So, you've finally worked up the nerve to ask out that guy you've been eyeing in the coffee shop every morning. Now what do you do with him? If you're in need of a little creative kick start when it comes to planning the perfect first date, we've got the list for you! Just remember, for safety reasons, first dates should happen in public places.
1. Go to a used bookstore or library.
Books will give you plenty to talk about! And if it goes well, pick a book for him to read and have him pick one for you.
2. Go to a flea market.
Besides all the browsing, antique shopping comes with a built-in second date. Find something to refurbish, and meet later to do it together.
3. Shop for crazy outfits to wear out together.
Go to a thrift store and pick outfits to wear out for a drink. Even if you don't follow through on drinks, you'll still have a new '80s windbreaker.
4. Hike or walk through an arboretum.
Sometimes all you need is a walk in the park. Depending on your athletic level and the trails in your area, try upgrading to a hike.
5. Visit an observatory or planetarium.
You could gaze at the stars from a field, or you could go to an observatory to do serious stargazing.
6. Take your dog(s) to the park.
Your pooch will love the fresh air and exercise, and you will have a go-to topic to chat about.
7. Sing karaoke.
You'll have to be outgoing to pull this off, but karaoke is an inexpensive way to have fun and show off. If you don't want to get on stage, just critique the other singers.
8. Attend a local festival, convention or fair.
You never know what's happening until you look. Check calendars for convention centers, performing arts halls, parks, social clubs, and the like.
9. Find a free concert.
It could be the municipal marching band, an amateur piano recital, or a choral concert. Whatever you find, you'll have plenty to talk about.
10. Go to an arcade.
Play classics like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, but definitely play two-player games, too. There's no better way to bond than shooting your way through House of the Living Dead.
Participate in an outdoor, real-world treasure hunt called geocaching. If all goes well, you'll find hidden treasure! Find out more.
12. Take a complimentary class.
Some companies offer free classes in stores. Lululemon offers complimentary yoga classes, Home Depot gives DIY home improvement courses, and Williams-Sonoma teaches cooking.
13. Play basketball.
A pickup game is a fun way to get to know someone if you don't mind getting sweaty. You can play one-on-one, against another couple, or stick to playing Horse.
14. Get breakfast and do a crossword puzzle.
Instead of dinner or lunch, get up early for eggs and bacon. It's a nice way to start your day, and you'll have a partner to help with the puzzle.
15. Browse through a record store.
Even if you don't collect records, stores are full of conversation starters. Talk music, family, and nostalgia while flipping through rows of classics.
16. Attend an amateur animal show.
Check your calendar for dog competitions and shows, horse shows, and more. Admission is cheap, and the animals will give you lots to talk about.
17. Take a factory tour.
Spend a few hours learning about a brewery, winery, or factory in your area. Tours are usually free and often end with samples.
18. Play mini golf.
Mini golf is a classic, but for a good reason. Simple sports are fun ways to get competitive without getting too sweaty. Go during the week to save money.
19. Walk around at a farmer's market.
On a beautiful morning, there's nothing better than strolling down rows of home-grown vegetables and baked goods.
20. Take the scenic route; walk to your date.
Save on gas money, and hoof it. This is perfect for dates that don't lend themselves to real conversation; use the walk to get to know each other and the date for having fun.
21. Check out a museum.
Find a museum with cheap admission and learn something! Or just wander around; museums are great places to talk because there's so much to comment on if conversation falters.
22. Attend a community theater play.
Whether it's a high school or community production, tickets are often inexpensive, the shows are fun, and the experience will spark conversation afterward.
Not sure how to spend your time? Give it to others. Soup kitchens, food pantries, and animal shelters are all great places to give back and get to know your date.
24. Watch a college or high school sports game.
Take him to a ball game! Professional sports tickets are probably out of your price range, but smaller games are affordable, if not free.
25. Attend a comedy open-mic.
Going to a comedy club isn't that expensive, but if you want to save cash, some clubs, bars, and coffeehouses have free open-mic nights so you can catch some up-and-coming performers.
26. See live music at a coffeehouse or bar.
Find out what venues bring in local acts, and give them a chance. They may just become your favorite musicians!
27. Watch a movie matinee.
Matinee shows have it all: cheaper tickets, emptier theaters, cleaner floors. Instead of dinner and a movie, do a movie then dinner, or coffee then a movie.
Head to a busy place—a mall, train station, downtown area—and enjoy the sites. Give people backstories, discuss interesting characters, and get to know each other.
29. Have a Netflix double feature.
You bring the popcorn; he brings the M&Ms. You pick one flick; he picks the other. Bonus points if you haven't seen the movie he picks and vice versa.
30. Play video games.
For a casual date, video games are all you need. Plus, playing games is a great way to bring out your date's playful, competitive side.
31. Craft together.
Go to a crafts store and make something! It can be as simple as coloring pictures or as complicated as making something for your apartment.
Sure, bowling is cliché. But whether you're skilled or terrible, it's fun. Go during the week for deals on drinks, shoes, or games.
33. Watch a game show, and keep track of points.
For a casual date, challenge your partner to a round of "Jeopardy" or "Wheel of Fortune"; whoever loses pays for snacks.
34. Cook a new food.
Put your cooking skills—and taste buds—to the test with a recipe you've never tried. You'll have fun cooking; and if it tastes bad, order takeout and laugh about it.
35. Bake cookies.
... or try something easier. You should have no trouble with chocolate chip cookies. Plus, if it doesn't work out with him, you still have the cookies.
36. Play a board game at a coffeehouse.
Seek out a coffeehouse with board games available. Instead of just sipping coffee, you can play Scrabble or Battleship.
37. Play Frisbee golf.
Frisbee golfing is low-key and fun, no matter your skill level. Find a frolf course near you, and play some holes. If you have a disc, it's free.
Ice-skate, roller-skate, Roller-blade—whatever gets you moving and is weather-appropriate. Besides being fun and nostalgic, skating will allow you to talk on the go.
39. Walk to no particular place.
Step out your door and walk—with no specific destination—until you decide to turn. When you get tired or if conversation wavers, head home.
40. Clean up the neighborhood.
If you don't mind getting down and dirty on the first date, grab plastic bags, rubber gloves, and old shoes, and hit the streets. You can improve your 'hood and get to know each other.
41. Bike around town.
Rent city bikes or take your own bikes around the city. Bonus points if you take a break at a coffeehouse for latte and conversation.
42. Make a meal of grocery store samples.
There's no shame in taking advantage of samples. Okay, maybe you won't be able to make a meal of it, but you can make it a date.
43. Play on a playground.
When was the last time you played on the swings? Or the slide? Or the monkey bars? Take a break from adult life to play.
44. Get a trivia team together.
Put his pop culture knowledge to the test! A trivia night with friends is always a fun time, especially if a group date is more your style.
45. Rent kayaks or canoes.
Most places have boats to rent for cheap. If you're worried about things getting awkward, opt for two one-man kayaks instead of the two-man canoe.
46. Have a picnic.
You pack the main course and he packs the sides, or vice versa. A picnic is always an adorable and money-saving option.
47. Go to a zoo or aquarium.
Check zoos and aquariums for deals; many have discounts weekly or at the end of the season.
48. Go swimming.
Depending on the season, this could be either inside or outside. If the pool isn't your thing, the hot tub is another—steamier—option.
49. Make a fire.
Make s'mores, tell ghost stories, or just enjoy each other's company. This could be difficult if you don't have a fire pit, but sitting around a fireplace is similar.
50. Have a drink at your favorite place; have another at his.
The places where people spend time say a lot about them. Share your favorite bar or coffeehouse, and let him share his.
Check out our relationship panel's advice for avoiding first date blunders: