The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
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Whether you’re going on a date with your partner(s), friends, or even by yourself (which I totally recommend – they’re amazing and boost your confidence through the roof), this guide should give you an all-inclusive list of ideas!
Axe throwing is a brilliant way to let off steam and show off your competitive side. Boom Battle Bar is a new activity centre just outside of the guildhall in town. At £40 for half an hour it is quite expensive, but you pay for the lane so it could be an idea for a double date with a friend.
One of the most classic first dates is Bowling, and Tenpin Exeter is the perfect place to do it! Alongside bowling, they also have a wide variety of arcade machines and even a bar if you want to try boozy bowling (at your own risk, of course!). They also have a special offer on Tuesdays where you get 50% off!
Cocktails make for an ideal date and can be adapted to your taste! There are so many cocktail bars in Exeter – from The Monkey Suit (where we held the HCX 10th anniversary) to the classic bottomless Turtle Bay Brunch. The cocktails don’t even have to be alcoholic if you prefer a classic mocktail. I would say that Revolution does the best mocktails, and they have amazing student deals perfect for a girl’s night out (and if you’re an HCX member, you can use your discount too!).
This one may be cheating a little bit, but you can never go wrong with a good dinner date. Exeter has so many restaurants at all different price points and locations. My favourite dinner date night by far is definitely Pho, which is in the guildhall shopping centre. They’re a Vietnamese street food restaurant with amazing vegan food and cater to all spice levels.
Escape rooms are such a fun bonding experience. There are a few different escape rooms around Exeter, so if you enjoy them, you’ll have lots of different options to choose from. For example, Locked In A Room has four rooms with two different levels of difficulty. The easier of the two rooms is called Timelock and is about a scientist who has been captured, and it is your job to rescue them. Escape rooms are definitely a bit pricey (usually around £20 per person), but they are really good fun and super immersive.
A much more budget-friendly date idea is a fondu night! Fondu is perfect whether you prefer sweet or savoury, as it comes in both cheese and chocolate. Pop down to the local supermarket with your date and choose your favourite cheeses or fruit and marshmallows.
Another Battle Bar speciality is mini golf! They’ve decided to rename it Crazier Golf, and it really lives up to the name – I won’t spoil it, but there are some cool minigames within the nine holes, and at £9 per person, it’s literally a pound per hole. Mini golf is always a super cute date idea, no matter who you go with, especially if you are competitive!
If you enjoy the outdoors and all things nature, then you and your partner should try hiking. Exeter is full of hills and scenic routes, which is perfect for hiking! At the top of Exeter, to the right of Cowley, there is a lovely hike called Stoke Woods Circular. It should take roughly an hour to complete, and you can access it by waking all the way up Pennsylvania road. Alternatively, if you want something a bit more relaxed, then walking the loop around the Quay is beautiful and so scenic, especially when the sun is shining.
On the outskirts of Exeter, there is a massive Ikea, and whilst it might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to dates, I think it would be a really fun idea. Ikea has everything: furniture, mini pencils and most importantly, meatballs. If you and your partner recently got serious, you could go and have a look at all the rooms and find out what their style is like. If you don’t have a car in Exeter, don’t worry, you can also get there by train or bus. You can catch the train to Newcourt from St Davids or any other stops on the Exmouth line. If you want to get there by bus, you should take the Stagecoach J bus to Newcourt way.
Another wholesome and budget-friendly date idea is to complete a jigsaw together. Just pop down to your local charity shop together and find a jigsaw you like the look of. This date night could be done with a bottle of wine or a lovely hot chocolate.
Whether you’re musically inclined or (like me), sound like a drowning rat, karaoke is always an eventful night. This works best for a girlie date night after one too many drinks. Loads of pubs do karaoke; for example, The Ship Inn does karaoke every Friday from 8:30 pm until midnight! However, if you don’t fancy going out for karaoke, then youtube has pretty much every song you can think of! Why not try getting all dressed up and singing cheesy love songs with your partner?
As uni students, there is inevitably always some work to do. So, why not kill two birds with one stone and have a study date in the library? There are so many libraries across our two Exeter campuses, and not all of them have silent study, which is perfect for getting a good balance of work done and socialising. I’ll admit this one isn’t the most romantic, but as someone whose love language is quality time, then this is the best way to make sure I actually get work done whilst still spending time with my partner.
Museums are another classic date idea! Exeter has two main museums, both with free entry. Firstly we have the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM), which you can find on Queen street, right next to Exeter Central train station. As well as rolling exhibits (the next one will be on Witches in the Anthropocene), the RAMM has eight different exhibits. These include; antiquities, costume and textiles, decorative art, ethnography, fine art, natural sciences, numismatics and social history. However, if you’re looking for something a little more niche and unique, then why not head to the Streatham campus, which is home to the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum (fun fact: this museum is why I chose to come to university in Exeter!). According to their website, it “is home to one of the largest collections of material relating to the moving image in Britain.” It is worth the visit if you or your partner enjoy films!
On the topic of films, Netflix always makes for an easy-to-plan date. It’s perfect for whether you are snuggled up with your partner or halfway across the globe, wishing you were. There are so many films and tv shows to watch on Netflix (or other streaming services if you prefer!), so there is no excuse not to find something to watch. Why not try a classic romance film this valentines day? Could this date night turn into a Netflix and chill?
O is for Ocean. Whilst we don’t have any oceans in Exeter, there are plenty of beaches with the sea nearby and if you ask me – they’re practically the same thing! Exmouth and Dawlish Warren are the closest beaches to Exeter and are a half an hour’s train ride from St Davids station. This date idea is perfect for term three when exams have finished, and you have no more responsibilities. To make this idea even sweeter, a return train only costs £3.60 to Exmouth (with a railcard), so is perfect for when you need a budget-friendly idea.
Another summery date idea is to go on a picnic. There are loads of scenic picnic spots around Exeter – my favourites are The Cathedral and Queen’s Arboretum on campus.
Quiz nights are a brilliant way to get to know your partner and their interests. You could team up with some friends and have a double date at a pub quiz, of which there are so many to choose from. This is a brilliant way to test each other’s knowledge and maybe even win some money doing so! For a much more intimate version, why not plan a quiz about yourself and test each other?
For the adventurous folk reading this, why not try something like rock climbing? Down by the Quay, you can find the Quay Climbing Centre. They have two different types of climbing here – bouldering, which has sessions for beginners and experienced climbers but also clip ‘n climb, which is a much more fun and colourful version (perfect for dates).
Sunrise and sunset happen twice a day, so there really is no excuse to miss out on this one. You might think that this would mean having to get up really early (or staying up really late), but now is the perfect time for it! On Valentine’s Day, the sun is set to rise in Exeter around 7:26 am and set at 5:30 pm.
Going to the theatre in Exeter is a great excuse for a date. On campus, we have the Northcott theatre, where there is a range of shows to watch, and an U26 (free) membership where you can get cheaper tickets for events. Around Valentine’s Day, Shotgun Theatre is putting on performances of the musical version of Little Women at the Barnfield theatre in town. Tickets can be found here.
U is for underwear – take this as a sign to treat yourself to some new lingerie. You deserve it! Do this for yourself, whether you are single or in a relationship. Getting underwear which fits you properly is an investment in yourself, and I promise you will feel so sexy and empowered.
Vintage shops can be found all over Exeter. For example, on Fore street, you can find Sobeys. They are home to a wide range of independent vintage and reworked clothing. Another really good vintage shop is Parade Vintage which is the building right next to Central station on Queen street.
There are two main places to get Waffles in Exeter. Firstly, there’s Brody’s, which is an all-you-can-eat breakfast bar. For £11.95, you can eat and drink as much breakfast as you want, and they have everything you could ever want for breakfast. They have a waffle maker with such a wide range of toppings it’s impossible to choose! You could also go to Kaspa’s, who is the self-proclaimed King of Desserts. They have 14 different flavours of waffles to choose from, so there should be something for everyone!
All of the gamers reading this will be pleased to know that x is for X-box! There are so many two (or more) player games out there to choose from. My partner and I are currently playing It Takes Two, where you play as “two humans turned into dolls by a magic spell”. I totally recommend it if you like action-adventure games and working together to solve puzzles. Obviously this date also works if you have a PS4/5.
Y is for Yoga, and thanks to the lockdown, there is now a plethora of YouTube yoga tutorials for you and your date to go through, no matter your ability. This is a really versatile dates where no matter who you are with, it works! It’s also a really good self-date idea to try if you are just starting to try them because you can do them from the comfort of your own room.
Last but not least, we have the Z. I was going to choose Zoo, but in my opinion, there is nothing better than getting some ZZZs. Nap dates are another of my favourite dates – there’s just something about falling asleep next to someone you love and then waking up next to them!