Planning a great first date can be rough. McDonald’s and the movies are fine for 16 year olds, but as a more mature and sophisticated person, you can and should do better. Fear not, nascent lover! Here are 30 great first date ideas that are sure to get you to the second date with style!

1) A night at the theater

Theater Lights

Culture is all but dead in modern society. Why not set yourself apart by getting tickets to a showing of one of Shakespeare’s plays, a stand-up comedy revue, or even a presentation of the opera? (We recommend avoiding Don Giovanni as a first date for a number of reasons.) Not only will your date appreciate the extra thought, but it’ll make you look more sophisticated, too!

2 Do something sporty!

With the average job becoming more sedentary than ever before, people like to get out and move around in their free time. Taking your date for a little physical exercise is a good way for both of you to compete in a friendly fashion and loosen up in a very casual environment. Batting cages, bowling alleys, roller-skating rinks and even miniature golf courses are all good venues for getting to know someone better without expectations. As a bonus, you can see if your date is a sore loser…or winner!

3) Go fishing

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For the outdoorsy type, there are few better ways to enjoy someone’s company and alleviate pressure than by wetting a line. Even if you don’t catch anything, or just choose to catch and release, fishing is an excellent relaxation activity that allows for conversation and closeness in the great outdoors. If you do catch something, you can do your own fish fry to top off the day!

4) Attend a museum

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Museums are great first-date venues because they are public places chock-full of knowledge and fascinating artifacts. Ask your date what kind of art or ancient societies interest them and plan your day accordingly. For someone who always wanted to be a paleontologist, someplace like the Field Museum in Chicago would be ideal, while the artistic sort would likely enjoy the Guggenheim. Your date is sure to appreciate the extra effort you put into sharing their interests!

5) Be a kid again at the arcade

Taking your date to the arcade is a fun way to show you still have a sense of humor and know how to have good, old-fashioned childlike fun. Playing skee-ball, collecting tickets, and buying frivolous prizes with them is a fairly inexpensive and exciting way to have a good time without any pressure. If you’re really good at the games, you may be able to win that oversized, plush, purple dragon for your date, ensuring she’ll think of you for years to come!

6) Take a spin on go-karts

There are few things better than getting behind the wheel of a go-kart and trying to make the best time on the track. When you have a date, you can add fun and excitement to the race by making a friendly wager. Maybe the loser buys ice cream or the winner gets to decide what kind of pizza you’re having afterward. This is another good first date idea that mingles competition and fun.

7) Create a picnic

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This may sound a little corny, but stay with me. Building a picnic lunch with your best gourmet tricks (if you don’t have any, check out this link for some recipes that will help) and her favorite wine shows you have confidence in yourself and your culinary abilities, but also took the time to think about what she would enjoy. Picking out the perfect spot, whether it’s by a duck pond, on top of a cliff, or out in the woods is a good way to get away from it all, enjoy a relaxing time, and get to know each other better.

8) Off to the races!

Horse racing is an exciting pastime and a fun first-date idea. Whether you’re a hard-core trackhound or a casual observer, putting down bets and then watching to see if your horses will take the day can be a great way to get to know your date better. Just be careful, because there’s a good chance she might be better at picking the ponies than you are!

9) Do a little stargazing

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The nice thing about the stars is, they’re free for anyone to look at. Why not go out away from the light pollution and noise of the city and amaze her with your knowledge of astronomy? (And, if you happen to know a little something about astrology, that’s even better!) Stargazing is a romantic and fun way to spend time together, especially if you tell her that shooting star doesn’t hold a candle to her!

10) Try volunteering

The idea of a first date is to show the size of your heart. Why not spend your first date doing volunteer work? Whether you’re reading to young children or serving up food at a soup kitchen, or even helping with the animals at a shelter, you’re sure to impress her with your civic-mindedness and caring for others. However, if you’re going to do this, make sure it’s a cause you really believe in.There are few things less impressive to a person than the feeling their date is just putting on a show.

11) Listen to live music

What’s more enjoyable than listening to a live band? You don’t need to spend $300 on concert seats, though. Why not check out the local blues joint or the country band playing at your favorite watering hole? If the band’s really good, you might just get a dance or two out of it. The live music will also give you some insights into their musical tastes, which is an important baseline for deciding how compatible you’ll be in other ways!

12) Brave the haunted house

Everyone likes a good scare once in a while, and being scared automatically gets you closer emotionally and physically. Because of this, a haunted house can be a fun first date idea. Just be careful to leave the scaring to the professionals! Your job is to be just as scared as your date is, and to let her hold on to you when she needs to. This is a good way to show your bravery and tenderness.

13) Cook a dinner

Anybody can pick up a phone and make a dinner reservation. It takes real skill to cook well. Why not cook your date’s favorite meal, or a reasonable facsimile of it? With all the food websites and cooking shows around, it’s easy to find good recipes that even a guy who burns water can make. Your date will enjoy the effort, especially if you kick it up a notch by choosing the perfect complementary wine to accompany the meal.

14) Attend a wine tasting

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Wine tasting is almost a lost art in our culture, as are most social graces. To impress your date with your old-school sensibilities, why not do something really different and attend a wine tasting together? There’s a good chance you’ll learn a thing or two, and you’ll both have a lot of fun!

15) Go to open-mic poetry

Many people fear public speaking more than they do dying. However, open-mic poetry is a good way to show your more scholarly and sensitive side. Write your own pieces and present them, or find some poems you enjoy that tell your date how you feel. You never know–your date may even have a own poem about you!

16) Go see a parade

Okay, parades aren’t exactly the most common things in the world, but if there’s going to be one in your town, why not attend? Everyone enjoys a parade, and your date will like the fact you thought outside the box.

17) Take a stroll in the park

A walk in the park is a good first date idea because it’s simple and relaxing. What could be better than appreciating the beauty of nature and your date, at the same time? Plus, a walk in the park can be combined with a number of the other first date ideas on this list for a great beginning, or end, to your date!

18) Go antiquing

If your date thinks that older is sometimes better, a visit to the local antiques shop can be a fun and refreshing icebreaker. Keep your eyes peeled for something reasonably priced but memorable to give to your date as a memento of your special day together.

19) Take an art class together

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If you and your date enjoy drawing, painting, or any other kind of artistic endeavor, why not take a class together? There are few better gifts you can give than that of knowledge, and an art class may just spark inspiration for one or both you. It may even spark something even deeper.

20) Go on a hike

Much like walking in the park, a hike can be combined with other ideas, such as fishing, picnicking, or stargazing, to create a one-of-a-kind first date experience. Especially if you know a great hiking trail or an awesome overlook, this can be a good way to spend some one on one time without the hustle and bustle of the city getting in the way.

21) Build a teddy bear

Places like Build-a-Bear Workshop are good first date venues because they allow you to indulge a sense of whimsy and show off your inner child a little. Maybe your date likes Star Wars or Harry Potter. This is a fun way to enjoy the other person’s company and create something that’s as unique as your date, and that she can enjoy long after the date’s over.

22) Attend a lecture

Many colleges and universities offer lectures that are open to the public on a wide range of topics. Maybe you and your date are both advocates for gender equality, or you both enjoy speculating about the nuances and theoretically underpinnings of faster-than-light travel. An academic lecture is an intellectual first date. It’s excellent for stimulating conversation and interest, both in the topic and each other.

23) Sightseeing

Playing tourist is a fun way to get to know each other and look at your town through new eyes.

24) Go to the carnival

What’s more awesome than attending an old-school carnival? Play for prizes, hit the rides, go through the House of Mirrors, and see who can eat the most funnel-cake!

25) Go paddle-boating

For a more relaxing date, rent a tandem paddle boat at your nearest lake and spend a lazy afternoon exploring! (Pro tip: This goes great with snack foods like cupcakes!)

26) Take a drive

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Finding something new is always a good way to spend time together. Taking a drive in a direction neither of you usually goes can give you new sights to see and new places to stop and see what’s going on. You might even find the perfect restaurant to cap off the day.

27) Take a swim

Find the nearest swimming pool, lake, or river and jump in. If you really want to get creative, pick up a new bathing suit that tells your date how you feel about them!

28) Go skiing

For the outdoor enthusiast, nothing says wintertime fun like whizzing down a mountain on a blanket of fresh powder. Just make sure the run you choose matches both of your skill levels!

29) Go running

For a healthy and fun first date, take a jog or a run together. Try new paths, look for wildlife, and stop for an ice cream or a coffee afterward!

30) Watch the sun rise

While some people may not consider this a good first-date idea, you’ll get bonus points for creativity and thinking outside the box. Even better, you can surprise your date with breakfast and early-morning conversation!

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You might also want to check out 50 Date Ideas for Couples

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