Where to Go on a Date in Denver This Fall

Think beyond getting drinks.

Love is in the air and so is the cool, crisp feel of fall. As the sweaters and Halloween decorations come out, so does a fresh rotation of date ideas fit for the season. Take your SO out for a night of painting and sipping, or get your scare on at a haunted house (after all, they might grab your hand). Definitely save a Friday night or two for getting your game on at an arcade bar and an early Saturday for going on a leaf-peeping drive. First-daters and ball-and-chains alike, date night never looked as good as it does in Denver in the fall.

Steak Tacos
Federales

Throw ice shots at Federales

RiNo
Yes, you heard that right: Make your dreams of downing a tequila shot and promptly chucking your shot glass at a wall come true at the newly opened Federales. After you’ve had your fair share of nachos, tacos, and dancing, cap the night with a tequila shot wherein you throw your shot glass (made of ice) at a bell. It makes for great conversation, great food, and a great way to let loose some of those date-induced butterflies.

Do-It-Yourself (with a little help)

Various locations
Looking for a date idea involving something you haven’t tried yet? Or, maybe you’re just more of a “hands-on” person. Either way, adding a little creativity to the mix keeps things fun and you’ll at least have something to take home (if not your date). Let your inner Bob Ross shine while you paint and sip at Canvas and Cocktails, where your first drink is free with the purchase of a class (though we recommend sharing a bottle). Though if you’re trying to use a bit more elbow grease, you can swap your Bob Ross inspo for Ron Swanson and build your own wood charcuterie or cheese board at I Made it Workshop.

Root for Denver’s finest

Various locations
Fall is a brand-new season for both hockey and football, so grabbing a few tickets to cheer on Denver’s best athletes is an easy, go-to date. Sip a couple frosty Coors Lights and stuff your face with nachos while repping Colorado colors and cheering on the Avs or Broncos. Win or lose, a game is always exciting—and it requires a minimal amount of small talk.

Sushi-Rama
Sushi-Rama

Play with your food at Sushi-Rama

Various locations
Is there anything more delightful than conveyor belt sushi? Or conveyor belt anything, really. But what is essentially all-you-can-eat sushi at any one of Sushi-Rama’s locations is a great place for date lunch or dinner. Color-coded plates help you figure out pricing, and touching hands while reaching for the same sushi is the modern-day version of that one scene from Lady and the Tramp. It’s also a sign that your date has good taste.

Make the drive for some leaf-peeping

Various locations
A day-trip date in the mountains is never more special than when checking out the yellow aspens. Sure, you might have to spend an hour or two in the car, but it’s a great opportunity to listen to their favorite band. Plus, the views are always worth it. Independence Pass is a spectacular drive, as long as you go before early November and weather-permitting. Or take your chances and wing it on I-70 until you start to see some yellow. Take a few cute pics among the yellow leaves just in case you want to remember this date a few years (and a ring) down the road.

Anderson Farms
Anderson Farms

Do all the fall things at Anderson Farms

Erie
Find all of your quintessential fall activities in one place (and spooky Halloween attractions, too) at Anderson Farms. Visit the pumpkin patch and pick out the perfect one for you and your date to carve later, or wander together through the epic corn maze. For frights and scares that make your person hold you tight, the Terror in the Corn and Zombie Paintball Hunt will likely do the trick.

Noble Riot Haunted Vines
Photo by Armando Martinez

Share spooky season scares

Various locations
The 13th Floor Haunted House is Denver’s premiere spot for getting absolutely spooked this Halloween. With three new themed attractions inside and some shriek-inducing attractions outside of the haunted house, it’s got enough to keep you and your date busy (and frightened) for a hot minute. Or, discover your new favorite ghost story while sipping on a Noble Riot wine at its candlelit Haunted Vines event on Halloween night. Then there’s Denver’s newest hub, McGregor Square—and its food hall, Milepost Zero—which are also partaking in the Hawlloween festivities, hosting “McGregor Scare” for two weekends in late October. Come for the Jack-o-Lantern cocktails, stay for the “Dance ‘Till You’re Dead” silent disco. There’s a Boogeyman dance joke in there somewhere, we can feel it.

Pindustry
Courtesy of Lucy Beauguard

Get your game on

Various locations
Denver’s got its fair share of places that combine a little bit of boozin’ with a little bit of healthy competition, which always makes for a jolly night on the town. The newest kid on the block is Greenwood Village’s Pindustry, where you can bowl, show off your pinball skills, and play games like pool, cornhole, and ping pong, to name just a few. 1UP is also a Denver classic, boasting three locations and a huge variety of games to pick from. Then there’s the South Broadway Players Pub and its unique offerings like candy-soaked shots and gaming classics like air hockey jammed into every square foot.

Enjoy some drinks at a local distillery

Various locations
Denver is a distiller’s city. In the past five years alone, the place has welcomed an impressive number of new spots, many of them producing both world-class and award-winning spirits. Arvada’s-own Talnua Distillery produces a range of whiskeys from a single pot still, opting to follow self-imposed Gaelic-style distilling traditions. With whiskeys that often taste more Irish than Ireland’s own, it can be a fun place to hark back to the hooch’s origin. For real spirit nerds, Golden Moon Distillery in Golden is a strong choice, with owner Stephen Gould handing out more than a little knowledge about his own spirits and the rich culture that surrounds them. Deviation Distilling also found a new home in Dairy Block, though its signature gin and whiskey remains just as carefully crafted as always.

Mission Ballroom
Courtesy of Mission Ballroom

Do an art walk and end with a show at the Mission Ballroom

RiNo
With Denver’s newest venue The Mission Ballroom reopening in August, now would be a good time to score some tickets to any one of the postponed or new shows that are filling up the calendar. As new murals seem to be popping up across the adjacent neighborhood on nearly a weekly basis, the place is a rousing stomping ground for pre-dance discussions. If you and your date have a little extra time, there’s also a staggering number of restaurants and breweries—including fan favorite Mister Oso and the massive Great Divide Barrel Bar—that can help extend the stroll and get you properly positioned to cut a rug. 

Crawford Hotel/Meow Wolf
Courtesy of Dunn Communications

Enjoy a romantic staycation

Various locations
There’s never a wrong time to get out of the house and book a romantic getaway, even if it’s close to home. The Four Seasons Denver recently reopened the previously old-fashioned steakhouse EDGE Restaurant to fit a younger clientele, while The Source Hotel is your spot for catching Colorado’s magnificent summer sunsets either straight from your room window or upstairs at The Woods Restaurant and Rooftop. The Maven Hotel, conveniently located within the Dairy Block, offers a special date night package with perks at Poka Lola Social Club, and The Crawford Hotel is hopping on the Meow Wolf train, including transportation to and from Convergence Station, complimentary valet parking, and two inspired cocktails at the Cooper Lounge.

Get competitive with a game of putt-putt

Central Business District
Putt-putt in the Mile High got a major makeover thanks to the addition of Urban Putt. Now you can go for that hole in one all year long, no matter the weather, ‘cause this steampunk-themed course is totally indoors. Bonus: They’ve also got a full bar and serve dinner. Just don’t get too competitive with your plus one, chief.

Bad Axe Throwing
Bad Axe Throwing

Test your axe-throwing skills

North Denver
Wanna feel like a badass on date night? Head to Bad Axe Throwing. I don’t know, but there’s just something about hurling large, sharp objects at a target that really ups the stakes on your bonding time. PLUS you can get some serious insight into that special someone’s ability to defend you in a zombie apocalypse situation. Go double date-style, or head in during their walk-in hours.

Put your problem solving skills to the test at an escape room

Five Points
Role playing takes on a whole new meaning at Solutions Lounge where you’ll have to work together to get out of some sticky situations. Can your skills as a team help you find the killer on the Budapest Express train, or solve a murder mystery in a Scotish mansion? Only time will tell, and there’s not a lot of it. But one thing’s for sure, afterwards you’ll probably need a drink -- which they happily offer along with a full menu (don’t miss the bacon mac & cheese).

Take a budget-friendly trip to Golden

Golden
Not quite ready for that much car time one-on-one? Take a 15-minute jaunt to Golden where plenty of low-cost options await. Start with a visit to Golden’s first food hall, Tributary, for some oysters or a $5 gelato float, among other options. Then take a riverside stroll through town and check out the over 50 historic buildings along Washington Avenue. On your way back to Denver, take a detour up Lookout Mountain for some photo-worthy views of Denver in the distance.

MCA Denver
MCA Denver

Check out some art and see if your tastes match up

Union Station
The MCA Denver is smaller than the Denver Art Museum, making it perfect for date night exploration. The art changes regularly, and the rousing exhibits are guaranteed to be conversation starters. They’re currently using a timed ticketing system to help limit capacity for social distancing, so be sure to reserve ahead of time. Admission is only $10, plus they do penny admission days the first Saturday of every month if you’re really on a budget.

Take them on a delicious dim sum date

Athmar Park
It’s not just a feast, it’s a social experiment. By the time the check comes, you’ll know whether 1) you share similar tastes and 2) you’re comfortable unbuttoning your pants for all the wrong reasons together. Plus dim sum is easy on the wallet. Plan on about $20/person for a serious feast. Test this theory at Star Kitchen which is currently open for in person dining and offers their dim sum to-go too. For similar results, head to The Empress Seafood Restaurant, which serves a comparable menu of equally delicious morsels. 

Test your limits with indoor rock climbing

Multiple locations
Rock climbing gym Übergrippen offers 90 minute reservation slots which is a fine step when you’re ready to work up a sweat together, but not yet ready for an outing that could theoretically require calling in a rescue team. Bonus: Your jokes about the relationship hitting a wall are going to kill.

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Molly Martin is a Denver-based freelance writer. Follow her @mollydbu on Instagram and Twitter for more updates on food, fun, and life in the Mile High.
Colin Wrenn is a Thrillist contributor.
Erica Buehler is a Thrillist contributor.