I don’t know where the stereotypical “dinner and a movie” first date came from, but sitting in a dark theater quietly is one of the worst ways to get to know someone else, and with today’s movie prices it can be an expensive waste of time! First dates should be a time to get to know someone new without the stress of a job interview or the cost of a monthly car payment. The key to having a good first date is finding an activity that you can enjoy while finding out more about your date than what he or she says.
Bowling: I love going bowling for a first date because it puts you and your date in a public (read: safe) environment that is still intimate enough to have a conversation without interruptions. Bowling allies are in almost every town in America and you can bowl regardless of the weather outside.
Bowling costs under $30 for the two of you to play a couple of games, including shoe rentals. If the date is going well, you can get up close and personal for a little coaching. Feeling annoyed by the number of times your date has name dropped? Just imagine his face on the bowling pins and let your ball fly!
Ice Skating: Cool temps make it easy to hold hands with your date as you skate across the rink. Skating rinks hold open skate times that are low cost, even with the expense of renting ice skates. Look for even lower cost rinks at local universities and prep schools. Even if you can barely stand up in your skates, ice skating is fun way to get to know someone. Find out if your date is the kind of caring person who will help you get yourself up or a showboat more interested in pirouetting solo than chatting while you skate together.
Miniature Golf: Under $10 and the chance to enjoy an activity that requires little actual skill means that miniature golf is a fun spring, summer, and fall activity to do with your date. Like bowling and ice skating it presents the option to get close to your date, but unlike dinner you do not have to face each other and spout an endless stream of questions about each other’s likes, dislikes, and future plans. Let the game open up conversation between you and find out whether you and your date have similar senses of humor, tendencies toward or away from competitiveness, and whether he or she is a sore loser.
Watch Your Local Calendar: Whether you live in the heart of bustling New York City or in a rural area, keep your eyes open for street fairs, festivals, or 4-H fairs during the warmer months of the year to enjoy the experience and seeing how your date enjoys it. Does he get a childlike thrill out of exclaiming over the John Deere tractors at the 4-H county fair or is she comfortable striking up a conversation with one of the artisans at a cultural festival? Enjoy the experience and the opportunity to observe who your date really is, not who he thinks he is.