Swoon-worthy date ideas for the romantics among us (that are also perfectly acceptable to do with friends or alone!). 

I’ve heard rumours that the dating scene in Vancouver isn’t the best. And not that I’m by any means a dating expert, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that people just don’t seem to go on good ol’ fashioned dates anymore (or it’s just ‘cause Tinder is the easiest way to, erm, meet people nowadays). You don’t have to be Ryan Gosling's character from Crazy, Stupid, Love to know that planning a full-on date for someone you’re crushing on—or someone you’ve been with for a while—is sure to impress. So without further ado, here are a few ideas for your next big date.

Go on a Blind Date

(Photo: Groupon)

But not the kind you’re thinking! Dark Table is a Vancouver restaurant that offers a unique dining experience: eating in the pitch black. You’ll be led through the restaurant by a blind or visually-impaired server, and you can order off the menu or opt to be surprised. It’s a great way to get to know your date without any visual distractions. It’ll also clue you into your date’s level of patience, as trying to scrape the last bits of food off the plate can be amusingly frustrating. This may or may not be the best idea for a very first date (I can think of a number of reasons why it might not be), but regardless, it’s a real adventure. 

Do a Restaurant Hop 

(Photo: Meet on Main)

A classy update on the well-trodden bar hop, if you will. First, pick a street that has a bunch of different restaurants (may I recommend Cambie or Main?). Then, choose a different restaurant to get an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. You might end up sharing vegan nachos from Meet on Main, a noodle bowl from Anh and Chi, and homemade chocolate cake from Helen’s Grill (I can hear our food and wine editor gagging at this weird combo. But hey, I stand by it). The options are endless! It’s a great way to try a bunch of restaurants, and an even greater way to get to know what your date is into.

Build Your Own Lunch at Granville Island 

(Photo: Benton Brothers Fine Cheese)

Walking around Granville Island aimlessly is great, but putting a bit more effort into it will really impress your date. I would recommend starting your adventure in the late morning by grabbing a coffee and strolling through the art galleries. When you’re ready to eat, grab bread (or bagels!) from one of the many bakeries, some cheese from Benton Brothers Fine Cheese, and meats from Oyama Sausage Co. And get dessert—macaronsor chocolates—to finish it off. Venture outside, find a place to sit, and build your sandwiches! Bonus idea: If your date likes jewellery, take them to Beadworks and help them design a piece of jewellery that the team there can help you construct. A great keepsake to remember a perfect day!  

Explore Stanley Park

(Photo: Gabriel Santiago)

I know this one seems obvious, but when was the last time you actually went? Stanley Park is such a great destination to explore, and Vancouverites are lucky to have it so close by. You can grab a coffee and stroll, look for seashells in the sand, or rent a bike from the numerous nearby shops… or to really impress your date, do all three! If they're still not impressed (did someone say high maintenance?), why not take them to the Vancouver Aquarium? The options are basically endless, hence why I’m including it despite it’s obviousness. #sorrynotsorry

Volunteer 

(Photo: Kenan Kitchen)

Why not hang out with the person you’re vibing with and help out a good cause at the same time? It’s totally a win-win. There are tons of volunteer opportunities in Vancouver, so you can pick the one that suits you and your date’s interests best. The SPCA is an obvious choice (unless you're like me and sneeze at the sight of a hamster), or you can volunteer at events like upcoming festivals or marathons. Check out govolunteer.ca to find the best volunteer opportunity for you! 

Do an Escape Room 

(Photo: SmartyPantz Vancouver)

There’s a term in psychology called misattribution of arousal. Basically, when someone experiences a physiological response to fear, they may later attribute it to romantic arousal (see mom? I did learn something in university). As my psychology professor pointed out, why not use this to your advantage? Get your adrenaline going and activate your brain cells during a date to an escape room. Either you’ll both have lots of fun, or you’ll realize how completely and utterly incompatible your problem solving abilities are—you basically can’t lose (except at the game, of course). Find a list of locations here.

Experience an Unfamiliar Local Event

(Photo: Courtesy Kayleen Elcich, Flickr)

I get it—there are so many events going on in Vancouver, it can be tough to choose one. But Facebook Events and great local websites (like this one) are here to help you choose! There are tons of cultural centres in the city that offer some really cool workshops and events. You could learn to make gnocchi at the Italian Cultural Centre, fill up on perogies at Friday Night Suppers at a Ukrainian church, or go to a live Dudgeons and Dragons show. Regardless of what you decide on, step outside of your comfort zone and see what happens. There’s nothing sweeter than experiencing something new for the first time together!