More than 96 million Americans over the age of 18 are single, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And many of them are actively looking to find that special someone. In fact, as you read this article, there are scores of people chatting on the phone or through instant messaging agonizing with their friends over crucial first-date decisions like "What do I wear? What do we talk about? Do I bring up my reality TV show obsession?"
Well, we might not have the answers to all of your burning first-date prep questions, but we did take a stab at the one question that has to be answered: What do we do? Don't worry. We can handle that one. Just read on for five first date ideas that are ideal for anyone, whether you're new to the dating scene or an old pro.
Short and Sweet (literally)
William Shakespeare once wrote that "brevity is the soul of wit." And we think this quote from "Hamlet," applies to first dates, too. A first date doesn't have to be an all-day affair. Instead, just meet up for a quick get together to see if things click. These short dates are good for people getting back into the dating scene, divorcees or anyone who's uncomfortable with the dating process in general. And they also provide safe venues for a first date with a person you've met online.
Find something to do that has a time limit or that doesn't require spending a lot of time together, so if it's not going well you can politely say sayonara early. Of course, short and sweet really works well for blind dates, especially if one of the participants is hesitant about blind dates in the first place.
So what can you do that's quick but fun? Plenty:
- Grab a cup of coffee or cappuccino at the local coffee house.
- Visit a museum exhibition.
- Meet at the local cupcake shop (take your pick -- old-fashioned red velvet cupcake with cream cheese icing or dark chocolate cupcake with espresso butter cream).
- Play one round of miniature golf.
- Take a walking tour downtown to check out the local boutiques, bookstores, gelato shops, etc.
- Drop by an outdoor arts festival or crafts fair.
- Enroll in a one-hour class together at a community center.
Wine Tasting or Brewery Tour
So you want to impress your date with your sense of culture and class? Then take him or her to the local vineyard or brewery tour for a tasting, or the annual beer festival, if it's in town. Both are ideal for group or couple dates, and for people who, well, enjoy wine or beer. The tours typically include historical and instructional aspects on wine or beer, so you can learn a little something while you sample the goods. And if your timing is lucky and there's a beer festival in town, they usually feature local bands and other art vendors, as well, so these festivals make great first dates with local flavor. When else would you get a chance to taste so many different beers at one time and have it actually be acceptable?
How do you find a tasting or tour? Start by checking your local newspaper, or logging on to the Beer Festivals Calendar Web site or Localwineevents.com. Of course, planning ahead is crucial for a date like this; you'll want to make sure your date doesn't have any issues with alcohol. And be a responsible. Know when to say when and identify your designated driver beforehand. Getting too drunk is the fastest way to put the kibosh on date No. 2.
They're not just for the boys anymore. More and more women are getting into the much-anticipated gridiron season every fall, or watching the players run up and down the basketball courts. So why wouldn't this make an ideal first date for sports enthusiasts, or for people who like outdoor events and are willing to step outside their comfort zone? Just be sure your date likes and understands the game, or is open to the idea of learning from you.
And sporting events are actually good for avoiding that awkward first-date silence because you can always watch the game if you run out of things to talk about. But they can also provide an added element of fun: You and your date can make a friendly wager on the game and the loser can pick up the tab for chocolate chip scones or a round of beer afterward.
Looking for more than just men's basketball and football? Think outside of the box. Get tickets to a WNBA or NHL game if there's a team in your city. Or check out a city league game like flag football, soccer, softball or volleyball for a more local appeal. And if the date doesn't go well, at least you can still have a good time watching a sporting event. No harm, no foul.
Movies, Comedy Shows and Plays
A movie or live show is a great choice for really any date. The key is to be respectful and choose a movie, play or concert that you both will enjoy. You don't want to spring for tickets to a Lady Gaga concert or "The Last Exorcism" without talking to your date. Make sure they're up for it first.
Great options include taking in a concert in a big arena (once again make sure s/he is a fan of Jay-Z or Neil Diamond); checking out the local live bands at an outdoor park festival; going to spoken word night at a local poetry club; or supporting the local arts by seeing a play at a smaller venue ("Fiddler on the Roof" in a limited run can be exciting). There will be times during the date where you won't have much conversation, but that's OK because you can make up for it by discussing the show later. And, if it ends early enough and things are going well, there's still time for an after-party coffee, drink or dessert.
Dinner and Drinks
This is the mother of all first date ideas. Going out for dinner or drinks is not an original concept, but it's a great way to spend your first date together. This outing has stood the test of time. Why? Because the formula works. A yummy meal plus interesting conversation often leads to the second date. Yes it's predictable, and yes, the first date dinner scene is played out in every movie known to man. But it's a jumpstart to the process of getting to know someone. It doesn't matter whether you're on a blind date or breaking bread with someone whom you've had your eye on for a long time.
Dinner or drink dates allow you to ask questions and spend time talking, sharing stories and hopefully laughing. It also lets you pull back the curtain a little on whether you might click or not. You can keep it light and casual by going to a place where you can pair mozzarella sticks and wings with Diet Cokes. Or you can get dolled up and finally justify spending the $350 on that new French bistro that just opened downtown. If the date is going well, dancing at a karaoke bar, a hip nightclub or even in the restaurant is a festive way to cap off the evening. If it looks like it's heading south, you can politely say you don't want any dessert and say goodnight right after the check.
HowStuffWorks looks a study which showed 'aspirational online dating' didn't pan out for most people.
- Center for Science in Public Interest. "New Lab Tests of Movie Theater Popcorn Show It's Still the Godzilla of Snacks". November 18, 2009. (Sept. 15, 2010). http://www.cspinet.org/new/200911182.html
- Krumov, George. "Wine Etiquette - How to Order Wine on a First Date." (Sept. 16, 2010). http://www.bgmeals.com/order-wine.htm.
- Rosenbloom, Stephanie. "The Ritual of the First Date, Circa 2010." New York Times. July 2, 2010. (Sept. 15, 2010).
- "Single? You're Not Alone." CNN. August 19, 2010. US Census Bureau. American Community Survey. 2008. (Sept. 16, 2010) http://articles.cnn.com/2010-08-19/living/single.in.america_1_single-fathers-single-mothers-single-parents?_s=PM:LIVING
- WNBA Salaries 2010. http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Sports/wnba-salaries.php. (Sept. 16, 2010)