OK... deep breath. You made it through the unofficial pre-date, an attraction has been established, or you are at least willing to give the lad or lass a chance. Here are some ideas about where to go for a first date:
1. Cocktails and appetizers
Depending on your personal interests, how about meeting at a Tapas bar, or Irish Pub? Prefer the harder stuff? Whiskey bars. Beer aficionado? Brew-pubs are perfect for tasting beer flights. Oenophile? Try a wine bar for tasting. Whatever you lean towards, be it Country Western, biker, sports, or hipster-- do your homework and find something a bit original.
Art, History, Auto, Industry, Science, Music, Flight, special interest? All these environments offer you and your date a great place to stroll around and have a focus while you watch each other out of the corner of your eyes. You have built-in conversation pieces right in front of you, and you can walk and talk, which can help both of you feel more natural. Don't forget that most museums have great little cafes or coffee shops, too.
Perhaps you two bonded online over your love of music or singing, among other things. Karaoke bars can offer you the chance to shed some of your inhibitions, or just sip and enjoy. Its also a riot to watch everyone, even if you don't plan on singing yourself.
Regardless of your prowess on the dance floor, consider going to a club that offers partner dance lessons (usually low cost or free) prior to general open floor dance. Salsa, Swing, Ballroom, etc. Even if you or your date area are total beginners, it can be fun to try this together if you can keep your sense of humor and know how to laugh at yourself.
5. (Bar)cades and Gaming
Peanut butter meets chocolate! If you are a tad geeky, old-school arcade games like Pinball, Donkey Kong, Tron, meet tabletop games like Foosball and Pool. Add a live DJ, neon lights, a dance floor and a bar, and you may likely be in heaven. Lots of activities to choose from, and lots of opportunities for flirting.
6. Activity dates (seasonal)
- Hike a local trail, or take a walk around water. Bring refreshments and a small blanket for a break.
- Biking locally. Tandem bikes can be fun too, if you don't have control issues.
- Kayaking, canoeing, paddle-boating, rafting, jet-skiing. Any water craft can be rented if you don't own any yourself. Make sure to include safety equipment so your date knows s/he is taken care of.
- Miniature golfing or regular golfing.
- You may not be apt to drive yourself to a skating rink solo, but think how much fun you guys could have trying it out again as adults. Hint: don't go on a weekend during prime times unless you're okay with kamikaze 7-year-old-ninjas elbowing their way through the crowd.
- Laser bowling.
- Cool and unusual, or kitchy festivals abound in the summer, depending on where you live. Cases in point include the Mermaid Festival in Coney Island, Balloon Festivals in upstate NY, Cheese Festival in Seattle, and more. Just search your area for listings.
- Cooking class at a local cooking store such as Sur Le Table. Interactive, creative, and you get to eat your spoils while someone else does the dishes.
- Book readings at local bookstores
If you're new to the online dating world, you may have very high expectations of your first date. Who could blame you for building up a little fantasy of who this person is, based on their online dating profile. You might be one of those lucky people who meets the person of your dreams on the first date, but honestly, it isn't likely. Between getting used to the whole process, and the mutual-chemistry thing, it takes a while to figure it all out. Meanwhile, though, look at your first dates as practice, and try to remember you aren't looking for a spouse in the beginning, just a great first date.