Best Places for a First Date

The first date is your opportunity to make a positive impression and in order to make a good impression you must be prepared. Perhaps the biggest decision to make beforehand is where to take your date.

Below is a list of suggestions, some of which have checklists to help you prepare for that activity, as well as some handy hints.


As a venue, restaurants provide a great way to get to know someone. Choose a place you know so you will be more comfortable. It’s also very cool to call a waiter by his first name. If you haven’t got a favourite place already, choose a place with the help of the checklist below.

Good Idea: If you can, do something like see a movie together before you go to the restaurant. This way you have something to talk about. Going for a walk (for example, along a river or through a park) is also a good idea and will allow you and your date to build up an appetite.


  • Ask your date if he/she has any special eating requirements. He/she may be vegetarian or vegan, or not eat meat but eat seafood.

  • Choose a place based on recommendation — Ask people you know.

  • Check out the location beforehand.

  • Consider the time — Lunch is the best choice for a first date as this helps keep the date casual and relaxed.

  • Take the menu and prices into consideration — The offerings should easily fit your budget.

  • Find a place with good lighting — If it’s too bright, that pimple that sprung up an hour ago will stand out like a lighthouse, making its owner want to sink into oblivion. Too dark and you may not be able to see your date drooling over you.

Consider the noise factor — Make sure it is easy to talk. After all that’s the reason you are there.

  • Choose a venue with both efficient and friendly service. (And your waiter shouldn’t be a clown called Ronald McDonald.)

  • Find out whether you will need to make a reservation.

  • Consider the dress code at the venue and dress to suit.

  • Apply the Style-Plus-One principle — The principle is this: You go one step better than the next person when it comes to your style/look. Say, if you were at a venue that, on a scale of one to ten, the style/look required was a six, you would aim to be a seven.

  • Don’t choose a venue that is too small. A tiny room could make you and/or your date feel claustrophobic.

Handy Hint: If you have decided to pay for the date, give your credit-card number to the restaurant beforehand (either during a preliminary visit or when you make a booking). This way you won’t have to deal with the bill on the night (which can sometimes be slow and can also lead to an awkward moment with your date if the question of who pays arises.) It is also likely to impress your date.

Have them add a 25% tip (misers cringe here) to the bill, which should ensure good service during the date? When you do this, introduce yourself to the person taking the booking, ask his/her name and remember it, and be friendly. Then on the night you can say hello and use their first name. They will hopefully use your name too as they should remember someone who has prepaid!


One of the most common and safest first dates is seeing a movie. If you choose a movie you both enjoy it will help the date. But beware of choosing a movie that is a dud as it may be a date dampener. Another downside is that seeing a movie doesn’t give you much time to talk and get to know each other.


  • Make a considered movie choice, as everyone has different tastes, so choosing a movie can be difficult. Selecting certain movies can also create a false impression and/or mood for the date.

For example, a confronting psychological thriller like may depress your date. Or a relationship movie like may put undue pressure on a first date. So come up with a few movie ideas, ask your date which movies he/she likes and choose one between you.

Select a cinema – Choose a movie that is close to a place where you can have coffee/supper or a bite to eat together afterwards.

  • Arrange a time.

  • Apply the Style-Plus-One principle.

  • Book and collect tickets ahead – This saves queuing and if the cinema has reserved seating you can reserve good seats ahead.

  • Budget for cinema junk food. Make sure you have enough cash for coke, popcorn, etc.

Good Ideas:

Plan to have a coffee/supper or a bite to eat afterwards so you can talk to each other. The movie will most likely spark conversation.

Also, if you can afford it and you want to make a really good impression, some of the newer cinemas have deluxe seating. You could book two of these deluxe seats ahead.

Note: Don’t raise your expectations – extra expense does not guarantee a successful date.


This could be fun and is a good idea help keep the first date relaxed and casual.


  • Find out dates and places where they happen.

  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, as there may be a bit of walking involved. (Remember to apply the Style-Plus-One principle despite the casual nature of the activity.)

  • Walk at the same pace as your date so they don’t end up trying keeping up, or stopping to let you catch up.

Good Idea:

Perhaps plan to visit the fair/market after a pleasant Sunday drive in the country. If you do this, remember to make sure your car is clean beforehand and have good music on standby for the drive.

Cool Trick: You could hide a picnic hamper in the trunk/boot of your car so when your date says he/she is getting hungry you have a wonderful surprise waiting for them. For more information on picnics refer to the picnic guide in this section.


This is more of a day date than a night date unless the walk is well lit and it is a warm summer night.

The walk could be along:

  • A pier – Some piers have facilities, shops and places to eat. You could sit

  • and enjoy a coffee as the boats sail by on a lazy Sunday.

  • A lake or body of water with a track around it

  • A beach

  • Any water/river promenade


  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, as there may be a bit of walking involved. (And still apply the Style-Plus-One principle.)

  • Walk at the pace of your date so they don’t end up feeling rushed trying to keep up, or having to stop as you catch up.

  • Budget for a coffee or bite to eat and take some cash.

  • If required, take sunglasses, sunblock/sunscreen, insect repellent and a hat.


If you can afford it, this is great for a first date. Also, because it is during the day, it absorbs some of the stress that can come with a night-time date.


  • Make sure your date will like the show you plan to see.

  • Book ahead if you need to.

  • Take cash for interval drinks/snacks.

  • Take cash for a show program.

  • Apply the Style-Plus-One principle.

  • Research the performance beforehand.

Good Idea:

Plan to have a coffee or a bite to eat afterwards so you can talk to each other. To start the conversation, ask your date what he/she thought of the show.


Venues like these offer plenty of opportunities for conversation. There is less likelihood of silences because there are plenty of visual stimuli to spark conversation and share opinions on. Also, admission may not be expensive, which is useful if you have budgetary constraints.


  • Pick a museum/art gallery before the date.

  • Find out opening times.

  • Book ahead if necessary.

  • Budget for admission, snacks and a possible memento gift from the gift shop. (There is usually a marketing shop on site).

  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, as there may be a bit of walking involved. Still apply the Style-Plus-One principle.

  • Research the artist/display beforehand.

  • Make sure you allow space for your date to speak. Some people are reluctant to offer opinions in case they sound silly. If you feel this is happening pretend you don’t know as much (play dumb) as you actually do and this should encourage your date to speak up.

Note: If you have lots of expertise/knowledge on what you are viewing, share your wisdom graciously. Watch out you don’t turn into a loudmouth show-off.

Also, walk at the pace of your date so they don’t end up feeling rushed trying to keep up, or having to stop to let you catch up.


Organising to meet someone for a drink is highly recommended as it often means a relaxed situation that suits many people, especially if staged after work.

Also, it gives you a chance to test the water, so if things are going well you can suggest continuing the date over dinner.