First dates are often awkward and nerve-wracking, but they needn’t be boring. Have fun and learn something new with these out of the box date ideas.

Go out for dumplings

Dumplings are always a reliable first date option. Some of the tastiest are at China Red and the several Shanghai Street restaurants around the city, including 342 Little Bourke Street, 360 Bourke Street and the new 303-305 Elizabeth Street. Psst, this one has a tiki bar if you want to up your evening with cocktails. Or BYO wine from Blackhearts & Sparrows in Melbourne Central’s dining, art and music precinct, Ella.

A bamboo basket with steamed dumplings inside.
Shanghai Street

Test your teamwork in an escape room

Work together and crack puzzles posed by Melbourne’s best escape rooms. Make it a double date and bring a team along to Trapt for journeys through the wonderful world of Oz. Dial up the fear factor to explore the paranormal world of Annabelle at Lost in Melbourne. Or use your critical thinking skills to unlock the Odditorium at Escape Hunt.

Have a romantic rooftop experience

Come for the city views, stay for the gorgeous food and great company. Show them you’re in the know by leading them to QT’s Secret Garden hidden rooftop bar. Glowing lights, vibrant art and a bottle of prosecco create the perfect ambience above the city. Or head to Melbourne’s newest (and highest) rooftop Fable. Cosy up in an intimate booth for a romantic evening of cocktails and Mediterranean share plates. 

A rooftop bar with a neon mural, festoon lighting and yellow umbrellas.
QT Secret Garden

Eat at the Summer Night Market

Take the stress out of choosing where to eat and visit the Summer Night Market. There are dozens of options to please every taste, shops to peruse, and free live music. It’s on at Queen Victoria Market every Wednesday from 5-10pm until 6 April.

Go ice skating

O’Brien Icehouse is fun for all ages and experience levels. Plus, it’s a great excuse to hold hands! Newcomers can take a free 15-minute lesson before hitting one of the venue’s two rinks. There are also regular themed nights, including R’n’B night on Fridays.

Explore Presgrave Place

Find some of Melbourne’s most unique street art in Presgrave Place. Spy small sculptures and kitsch frames among larger works. After taking in the sights, have a classic cocktail at Bar Americano, hidden at the end of the street (look for the blue Tabacchi sign). With room for only 10 standing patrons, it’s one of Melbourne’s smallest but most awarded bars.

A laneway covered in bright street art and a red bicycle.
Presgrave Place

Explore Melbourne’s galleries

There are several small galleries in the CBD that host regular art exhibitions – many of which are free to attend. Flinders Lane Gallery, Tolarno Galleries and RMIT Gallery are all within walking distance of one another, making for a leisurely daytime date.

Pack a picnic

Make a day out of sampling some of Melbourne’s finest gourmet food. Queen Victoria Market and Spring Street Grocer both sell delicious picnic snacks such as cheeses, pastries, and rolls. After purchasing, find a secluded picnic spot to relax and enjoy. Better yet, hire a GoBoat and take your picnic on a cruise down the Yarra River.

A couple sitting on the grass in a park overlooking the city skyline.
Queen Victoria Gardens

Attend a workshop

Learn a new skill while getting to know your date by attending a workshop together. There’s often classes happening at the Library at The Dock in Docklands, the Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre in Carlton and Laneway Learning in the Nicholas Building. You could get your hands dirty with some clay hand-building or test your artistic prowess in a portrait drawing class.

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Last updated on Tue 18 Jan 2022

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