By the time your 40th birthday rolls around, odds are you’ve had enough dinner-and-a-movie dates to last a lifetime. And while putting yourself out there, whether after years of being single or a recent breakup, can be nerve-racking, dating itself shouldn’t be.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of amazing first date ideas for people over 40 still looking to find their perfect pairing, each infinitely more exciting than awkwardly listing siblings and favorite bands as the previews roll in a theater. And for more ways to ace your date night, don’t miss The 20 Questions You Should Never Ask On a First Date.
Go on a hike.
Take advantage of all that Mother Nature has to offer and hit the trails for your first date. Not only will your potential new beau be impressed by your survival skills, studies have shown that just being out in the open air works to keep stress levels down.
Taste test at a local brewery.
If both you and your date are avid beer drinkers, use your first date as an opportunity to hit up a local brewery and sample some craft beers. If you’re lucky, the brewery you visit might even offer behind-the-scenes tours where you can learn about how your favorite beverage is concocted. Need further inspiration? Here is The Best Craft Beer in Every U.S. State.
Stroll through the farmer’s market.
The farmers’ market is a great place to pick up organic produce, support local farmers, and even take someone out on a first date. Many vendors at the market sell meals on the go, so you and your date can easily keep perusing the market’s wares while grabbing a great meal and getting to know one another.
Remember: First dates can be awkward, so if there are interesting things happening around you, you’ll never be hard-pressed for something to talk about. And if you’re feeling especially bold, consider one of these 50 Pick-Up Lines So Cheesy They Just Might Work.
Cook a meal together.
You don’t have to be an expert chef in order to spend your first date in the kitchen. In fact, part of the fun of a first date spent cooking together is the trial and (frequent) error—it gives you something to look back on and laugh about later on in the relationship.
Take in some tunes at a jazz club.
Inviting a first date out to a jazz club signals to him or her that you’re sophisticated, artistic, and know what you want in life. Plus, jazz music is just quiet enough that you’ll be able to talk to your date and enjoy some soulful tunes all at the same time.
Go for a helicopter ride over the city.
If you’re looking for a way to impress a first date with extravagance and breathtaking views, consider taking them on a helicopter ride. Most urban areas offer relatively affordable rides that span the entire city—and even if the date doesn’t go well, at least you’ll have some great photos to go home with. And for more picturesque places, don’t miss the 30 Most Magical Islands on the Planet.
Take a painting class.
Painting classes are immensely popular nowadays, so why not take advantage of their popularity and book one for your next first date? Though you might not be able to impress your date with your Picasso-level painting skills, at least you’ll be able to bond over your equally bad portrayals of “Starry Night.”
Get to know your date and give back to the community at the same time by hosting your date night at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Though unconventional, it’s guaranteed that your date won’t soon forget their romantic night spent serving others.
Bond at the museum.
Most museums take at least a few hours to walk through, so perusing one with a first date will give you plenty of time to learn more about one another. Plus, what’s more romantic than swapping life stories while gazing at paintings by artists like Rembrandt and Monet? And for more on what not to do on your romantic outing, check out these 10 Absolutely Awful First Date Stories.
Go to a drive-in movie theater.
Why settle for your everyday movie theater date when you can go a drive-in for a much more unique and memorable experience? And who knows? Perhaps just being at the outdoor theater will make the two of you feel like teenagers all over again.
Pet dogs at the local shelter.
There’s plenty of budding love to go around on a first date, so why not share some of that warmth with shelter animals who really need it?
Not only will you make an animal’s day, you’ll also be helping your own case, seeing as just looking at pictures of animals has been shown to improve relationships. Win-win! And if you’re thinking about adopting an animal, then make sure you check out these 10 Things You Need to Know Before Adopting a Shelter Dog.
Drink beers and play ping pong at an arcade.
Teenagers and young adults love to bring first dates to the arcade for a night of ping pong, pool, and prizes, so why shouldn’t people over 40 get to experience the same fun? And with so many “barcades”—or bar/arcade hybrids—popping up nationwide, it’s completely possible to take this date night concept to the next, more mature level.
Laugh out loud at a comedy club.
If you want to know whether you and your date are a match made in heaven, just take them to a comedy club and pay attention to whether the two of you laugh at the same things. According to one study published in the journal Personal Relationships, couples who share laughter tend to have stronger relationships—so if you aren’t exchanging giggles on the first date, it’s safe to say that the relationship isn’t long for this world.
Pick fruit at an apple orchard.
In the fall, there’s nothing quite like heading to the apple orchard for a fun day of picking apples and eating pie. And though this sweet activity is fun with company of any kind, it’s especially enjoyable when the person by your side is a potential new romantic interest.
Win prizes at a local fair.
If the season is right and the weather permits, take your first date to a local fair and impress him or her with your ability to win teddy bears the size of a small car. If you play your cards right, you might just receive a kiss on the top of the Ferris wheel by the end of the night.
Take the pressure off at a 24-hour diner.
When it comes to dating in your 40s, 50s, and beyond, you simply can’t afford to waste time playing games. Instead of taking your date to a stuffy and expensive restaurant where you feel like you can’t be yourself, try taking them to a casual 24-hour diner, where the mood is light and both of you are free to be open and honest. And for more romantic advice, don’t miss these 40 Old-Fashioned Dating Rules to Stop Following After 40.
Bundle up and go ice skating.
Ice skating is the dream date-night activity. On the ice, you and your date have an excuse to make contact as you struggle not to fall over, and once you’re done with your skating excursion, you get to indulge in a well-earned cup of hot cocoa.
Get retro at a roller rink.
If you’re a natural on skates, impress your dates with some sweet moves beneath the disco-ball-dotted floor of your local roller rink. And even if you’re not so smooth on wheels, spending your first date at a roller rink could still be a great idea, seeing as your gnarly wipeouts might make for some great inside jokes later.
Explore the outdoors in a kayak.
Nothing beats the peace and serenity experienced out on the open water. After going on a kayaking trip with your date, both of you will feel a renewed sense of purpose—and that’s just how you want to feel before getting to know a potential new life partner.
Grab a camera and explore your local surroundings.
Whip out your camera and take your first date around town to photograph everything from plant life to notable buildings. Not only will the two of you have fun laughing over your silly outtakes, down the road, the photos you take could serve as sweet reminders of the night you first fell in love. And after you nail your first date, make sure to try these 40 Irresistible Second Date Ideas.
Pop in a scary movie.
If you want your first date to turn into something more, then invite them over for a scary movie night. Why? Numerous studies have shown a positive correlation between adrenaline and arousal, and nothing gets the heart pumping quite like Hannibal Lecter. Need some scary movie inspiration? Check out the 40 Best Horror Movies for Totally Freaking Yourself Out.
Watch the sunset with a bottle of wine.
Let Mother Nature be your wing man or wing woman and take your first date to a romantic spot outside where the two of you can split a bottle of wine while watching the sunset. With views that breathtaking, it’ll be almost impossible for your companion to say no to a second date!
Attend a sporting event and cheer on your favorite teams.
Find out what your date’s favorite baseball or football team is and surprise them with tickets to see them play in person! They’ll be both shocked and grateful that you went out of your way to do something so kind, and any rendezvous at a sports arena is guaranteed to be packed with good memories.
Tackle an escape room together.
Test you and your date’s compatibility by taking them to an escape room, where the two of you will have a set amount of time to work together, solve puzzles, and eventually free yourselves. Not only will this give you a sense of how well you and your date work as a team, it’s also a great opportunity to impress them with your problem-solving skills.
Go for a scenic bike ride.
If the weather permits, invite your date out for a pleasant bike ride through a nearby park or trail. Because you’ll be busy on a bike, you won’t have to worry about making awkward small talk throughout the date—and if small talk is something you actually look forward to on a first date, you can always grab a drink after the ride.
Enjoy an open mic night.
Showcase your musical or poetic talents or just take in those of others by bringing your date to an open mic night at a nearby coffeeshop. Between the dark lighting and romantic music, an open mic night sets the perfect mood for a successful date that will lead to many more. And for relationship advice that you can use down the road, check out these 50 Ways to Keep Your Marriage Fresh.
Fawn over animals at the zoo.
One thing’s for certain: Should you decide to spend your first date at the zoo, you won’t have to worry about awkward lulls in conversation or any dull moments. Between the adorable animals and hustle and bustle of the crowd, this unique date location will provide ample conversation fodder.
Pack up a delicious picnic.
Lunch and dinner dates can be fun, but for people over the age of 40, they’re also a bit played out. If you want to take your first date out for a meal without seeming boring, consider packing up your food and enjoying a picnic in the park instead. Your date will enjoy the change of scenery, and being out in the open air will alleviate all of those first date jitters.
Make it a double date!
People on first dates have a tendency to get nervous and awkward, especially when they’re over 40 and are starting to feel like their time to find a perfect match is running out. One easy way to alleviate these jitters is by setting up a double date, where you can get to know your potential new match with the help of one or two familiar faces.
Tackle your local trivia night.
Taking your date to a trivia night will help you determine your potential compatibility as a couple and your capacity for working as a team. Plus, the questions your date is able to answer will help you get a good understanding of what he or she is interested in and knowledgable about, and vice versa.
Explore a flea market.
If you and your date want to enjoy one another’s company during the day, then consider getting lost together at a local flea market. As you make your way through the market, pay attention to the items that catch your date’s eye—these can give you a good idea of the things that he or she is interested in that you might not have otherwise learned about. And if you ever want to head to the flea market to do some actual shopping, make sure you know the 15 Things You Should Never Buy at a Second-Hand Store.
Get playfully competitive in mini golf.
Though it might feel like taking someone out for a game of mini golf is childish, this first date idea is actually a fun way to get those competitive juices flowing. Plus, picking up a putter affords many a opportunity for you to make subtle physical contact with your date as you show them the right way to aim and swing.
Bake (and eat!) some chocolate chip cookies.
Spending a first date making chocolate chip cookies is a win-win situation. Not only does baking present a stress-free opportunity for you to get to know your date, but you also get to indulge in the fruits of your labor—fresh cookies!—at the end of the night.
Have a board game marathon at a local coffeehouse.
People often complain about the fact that Monopoly never ends, but this could actually work in your favor on a first date (so long as it’s going well, that is). And if you want to impress your date with your board game expertise, then Own Scrabble with These 43 Words That Start with X.
Build a fire and toast some s’mores.
There’s just something about a fire pit that makes people want to cuddle up together and get cozy under a warm blanket. And when you add the allure of the night sky into the mix, this first date idea is a surefire way to send sparks flying (pun intended).
Go out for breakfast.
Who says that first dates have to take place at night? If you want to switch things up, then ask your date to meet you for breakfast, where the two of you can bond over eggs, croissants, and hot pots of coffee while the day is still young.
Sample foods from various food trucks.
Can’t decide between Italian and Japanese food for your first date? That’s fine, because you don’t have to! Just take your date to a lot full of food trucks, and the two of you will have the opportunity to sample foods from all around the globe while you chat and bond.
Hit the road and visit a nearby town.
You don’t have to travel far, but even just getting in the car and driving a few minutes to the next town over can make for a fun and adventurous date night. Whether you choose to sit down for dinner or walk the streets and window shop, this exploration will bring the two of you closer together and allow for bonding in a new and exciting manner.
Run a 5K together.
If you and your date share a passion for hitting the pavement, then start your relationship off on the right foot (literally) and spend your first date running a 5K. Though unconventional, going for a run will get those mood-boosting hormones pumping, as well as getting you hungry for a romantic post-run snack and some scintillating conversation.
Go salsa dancing!
Put on your dancing shoes and take your date out for a sexy night of salsa dancing. Even if you have two left feet, your date will be impressed that you put yourself out there and decided to do something so exotic for your first date. And for more dating advice, check out the 30 Worst Phrases to Use on Your Dating Profile.
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