What’s wrong with dinner and a movie? The pressure to come up with bigger and better date ideas is huge, and while that can often lead to amazing date nights that spice up your relationship, it also leads to some serious date-idea misfires. These are the things that sound fun, but that seem incredibly weird and tacky to most people in the rest of the world. Remember, the point of a date is meant to be to get to know someone, not to show off about how unusual and imaginative you can be!
All of these dates have appeared on suggested ‘date night’ lists, usually described as ‘fun’ or ‘quirky’… but they are the dates that leave us wondering what is so wrong with dinner and a movie - or just going out for a coffee or a nice walk? Unless you know that your potential significant other is 100% interested in doing one of these activities, we’d suggest leaving them off the date night ideas list - especially if the person that you want to take out isn’t from the United States. Stick to the classics instead of bothering with any of these twenty five totally tacky date ideas that only happen in America.
26 Test Drive A Fancy Car
This might sound like a fun idea - drive around in a fancy convertible with the roof down! In reality, though, trying to do that as a test drive is just tacky. If you want to take an amazing road trip for date night, just rent an amazing car (or find someone to borrow it from, if you can).
Test driving it makes it obvious that a) you can’t afford to rent a car, b) this was the best free date you could come up with and c) you have absolutely no problem with wasting a salesman’s time and energy.
25 The Drive-In
This date is truly associated with the USA, and while it certainly has its retro charm… it’s actually not the best way to start your dating relationship with someone. The thing that makes this so tacky is that because you are in private cars, not a public cinema, the drive-in comes with a whole lot of pressure… not to watch the whole movie, if you catch our drift.
Decades of movies and TV have backed up the idea that the drive-in is for ‘heavy petting’, and that’s just a bit tacky to put on a date when you are still getting to know each other.
Also called the ‘month end date’ by some, this is all about saving some pennies to catch a bus to McDonald's and have a burger and fries. Which is about as tacky as you can get! Fast food and public transit isn’t particularly romantic or fun, and while some call it ‘nostalgic’, we say to save that kind of ‘nostalgia’ for when you see your siblings or your childhood friends. If you want to impress a date and inject a little romance, greasy food on a Formica table top probably isn’t the way to go.
23 Go Apple Picking
This seasonal date idea is as American as… well… apple pie! But while everyone has a romantic idea of how a day at an orchard will go, this is another one of those dates that tends to fall a little bit flat in reality. The weather needs to be perfect - no one wants to spend a rainy day outside - and while spending some time in nature is lovely, the part no one tells you is that you end up with a whole lot of apples and not a lot to do with them. There are much better fall dates that don’t involve eating apples for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next month.
22 Go Bowling
Bowling can be a fun night out with friends, and it’s got a certain retro appeal… but it’s not exactly ideal date material. For one thing, you really need to find a big group in order to do this right - and group dates are definitely high on the tacky scale (and make it hard to really get to know each other). More than that, this is a date that involves being in direct competition with the person that you are trying to woo. And wearing rented shoes - definitely tacky stuff!
21 Share A Milkshake
The image of gazing lovingly at each other while sipping from the same milkshake is classic - all you need is a poodle skirt and a greaser jacket to make it perfect. Except, like many dates on this list, something that makes a great photo doesn’t always make a great date.
Starting your romantic relationship with a compromise on flavor and the possibility that your date will think that you aren’t being cute, just too cheap to buy her her own shake? Yikes.
Unless you are doing some kind of fun ‘50s themed day out, spring for two shakes!
20 Go Look At Expensive Houses
Just like test driving a Ferrari, this might seem fun at first glance. However, this ‘fun’ date idea means wasting an estate agent’s time and energy, and presumably, lying to them about looking for a house. As well as being inconsiderate and dishonest, it shows you to be nosy (looking at other people’s stuff) and a little bit obsessed with money and status - why else would you take great pleasure out of just looking at expensive stuff?
Probably not the best impression to make on a first date. Plus, add in the pressure of acting like a serious couple, and you’ve got a dating dud.
19 The Whole Foods Challenge
Technically, you could do this in any country where there is a Whole Foods, but it’s something that seems a lot more popular in the US. In essence, this date involves going to a fancy grocery store, giving your date a few bucks, and then going off separately to buy ‘goodies’ for the date.
A fun way to combine forces to have a spontaneous date? More like showing the object of your affections that you couldn’t be bothered to plan anything, and want them to do the grocery shopping for your time together.
18 The Top Of The Empire State Building
Unless you are actually in a romantic comedy, may we suggest never doing this on a first date? The only thing cheesier than heading up to the observation deck of the Empire State Building is agreeing to meet there after time apart… and having to force your way through the throngs of other people doing exactly the same thing. Talk about trying to manufacture romance!
Dates that are this obvious and overdone aren’t sweet, they just pack on the pressure for that goodnight kiss looking out over Manhattan. Maybe go for something a little less forced, unless you both happen to be really into skylines or architecture or something.
17 Free Sample Scavenger Hunt
The reason that this isn’t likely to pop up when dating elsewhere is that nowhere does free samples like the US. It’s definitely possible to get almost a full meal just from wandering the aisles of a major grocery store and snacking on the samples, but please don’t do this on your date.
Really, anything involving grocery stores shouldn’t be involved in first date planning - and certainly not something that screams ‘I’m too cheap to buy a meal, but I’m too boring to think of anything to do other than eat’.
16 Go Thrifting
There’s nothing wrong with thrifting - in fact, it can be a fantastic way to get some great stuff on the cheap, save the planet, and create your own unique style. However. Taking a first date to a thrift store is just… a little bit tacky.
Once again, you are making the focus of the date its cheapness - and there are so many better date ideas that are free (without money being an obvious consideration).
Most thrift stores aren’t the quirky caves of wonder that we see in indie movies though; heading to the Salvation Army to paw through the clothes of people who have passed away isn’t our idea of romance.
15 Go To A NASCAR Event
It doesn’t get much more American than this… taking a date to a NASCAR race. But unless they are really, really into NASCAR racing, this probably isn’t the best idea. For one thing, it’s incredibly noisy (not just the cars, either - these races involve a whole lot of shouting, laughing, and even sometimes people firing into the air for fun!), so it’s impossible to really have a great conversation.
It’s also dirty, and unless your date has expressed a love of cars, is probably going to bore their socks off - anything that really requires a passionate interest to be enjoyed is not a good idea to spring on a date.
14 the Wandering through IKEA Date
We can blame 500 Days Of Summer for part of this; a film (about a terrible relationship, by the way) that shows two lovebirds having a whale of a time playing around at IKEA on a date. In reality, this is not going to be a fun day out for a budding romance.
First up, it’s pure consumerism, and going to a big box store isn’t exactly going to charm your date. Beyond that, however, is the simple fact that IKEA isn’t most people’s idea of fun, unless you really like watching married couples fight, and children whine while you battle through a crowded maze of flat pack.
13 Watch An Eating Contest
A staple of the county fair, these contests might be fun to watch… but they aren’t really ideal for date night. Most of the fair is packed with romantic possibilities, of course; the Ferris wheel, winning your date a teddy bear, wandering through the evening with some cotton candy - beautiful! But watching strangers shovel hot dogs, donuts, or even (shudder) straight up butter into their mouths as fast as possible?
Not the best thing to get you in the mood. Stick to the sweeter parts of the traditional US fairground, and leave the eating contests alone.
12 Go To The Airport
As people who love to travel, we’ll admit that the airport has a certain charm… but not if you are trying to force-feed some romance to your date, Love Actually style. Any date that is attempting to re-create a romantic movie scene? Skip it. That’s tacky, boring, and we guarantee that in your attempt to be unique, you are following in the footsteps of hundreds who have seen the same movie. Plus, anyone who has actually been to an arrivals gate at an airport knows that while there are some happy reunions, there are plenty of stressed out travelers who aren’t interested in being part of your fantasy of having a date narrated by Hugh Grant.
11 Road Tripping
A road trip is one of those great USA traditions… but it can test the patience of even the most loved-up couples. Road trips are one of those ideas that have been romanticized, but take a very specific kind of personality to do well - and that might be a bit much for an early date, too.
There’s something very tacky about trying to push a relationship too far, too fast, and leaping from a dating app to a long road trip is definitely going to lead to your date putting on the brakes.
10 Window Shopping
Seriously, what is it with the desire to go to a store for a date? Shopping, even window shopping, isn’t particularly romantic - and it’s going to draw way too much attention to money.
Either you don’t have the money to buy anything, in which case, you may as well wear a t-shirt saying ‘cheap’… or you do have the money to buy things, and it’s going to seem like you set up this date in order to show off about how much you have and to buy gifts that will put pressure on your date when its time to say goodbye.
9 The Mall Of America
Yes, the Mall of America is impressive, and there’s even golf, an aquarium, and a theme park in the middle… but that doesn’t mean that it’s not still a mall. Don’t take a date to the mall - it’s yet more shopping-based stuff that shows little imagination and just isn’t that exciting.
Unless you’ve bonded over being Mall aficionados, or you happen to be in a teen movie in the ‘90s where the mall is the coolest hangout in town, skip this one and come up with something a little more romantic.
8 Paint Your Own Pottery
This craze started in the ‘90s, when paint your own pottery shops started popping up all over the place… and it is exactly what it sounds like. Pay to choose a piece of pottery, paint it however you like, and have it fired so you can take it home. This might be a fun activity for little kids, but for adults, it’s just passe, and firmly into tacky territory at this point.
If you want to get artsy on a date, try wine and painting nights, or just take some sketchbooks out into the world instead of going for something as tacky as Color Me Mine.
7 Picnic In Central Park
This is one of those date ideas that seems lovely and romantic, but in reality… it’s just a little awkward, most of the time. Food gets warm (or cold, if it’s supposed to be hot), the grass isn’t that comfortable, even with a blanket, the park is swarming on nice days, and that romantic idea of popping a bottle of bubble? Just flat out illegal.
Instead of going for something so cheesy (and that won’t live up to the hype), why not try a New York date idea with a little flair - there are plenty of options.