The difference between a good date and a let’s-never-speak-of-this-again date is often downright obvious (example, was jail involved?). But there’s a whole wide spectrum of meh in between, where nothing memorable happens, and both parties suddenly find themselves “snowed under at work” and “just dealing with a lot, you know?”
The culprit, more often than not, is the comfort zone, which is why dating shows toss perfect strangers out of planes, or place them perilously close to the mouths of safari animals. Chemistry really is… just chemistry, so we rounded up some out-of-the-box date ideas that’ll make that person next to you seem extra badass. (Worst-case scenario: you’ll have a good time.)
1. Draw naked people
As in, hit up a figure-drawing class. It’s like the movies -- but way better -- in that it's a legit cultural activity, throughout which it's best not to chatter incessantly. It'll also give some insight into your date's comfort level, and appreciation for the human form. Both... good things to know.
2. Find a parade, join that parade
It's summer: you can't step outside without running into a bunch of people celebrating something. Do they look happy? Is there face paint? Your date pics will be hilarious.
3. Take an underground tour of your city
Every city, whether literally underground or not, has a bevy of unique places that unseen or unknown to the general public. Discover some of the city, and get down and dirty.
4. Go to Chipotle and make an Everything Burrito
And split it, or... not. Compare notes -- was this the worst idea ever, or the best?
5. Get your rocks on
Shimmying up a climbing wall gets you and your date out of your comfort zones, and you can laugh for years about that time you got rescued halfway.
6. Have a guacamole-off
Your signature recipe versus theirs. Informative and… leads to lots of guacamole.
7. Food fight: picnic style
Pack a delicious lunch for a sunny day and then shove it in your date's hair (although not out of the blue. That's a guaranteed way to not get a second date). Liven up the typical park picnic date and play with your date -- and your food.
8. Trust falls at random locations
Nothing raises the stakes like randomly collapsing near millions of dollars worth of art at a museum. But do not try this on the subway platform.
9. Attend a comic book convention
Wearing your favorite characters' costumes. There is no more thorough test of compatibility: if Lex Luthor and Superman show up? Say your goodbyes.
10. Go to an empty matinee
MST3K the hell out of whatever is playing -- get an idea of the full breadth of your date's wit.
11. Busk on public transportation during rush hour
It's fun, it's creative, and you might just earn a buck.
12. Invent a new cocktail
Spend a happy hour together playing mixologist instead of cramming into a bar with a billion other couples on dates. You could change the world.
13. Escape the room
Pay someone to lock you in a room (wait keep reading) that's littered with clues. Working together, you have to figure out the solution to get the door open (or, spoiler: you lose and they let you out anyway). Book two spots for one and unlock the puzzle (and the door) together.
14. Food truck hunt
Track down a five-course meal on the move and leave plenty of time for other date-like activities. It's like modern urban hunting and gathering.
15. Be live audience members
Upgrade significantly from watching a TV show on a couch by joining a live audience taping. "You win a car!" Or at least... get your faces on TV. Laugh cues are also a good way to check whether your date's laugh is cute or a deal-breaker, without, you know, cracking the jokes yourself.
16. Sky diving
It’s a twofer -- cross something off your bucket list and impress your date at the same time by not peeing your pants while falling from the sky.
17. Get in on the action at a food competition
Find out your date's food preferences by hitting up whatever food competition is going down. BBQ Battle, Burger Beatdown... judge the offerings together and note their comments for future dates (should you not mess up this one).
18. Murder mystery
Track down a murder mystery dinner in your town, put those hours of playing Clue as a kid together with the head of your date, and do something more with your dinner besides, you know, eating.
19. Screamo karaoke
Might as well get those frustrations about your last relationship out to some Katy Perry.
20. Project old video games on the side of a building
It’s been scientifically proven that Super Mario 3 gets a million times more fun when it’s seven stories high, and it's a lot more impressive than hitting up a bar/arcade. All you need is a rented projector, a suitable rooftop, and a wall.
21. Go to an archery range
Unleash your inner Katniss. Archery takes some serious concentration and focus, which you'll need to be extra witty at dinner after. Also, is this person going to be any use in a apocalyptic dystopia? Best to find out now.
22. See just how endless the endless appetizers at TGIF actually are.
Break out of the polite nibbling of a fine dining dinner and get some food. The one who gives in first buys the dessert. Assuming you still have room for dessert.
23. Go to a wine tasting at a vineyard, throw out some lingo
Smell the wine and talk at length about its bouquet. No one will suspect that you are both clueless (or are you?), and you can see just how far you can push the faux wine expertise before the other cracks up.
24. Some light falconry
Some say traveling reveals the true nature of a partner, but sharp-beaked wild animals can also do the trick. Remember, if you love something, set it free; if it comes back to you, it's yours forever, or... it's done killing all the small animals in the immediate vicinity.
25. Dress up, invent fantastic back stories, and hang out at the most exclusive bar you can find
Not only will you gain an insight into your date's true aspirations, but you might also get yourselves invited to an awesome after party.
26. Two words: laser tag
What’s more romantic than screaming and running away from each other? Nothing, that’s what. A little competition and some movement is the perfect prelude to sitting down and getting to know each other over drinks afterwards -- like how your date is such a deadly laser shot?
27. Take a butchery class
Find out what your date -- and the inside of a pig -- is made of by taking a butchery class. You'll find out if they're a secret vegan, for one thing.
28. Crash a wedding
Open bar, hors d’oeuvres, dancing -- it's the perfect date already pre-made, and all you have to do is keep calm and remember that "you knew the bride in college."
29. Take turns reading passages of a book in the park (aw)
But you also have to do the voices. You'll get a chance to actually listen to your date for a while instead of trying to think up something interesting to say.
30. If it's not your first date, arrange to "meet" somewhere familiar…
…but act as though you're strangers. Get to know each other all over again.
First person who yells buys the next round of cotton candy. Get those hearts beating with a touch of extra adrenaline -- if you're nervous, this could be the push you need to drop all pretensions/scream your face off before you hit the bar afterwards.
32. Cat café
If you are lucky enough to live in a city that has one, what are you still doing reading this? Warm up the boring coffee date with cats.
33. Find the "worst" bar in the city and get a drink there
"Worst" is usually shorthand for "weird" and who doesn't want that? And also... drinks in cans.
34. Volunteer at an animal shelter
Knock out two birds with one stone (not literally!) by doing a good deed while getting to know a good person. Walk some dogs, pet some kitties, and figure out if your date is a sociopath (animals know).
35. Meet at the movies at a random time
Get tickets to the next movie showing as soon as you both show up -- no matter what it is. It's a good test of spontaneity, and... you could always cheat; look up that movie you're too embarrassed to admit that you want to see.
36. Split a giant turkey leg at a Renaissance fair
Afterwards, catch a jousting match -- it’s the old school baseball game and a hot dog date.
37. Try a nearby geo-cache
You never know what weird things people will leave behind -- and you should definitely try to outdo them with something even more bizarre.
38. Make your own beer
Jump in on the craft movement and attend a beer making class together -- brew your own brews!
39. Join the circus
Or at least join the ranks of acrobats and contortionists by trying out an aerial silks class (you know, the one where people shimmy up a ceiling length piece of fabric and then MAGICALLY flip around) or one of its cousins, like a trapeze class. Show off that flexibility.
40. Go on an A-Z food tour
Hop around different restaurants specializing in international cuisine, from A to Z. It'll take a lot more than one date, which takes care of asking them out again: You guys have a project now.
41. Take a martial arts class
Get a good look at how beautiful your date’s eyes are up close before you take them down with a perfectly executed Judo flip. A little exercise is also a great excuse to go get a monster dinner together.
42. Track down a concert for a local band playing that night
You could discover the next big thing! Or realize that you have zero respect for your date's musical tastes.
43. Find the biggest Bloody Mary in your town
Like one you can literally make a meal (or at least a legit appetizer) out of.
44. Try making a super complicated recipe together
If by some miracle you get it right, congrats -- if not, it’ll be a funny story and you can order late night takeout.
45. Go into a fancy supermarket…
…and see how many free samples you guys can score to arrange a picnic
46. Both of you do five minutes at an open mic comedy night
This way you'll know what you both look like at your most terrified.
47. Get your fortunes told
See the future… or just how wrong the fortuneteller gets your lives.
48. Hit up a pub quiz together
And dominate as a two-person powerhouse together.
49. Find a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Easiest way to break out of the uninspired drinks at 7? Breaking into high intensity weirdness at midnight. Bonus points if you go in costume.
50. Actually go pick dates.
Or apples, or berries, or whatever is growing nearest to you. It gets you outside and moving, while working together towards a common goal. Afterwards? Food fight.