grab your date!
You, your date, darkness, and a glow-in-the-dark Frisbee can provide for a fun, free date.
Window shopping doesn’t cost a dime, and it can be lots of fun. Strolling the streets, hand in hand, can also be a good way of making first physical contact.
If your date is interested in fish and animals, browsing a local pet shop can be fun. Most have dogs, cats, rabbits, and other small furry mammals, along with lots of fish tanks.
Visit an Artisan Community
This is enjoyable for anyone interested in arts and craftsmanship. You might see potters, glass blowers, blacksmiths, carvers, or leather crafters at work.
Show and Tell with Photos
This is a great way to get to know each other better. Invite your special person to share childhood pics with you. Have yours ready, too. Don’t forget your old yearbooks! Viewing old photographs can be wonderful conversation starters.
Light a candle and share some spooky ghost stories with each other. The inherent scares often lead to some cuddling!
Hit the Beach
I know very few people who don’t enjoy a day at the beach. Even when it’s too cold to swim, there’s still plenty to do. fish, make sand castles, create sand sculptures, or search the sand for shells and sharks’ teeth.
If you play a musical instrument, or if you have a friend who does, invite your interest over for a casual sing-along.
Browse a library or bookstore and point out the books you read and liked. Get feedback from your guy or girl, too. You can really learn a lot about someone by their taste in literature.
Take turns blindfolding each other and identifying different scents. Use perfumes, fresh fruits, herbs, and spices. This is a good way to identify “turn on” scents for your significant other.
Attend a Church Event
Church events are often free, and if you and your date share the same faith or religion, they can make for pleasant dates. Of course, regular services are always available, but many churches also host ice cream socials, plays, musical performances, and suppers.
In the winter, you can spend an afternoon playing in the snow – sledding, making snow angels, building a snowman, or snowmobiling. Bring along a big thermos of hot chocolate.
Go Bike Riding
Grab a couple of bicycles and go for a ride in a park, on a bike trail, or in the country. Load a backpack with cold drinks and snacks.
Take your camera and go on a picture-taking adventure. Visit parks, old barns, orchards, and lakes. Even city streets can provide some great photo ops, and you’ll have some photographs of your love interest, to boot.
Go for a Walk
Walking is a simple way to enjoy the company of a special person. Choose a pretty area that’s quiet, or stroll a sidewalk in a busy city.
Yeah, I’m sure this sounds “cheesy” to some of you, but I still enjoy it, and I’m over fifty. You’ll need to find a spot that’s near a lot of trees and foliage, and the best time to go is usually a summer night. Take along some clean jars with lids. After you catch a firefly and admire it, please release it, unharmed.
Visit a Farm
Visiting a farm is a great way to get up close to Nature, and many farms are open to the public. In fact, you might know someone who owns a farm and is more than willing to have you and your date as guests.
Are you and/or your date an altruistic type? If so, spend some time volunteering at a soup kitchen, animal shelter, or nursing home.
Many breweries offer free tours of their facilities, often with some sampling along the way.
Like breweries, lots of vineyards provide free tours to the public, and you’ll probably have the chance to taste some of the vintages at the end of the tour.
Spend an afternoon browsing some antique shops. Find out which items or period your date likes best. Discuss how you’d refinish or restore a few pieces.
Collecting shells on the beach is a wonderful way to get to know each other. The pressure’s off because you have a specific purpose, but there’s still plenty of time for chatting.
Have your date and another couple over for an old-fashioned game night. Drag out some board games, a deck or cards, or Twister. Have some snacks and drinks on hand, too.
Cheap Date Ideas
In the summer months, tubing down a lazy river can be refreshing and relaxing. If your date isn’t a strong swimmer, insist on a life vest or belt. Don’t forget the towels!
Bowling is usually cheap, and many bowling alleys also have a snack bar. You don’t have to buy any special equipment, either, since you can rent everything you need. The rules are pretty simple, too, so it’s a fun activity even for those who have never bowled before.
Dinner for the Parents
This is a great way to get to know each other’s parents and for the parents to get to know the other parents. You and your significant other can cook a meal together and invite both sets of parents over for dinner.
Dog or Cat Show
If both of you are into dogs or cats, this could be the perfect date. I’ve never been to a cat show, but I’ve been to dog shows, and they were a blast. It’s fun to see all the different breeds.
Flea Markets or Thrift Stores
Hitting flea markets and thrift stores can be like a giant scavenger hunt! Everyone’s sure to find something that sparks their interest: books, antiques, retro clothing, vintage blue jeans, old cooking utensils, jewelry, etc. A lot of big flea markets include snack bars, restaurants, and live entertainment, too.
Find out your date’s favorite old TV shows and buy or rent some videos. It could be I Love Lucy, The Andy Griffith Show, Leave it to Beaver, Bonanza, or Gunsmoke. Have plenty of munchies on hand, along with some comfy floor pillows.
Go on a Picnic
Sure, this has been done over and over, but you can make your picnic special. Choose a romantic spot, and include a bottle of wine. And don’t forget some great background music.
I don’t know how many state parks there are in the U.S., but I do know there are a lot of them in my state. They’re great places to visit, and the entrance fee is usually nominal. Some of the activities available might include swimming, fishing, boating, picnicking, wildlife viewing, camping, hiking, biking trails, and nature exhibits.
If you have a decent singing voice, invite your love interest to a karaoke bar and sing their favorite song. Dedicate it to him or her once you get on the microphone.
How many local festivals are held each year in your area? Wow – we have all sorts here: The Arts in Black Festival, The Pepper Festival, The Gnat Festival, The Watermelon Festival, The Peanut Festival, The Grits Festival, Wiregrass Arts and Crafts, Calico Arts and Crafts, The Fall Festival, and lots more. most festivals provide all sorts of food and entertainment, and attendance is usually free or inexpensive.
Go out for Ice Cream
If you’re on a tight budget, take your date out for ice cream. Ice creams, gelatos, and frozen yogurts are very inexpensive when compared to an entire meal in a restaurant.
Fly a Kite
I used to fly kites every spring, when we got breezy days. It can be a fun time for all ages, and kites are cheap.
Visit a Garden or Greenhouse
Why waste money on cut flowers when you can take your girl or guy to see an entire garden? If he or she is into exotic plants, go to a greenhouse.
It’s easy to get started with fishing, as you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment or fancy baits. Make the old-fashioned scene and use a cane pole and a can of worms. The sport itself might not be so romantic, but many of the “fishin’ holes” are.
Mini golf is cheap, and it’s a lot of fun. No special equipment is required, and most courses are open at night.
Host a movie night for your date or partner. Provide a choice of films, along with lots of snacks. Set up your kitchen as a “snack bar,” with soft drinks, popcorn, candy, hot dogs, and nachos.
When I was a teenager, skating was popular for teen dates. That was roller skating, and the skating rink provided music to skate by. Of course, ice skating and roller blading would work just as well as date ideas, too.
Okay, so you want to go out for a meal but can’t afford dinner. Take your date out to breakfast! Breakfast is always the cheapest meal served in restaurants. Check the weather to find out what time the sun rises, and you coordinate your breakfast date with the sunrise.
Romantic Date Ideas
Take a Carriage Ride
I can’t imagine many more romantic date ideas that taking a ride in a horse-drawn carriage at night. Yes, I love horses, but you don’t have to be a horse lover to enjoy this charming experience.
If you live near the ocean, a river, or a big lake, you might have the opportunity to take a dinner cruise. Such cruises usually last about three hours, so it’s not like to have to spend the night. A typical cruise includes dinner and entertainment, and you’ll have time to stroll along the deck under the stars.
Tour a Lighthouse
Lighthouses are quaint and romantic, and tours are often available. Imagine the view from the top!
Hot Air Ballooning
And speaking of views, with a ride in a hot air balloon, you’ll get panoramic views of the countryside. Many balloon outfits also offer picnics and champagne toasts.
Couples massages are very “in” now, whether they’re done at a spa or the massage therapist comes to your home or hotel room. Can’t afford a massage from a real therapist? Okay, so do your own! Provide some soft background music, some heated oils, and some scented candles for the perfect romantic mood.
Go to a Drive-In Movie
A drive-in is like a combination of a cinema and parking. You get to watch a movie on a huge screen from the privacy of your own car. And yes, there are numerous drive-ins still operating in the U.S. find out if there’s one near you.
On a chilly night, sitting around a bonfire can be a lot of fun. You and your date can listen to music, sing songs, tell stories, or just chat. Roast some hot dogs and marshmallows while you enjoy the flames.
Take a drive along the coast on a clear moonlit night, while the radio or CD player cranks out some old love songs. If you don’t live near the ocean, choose some other attractive venue.
I love to relax in lighted swimming pools at night. The glow of the underwater lights creates sort of a surreal world.
Take your date to a vantage point to watch the sunset. Toast each other the second the sun slips below the horizon.
I think stargazing is extremely romantic! Find out his or her zodiac sign and learn to locate it in the night sky. Point it out to your partner and make an impression with your astronomy skills. If you have a telescope, be sure to take it, along with a thermos of hot coffee. If you can time with this a meteor shower, the free show can be spectacular!
Creative Date Ideas
Host a Cocktail Party
If you’ve been out with a girl or guy several times, you’ll probably want them to meet your friends. If so, invite them over for a casual cocktail party, and have your date invite her pals, too. Have everyone bring an appetizer or snack. If you and your date are close enough, ask them to help with hosting duties.
Build a Model
Take your date to a hobby shop and pick out a model together. Take it home and assemble it together.
Many places offer short train rides that might last for as little as an hour each way. One near us takes passengers about fifty miles, to an old town. After arriving, the passengers have time to eat a meal and do some shopping before they have to board the train for the return trip.
Be an Artist
Get your creative juices flowing by dabbling with painting. Buy a large canvas, some paint, and some brushes. You and your date can work together to create your own masterpiece.
Why not give each other tips and ideas on decorating your homes? Experiment with different furniture arrangements, to start. Later, you can have some painting or wallpaper parties.
If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of getting a tattoo but knew you didn’t want anything permanent, try some temporary tattoos. Hubby and I did this a couple of times when we went on vacations to Florida beaches. Help each other pick out and apply the fake designs.
Experiment with different hair styles for each other. Playing with someone’s hair can be very sensual – for both parties involved. Have some hair spray, gel, and mousse on hand, but don’t do anything that can’t be easily washed out.
Make a Scrapbook
If you’ve been going out with someone for a while, you can spend an evening or two working on a scrapbook together. Include photos and mementos from your dates, maybe along with a timeline.
Invite your date over for a read aloud session. Each of you can read your favorite poem, short story, or novel excerpt to the other one.
This can be loads of fun for the right couple! Choose a costume for your date to wear, and let it be a surprise. Agree beforehand to wear whatever costume is chosen for you, even if you don’t want to wear it in public.
Even if your date doesn’t enjoy real camping – with bugs, unpredictable weather, and wild animals, who won’t enjoy an indoor camping adventure? Make a simple tent by draping a sheet over a table. If you have a sound machine, turn it to “waterfall” or “babbling brook.” Roast marshmallows over a homemade fire bowl – a large, shallow bowl filled with votive candles and gravel or pebbles.
Make your date feel super special with a very special dinner. Get a couple of friends to act as waiters. Have the table decorated nicely with candles, flowers, a tablecloth, and linen napkins. The setting can be more important than the food you serve, but it would be nice to include his or her favorites. Flip through a few cookbooks to get some date ideas for your meals.
Leave some feedback! Thanks!
What types of date ideas are your favorites?See results without voting
More by this Author
Unsolicited marriage advice about husband training.
This article provides tips for single parent dating, along with safety precautions for single moms dating.
Tips for getting your disability claim approved quickly—from someone who's done it. Lots of good feedback and advice from readers, too!