Where to Go on a Date in Phoenix This Fall

Think beyond grabbing drinks.

Experience Scottsdale Stargazing
Courtesy of Experience Scottsdale

If love is ever in the air, it's during fall. So if you’re trying to impress someone this season, skip the overplayed chain restaurant or round of mini-golf and set yourself apart from the crowd with a truly unforgettable night (or day!) out. From strolling through Instagram-worthy, interactive art exhibits to a charcuterie picnic, there’s no shortage of great activities to help you land that next date.

Taliesin West Evening
Photo by Andrew Pielage

There are few places as idyllic as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West at dusk with its stunning mountain views and awe-inspiring Frank Lloyd Wright architecture. Taliesin West even launched a new happy hour program—Sunsets and Sips—which comes with a beverage of your choice and a look at different spaces throughout the historic property, such as the sunset terrace or studio. Plus, if you have any questions, staff members are on site to give you all the history of the school turned historic site.

Take it old school while social distancing with a drive-in movie. There unfortunately aren’t many left—but West Wind Drive-In in Glendale is showing the latest films on the big screen for less than you’d pay at a typical theater. Plus, the on-site snack bar will ensure you don’t miss out on that movie theater-style popcorn.

Marcellino Cooking Class
Courtesy of Marcellino

Perfect an Italian meal

Beloved Italian eatery Marcellino Ristorante’s Chef Marcellino is offering lunch-and-learn cooking classes through the end of the year. Cook a variety of classic Italian dishes—from gnocchi al ‘pignatello’ to cavatelli pasta while hearing Chef’s stories of growing up on a farm in Italy. After all your hard work, enjoy your entrée with a salad and handmade biscotti.

Go stargazing together

Want to shoot for the stars for your next date? You can, literally. The guides at Stellar Adventures offer stargazing with night vision so you and your date can see planets and galaxies more than 500 million miles away.

Visit Prescott, Arizona
Visit Prescott, Arizona

Multiple locations
Need a break from the desert? Few things are as romantic as a road trip—lots of time to talk, an opportunity to share your best playlist, and the excitement of getting out of your comfort zone. Whether it’s Pinetop, Flagstaff, or Sedona, you can find yourself in a mountain paradise in a few short hours to enjoy the changing leaves and some small town charm.

Enjoy the cooler weather on a desert hike

Multiple locations
One hundred-plus degree temperatures might have kept you cooped up inside these last few months, but it’s time to enjoy the desert again. Get some exercise in while you chat up your date hiking some of Arizona’s best-loved mountains like
Piestewa Peak, Pinnacle Peak—or if you’re both up for a challenge, opt for the state’s best known summit, Camelback.

Uptown Farmers Market Beets
Uptown Farmers Market

Shop seasonal veggies at a local farmers market

Multiple locations
Nothing makes for a cozy fall date night like picking out some seasonal vegetables together then whipping up your findings into a delicious meal at home. Our favorites are the Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market, Uptown Farmers Market, and Downtown PHX Farmers Market.

Saddle up at Buffalo Chip Saloon and embrace your inner cowpokes

Cave Creek
Bull riding, line dancing, and barbecue, Cave Creek’s Buffalo Chip Saloon has it all. Maybe skip the mechanical bull on the first date. The dance floor looks like a much safer option anyways. Or discover your shared love of cue’d eats over a smoky plate of brisket. 

Cloth & Flame dinner
Cloth & Flame dinner | Photo by Lauren Topor Reichert

Snag seats to a Cloth & Flame dinner

Multiple locations
Dreamy desert dining experiences are Cloth & Flame’s forte. The Arizona-born outfit highlights the best of the best à la pop-up dinners in both urban and far-reaching desert settings with appearances from award-winning chefs and local up-and-comers. See where the next dining series is happening and reserve your seats. 

Thunderbird Lounge
Thunderbird Lounge arcade games | Photo courtesy of Visit Phoenix/nightfuse.com

We’re talking about video games, obviously. This '70s-inspired Melrose hangout is equipped with retro arcade games, wood-paneled walls, a community-style outdoor patio, and no shortage of vintage flare that even reaches to the cocktail menu with drinks like the Farrah, Grace Jones, and Hulkster, which makes for some pretty adequate liquid courage, brother.

This year-round, evolving art show features works from around the world. Current showings on display at Wonderspaces Arizona include Rainbow Rooms, Plume, and Our Top 100, a community-built playlist comprised of songs and memories from people in varying cities and towns—pretty romantic, isn’t it? Discover the artists and secure your tickets here

Visit Phoenix/Nick Laessig Photography
Photo by Visit Phoenix/Nick Laessig Photography

Bond over craft brews at Arizona Wilderness’ outdoor beer garden

Downtown Phoenix 
The craft beer lineup at Arizona Wilderness’ Downtown Phoenix beer garden is just as expansive as the city’s dating pool. You’ve got options. And a lot of ‘em. So what’s it gonna be, the coffee oatmeal stout or a mixed culture sour? 

Have a picnic at The Farm at South Mountain 

Spanning 10-acres, The Farm at South Mountain, a notable agritourist destination, has organic-style gardens, a trio of farm-to-table restaurants, and a shady pecan grove lined with socially-distant picnic tables that make a perfect spot for an open-air weekend lunch date. 

Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Co.
Photo courtesy of Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Co.

Catch an Arizona sunrise from a hot air balloon 

Phoenix, Scottsdale
Sweep your date literally off their feet with a trip through the sky on Rainbow Ryders. The views are impeccable. And the ballooning outfit even provides locally made snacks and prickly pear mimosas to enjoy after the airborne journey. What’s more romantic than that?

Kayak Kiwanis 

If your most recent match’s bio alludes to being inclined to outdoor adventure, test the proverbial waters and go kayaking. Wear your best waterproof duds, rent a watercraft, and set out on a waterborne journey at Tempe’s Lake Kiwanis—and hope that it all goes swimmingly.

Discover a peaceful paradise at the Japanese Friendship Garden 

Downtown Phoenix
Like dating sometimes, this year has been, well, pretty overwhelming. Downtown Phoenix’s Japanese Friendship Garden provides a much needed breather from the craziness that is the year that was that both you and your date can appreciate, respectively, while strolling through the serene setting and taking in the sights and sounds. 

Queen Creek Olive Mill
Photo courtesy of Queen Creek Olive Mill

Tour an olive grove 

Queen Creek 
A trip to Queen Creek Olive Mill makes for a delicious, and educational, date. Reserve two spots for Olive Oil 101 and learn how extra virgin olive oil is made. You’ll go through an informative tasting and have the chance to explore the olive groves. Once the lesson wraps, order some sharble noshes like warmed olives and antipasto, find a seat at an outdoor picnic table or cozy-up to a fire pit and put your newly-acquired tasting skills to the test. 

Go horseback riding along the Lower Salt River 

Embrace your inner ranchero, and your romantic side, and traverse cactus-dotted desert trails on horseback with your date. The experienced wranglers at Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch provide guided tours and a quick “how-to” before you saddle up. Learn more about the rides here

Secure some sweet, sweet soft serve at Topo 

Downtown Gilbert 
This roadside attraction-inspired burrito shop is hard to miss. Located along the popular Downtown Gilbert enclave, Topo deals in craveable elotes, heavyweight burritos and classic soft serve ice cream in flavors like lime and prickly pear. Skip ahead straight to dessert. And opt to have your sweet treat dipped. Grab a handful of napkins, too. Because you really don’t want your date to be staring at the ice cream on your chin while you’re breaking the ice, do you? 

Scottsdale Arts
Photo courtesy of Scottsdale Arts

Share charcuterie in an urban park 

Multiple locations 
They say the way to a person’s heart is through charcuterie, or something like that. Go ahead and take this opportunity to show off your charcuterie board assembly skills with a romantic, and delicious, meat and cheese-filled date in an urban park. Whatever hood you call home, from Downtown Phoenix (Civic Space Park!) to Arcadia (G.R. Herberger Park!) and Scottsdale (Scottsdale Civic Center Park!), there’s likely an urban park just around the corner. 

Split a bottle of vino at Postino

Multiple locations
If you’re like most of us, there’s a good chance you got acquainted with a bottle or two over the last year or so from the comfort of your living room. Now that you’re practically a wine connoisseur, order some wine for the table and wax poetic about notes, structures, and profiles, and please remember to let your date get a few words in, too. 

Swap stories over spiked coffees 

When coffee and booze come together, good things are bound to happen. Phoenix’s Provision Coffee has mastered both craft cocktails and fancy coffee drinks, and have even gone as far as to combine the two. Here you’ll find a variety of espresso-based libations as well as non-alcoholic sippers including habanero mochas, honey lavender lattes, sparkling teas, and matcha, all best enjoyed on the shaded, and socially distanced, outdoor patio. 

Desert Botanical Garden
Photo courtesy of Desert Botanical Garden

Take a stroll through the Desert Botanical Garden 

It’s hard not to catch feelings in a setting as picturesque as Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden. Spanning 140-acres and one of only 24 botanical gardens accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Desert Botanical Garden not only features thousands of unique living cacti but hundreds of rare and endangered species throughout its expansive walkable grounds. And you can even explore this place after dark though the summer season. 

Phoenix Coqui
Phoenix Coqui | Photo by Mark Lipczynski

Follow your hearts to the food trucks 

Multiple locations 
Follow your hearts, and your rumbling stomachs, to Everest Momo where you can indulge in hand-rolled momos. Hit up Birrieria Tijuana for tortas and quesabirrias. Pay a visit to Hot Dogs La Yaquesita for bacon-wrapped Sonoran dogs. Don’t sleep on Phoenix Coqui for Puerto Rican eats. And try not to drool too much when you’re waiting for your hot and chewy fry bread from the folks at Emerson Fry Bread.  

Cruise around in a swan boat

Make like lovebirds and pedal your way around Tempe Town Lake in a swan boat. That’s right, swan boats! Feeling romantic? Opt-in for the date night package which includes a box of chocolates and floral decorations.

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Lauren Topor Reichert is a Phoenix-based multimedia storyteller, photographer, and content creator who met her husband IRL. Her work has been featured in local travel guides and national publications, and her idea of a perfect date is dinner with Cloth & Flame. Follow her around Arizona, and beyond, on Instagram @hungryinphoenix
Jamie Killin is a Phoenix native and Arizona State graduate who specializes in lifestyle and features writing. You can usually find her at the spin studio, a concert, or trying new restaurants across the Valley. Follow her at @jamiefayekillin.