Chill or Be Chilled: 10 First Date Ideas for When You Want to Keep It Casual

Spring has sprung! The flowers have bloomed! Summer has arrived and the queers are pulling out their crop tops and cut off shorts! ‘Tis the season of re-downloading tinder for the 12th time and searching for some casual dates and hookups! It’s Gemini season and none of us should be taking anything too seriously (expect for the feelings of those who you are engaging with, of course)!

Coffee and drinks are easy, but why stick to what’s easy? Get creative, but not so elaborate that your date thinks you’re madly in love with them and about to propose. Lucky for y’all, your girl has spent many a spring/summer season planning very casual, cute dates to woo those she was just looking to have some fun with. I am here to pass on my knowledge to you all, to the best of my ability, in the hopes that you too will find your way into the confusing territory of dating while not wanting to fall madly in love!

Before diving in, it’s important to note: Romance is what you make of it. Some of these date ideas, in theory, sound like they could be very romantic! But regardless of the type of relationship you’re looking for, your date still deserves a sweet time. It’s up to you to do the communicating and let your date know straight out of the gate what you have the capacity for in regards to a relationship right now. Maybe don’t swipe right on the person saying they are looking for a wife if you’re just looking for some casual dates and maybe some casual hooking up! Be upfront so no one gets hurt. Don’t expect the date to do the talking for you, no matter how casual you try and keep it! I am of the opinion that it is absolutely okay to be romantic and not what one might define as “casual” on a date that is casual, so long as everyone is in the know about what it all means. So yes, what I am saying is COMMUNICATION IS IMPORTANT! Surprise!

THAT SAID, here’s a list of both highly specific but also incredibly open date ideas for you and your respective casual date to partake in!

A Lil Theme Park

When I said this out loud to someone they said “what’s the difference between a theme park and a lil theme park” and I have to tell you: there is a big one! I’m not talking about taking your date to Disneyland or Six Flags (although that would be really fun), I’m talking about those little parks that are usually on the side of highways. You know the ones — there’s always a single ferris wheel and a single rollercoaster, it has some sort of cutesy name (Adventure City! Boomers! Flamingo Land!) and it probably serves nothing but French fries and hot dogs. This, my friends, is the place to be. And these little parks are EVERYWHERE! This is a great place to get silly and still have time to chat with your date. I highly recommend bringing along some additional beverages, if you and your date are the types who might enjoy a nice alcoholic bev before jumping on the merry-go-round or need a coffee pick-me-up before committing to the magic show they inevitably put on. It’s cute, you can spend hours there, and it’s a way to say “hey I am fun you are fun we are having fun!!” I love being fun AND having fun.

Mini Golf

Listen, I know this is in every single romcom, but hear me out! It is cute, and also very very ridiculous! II mean you’re walking through a series of tiny structures that are usually themed, and you’re carrying a tiny, possibly neon-colored golf ball with a tiny little putter trying to score some points with a scoring system that I honestly truly don’t understand. It’s RIDICULOUS. And also, a great place to be goofy and laugh and maybe smooch between holes? Think about it.

Go-Kart Racing

Tiny Cars! Racing! Wind through your hair! Thrills! Slight danger??? Need I say more?

Laser Tag

While I’m not so much into the idea of plastic gun-wielding children pointing glorified laser pointers at me for points, the idea of being in a dark, usually black-lit room chasing around a cute person and potentially smooching in the dark doesn’t seem so bad! Just be sure to check in with your date about their feelings around running around in the dark with children, because it’s not for everyone.

Make a Thing Together

This could mean so many things, I know, but I have some suggestions. I feel like more often than not making something together is represented as this thing you do with a partner as an exercise or metaphor for building a relationship or something? But it doesn’t have to be that big of deal! This could be as simple as going to a place that has pre-made pottery that you paint together (I am most familiar with Color Me Mine but apparently there are a lot of places that exist like this) or one of those classes where you learn to paint a sunset and drink wine. But it could also look like taking a baking class together, or finding a local studio that offers figure drawing classes. There are a lot of awesome obscure classes out there to explore, and a lot of very cool queers teaching these things! Plus it is a fun way to get to know your dates creative side, a thing I personally find very attractive to witness and be a part of. Plus PLUS you get to go home with a thing you and your date made together! Cute!

Wine/Coffee/Beer Tasting

The thing about this is that while it’s leaning on the classic coffee-or-drinks first date move, it’s taking it to a more creative, more engaging place! There are a lot of coffee shops or coffee companies who will offer coffee tastings, breweries that will offer beer tastings, and wine bars or vineyards that will offer wine tastings, you just have to do your research and find what is available near you! Going in with an idea of if your date is particularly interested in one of these things is a plus, and makes it clear that you were listening to their interests and responding to them with this cute idea! An added bonus is that you get to pretend to be a connoisseur of whatever beverage you choose, even if you, like me, only drink wine out of a box normally.

Arcade

Y’all I LOVE an arcade. Bright lights, fun games, a place to channel competitive energy that in no way affects anyone in the long run, and all for the low low price of 25 cents (depending on where you go and what games you play, of course)! Plus, pinball is a great way to show off your muscles, you know? You can show off, they can show off, everyone can show off or show support! Everyone’s a winner!

Museum/Art Show

This is maybe more specific to people who enjoy viewing art, but maybe not! What are your interests, what are your date’s interests? Choose something that strays slightly away from those things and explore something new and different together! What’s fun about this is getting to play pretend — even if you hate what you’re looking at, there’s a whole story to it. And maybe it’s up to you to come up with a newer, better story for it! Mocking art isn’t chill, because someone took the time and put real effort into it, but finding your own take is part of what makes art so cool! And who knows; maybe you and your date will end up loving what you find together.

Farmers Market

Summertime is a season of nearly constant farmers markets. They also have all you need to have your bases covered — food, flowers, live music and just so many fruits and vegetables you can admire! My favorite farmers market has incredible breakfast burritos, maybe your nearest farmers market has some hidden gems you and your date can discover together? This is a simple way to spend a day and woo your date with your extensive knowledge of root vegetables or what bugs like which flowers.

Pizza Picnic

Picnics are ROMANTIC, I know, but hear me out. Why pack a whole fancy picnic when you can just pick up a pizza and sit in a pretty place with a pretty person eating a pizza you didn’t have to carefully plan for. It isn’t lazy; it’s cute, easy and quite frankly who doesn’t love pizza?? Pick a park you love or a brand new spot you and your date discover together; either way you’re in for a treat (the treat is eating pizza on a blanket under the sky/stars)!


Maybe you hate all these ideas, and that’s okay! Maybe they can be used as a tool for you to play off of and come up with your own, way better ideas! Maybe you can mix and match! I am but a vessel here to steer you in the direction of fun, casual date times but you are in charge of your own dating destiny. If you have any fun casual dates you have been on or have always wanted to go on, leave a comment telling us about it!

Be safe out there and remember — we’re here for a good time, so have fun!

Courtney is a budding sex educator, performer, and writer based out of Portland, Oregon. She spends her time slinging sex toys at the local female-owned queer-friendly sex toy boutique, being a dutiful intern on the podcast Sex on the Brain with sex educator Amory Jane, singing at the nearest variety show, writing way too personal things for the internet, dancing at the queer party down the street and buying lots of cheese. She can be found tweeting about tinder and astrology @courtneykist. She just wants you to have a good time.

Courtney has written 9 articles for us.

19 Comments

  1. Pizza picnic sounds like a great idea. I’ve done shopping for a picnic with my best friend for the outdoor concert we were going to and it was really fun. We did simple stuff like crackers with spread and chips and salsa and it was really easy. Have a cute time in the supermarket choosing and remembering what she likes and then eating it at the concert.

  2. Disclaimer for the lil theme park, also be up front there! Or you might end up a Very Brave Person with a Non Brave Person, who reluctantly goes on the Ring of Fire with you, after agreeing to sitting on a bench and skipping a ride, thus angering the ride operator so you can sit in front, whereupon your Non Brave Person absolutely barely does not throw up and needs to be taken home to bed immediately in a non sexy way because severe nausea is exhausting. (I know how this sounds, but it was me, I was the Non Brave One)

    But I mean it was still a good date 10/10

  3. ooooh. love the note about clarifying via communication that you’re not in love with them because honestly this goopy-eyed pisces sun (me) would totally swoon and fall in love with anyone who planned me this kind of picnic!! sidenote does anyone want to fall in love with me???

  4. Big fan of the Farmer’s Market as a first date spot because you can learn the important things about someone. Things like if they like free samples as much as you do, their favorite fruits, and if they make small talk with the people who run the stands are so important. Also love the other ideas on this list!

  5. Choose your sauce and toppings for that pizza carefully, some parks have very under supplied restrooms and on dates people tend to wear their cute clothes which I know come in colors other than black.

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