Abstaining from alcohol has become the new normal for many millennials and Gen Zers, with health and hangover-related issues key factors in cutting down. But with “going for a few drinks” a go-to first date choice, is it possible to enjoy playing the field if you’ve chosen a more teetotal lifestyle?
Whether you’re cutting down on your cocktail intake, playing designated driver, or simply keeping dry-January going for a few months longer than planned, there’s no reason that your dating life should suffer. Try out a few of these date ideas for inspiration the next time that you and your Hinge match decide to go alcohol-free.
1. Go out for dessert
Going out for dinner on a first date can be slightly intense—if you don’t like your date, then there can be a lot of courses to get through. Instead, suggest grabbing dessert together for a low-pressure and no-alcohol chance to get to know your date better. After all, their choice between vanilla and mint chocolate chip might be a deal-breaker.
2. Take a walk
If you don’t feel like sitting across from someone for hours without a glass of wine to break the tension, then try a daytime date instead. A walk or hike is a good opportunity to chat with someone and to find out if they’re the active and outdoorsy type. If there’s ever an awkward silence then your surroundings should offer a good distraction, and there will be plenty of isolated spots for a quick smooch should the mood take you!
3. Check out a comedy show
I always balk at the idea of going to a movie theater or a show as an early date—after all, sitting in the dark in silence is hardly a great way of getting to know someone. As an alternative, a comedy show is a more interactive way of enjoying entertainment with your date, sharing interests, and having a fun evening together. There are usually plenty of breaks between performers to chat about your favorite jokes, and you could grab a (non-alcoholic) drink afterwards to get to know each other better.
4. Meet for a coffee
OK, this one might be standard dating fare, but I’ve always been a big fan of a classic coffee date. It’s easy to fit into your day if you’re busy, low-pressure, and (most importantly) a chance to load up on caffeine. If you’re unsure about a suitor that you’ve swiped right on, then a quick coffee hour is an easy way to figure out any initial interest, and you can easily extend the date into something more substantial if you find yourself feeling loved-up over your latte.
5. Find a local food festival
Whether you’re a foodie or otherwise, then checking out a food festival offers up a fantastic variety of things to do and see, alongside plenty of opportunities to sit and chat. If you live in a city or large town, then look out for local events and choose your favorite (I’m a big fan of anything cheese-related). Share dishes with your date for an ultimate romantic experience and a chance to sample even more culinary delights.
6. Visit a museum
Museums and art galleries are perfect for sparking interesting conversation, ideal for ensuring that you and your date have plenty to talk about. Better still, museums are an affordable first-date choice, with many encouraging donations rather than having a set entry fee, showing that original date ideas don’t always have to be costly. Take your date to see your favorite local artwork or explore a shared interest that you have to build a strong foundation for getting to know one another and finding common ground.
7. Go for a dog walk
If you and your date are both animal lovers, then bringing your pets along for a first date can be a perfect way to share your passion and see how your puppies interact. If you don’t have a dog yourself but would like a chance to help out pet-owners, then consider signing up for a dog-walking app. Dating aside, this can be a great solo hobby, and could be a fun thing to do in future with a dog-loving date.
8. Share your favorite hobby
Are you an avid rock-climber? An aspiring yogi? Someone who hits the driving range every weekend? Sharing one of your hobbies with a date is a perfect way to showcase your personality doing something that you love. Keep it fun and relaxed, and offer to let your date show you their favorite thing to do on a second date in exchange.
9. Play mini-golf
Bring out your competitive side by challenging your date to a few rounds of putt-putt. There are plenty of often extravagantly themed indoor venues popping up across the country, and although many serve alcohol, abstaining will mean that you can keep score and show off your swing.
10. Go to an alcohol-free bar
If you really do love going to a bar on a first date, then the good news is that the nightlife scene is catching up with the trend for going alcohol-free. Venues such as Sans Bar in Austin and Listen Bar in NYC serve up zero-proof offerings crafted by mixologists so that you can enjoy a cocktail whilst remaining booze-free. With new options opening regularly, it’s worth searching what’s on offer in your local area.