7 First Tinder Date Ideas (+ 4 Common First Date Mistakes)

You've finally managed to get her to agree to a first date. The pressures on, because all of that work is for naught if your first date doesn't impress. How many times have you invested time and effort into Tinder and Text just to have her leave the date early and not text back? You need to have a first tinder date that works so you so she ends up back at your place, not back on Tinder for the next guy.

 You've finally managed to get her to agree to a first date. The pressures on, because all of that work is for naught if your first date doesn't impress. How many times have you invested time and effort into Tinder and Text just to have her leave the date early and not text back? You need to have a first tinder date that works so you so she ends up back at your place, not back on Tinder for the next guy. | Zirby

What's a bad first date idea?

Before we get in to our list of 14 first tinder date ideas (that don't suck) I want you to first understand what doesn't work, and why. If you're able to understand this then you'll have no problem coming up with more good ideas yourself.

All bad date ideas have four things in common.

  1. They put pressure on the girl.
  2. They require too much investment.
  3. They have no exit strategy.
  4. They are too fun, or not fun enough.

The bad date idea will have one of these aspects - a horrible date idea will combine all three - sort of like how a public toilet swirls together the worst of everyone who's visited that day. You don't want her to see you in that light, do you?

A horrible date idea will combine all three - sort of like how a public toilet swirls together the worst of everyone who’s visited that day.

So let's break these points down one by one so you have a full understanding of what these mean so you can avoid them in your own first dates. It's worth noting first, though, that these elements fall to the wayside once you reach your second or third date so don't think of these points as inherently bad.

Mistake 1: It Puts Pressure on the Girl

We all know the bit about the feeling we get from a used car salesman. That point rings true here. You might think you're treating her out to a nice dinner at an expensive restaurant, or paying for her ticket at a concert, but all you're really doing is making her feel like she "owes" you. 

The guys with the greatest intentions bring a girl out and overspend when they are together. It doesn't feel like you're making her feel uncomfortable but that's exactly what's happening. 

By the end of the date she's going to feel awkward and maybe even pressured in to sex. And as you know the more awkward she feels the less likely you'll be to actually have sex. Completely counter productive.

This doesn't mean you have to be cheap. But keep things in the range of $5 or less. It's completely fine to cover her coffee or her ice cream cone - but when you're spending more than that you're going in to creepy range.

Your first Tinder date should be as pressure free as possible. It's about you both getting to know each other as people. Keep as much shit off the table as possible. You'll thank me - and she'll thank you - later.

Mistake 2: It requires too much investment.

Let's go back to that concert. It sounds like a blast with you and your mates. It might even be cheap. It's going to be exciting and crazy. So, what's the problem here?

When you really break it down, you're asking a lot out of her for a first date. She'll spend an hour getting ready, and hour (total time) in transportation, an hour waiting in line and getting into the venue with you, then the show will be two or three hours. 

At this point your total time is five or six hours. That's a huge investment for her to make with a guy that she hasn't even seen face to face yet. 

She's going to be thinking to herself, "What if the guy is creepy? I'll be stuck with him for six hours!" Your first date should always be something where she's not investing hours and hours in to you. 

And this isn't just about her, either. This is about you. Do you really want to have to be hanging out with a girl for that long that you can't stand? That has reeking bad breath? That hates the music and stops you from having a great time? Do you really want that? Had your date just been 30 minutes to an hour, you'd know right away wouldn't be stuck where you are now.

Dates are about you both screening each other. What message are you sending her if you're willing to spend half a day with someone that you haven't screened? Desperate is the answer.

Mistake 3: No Exit plan.

Take the worst of mistake 1 and mistake 2, put them together, and you get mistake 3. The idea here is simple: a bad first date is one where you can't skedaddle if you're not feeling the vibe.

Locked in a three course dinner? You're not going anywhere, and neither can she. Part of an hour long performance at your local theater? You're planted. (Also, are you time traveling to the 19th century?)

Point is, you want to be in a situation where you can say, "Oh, would you look at the time..." it wont feel awkward. But this isn't just about being 'locked in', this also includes a date where you both had to drive far to get to. 

Once we get to the 14 first Tinder date that actually work you'll see that in those examples you'd be able to leave when you felt the time was right. And same for her.

Mistake 4: It's too much fun, or not fun enough.

Alright, this is a bit of a weird one. But after shooting myself in the foot enough times I've learned my lesson.

Let's start with the obvious. Dinner dates at sit down restaurants just don't work. Why? You're seating in front of the girl... just watching each other eat. There isn't enough fun, or excitement, coming from outside of you two. The reason you want this is because it gives you the ability to talk about the environment when you run out of things to say. It lets you both just chill and not make the silence awkward. The environment is a powerful tool.

You want there to be some distractions in the background to keep things interesting and take some pressure off of you. 

Alternatively... you can mess up by bringing her to a place that is too much fun, or too distracting.

If you bring your date to a local dive on a Friday night where there is loud, crazy music playing you'll never actually get a chance to talk to her. She'll be too distracted to get to know you. 

Have you ever been on a first date where she get's so distracted that she ends up dancing, and leaving, with another guy? Jesus Christ. That's no one's fault by your own. And it comes down to your decision to bring her somewhere that she couldn't get to know you.

Have you ever been on a first date where she get’s so distracted that she ends up dancing, and leaving, with another guy?

Don't be that guy. You want your first Tinder date with her to be at a place where you can focus on each other when needed, but take a break and let the energy of the place lead you.

14 First Date Ideas that WORK.

Alright, we've covered what doesn't work. This list will get you started, and from here you'll be able to drive on autopilot. Just a recap...

  • Keep things light.
  • Don't make it more than $5-$10.
  • Make sure she, or you, can leave early.
  • Pick something where you can hear each other talk.

Don't be fooled by the simplicity of these date ideas. There's a reason why these actually work (work as in, best elevate your chance to see her for a second date or bring her home then.)

Keep in mind that when you bring her to one of these first date ideas, if you both are getting along you can bring her to a second. Nothing is in isolation here.

Date idea 1: Local Pizza Joint

One of the old guys at Zirby would swear by this. You both grab a slice, and then easily transition in to Date idea 4. Unlike a "sit down dinner" you'll both get to eat something mess with your hands, keep it cheap, and have a chance to chat. 

Plus, with all that salt you'll both be craving a refreshment afterwards.

Date idea 2: Coin Toss Date

This is one of my favorites, and it's been super effective for all of the Zirby readers that have tried it. The concept couldn't be more simple: you both meet up and walk. Every time you get to a street you flip a coin. Heads, turn left. Tails, turn right.

You'll have time to chat as you walk, and as you'll do you'll end up seeing all new parts of the city that you can check out. My friend Dan tried this date


Date idea 3: Local festivals.

You're more limited on choices if you're outside of a big city, but most small towns will have plenty of little festivals going on. In my own area we have the Italian American festival, the annual pig roast, summer time farmer market, all of October...

Note that I'm using the word festival loosely, and rightly so. Going to the local orchard gives you guys plenty to look at, no time constraints, and also the time to bond together without too many distractions. 

Date idea 4: Dive bars.

I'm not talking about cool hipster dive bars. I'm talking about trashy, hole in the wall, places only locals who live in walking distance go to.

Here's an example: by my house there is a super old bar where only super old people hang out at. We're talking 55+ plus. It's a very small space and the best part is last call is at 9:45pm. PM! Without a doubt, this is my favorite bar to bring a girl for drinks. 

Why does it work so well? It's unlikely she's ever been to such a local bar before, a bar that isn't trying to be cool. A bar where you can strike up conversation and hear stories of the people sitting next to you without worrying about her getting hit on - and without you having drifting eyes. It just works, and it works almost too well. 

Though, you've got to be pretty lucky to find a place like this with such an early last call. Why is this the icing on top of the cake? After a few drinks - you can either part ways, or what tends to happen is they call last call I invite her back to my place. It's early enough that it doesn't feel like I'm bringing her right back to my bed room, but late enough that it makes sense to go have a few beers on my patio. This place is a gold mine. 

Date idea 5: Commercial bars.

Applebee's. Chili's. Local hotel bar. Yes, I'm serious.

This might seem like the polar opposite as the dive bar, and probably nothing like the kind of cool, chill bars you and your friends go to - but, you couldn't be more wrong. The local dive and Chili's have one very big thing in common, for the purposes of a first Tinder date:

While you're here you're in a bubble. You get to people watch. You're not going to Applebee's because you like their shitty drinks. You're going because it's funny, ironically, and serves as one giant inside joke for both of you.

If the previous is a gold mine, this is a diamond. No one thinks of this, but man, if you can sell her on it you'll have an amazing time. You wont spend alone, and you can buy over the top tropical drinks. You'll never run out of things to say, and you can make jokes about bringing her out to only the best. For your second date, you're set - you can pull out inside jokes and bring her to only the finest eating establishments...

Don't be so quick to judge, these aren't generic "bring her to coffee" ideas. These are original ideas that work.

Plus, this gives you a great excuse to say, "let's get the hell out of here and get some real wine, and watch the stars on my rooftop."

Date idea 6: "Soda" in the park.

Meeting her earlier in the day? Maybe Sunday? Try this. All you need to do is meet up by a park, go to a local 7/11 and fill up a Big Gulp with ice. Maybe grab a few bags of salted peanuts.


Because when you get to the park you're going to fill that Big Gulp with a cocktail you premixed in thermos you have in your bag. Or pour in a few beers. Or some wine. 

Now you'll both be enjoying the weather in a park drinking some cocktails. This is especially great for Spring, and even better if your cocktail is actually made well.  She'll remember this date, and if you guy get along, grabs some food once the sun begins to set. Works like a charm.

Date idea 7: Thiftin'

Screw the expected. Have her meet you at Goodwill. What the hell you'll find in there will be anyone's guess - but you'll come across plenty to talk about.

  • Reminisce about the 90s after you come across a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt you could have sworn you used to own.
  • Try on weird hats and take photos of yourselves together. (You'll be able to send them to her later to lift her mood.)
  • Find a weird board game - buy it - and then go back to her place or yours to play it with some take out. 
  • Find a baseball bat and ball and head to a local part to knock it around. 

See where I'm going with this? If things aren't clicking, great - you've wasted no time and can leave after.

But if you guys are really connecting well then you can use this as an excuse - depending on what you find - to go to each others place, go to a park, or go to another thrift store. There's a lot of options.

It's one of the reasons I love this idea. you'll get a lot of milage out of this one date idea that I bet you she's never gone on before. 

Let's recap

So far, you've learned both the 4 common mistakes guys make with their first Tinder date ideas, and also 7 dates that don't suck.

With these ideas in mind you'll be able to find what works in your immediate area. Obviously the coin toss date wouldn't work so well out in suburbs - but the core point - keeping things light, cheap and unexpected - will work in your favor.

Now you can avoid boring coffee dates (unless you really like coffee and know some super cool places in your area!) and ineffective dinner & movie dates.