28 Phoenix Date Ideas That Will Make You Seem Super Interesting
Love is a fickle thing. What with the ever-changing lineup of dating apps and endless searching, swiping, scrolling, and ghosting. So once you find that lucky person to share a night with, picking an actually fun date activity should be easy, especially here in the Valley where the options are seemingly endless.
From increasing intimacy with the ultimate trust fall (trapeze style!) to taking a leisurely, festive stroll through the Desert Botanical Garden’s luminarias, there’s something for every hopeless romantic here. So, next time you get that elusive, promising match, skip the chain restaurant and do one of these super fun things instead.
Tour the Valley’s most historic resort
Impress your date with your Arizona history knowledge at a Happy Hour History Tour at the Valley’s beloved Arizona Biltmore hotel. Sip champagne and one of the resort’s signature Tequila Sunrises while learning about the highlights of the resorts history -- from presidential visits to prohibition era parties. Bonus points if you end the evening dining on southwestern fare at Frank & Alberts, which offers a 15 percent discount to tour goers.
Acquaint yourself with mid-century modern architecture
While we don’t necessarily have a long history here in the Valley, what we do have is pretty incredible -- starting with the historic Valley Ho hotel. Not only is the hotel itself a well-preserved mid-century relic with a Hollywood story, it’s playing host to a daylong mid-century modern architecture tour of Scottsdale featuring the hotel, Garden Apartment District, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price House and more led by dynamic local expert Ace Bailey. Tours are by appointment for up to 10 people, so it’s a great option when you want to get together with your other favorite couples.
Become an expert wine taster at Mountain Shadows
Wine tasting is hands down a premiere date idea -- not only is it classy, requires little small talk and involves drinking, you can actually learn something during it. At Mountain Shadows’ Spirited Sipping Seminars led by the resort’s incredibly knowledgeable food and beverage director Jim Gallen, you’ll take your tasting technique to the next level while enjoying some stellar wine picks for the price of a couple drinks at the bar. Plus, if wine isn’t your drink of choice, they also regularly host cocktail and beer tasting events.
Take a Night Lights Tour of Wright’s Taliesin West
Every Arizonan needs to explore the beauty of Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Taliesin West, but there’s no more romantic way to experience it than under the stars during the Night Lights Tour. The two-hour long tour is for adults only and showcases Wright’s school and private living quarters -- including a breathtaking view of the city and the grounds’ iconic fire-breathing dragon.
Discover a peaceful paradise at the Japanese garden
Explore the downtown oasis that is Ro Ho En, otherwise known as Phoenix's Japanese Friendship Garden. The walkable pathways wind through a lush green landscape peppered with plants native to Japan, koi-filled ponds, and cultural sculptures. Keep in mind that the garden is intended to be a space of harmony. It's $7 admission, and there's a general etiquette list of rules to follow for a reason, but it's also totally worth the quiet.
Put a retro spin on dinner and a movie
Dinner and a movie might be cliche, but FilmBar is anything but. The quirky, independent, Downtown cinema specializes in indie and foreign movies but also plays cult classics like Mean Girls and the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Oh, and did we mention the actual bar part? And as if it couldn’t get any better, you can skip the popcorn and opt for fresh tamales from The Tamale Store.
Check out a current exhibition at the art museum
The Phoenix Art Museum is the largest art museum in the Southwest, making it the perfect place to impress a date with even a smattering of art history trivia. The exhibitions are stunning too, with current runs of art tackling topics like border control, American regionalism, and one piece called "You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies." The latter is a light show you just have to see to believe. After, browse the artisan ice cream flavors at Melt.
Learn how beer is made at Four Peaks
Go on a behind-the-scenes brewery tour with your date at Four Peaks to see firsthand how the beer you will be drinking later is made. Brewery tours at the flagship location happen each Saturday for free and offer you the opportunity to sample Four Peaks' award-winning brews.
Win some cash during bingo night
If you’re a little nervous for your date, ease the tension with a few drinks, a little friendly competition, and the chance to win a lot of money. Once a month Fort McDowell Casino hosts midnight bingo, which is the perfect place for people watching. When you’re done, take your winnings to the slots to test your luck.
Spend an afternoon with the butterflies
Step inside the largest butterfly conservatory in the country and immerse yourself amongst 3,000 fluttering butterflies at Butterfly Wonderland. This date is sure to set your partner’s heart-a-flutter. It's open 365 days a year and tickets are $23 for adults.
Sip wine in Old Town Scottsdale
Old Town Scottsdale
Our state is home to dozens of vineyards. And lucky for you, LDV Winery has an outpost right here in Scottsdale. You will probably learn a lot about your date over a few glasses of wine, so visit the tasting room for flights and small bites to really get to know the person you’re dating.
Explore beautiful Sedona
If your date is willing to take a day trip to escape the heat, spend a few hours driving up to Sedona, and bring your bathing suits to take advantage of the swimming holes. Skip the long lines at Slide Rock and head to Grasshopper Point instead. You’ll pay $8 to park your car and spend all day jumping off hidden cliffs into warm water. The best part? There are three trails to take easy hikes on which make for great picnic spots.
Have a cocktail and hang with a cockatoo
The Perch is a rooftop bar like no other in Arizona. Besides the incredible views of downtown Chandler, the outdoor garden is home to over 50 tropical rescue birds. So while you grab your date one of their 40 craft beers on tap, they’ll have someone to talk to... but their name might be Polly.
Zip-line through the trees at Flagstaff Extreme
It’s common to venture north during the summer in Arizona. The temperature drops at least 10 degrees, and there’s actually nature to help shade you from the sun. At Flagstaff Extreme, they created a massive adventure and zip line course amid tall Ponderosa pine trees that are perfect for a day of active fun -- and a great workout, too.
Experience the ultimate trust fall
When you're ready to give your budding relationship the ultimate trust test, go for an exhilarating trapeze session at I.FLY Trapeze. Located at The Phoenician, it provides classes where you and your date will learn the timing and the technique -- like a backflip dismount -- of all things trapeze.
Tour a working olive mill
Head out to the East Valley and ramble through the olive groves at Queen Creek Olive Mill. Enjoy your choice of pizza from their lunch menu on the outdoor terrace and take a peek at the olive oil making process while you’re there at one of the daily 45-minute tours.
Dine in the desert
Grab two seats at the long table with Cloth & Flame and dine in the desert among cacti and a gang of friendly folk who appreciate good food and the great outdoors. Diners can expect a multi-course meal and drinks prepared by a guest chef. The dinners are pricey, but there's no other experience like it.
Go horseback riding along the lower Salt River
Embrace your inner cowboy and 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. It's not cheap, but at $49/hour, it won't break your wallets either.
Have a drink at Arizona's only ice bar
Pull on a pair of faux fur coats and make your way into Scottsdale's ice bar, Polar Bar. This Scottsdale drinkery features an ice-carved bar, ice-clad walls, and we can only assume the drinks are cold, too. Hopefully your date will warm up to you, but play it cool with the ice puns just to be on the safe side.
Kayak your way around Lake Kiwanis
Delight in a leisurely paddle around Lake Kiwanis with your date in a double kayak rental. Somewhat of a hidden gem, Kiwanis Park is comprised of 125 acres of parkland and is located smack-dab in the heart of Tempe. You can probably spend hours here, so plan accordingly and bring a picnic.
Catch a magical Arizona sunset from a hot air balloon
What is more romantic than a hot air balloon ride at sunset, after all? Sweep your date literally off their feet with a trip through the sky on Float Balloon Tours. The ballooning outfit even provides a full dinner and glass of sparkling to enjoy after the airborne journey.
Hit up a boozy book club
For the bookish types, there's nothing more invigorating than poring over your latest read together. The First Draft Book Bar's monthly boozy book club is a great place to do that. Each month, there’s a new book and a guided discussion that follows. And you can’t go wrong with happy hour deals plus a discount on the book you'll be reading from Changing Hands bookstore.
Take an evening stroll in the Desert Botanical Garden
Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden's Flashlight Tours are great for seeing all kinds of Phoenician plant life, and during the warmer months the park opens up their five trails at night to explore blooming plants and wildlife in the dark. It’s BYOF (bring your own flashlight), but you’ll see beautiful flowers you never could have imagined that could pop out of cacti in the nighttime, so it’s totally worth the extra stop at CVS on your way.
Watch the sunset from the top of South Mountain -- without the hike
South Mountain Park
You’ll probably want to avoid all forms of outdoor hiking in the summer, unless you like heatstroke or getting up at 4am. Luckily, South Mountain offers some of the best views of the city at sunset that you can drive to. The best bet is driving up to Dobbins Lookout around dusk to catch the sunset, and you’ll probably also spot planes coming and going from Sky Harbor, too. Just make sure you have the perfect playlist for the ride up.
Tee off your night at Topgolf
Even if you or your date has never swung a golf club before, Topgolf is a fun game for everyone, especially when fueled by alcohol. Reserve a bay on a Friday night, but get to the venue early to grab a drink at the bar and play some foosball before your time slot. For $45 an hour, you’ll want to spend at least two there because it’s a blast trying to hit the targets, and also hilarious to watch when a newbie doesn’t know how to aim.
Explore Africa (in Arizona)
If you’ve ever wanted to hang out with lions, tigers, and bears, now’s your chance. Out of Africa Wildlife Park is a little over an hour outside of Phoenix, but the close-up experience you have with these huge creatures is worth the drive. But if you’re really trying to impress your date, splurge on the Expedition Passport, which is $53 for adults, to see all of the shows and to get the chance to feed a tiger.
Split a butter cake at the Valley’s most beloved steakhouse
Mastro’s is now touted as one of the West Coast’s best-loved steakhouses, but it got its start right here in North Scottsdale two decades ago. It’s an undeniably high-end meal and a surefire way to impress even the most discerning dates with it’s incredible lineup of steaks. But the true star of the show is the legendary butter cake. Take your date for the full meal, or just wine and dessert -- you’re sure to score a second date either way.
Mix cocktails together in a desert oasis
While you might have given up on bartending after your collegiate attempt at Hunch Punch, it’s not too late to add cocktail connoisseur to your resume. At Civana, one of the state’s newest and most secluded resorts, you and your date can learn how to craft a healthy, seasonal cocktail whilst enjoying an assortment of chef-prepared appetizers. To make it a true date night to remember, book a room and turn it into a staycation. With its Carefree location, Civana is just far enough out of town to make it a getaway without the hours-long road trip.
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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.