Dating can be daunting at the best of times, but after a year and a half of restrictions, lockdowns, and social distancing, it can seem even more challenging. And because our world has changed, it’s only natural that you might want to avoid those first-date clichés, like dinner and a movie, and do something that feels a little different.
If you’re looking to get back into dating, planning the right date can seem tricky – but there are plenty of ideas that can ensure you both feel totally comfortable and have a lot of fun – whether it’s a first date, a fifth, or even a fiftieth.
So to get you inspired and ready to get back out there, here are 17 unique date ideas.
1. Visit a stately home
Here in the UK, we might not always have the guarantee of great weather for a first date – but we do have hundreds of fascinating and beautiful historical buildings and houses to explore, and visiting a stately home is a lovely way to spend some time together. From grand and imposing mansions to small, quirky cottages with compelling histories, the National Trust looks after some of the best buildings in the country, so check out their website to find some near you.
While visiting a historic site is a great date for a rainy day, many of these houses have gorgeous gardens that are perfect for a romantic stroll, so this is a date that can be enjoyed throughout the year, come rain or shine.
2. Go rock climbing
If you and your date have a sense of adventure and like a challenge, then why not try going rock climbing together? Rock climbing is exciting and enjoyable – plus, hanging from a wall as you figure out where to grab next is a totally unique way to get to know one another!
Rock climbing is also a great workout for the mind and the body, so there are many advantages to this date. Unless you both have prior experience, you’ll want to start your climbing adventure at an indoor climbing centre, where you can hire equipment and get plenty of instruction along the way. You can find your nearest indoor climbing centre here.
3. Listen to live music
Going to a live music event is another great idea for a date. Music has the power to bring people together, and live music can touch you in an especially unique way. Plus, because there are so many live music events, you’re sure to find something that appeals to both you and your date.
You can get tickets to a big-name act, head to a pub to discover local bands, go to a classical music concert, or simply head to a musical event at your local park. Listening and watching live music together also takes some of the pressure off, as you won’t have to fill the time with constant talking, but you can still enjoy feeling connected.
4. Take a cooking class
If you or your date is a passionate foodie but you want to do something more that feels a bit more special than just heading to a restaurant, then why not take a cooking class together? No matter whether you consider yourself a cooking pro or you can barely boil an egg, there’s a cooking class for all abilities and taste preferences – and doing it with your date just makes it even more enjoyable.
Not only will you learn new culinary skills as you get to know each other better, but at the end of the class, you’ll get to sit down and enjoy a delicious meal together. You can check out some of the best cooking classes across the UK in our article here.
5. Visit a novelty museum
Visiting a museum or gallery together can be a great idea for a first date, especially if you’re both into art, history, or science. But if you’re just getting to know each other and aren’t entirely sure of each other’s interests yet, then why not visit a novelty museum?
The UK is packed with small, unusual, and also totally bizarre museums that can be great fun to explore together. From Cornwall’s Museum of Witchcraft and Magic to the Dog Collar Museum in Leeds and London’s Cartoon Museum, you won’t be far from a novelty museum, wherever you are.
This is a unique date idea that can be as funny as it is fascinating – and you might even come away with a great set of photos, too. For more museum inspiration, check out our article 13 UK museums you won’t want to miss.
6. Go to the theatre
Going to the cinema to watch a film together is a classic first date idea, but going to the theatre to see a play is far more original. You can both get dressed up and enjoy yourself, and during the interval you can chat and get to know each other over a drink, rather than sitting in the dark in silence the whole time.
Plus, it’s a great way to support local arts – and watching real actors put on great performances in person is usually a much more memorable experience than simply watching a film in a cinema. Perhaps you could watch a comedic play or a musical, or even go to the ballet. You can check out what’s on at theatres near you here.
7. Go on a street food tour
Another great date idea for the foodies amongst us is to forget about that restaurant booking and to go on a street food tour of your city instead.
If you don’t have a regular street food market in your town, then you could head to a local farmer’s market, or find out when and where some pop-up food vendors might be opening up. Strolling from stall to stall, trying delicious new dishes, and supporting local vendors while enjoying great conversation is a date you’ll both probably remember for a long time.
8. Take a dance class together
Taking a dance class together can make for the perfect date. First dates can be filled with pressure, and you might worry that you can’t keep the conversation going. But going to a dance class is a great way to keep the energy up and enjoy laughing together – and if you make mistakes, that’s all part of the fun. Plus, everyone likes music, and most of us can enjoy dancing (even if we’re not very good at it!).
Between learning something new, having a laugh at any missteps, and enjoying the music, any nervousness will go out the window and you’ll end up on a fun and unique date. If you’d like to brush up on your dance skills before a date, you might want to check out some of the best online dance classes.
9. Go on a city day trip
Many of us don’t take full advantage of the cities we live in, so seeing your city through new eyes can be a great way to discover a new side to where you live, as well as forge a meaningful connection with your date. Why not become a tourist in your own city for the day and check out all the ‘must-see’ sites and historical attractions that visitors flock to – from museums to monuments to the best places to eat lunch?
If you’ve already been on a few dates together and feel comfortable in each other’s company, then you might want to think about taking a day trip to another city near you and exploring a new place. Sharing new experiences and discovering new places is a great way to bring people closer together. For some inspiration, check out our article, 16 of the best UK city breaks.
10. Make your own pizza together
If you’re comfortable enough to have a date at home, then a great way to spend some quality time together – and enjoy a delicious, low-key meal while you’re at it – is to make pizza together. Being in your kitchen (or your date’s kitchen) is an easy way to break the ice, and making some DIY pizza over a glass or two of wine is a fun, laidback way to get creative while enjoying some great conversation.
You can make your pizzas for yourselves or for each other, challenge each other to come up with the tastiest and most inventive toppings combinations, and go all out and make your own dough from scratch. If you want some tips, check out our article on how to make the perfect pizza at home.
11. Go antique hunting
If you’re someone who loves digging around antique shops, then why not introduce your date to the joys of finding second-hand treasures and spend a morning or afternoon wandering around antique markets, flea markets, or antique fairs?
From furniture to clothes, and jewellery to crockery, flea markets, and antique fairs are a haven for vintage enthusiasts – and they’re also a great way to consume more sustainably, too. You don’t even have to buy anything – just looking and chatting can be the best part – but you might even end up with a special little memento of your day.
12. Learn a new skill together
Whether it’s painting or photography, learning isn’t only a fun way to improve your own confidence and boost your wellbeing, it’s also a great way to gauge your compatibility with your date. You don’t have to invest in a lot of expensive equipment to try something new – and you don’t even need to go to a class in person, as there are countless creative skills that you can learn from home.
Even if you’re both bad at whatever new skill you try, you can bond over that and have a laugh at your efforts, either together or solo. And if one or both of you discovers that you’re a bit of a natural, you might have found a new hobby that you can enjoy for a long time.
13. Volunteer together
One unique and also really lovely idea for a date is to volunteer together. Helping others is a great way to get to know each other without putting any pressure on your date, and knowing that you’re doing some good while you’re at it can make it feel all the more meaningful.
You could volunteer at your local shelter or soup kitchen, or, if you’re both animal lovers, spend some time at your local animal shelter or sanctuary. Alternatively, If you live close to each other, you could join a community beautification project, and if you’re interested in the environment, you could volunteer for a nature charity or service. For more ideas, check out some different types of volunteer roles.
14. Go hiking
If the weather’s fine, there are few better ways to enjoy spending time together than going for a hike. Setting off for a good walk always feels like the start of a new adventure, and knowing that it could be the start of a new relationship makes it even more exciting.
There are all kinds of walks and hikes you can enjoy together. You can head to your nearby woods and hit a nature trail, visit a country park and pack a picnic, or, if you’d rather stay local and keep things a bit more low-key, you can even do a city walk or a historical or cultural walk around your hometown. Check out our article on 10 different types of walk to enjoy for more inspiration.
15. Go wine tasting or on a brewery tour
If you or your date enjoys a nice glass of wine, then going wine tasting together can be a fun and romantic way to spend some time together. You can choose to take an organised wine tour, visit any local wineries by yourself, or even join a wine tasting class near you.
If you and your date prefer beer, why not think about a beer tasting, or visiting a local brewery? You might get lucky with timing and find out that there’s a beer festival in town, and because these often feature local bands, food stalls, and art vendors too, it’s a fun idea for a date – particularly if you feel a little nervous (there’ll be plenty of ice breakers along the way!). Just be sure to check your date actually drinks first.
16. Go cycling
Just like walking, cycling together is a really enjoyable way to get to know each other – and it’s especially good if it’s a first date and you feel nervous about making conversation the whole time.
Cycling requires minimal small talk, and by the time you stop for a break, you’ll probably both be feeling much easier in each other’s company.
If it’s a first date, it’s probably a good idea to stay local and cycle around your city, or on a nearby cycle path – and you can rent bikes if you don’t have one. It’s always good to have a destination in mind; whether that’s cycling along a particular route or to a specific pub or cafe for a refresher. Plus, if the date goes well, there are plenty of opportunities to stop along the way and extend the experience.
17. Sit beneath the stars
If you’re looking for a fun and unique date idea that’s also incredibly romantic, then what about doing a spot of stargazing? There’s something awe-inspiring about staring up at the vast night sky that’s filled with glittering stars – and sharing that experience with your date can be especially meaningful and memorable. You could even have dinner under the stars on a warm evening.
If you’d rather stick to a daytime date for now, you can still enjoy stargazing – just head to your local planetarium and gaze up at the entire solar system together! As an added plus, you’ll probably learn a lot while you’re there, too.
Getting back into dating can often seem intimidating, particularly if you’ve felt a bit isolated over the past year and a half – but as this article hopefully shows, getting back into the dating game doesn’t have to be scary.
From making pizza and visiting stately homes, to visiting novelty museums and volunteering together, there are all kinds of fun and unique ideas for a date that can help take the pressure off and make it feel relaxed and informal. And when you’re having fun yourself, making a connection and getting to know each other is so much easier and enjoyable.
If you’d like to get back into dating – or perhaps even start for the first time – you might want to join our own Rest Less dating site.
Do you have any of your own ideas for a great date, or are you inspired by any of our suggestions? We’d love to hear about your dating experiences! You can join the discussion on the Rest Less community forum, or simply leave a comment below.