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 Melbourne’s newest (and highest) rooftop, Fable. Cosy up in an intimate booth for a romantic evening of cocktails and Mediterranean share plates. Then bar hop around nearby Pomelo, QT and Her.

A group of four people dining at a table on a rooftop bar
Fable rooftop

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.

Brunch along Guildford lane

A rare pocket of Melbourne’s industrial heritage, Guildford lane is a secluded green oasis. Cycle on down the lane and park your bikes at Cat Cafe. Cuddle up to the kitties before moving onto a delicious brunch at Krimper. It's not a date without dessert, head to Shortstop Coffee and Donuts. Try the triple matcha cake donut or go for the crowd favourite vanilla bean.

People walking down a leafy city laneway into a cafe.
Guildford Lane

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, Science Gallery and RMIT Gallery are all within walking distance of one another, making for a leisurely daytime date.

Plan a summer picnic

Enjoy a picnic-date out in one of Melbourne's scenic spots. Perhaps the banks of Ornamental Lake in the Royal Botanic Gardens, or the sun-soaked Queen Victoria Gardens where you can take a stroll to the hidden Lake Waterfall. Once your location's locked in, pick up the picnic essentials from Melbourne's best local delis and general stores and graze all day. Think epic DIY cheeseboards, ready-to-eat bento boxes, mascarpone stuffed figs and antipasti for days. Don't forget a bottle of vino!

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.

Belly laugh at comedy shows

Start the weekend with a laugh, there's plenty to be had around Melbourne. Head to Coopers Inn, grab a beer and enjoy the show. The weekly gigs showcase the best local, interstate and international stand-up comedians. One of Melbourne's most vibrant spots in the comedy scene is Spleen Bar. Spleen has seen everyone from Wil Anderson, Arj Barker, Dave Hughes to Fiona O'Loughlin drop in. Comedy Republic is the iconic and unique theatre bar with great comedy all year round. Their stage is home to stand up, sketch, improv, live podcasts, plays, storytelling and so much more.

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