The best and worst first date locations, according to experts

One matchmaker doesn't believe the coffee shop is an ideal first date location. (Getty Images)
One matchmaker doesn't believe the coffee shop is an ideal first date location. (Getty Images)

There's plenty to think about when you're about to go on a first date. Will they like me? Will I like them? What do I wear? But topping this list of stress-inducing conundrums has to be where shall we go?

A recent survey of 2.250 UK adults placed going for a romantic meal as the top choice for the perfect date activity, hitting the mark for over three-quarters of respondents, while a nature walk or a trip to the zoo were also considered good get-together options, ahead of the more traditional cocktail-bar date.

Interestingly, however, some of the more traditional suggestions for a first-time meet up aren't necessarily the locations professional matchmakers rate as top places for romance to blossom.

"I personally don’t like coffee dates," match-making expert Siobhan Coplan told thortful. "I find them a little too formal, and coffee shops are often overcrowded, so it feels uncomfortable to be meeting someone for the first time, queuing up for 10 minutes to get a hot drink, and then you may not even get a seat!"

So with one of the most common dating locations off the table, how do we go about picking somewhere to meet for the first time?

According to relationship expert, Stacy Thomson, founder of REDDI, choosing where to go is almost as important as who to go with.

"Selecting the perfect venue for a first date is vital, as it sets the tone for the entire interaction," she explains.

"Opting for a relaxed setting with limited pressure can help ease nerves and encourage open communication."

Going for a dog walk together can be a good idea for animal lovers. (Getty Images)
Going for a dog walk together can be a good idea for animal lovers. (Getty Images)

As a matchmaker, Thomson says she prioritises selecting first date locations that align with the personalities and preferences of both individuals.

"It's important to choose something fun and low-pressure, allowing for organic conversation and the opportunity to form a genuine connection," she says.

"By choosing the right first date location you can set the stage for a memorable and enjoyable experience."

With that in mind, we consulted the relationship experts to give a run down of some of the best and worst places to have a first date.

The best first date locations:

1. Talking in a local stroll

Exploring the a certain location together can be a really good way to get to know someone. "Whether it's strolling through a park or wandering the bustling streets, a leisurely walk provides ample opportunities for conversation and connection," Thomson explains.

2. Going on a dog walk

If you're both pet lovers, arranging a dog walk can be a fantastic first date idea. "Not only does it give you something to do together, but it also provides a natural icebreaker and allows you to see each other in a relaxed, natural setting," Thomson adds.

3. Mini golf

According to Thomson a date at the mini golf offers a playful and interactive environment, perfect for breaking the ice and having fun together. "It's a relaxed setting where you can engage in friendly competition and share laughs while enjoying each other's company," she says.

4. Go to an art gallery

Visiting an art gallery provides an opportunity to stimulate conversation and explore shared interests. "You can discuss various artworks, share your interpretations, and learn more about each other's tastes and preferences in a relaxed setting," Thomson says.

Activity-based dates can be a good option. (Getty Images)
Activity-based dates can be a good option. (Getty Images)

5. Opt for an activity-based date

An activity-based date gives you a focal point of discussion and helps you to be present. "It also ensure you don't go into interview mode, asking a bunch of questions which can be quite intense," XX advises. "If you are someone who gets quite anxious on dates, a dinner date will increase your nervousness and intensity, while on an activity date you can focus on the fun."

Thomson suggests taking a cooking class together as a great way to collaborate and create something delicious. "Working side by side in the kitchen encourages teamwork and communication, while also providing a fun and memorable experience to bond over," she adds.

The worst first date locations:

1. Cinema date

While watching a movie together can be enjoyable, Thomson says it is not an ideal choice for a first date. "Sitting in a dark theatre limits opportunities for conversation and getting to know each other, making it difficult to gauge compatibility," she explains.

2. Inviting them home

Suggesting someone comes to your home can feel too intimate and presumptuous, potentially putting undue pressure on both parties. "It's essential to establish a comfortable and neutral setting for initial meetings," Thomson advises.

3. Hiking alone

While outdoor activities can be fun, Thomson says going on a hike with just the two of you can pose safety concerns, especially if you're still getting to know each other. "It's best to save adventurous outings for later dates when you're more familiar," she adds.

Posh meals can be too pressurised for a first date location. (Getty Images)
Posh meals can be too pressurised for a first date location. (Getty Images)

4. Going for a posh meal

Opting for an overly fancy restaurant creates an air of formality and pressure, potentially detracting from genuine interaction, Thomson advises. "It's best to choose a more relaxed setting for the first meeting to ensure comfort and authenticity," she adds.

5. Meeting the parents

It may sound obvious but prematurely introducing family members, such as meeting parents on a first date, can add unnecessary stress and formality to the initial encounter. "It's advisable to keep the first meeting between the two individuals to maintain a more relaxed atmosphere," Thomson adds.

Tips for choosing a first date location

1. Meet at the venue

Copland recommends meeting at the venue of the date rather than at the station. "Unless you are planning to stand by a clock tower with flowers, it is totally unromantic and stressful to be looking for someone in a busy crowd, to then wander around hoping to find somewhere," she adds.

2. Think about eating

While Copland suggests a full dinner date is more suited to a time when you're more familiar with each other, she believes having the option to eat something is important. "Ensure there is the option to get a nibble as hunger can change our moods quite significantly," she suggests.

3. Pick somewhere familiar

“The best approach is to make your first date as comfortable as possible," Copland suggests. "Nerves are always involved, and anxiety can spread to simple factors such as if there is enough room to sit, if you can hear each other talk, or even the cost of the date. "I’d recommend picking somewhere familiar, somewhere you know the layout and atmosphere, so you can comfortably tick off that element of the date."

4. Try to limit the alcohol

Getting drunk could give you a false idea about the person you’re with, Copland warns.

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