Picking a location for a first date can be hard, particularly if you’re meeting up with someone you have never met before. You want things to be interesting, but casual. It has to be somewhere that both people can get to easily. Going to someone’s house is usually not a smart move; if your date ends up being a creep, you don’t want them to know where you live, and being in such a private setting may add pressure to move things along more quickly than you’d like to.
A good location for a first date with someone you’ve met off of Tinder (or Bumble, or any other dating app) is somewhere inexpensive, not too long, easy to opt out of if you or your date isn’t feeling it, and gives you something to talk about. Here are five examples of great places to meet up with that person you’ve been chatting with all week.
1. If you’re both foodies, ditch dinner and skip straight to dessert.
A fancy, sit-down dinner isn’t usually a good idea for a first date with someone you have never met in person before; it doesn’t give you a way out if things get awkward, and figuring out the bill can be uncomfortable if the meals are pricey. The more casual alternative, meeting up for coffee, is fine but a little basic. Come on, be honest: how many coffee dates have you and your friends been on?
If you love food and still want to incorporate it into your date, there’s a way to do that–go out for dessert! Meet your date at a local place that you really love or agree to try somewhere new that you’ve never been before. Even if you go out for comparatively nice desserts, you’re probably not going to spend more than $5-$10 each, which is ideal for a first date. Ice cream, bubble tea, pastries, cupcakes… The possibilities are endless!
2. If you both like gaming, hit up an arcade bar.
Normally I wouldn’t feel comfortable going to a bar on a first date. Things can end poorly if one or both parties use alcohol to calm their nerves and misjudge how much is okay to drink. You don’t want to make a bad first impression by showing up to your date wasted, you don’t want to spend your night taking care of the other person if they’re wasted and honestly, it’s not a great idea to be trashed around someone you don’t know, with nobody else there to support you if things aren’t great.
Arcade bars, though, are the exception to that rule. At these venues, the primary focus shifts away from alcohol and onto video games, which can be really cool to take a look at if you and your date are into technology. You may find vintage games, games based on your favorite series or games you’ve never even heard of. Having an activity to keep you occupied reduces the pressure to fill in silences with awkward small talk and reduces the number of drinks you’ll have. Grabbing a few drinks and playing video games is cheaper and more casual than dinner, and it’s easy to pop on out of there if you and your date aren’t clicking.
3. If you share a common interest, meet at a museum.
Some websites say that concerts or sporting events make a good first date and while they do have the potential to go well, these events are sometimes better in theory than in practice. Even if tickets weren’t super expensive, it’s still a bit of an investment to go to an event like that and it’s difficult to plan an exit strategy–you’re kind of stuck there for 5 or 6 hours whether you like your date or not, or you leave but at the risk of seeming rude.
Museums are a great first date because you and your date can explore a common interest on your own timeline. You can wander through as quickly or as slowly as you want to and you can choose which exhibits to see. Many museums have student discounts or even let students in for free, so if you inquire about it, you can end up with a really fun and inexpensive date. There are museums for just about everything, from art to science to sports to bananas.
Check out this list of wacky museums for inspiration.
4. If one of you is new to the area, go on a coin toss date.
This date is very simple and only costs one cent. Walk with your partner and when you hit a point with multiple paths, flip a coin. If it lands on heads, go right and if it lands on tails, go left. The coin will dictate where you walk and you’ll get to see all sorts of things around your city.
This is great if one or both of you are new to the area because walking around will help you become more familiar with your surroundings and you may pick out places that you know you want to visit in the future. Even if you’ve both lived in the area for a while, the coin may take you somewhere that you’ve never seen before, or you can exchange memories about different places as you wander around. Just walking and talking is a great way to get to know each other and the coin gives it an air of mystery.
5. If you both like animals, go on a dog walking date.
If one or both of you have a dog, this is super easy–introduce your date to pup and go for a stroll. If neither of you has a dog, this date is still plausible. Many shelters have a system where you can sign up to walk their dogs for a designated amount of time, so if you guys are a little more coordinated, you can each volunteer to walk a dog. Yes, there is a certain level of responsibility here and you can’t just bail on your date, but you don’t have to take the dogs for a long time or take them very far–just stroll around for an hour, return them, and then you can keep chatting if it’s gone well so far.
Also, dogs are adorable. Why wouldn’t you want to spend all the time with them that you can?
If you are on a first date with someone off of Tinder–or anyone, for that matter–and feel unsafe, you can place an emergency call by giving Siri the command “charge my phone 100 percent” or pressing the home button five times in a row. You should never feel obligated to go anywhere that makes you uncomfortable and the five-date locations above make it possible to opt out of the situation if you feel uncomfortable.