10 Women on Their Absolute Best Dates Ever—And What They All Have in Common

Dinner and a movie? Typical. We scoured the country asking women to share their most memorable date nights, and what you’ll notice is that they’re anything but cliché. What wowed these women wasn’t over-the-top extravagance either, but the thrill of something different. Whether it was a trip to a bowling alley, a morning at a museum or dinner at home, these dates prove that making a date special is all in the planning.

1. “We paddle boarded across a reservoir to a beachy spot and brought a picnic dinner. We collected wood for a fire and made a stir fry over a little camping stove. For dessert we had s’mores with peanut butter, marshmallows, chocolate, and raspberries. It was perfect and romantic because it was so thoughtful and took a lot of organizing on his part. It was also nice to be disconnected from phones and email—there were no distractions from other people.” -Liz, 27, Aspen, CO

2. “You never how first dates are going to go, and apparently my date had prepared for the best or the worst. I thought we were just having drinks, but an hour into the night he asked me if I wanted to go to dinner. When we showed up at the restaurant, they already had a reservation for us when we walked in. After dinner, he asked if I wanted to listen to music, then pulled out two concert tickets. Impeccable pre-planning on his part! Needless to say, he got a second date.” -Zoe, 31, Brooklyn, NY

3. “I told the guy that wanted to take me out that I wanted to do something I’d never done before. I was sick of the standard, run-of-the-mill movie, dinner/drinks dates. First stop on the date was a popular food truck park I’d never been to before. We went from food truck to food truck sampling different dishes, and it was so much fun. Next on the agenda was the best part: My date got us tickets to attend a Quiet Clubbing event. I had no idea what a silent disco even was. There were three live DJs each spinning a different genre of music. I love hip-hop, but my date preferred EDM. We each got a set of wireless headphones so we could listen to what we liked. The best part was that, unlike most clubs with blaring music where you can’t even talk to your date, all you have to do is flip off your headset, and you can have a regular conversation. We danced, we talked. It was so much fun. I highly recommend this combo as a great date idea!” -Dawn, 35, Austin, TX

4. “The best date I’ve ever been on was my first date with my now husband, which lasted over a week. It wasn’t intentional, but after meeting each other in graduate school, we both realized that we’d be in Italy that summer. I impulsively invited him to meet up with me in Venice after my friends had all bailed on the trip. We ended up in both Venice and Bologna for more than a week. While in Venice, we strolled the streets together, chatting and enjoying glasses of wine as we took in the historic sites. We both had zero expectations although I definitely had a major crush on him (and apparently vice versa), so after a normal dinner that turned into a romantic dinner, we had our first kiss. We married this year, and we’ve now visited 17 countries together.” -Karen, 27, New York, NY

5. “The best date I ever went on was a few years ago. Unfortunately, the guy is no longer in my life, but he taught me a lot about friendship and love. For this date in particular, we rented bikes and rode through Central Park. He’s always been in better shape than me, but he encouraged and supported me even when I wanted to give up. When we finished, we grabbed something to eat. When we started walking to the train, he stopped me, pulled me into him against a wall and kissed me with so much passion. I miss him a lot, but I’ll never forget how special that date was.” -Aliya, 25, New York, NY

6. “My best date was an early breakfast and a trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. After breakfast, we went into the city early to people-watch on a park bench in the middle of the Washington Mall and then spent hours at the museum. It was my second visit but his first, so I was excited to experience it with him and stay longer. We ended the day with a late lunch.” -Trinity, 30, Woodbridge, VA

7. “My best date ever was the simplest you can imagine. I had gone through a couple of failed relationships, but then I was invited on a date by a co-worker. He surprised me by taking us not to a fancy restaurant, but to his own house. I thought it was either going to be lame or awkward. For me, a date was always a nice restaurant or something new or exciting. But when I arrived, he sent me to the dining room, gave me a bottle of wine, played music, and cooked for me. I had never felt like a princess until that day. We chatted like we never did before. Amazingly, we didn’t talk about work at all. We were just focused on each other. It was magic. 15 years later and we’re still together.” -Katie, 37, Columbia, MD

8. “Seems silly, but bowling is the best first date I’ve ever gone on. It broke the ice and we got a real kick out of the fact that I couldn’t bowl. It was a lot of fun and I didn’t have to awkwardly stare at him across a table the whole time.” -Alyssa, 28, New York, NY

9. “My then-boyfriend-now-husband works in consulting, so he travels a lot. One day he asked me, ‘Want to come to LA on Saturday?’ I said yes, so he flew me first class to LA for a day first class. We ate at one of my favorite fast food spots for lunch, In-N-Out Burger. We shopped on Rodeo Drive, strolled Venice Beach and finished our all-day date with an amazing sushi dinner overlooking the Pacific. What made it so special was the spontaneity and that he really catered to what he thought would make me happy.” -Angel, 34, West Orange, NJ

10. “One hot summer night, my boyfriend took me to one of his favorite places growing up—a farm where there were animals, ice cream, bumper boats, and batting cages. We played mini golf, hit the batting cages, ate fried clams, and enjoyed ice cream. A little friendly competition and some new scenery made for an unforgettable date!” -Brittany, 31, Boston, MA

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