Dry Dating: Ideas For A Good Time Without The Booze

Whether it be a casual outing with friends, a networking event, or a family holiday, escaping social events where drinking is a prime focus can be difficult. This especially goes for the dating scene, where even a breakfast meet-up often includes a menu of mimosas. It can often feel like drinking is impossible to escape, but even in today's dating culture, you have options.


No matter your reason for it, dry dating is possible and often far more fun and constructive than a date with booze! Without judgment impaired by alcohol, you can better get to know if someone is the right fit for you, experience authentic chemistry, and better get to know your partner. A full list of dating ideas without the alcohol would fill an entire book — but so here are some of the best ones, from casual to intimate to fun, for first dates and days with long-term partners. 

Find local events

Finding local events seems tricky at first, but once you've got the hang of it, a whole slew of date ideas will come pouring in. This is a great way to find unique dates and a method of becoming more involved in your community; a win-win for those looking to get out more.


The easiest way to find local events is to download apps such as Eventbrite, which can show you what's happening from town to town. These events can include performances and concerts, hobbies, meet-ups, fairs, sporting events, and other exciting date plans. If apps aren't your thing, picking up a local ad paper in your supermarket is another excellent way to see what's happening around you. Tuning in to local radio stations, which often advertise things like upcoming conventions, is also a great idea.

Social media sites often have groups you can join focused on finding and promoting local or nearby events, often with specialty niche groups you can join for things that interest you or your date specifically. If you don't want to get too into it, a simple online search with your town's name and keywords like "events" or "shows" can help you out. 


Cook together

Cooking together is a great way to deepen your connection and get to know your partner, even if you've been seeing each other for a long time. Cooking a meal can be fun and flirty or intimate and personal. You can set the tone for your date by deciding what you'll cook ahead of time.


For example, making a pizza from scratch would be fun and set a more casual tone. Cooking something more romantic, like a three-course meal, might feel more intimate. Selecting background music ahead of time can also significantly impact how your date feels; kitchen dance music will feel a lot different from slow, romantic songs.

The best part of cooking together is enjoying the meal at the end, of course. Even if it doesn't come out exactly how you planned for it to, it still feels wonderful to be able to eat something that you prepared together. This can also open the door to future cooking dates. As you try out the food you've created, you might find yourself saying, "Next time, we should try ..." and it's just as likely your partner will be eager to follow the thought up with their own ideas for a next date. 


Go to a local bookstore

Not only is visiting bookstores a great way to help your local economy and authors, but it's also the perfect place for a date. Local stores often have a cozy, romantic atmosphere, along with other date-like components like coffee shops, lounging areas, and other fun things all nicely rounded up for your use.


This is a great location for a first date, especially if you've met online and are meeting in person for the first time; stores are easy to find, there are people around and extra safety measures for an initial meet-up, and there are hundreds of ice-breakers just waiting for you to find them.

You can learn a lot about even long-time partners from their taste in literature, too. You may find out you enjoyed the same childhood series as elementary students, or you could discover a book you've both been meaning to read. It's a great place to learn about your partner's interests and opinions and a perfect way to tell if your intellectual types match up. For the budget-conscious, don't worry — just because you're in a store doesn't mean you'll buy anything. You can browse for hours without the staff minding at all. 


Play a game together

Board games may have been for rainy days at one point, but recently they've seen a major comeback. There are hundreds of games to choose from when it comes to the sort of mood you want to set for your date, but even the simple, more well-known games can suffice.


A deck of cards can be all you need for a date — and not just to have something to do. Games are a great way to figure out deeper personality traits about your date, as well as create a space where you can establish how you both communicate. When it comes to cooperative games, you learn how you function as a team, and for those where you go against your date, there's so much valuable information to collect.

One key takeaway from competitive games is seeing how your prospective partner reacts both to defeat and victory. While there's nothing wrong with a competitive spirit, a date who throws a tantrum over a lost game of Monopoly may be revealing how they react to other complications in life, which can be a huge relationship red flag that may save you later troubles. On the same note, a partner who takes a win with grace, or still has fun when losing, may just be showing that they're keeper-material. 


Plan a nature walk

Connecting to nature is an automatic way to feel refreshed and less stressed, the latter of which is key for a good date. Without the greater distractions of other dating venues, a nature walk gives you and your date a chance for deeper conversation (not to mention heading outdoors can help your overall health). 


Taking the time to organize a walk also shows your consideration toward your partner, along with a sense of connection to the planet that many people find wanting in their potential partners. Parks, hiking trails, and natural forests or gardens also offer a variety of atmospheres to craft a perfect date depending on the sort of mood you're trying to set.

A walk on a somewhat secluded path can inspire a sense of romance and allure, while an easy hiking trail with a good view can be inspiring and fun. For those who have been dating for a while, this can also offer a change of pace and time out of the house — a figurative and literal breath of fresh air. 

Try an escape room

There's a reason so many businesses use an escape room as a means of team building; why should it be any different for a team of two? Escape rooms offer a lot of fun, as well as a common goal to work towards together. This is a great time to get to know your date better or even just to goof around.


Not only do you get to build a good memory together, but you also get to see how your date thinks, reacts, and (if your room has a time limit) how they operate under pressure. It's also a great way to look into how your date communicates on problems and tasks.

Those benefits aside, there are countless different escape rooms to choose from, each offering a unique challenge that can off you and your partner a chance to bond and have a good time. There are rooms for varying skill and experience levels, so don't worry if you're a first-timer, either. Be sure to wear comfortable clothes, though; some of those clues might be in tricky spots to access, and you may find yourself crawling around or standing on top of things. 


Visit a museum

No matter your interest, there's probably a museum for it. History, art, science, language, and just about every niche thing you can think of — if it exists, there's probably a museum for it. The most natural date museum is likely art; paintings, sculptures, and other physical mediums can inspire a host of feelings as you tour them.


However, there are also museums you may find more thoughtful or special in the context of your date. For an out-of-this-world date, a space museum often offers interactive features or small theaters to relax and learn in. You can get more in touch with your culture by visiting anthropology or imagining a distant past in archeology museums.

For beautiful weather, many museums have gardens or outdoor components. You can also dress up or down when visiting museums, which may give you a chance to show off a particular outfit to a partner that you wouldn't be able to if you were going to the movies, for example. Of course, visiting a museum also offers the opportunity to learn and grow personally. 


Create an art project together

Deciding on an art project together can be something as simple as breaking out some paint and paper into more invested pieces, like attempting pottery. Unsure where to start? There are tons of art studios with classes, sessions, or free-use equipment ready to get you going. Not only do you and your date get the chance to let out your creative sides, but you'll also make something concrete to both remind you of your time together and display in your homes. 


Not convinced you have an artist in you? Not a problem — spin art, spill art, and paint by numbers have all got your back. Once again, you have boundless freedom when it comes to setting the mood through your choice of art project, location, background music, and conversation throughout. Just don't be afraid of making "bad" art or getting it perfect; the fun is in creating, and no one expects you to make the "Mona Lisa," least of all your date.

Attend a trivia night

You'll never be more surprised by what people know — or don't know — than during a trivia night. Attending trivia is fast-paced and exciting, and it encourages collaboration between you and your date. Best of all, you're bound to find out things about them that you wouldn't have otherwise.


The story behind exactly why your date knew that the Parker Solar Probe is the fastest man-built object to date may surprise and delight you, and you'll certainly have a few stories of your own to share. While you don't want to put too much pressure on winning, taking home a prize would be the cherry on top for the end of a perfect date.

Make sure to do your research ahead of time, especially since many trivia nights take place in bars and breweries, and be sure that the subject of the night isn't going to leave you and your date sitting scratching your heads the entire time. No one is going to know everything, but attending a trivia night based around "The Lord of the Rings" might not be the best idea if neither of you has ever seen it, after all! 


Discover a new hobby

Dancing, star gazing, poetry, playing an instrument; the romantic options are endless. What better way to spend a date than trying new hobbies together? Hobbies are as numerous as they are versatile, so there really is something for everyone, or every couple, to enjoy.


For those that are into fitness or the outdoors, a new sport may be in order. For those interested in creative endeavors, try a crack at a type of art. Intellectuals may be interested in bird watching or learning new languages. If you want to be constructive with your hobby, you could try building or restoring furniture. It's also an excellent opportunity to try adventurous things you've never done before, such as snorkeling, rock climbing, or kayaking.

For those who want a quiet night in, there are things like meditation or redecorating. Looking to expand your social circle? Gaming or scavenger hunts are a great way to meet other people together. The possibilities are endless, and if you or your partner already have a hobby, trying it together can be a great date for growing closer together and learning more about each other. 


Volunteer in your community

Nothing makes you feel more fulfilled than helping others, and making a date out of it can be a fun and special occasion. While this may not be ideal for a first date, volunteering together further down the road can be an incredibly special way to connect.


Picking a cause you both care deeply about may take a little time and research, but it's infinitely rewarding. Feeling good about what you've both done isn't just a perfect way to spend your time together; it's also something you can find pride in as individuals.

Plus, it definitely won't hurt if you plan on introducing them to the parents! Mentioning that your partner makes time with you to give back to your community is a sure way to show your family that they're a truly caring individual you can trust with your heart. Once you're done with your volunteering activity, you can grab a bite to eat as a nice reward for your efforts, all while basking in that good "giving back" feeling. 

Find your new favorite café

Grabbing a cup of coffee or enjoying brunch together may be a staple of dating, but discovering your new favorite café is even better. While it's easy to fall back on tried-and-true spots like chain coffee houses, taking the time to find your local cafés can expand both your palate and your designated dating spots.


There's a bit of adventure in trying new things, even if it's as simple as a local coffee shop, and you're likely to find diamonds in the rough if you keep searching. Some cafés double as bookstores or spots for poetry readings. You may even find more niche coffee places, like cat cafés or gaming cafés.

The best part, though, is being able to find that perfect place that you can call yours as a couple. Take a look at the ratings on the internet before you go searching if you have time, as places with a bad reputation may not be worth exploring. 

Do a movie night

Going to the movies, as exciting as it may be, can be a bit of a hassle. The prices for popcorn, soda, and candy are usually very high, and being in a room full of strangers talking over the best parts can be annoying. There's no place like home! With some planning, you can create your own movie theater at home.


Enjoying a movie together is one of those classic at-home date night ideas. All you need is a movie you either both like or haven't seen, some snacks, a comfy place to cozy up, and the time. Bring pillows, blankets, popcorn, soda, or lemonade. Turn the lights down, draw the curtains, and let the movie roll!

Not only do you save money, but you also get the added benefit of privacy, especially if you're in for a more romantic evening. The best part? You've got the pause button ready for any impromptu intermission breaks, so you won't have to run out once you need a soda refill and whisper about what you've missed the second you manage to run back to your seat. 

Go retro at an arcade

Playing video games at home is fun for passing the time, but if you really want to make it a date, find an arcade to try your hand at. You can dive into the nostalgia of the old "Donkey Kong" arcade games or try your hand at the newer racer types.


Many mega-arcades across the country also offer things like bowling and higher-quality food, neatly packing a few date ideas into one. Some even offer new-age attractions, such as virtual reality games. One thing is for sure, and that's the bounty of options to choose from to keep the good times rolling.

Reenact countless romantic movies by trying your hand at ticket-winning games, and you or your date can win a stuffed prize to gift to the other. Bring some hand sanitizer and some change, along with your appetite for soft pretzels and the sweet taste of victory.