Where to Go on a Date in Phoenix This Summer

Get back out there.

Airi Katsuta for Wonderspaces Arizona
Photo courtesy of Airi Katsuta for Wonderspaces Arizona

We’re all coming out of this last year or so, well, different. Maybe that means hoarding toilet paper. Or perhaps it means taking a new approach to dating with a smidge of assistance from dating apps and or opting for virtual dates—after all, a third of modern marriages begin online now. Maybe you’re not thinking that far ahead (yet!), but when it comes to the secord, third, fourth, or fiftieth date, consult this lineup of actually fun date ideas and keep it close for when you need a little date night inspo.

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. 

Watch a movie on a really, really outdoor big screen at FilmBar at Pemberton PHX

Phoenix’s favorite indie cinema is showing movies outdoors at Pemberton PHX, Downtown Phoenix’s newest and buzziest community hangout. Introduce your date to your favorite cult classic or show some chivalry and let your date navigate movie night. You can secure the movie snacks and cocktails, Dino’s Pizza Napoletana and Baby Boy have your back. 

Thunderbird Lounge
Thunderbird Lounge arcade games | Photo courtesy of Visit Phoenix/

Score big at Thunderbird Lounge 

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.

Experience Wonderspaces Arizona 

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. 

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

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. 

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.

Grid Bike
Photo by Robert Garcia

Grid Bike ‘round Grand Avenue

Grand Avenue
Historic Grand Avenue is a quirky and art-filled neighborhood decorated with colorful painted sidewalks and murals at every turn that’s best explored on two wheels at a leisurely 10 mph—by bicycle, obviously. Unlock a couple lime green Grid Bikes and set out on an urban adventure through the historic hood. And if you really want to impress your date, bring helmets.

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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
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