Times have changed when it comes to 21st century dating. Get out of the old “dinner and drinks” and try some creative first date ideas to land a second date.

Dates will cost the average American a lifetime total of more than $20,000, at around $45 a date. Don’t worry, I’ve done the math for you. This study suggests you’ll go on over 400 dates throughout the course of your life.

But maybe that’s just because most dates are… terrible. Why did anyone think that a trip to the movies made for a good first date? Sitting in silence for two hours isn’t a great way to get to know someone.

Planning the first date can be a stressful, anxiety-ridden experience. But it doesn’t have to be. Impress your partner with these unconventional and memorable first date ideas.

10 Brilliant First Date Ideas

There’s nothing wrong with a nice dinner. It is, however, a very tense and interpersonal environment for a pair of strangers. If you’re looking for memorable dates with an emphasis on fun, this list has you covered.

1. Visit a Museum

There truly is a museum for everything. If you and your date share a common interest, there’s likely a relevant exhibit nearby. But when you don’t know your date well enough, just opt for something unusual.

For example, what about a spy museum? The great thing about museums is there’s never a dull moment — so long as you choose the right one. Everything serves as a conversation starter.

Plus, most museums are very affordable or free outright.

2. Travel to the Zoo

Museums not your thing? For you animal lovers out there, nothing beats a trip to the zoo. And if you’d prefer to be more hands-on during the date, then travel to an animal shelter instead.

Both options are bound to be memorable.

3. Get Classed in Cooking

At a cooking class, you’ll learn how well you and your date work together. You’ll put a unique spin on the traditional dinner date and show you’re interested in self-improvement.

From food preferences, to cooking, to past experiences, there’s a lot to discuss during a cooking class. Since cooking classes tend to be short, it’s a very light, easygoing option.

4. Nerd Out at the Bookstore

A bookstore sounds dreadful if you’re not into books, but avid readers will have a great time. You two can stroll the aisles and reminisce about favorite authors. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could buy each other books to read or purchase the same book to discuss at a future date.

Most bookstores have coffee shops and other food options attached or located within. While you’re sharing reading preferences, enjoy a coffee and a small treat. 

5. Get Your Game On

Arcades have gone out of fashion, and that’s why they’re a pleasantly eccentric choice in this day and age. From joystick-controlled arcade games to mini basketball hoops, there’s plenty of variety.

Many modern arcades are also known for tasty (if somewhat expensive) food items.

6. Check Out a College Campus

If the college experience is still fresh on your minds, consider a visit to a college campus. They’re both beautiful and evocative. With plenty of school experiences to share, the scenery will keep you talking.

Some college campuses will hold activities open to the public, such as book readings and visits by distinguished guests. As a footnote to the evening, you two can grab a bite to eat.

7. Go Medieval

Renaissance faires have something for everyone. Most are silly, tongue-in-cheek experiences. If you’re both oddballs, they’re a hilarious and entertaining way to let loose.

The best part of a first date at a renaissance fair? You can eat an entire turkey leg like an animal, and it’s almost socially acceptable.

8. Solve an Escape Room

The escape room trend is more popular than ever. They require collaboration, teamwork, and a good deal of intuition. Impress your date by connecting obscure clues (or just bumbling around and solving puzzles by accident).

Although escape rooms can be a great, hands-on experience with plenty to discuss, they can certainly backfire. Stay in good spirits and avoid becoming irritated if you get stuck.

To keep the pressure off, consider doing an escape room with another couple, or at least as part of a group.

9. Have Dinner With a Fresh Twist

Do you still want to keep things simple and simply enjoy a nice meal? Fine. But there are still some ways to keep it interesting.

Consider visiting an upscale pizza restaurant. Why pizza? Well, first of all, everyone loves a good pizza.

But more importantly, pizza is communal since you’re eating from the same pie. By opting for a fancier pizza experience, you’ll pay as much as at a moderate restaurant. But your pizza experience will be far more memorable.

If your date is an escort, this is probably the best option on the list. Learn more about what you should or shouldn’t do when you take an escort on a date.

10. Enjoy the Great Outdoors

If you’re both active, there’s plenty to do. For example, how about taking a hike? You can connect over your love of nature and energy bars.

A bike ride is another excellent option, especially if you live in a city with lots to see. Even just heading to the gym together can be a low-stress conversation starter. Work up a sweat, share some exercise tips, and look great doing it.

To Get the Second Date, Start With the First

If you’re having trouble getting through the first date, you might just be setting yourself up for disaster. These first date ideas break the mold and focus on memorable fun. When you both can’t stop thinking about your time together, you know you’ve succeeded.

And the second date will be just around the corner.