25 Actually Great Date Ideas in Denver

Published On 01/21/2015 Published On 01/21/2015
Visit Denver

Sorry, but if you're trying to impress someone, a weed-and-taco run just won’t cut it. Get to know her -- and your city -- better on a date that actually makes you seem like a grown-ass man, and that you'll still enjoy just as much as those tacos.. maybe even more!

Visit Denver

Cruise around on an urban lake

Multiple locations
From spring through fall, City Park, Washington Park, and the Aurora Reservoir all offer hourly boat rentals, so you can pack a picnic basket and reenact that scene from... well, just about any romantic comedy ever made.

Play Bingo at The Squeaky Bean LoDo
A meal at the Bean is always a blast, but on Sundays from 1-3pm, Johnny Ballen’s high-energy crew takes it up a level with Bingo Brunch. If you two can’t have a good time shotgunning Coors Banquet over pork belly hash while vying for "prizes" like Golden Corral gift certificates and 40s of malt liquor, it’s probably not going to work out.

Party like it’s 1959

A mid-century relic on fast-changing Tennyson St, Elitch Lanes is slated to close in May -- so get to this old-school bowling alley for one last round, then head to red-sauce throwback Carl’s Pizza for a spaghetti dinner with all the fixings. Greaser attire optional.

Hit a taproom with amenities Multiple locations
The plan was to grab a few beers, have a few laughs -- but suddenly you’re feeling a little tongue-tied. No sweat -- just choose a brewery with a pressure-relieving entertainment lineup. For instance, Stem Ciders brings in bluegrass acts every Thursday; Bull & Bush screens movies every Sunday; and every second Friday at 8pm, Chain Reaction hosts a free Comedy Night. Or make like Obama and Hickenlooper over a round of pool at Wynkoop.

Wish upon all the stars Boulder, University Park
Behold the night sky through powerful telescopes at the Chamberlin Observatory or the Sommers-Bausch Observatory, both of which hold regular open houses with astronomers on hand to make you look good when you ask deep questions.

Kirkland Museum

Delve into Art Deco (and drinks)

Multiple locations
Step back into a bygone -- and ultra-suave -- era of marshmallow sofas and Bakelite ashtrays at the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art. Go a step further with cocktails at The Cruise Room -- as sexy as the day it opened in 1933. Then take the plunge with both feet at the swanky homage to yesteryear that is Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club, where tasting menus and swing trios await.

Kick it at the Grizzly Rose

North Denver
Yes, even you can learn to two-step. (It’s just, uh, two steps.) This legendary honky tonk hosts free dance lessons every Wednesday at 7pm, so you’ll be at least mediocre when the band hits the stage afterward.

Commune at the Church of Coen

Every second Sunday at 7pm, atmospheric "art bar" Syntax Physic Opera morphs into a house of worship -- only instead of a sermon, there’s a Coen Brothers film screening. Instead of a choir, acclaimed musicians like Slim Cessna and Nathaniel Rateliff play a soundtrack-inspired set. And small-plate and beer specials definitely offer more complex flavor profiles than communion wafers and holy water.

Belly up to a dessert bar

Multiple locations
Sweets for the sweet: it’s a foolproof proposition. Soak up the stylish scenery over boozy bread pudding at the recently renovated Crave; take in the famous edible spectacles that are Sugarmill’s Noahsphere and Glaze’s Baum Cakes; or go big with a three-course tasting at D Bar.

See butterflies take flight for the first time

What could be more romantic than watching a chrysalis emerge from its cocoon to test its virgin wings in breathtaking flutters (yes, you're welcome to steal that line)? The Butterfly Pavilion schedules its releases twice daily, at 12:30pm and 3:30pm -- leaving plenty of time for the relationship metaphor to sink in.

Ruth Tobias/Thrillist

Do dim sum

Multiple locations
It’s not just a feast, it’s a social experiment: by the time the check comes, you’ll know whether 1) you share adventurous tastes and 2) you’re comfortable unbuttoning your pants for all the wrong reasons together. Take the test at Star Kitchen, Super Star, or King’s Land.

Go on a local safari

Less than an hour from downtown, the Wild Animal Sanctuary feels worlds away. Criss-crossed by observational walkways visitors can access year-round, its 720-acre property is home to lions, tigers, bears, wolves, emu and countless other rescued creatures great and small—and anyone who’s not moved by the sight of them isn’t worth any more of your time.

Get some guaranteed laughs at Buntport Theater Company

Santa Fe Art District
No, this seasoned troupe of comedic talents won’t cause traumatic flashbacks to childhood matinees of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Their original productions are smart, funny, and just weird enough to give you plenty to talk about afterward. 

Go rock climbing in (relative) comfort

Multiple locations
Most area rock-climbing gyms offer day passes, 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.

Attend a Quote-Along at the Alamo Drafthouse

Because the couple that shouts "it’s just a flesh wound!" or "I love lamp!" at a movie screen together, stays together.

Ruth Tobias/Thrillist

Throw a karaoke party

Southwest Denver
Ready to merge your social circles? Punch Bowl Social now has two private, full-service karaoke rooms available for hourly rental by up to 10 people, so you can impress (or bore) each other’s pals with that "Islands in the Stream" duet you’ve been practicing.  

Ice skate on a frozen mountain lake

No rinky-dink rinks for you two -- this is Colorado. In the wintertime, Evergreen Lake transforms into one of the largest -- and most picturesque -- natural skating rinks in the nation.

Catch some roller-derby action

Multiple locations
Speaking of skating, is there anything hotter than watching badass ladies battle it out on the flat track? Get 2015 season details at Denver Roller Dolls or Rocky Mountain Rollergirls.

Have your minds blown at a lecture. Seriously.

Multiple locations
Way before TED Talks, there was CU-Boulder’s five-day Conference on World Affairs, held every April and open to the public for free; previous speakers include Jello Biafra, Werner Herzog, Ted Turner, and Henry-freaking-Kissinger, so yeah, it’s heavyweight. Then there’s Mixed Taste, the Museum of Contemporary Arts' smash summertime series pairing experts on two unrelated but equally engrossing subjects: think "Soul Food & Salvador Dalí." (They’re guaranteed sellouts, so book early.)

Enjoy a multi-course meal at a steal

Multiple locations
A quieter, cheaper fine-dining experience? Count us in! (Not really -- rest assured, Thrillist does not crash dates.) Many a destination offers prix fixe specials on weeknights; to name a few favorites: Frasca Food and Wine and Vesta Dipping Grill do it on Mondays, Lower48 Kitchen recently launched themed Tuesday Tastings, and Bistro VendĂ´me presents all-vegetarian menus Wednesdays and Thursdays (Fridays too).

Ritz Carlton

Go for an out-of-the-ordinary spa treatment

City Park, Downtown
Quaint Russian-style Izba Spa features two-hour deluxe sessions for couples that include exhilarating beatdowns in the banya, soothed by full-body massages. Or book a joint 75-minute "Hops N' Honey" pedicure at the Ritz-Carlton’s luxury spa, which comes complete with a Great Divide beer sampler -- so you can soak your insides and your feet in suds.

Take a cushy kush tour

Multiple locations
Exchanging VW buses for limos and dime bags for deluxe swag, most of the marijuana tour companies that have popped up in the 420 era are surprisingly luxe. You’ll pay a chunk for a several-hour jaunt, but hey -- anything for your Mary Jane or Joe, right?

Rendezvous in wonderland

Baker, Lincoln Park
Because every couple must experience the magic of dining in Beatrice & Woodsley’s lantern-lit indoor forest or Domo’s Japanese garden at least once.

Hone your cooking skills Ă  deux

Held a few times a month, Cook Street’s wildly popular Culinary Date Nights give you a taste not only of a three-course meal paired with wine, but also of your potential future in domestic bliss. (Good luck with that, by the way!)

Road trip!

Multiple locations
The mountains were made for weekend getaways (and we’ve got the Vail and Breckenridge bar guides to prove it). But hiking, biking, and skiing trips aren’t your only options: you could also try your luck in a Black Hawk casino, take a dip in the Glenwood Hot Springs, catch the rodeo in Steamboat Springs, ride the rails from Durango to Silverton, pick peaches in Palisade... in case you hadn’t noticed, you’re kinda living in paradise. Now you have someone to enjoy it with!

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