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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

7 First Date Ideas for Meeting Someone from a Dating App

First dates can be stressful, especially when they’re with somebody you’ve never actually met in person. The evening is going to be filled with unknowns: What if you’re not compatible? What if they’re not as entertaining in person as they were over text? What if they chew with their mouth open? Hundreds of thoughts will circle through your head – and that’s OK! So, to help you through what will hopefully be a wonderful time, here are some first date ideas that are fun, easy and prioritize your safety (because that’s always our biggest concern).

Museum crawl

Two of the most important things to have while on a first date are witnesses and an escape route, and a museum offers both (kidding, but also not kidding). One of the great things about museums is that there’s always fodder for conversation – just take a look around! You can even make a game out of trying to come up with the wittiest caption for a painting or sculpture. Most museums even host fun events open to the public, like this one near Carthage College with their adults-only PotterPalooza!

Meet for coffee

OK, this one is a little basic, but that’s why it’s such a popular activity! Grabbing a cup of coffee gives you all the comfort of going out to dinner, but there’s less of a chance for you to spill spaghetti sauce on your shirt. This allows you to make the date as long (or as short) as you want. If the conversation is great, you might talk until closing time. Alternatively, if there’s just no spark, you can always leave once you’ve finished your drink.

Related: The 17 Best First Date Ideas

Head to a thrift store or bookstore

For some, nothing is more entertaining than wandering through the aisles of a store, especially the aisles of a Goodwill or an antiques shop. If you decide to meander your way into a shop on your date, you could end up sharing nostalgic stories from your pasts or maybe making fun of those hideous ceramic frogs. Bookstores and libraries have a similar effect, and you might even get a free book out of it (or at the very least, a recommendation).

Scout local festivities

Is there a fair coming up? Maybe a city-wide block party? Perhaps a farmer’s market? Either way, being able to walk around and experience the culture the town has to offer can be very entertaining. You’ll have plenty to look at and you’ll have time to bond over deep-fried Oreos. Most cities have some sort of online events calendar that you can look at, but if yours doesn’t (or if you can’t find it), no stress! Doing something on campus is just as exciting. Plus you’ll have the opportunity to eat free food if you’re on the meal plan. It’s a win-win.

Related: 7 Classy AF Dates That Won’t Break the Bank

Take a walk through the zoo or aquarium

This date is perfect for the morning or afternoon. Strolling along together through a zoo is a great way to get to know each other in a nature-ish setting but without the fear of secluded trails. Also, if the date goes south, you at least get to see some animals! The New England Aquarium in Boston and the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California are just two of the hundreds of zoos and aquariums that offer student discounts, so do some research – you might just save some money while you’re at it. Also, if you’re near the holidays, places like The Oklahoma City Zoo host fun events like Haunt The Zoo.

Mini golf or bowling

For those of us with a real competitive edge, this date is the way to go! Not only do you get the chance to move around and talk but you have the opportunity to throw in some flirty trash talk. Some mini golf locations will let you bring in food, while others might have an attached restaurant. As for bowling, the same rules apply (also, if you’re of age, a lot of alleys serve beer!). This gives you the chance to see if you’re dating a sore loser. If they beat you and take a victory lap around the parking lot, or if you beat them and they throw a shoe at your nachos, you know they’re probably not the one for you.

Go to a sporting event

CSU Stanislaus senior, Haylee Eagleton, believes that online dates are special in the sense that you’ve already gotten a chance to get to know their likes and dislikes. So, if you’re both into sporty stuff, take them to a game! “If I know the guy I’m talking to is interested in baseball, I’ll definitely offer the idea of going to a game. I don’t even care who’s playing. I just want to get to know them a little bit more,” says Eagleton.

Regardless of where you decide to go on your date, remember to focus on the person you’re with. If you’re too absorbed in the activity (or your phone), they’ll assume that you’re just not into them. Keep the conversation light and remember to stay in the moment! Most importantly, do what you’re comfortable with. Don’t feel obligated to agree to a second pity date and don’t drag the date on longer than what you feel it should be. So, relax and take a breath. You got this. 

Jane Eckles

Carthage '19

Jane graduated from Carthage College in May 2019 with a degree in English and Secondary Education. She is from Merced, California, which is close enough to San Fransisco for her to confirm that the City by the Bay is her absolute favorite. When she's not teaching or writing articles, she can be found collecting any book she can get her hands on, watching Netflix, staring mindlessly into the void, or napping.