The dinner-and-a-movie combo is an ok first date idea, if you’re fine with being completely unoriginal. Plus, when you’re trying to get to know someone, dinner can be incredibly uncomfortable (awkward silences) and at a movie, you can’t get to know one another at all. Here are some fun, creative first date ideas for people of all ages:
Activity: Make Pottery
Place: Northern Clay Center
Address: 2424 Franklin Ave. E., Minneapolis, MN 55406
The lowdown: Sign up for a class or workshop and throw pottery in a fun, relaxed environment.
Dates/hours: Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., closed Mondays
Fun facts: In addition to classes and workshops, there are exhibitions scheduled in the gallery throughout the year.
Tips: Free parking is available to NCC students and visitors in the west lot (between the building and the Franklin Freeze/Pita King). Free, one-hour parking is available in front of the building for gallery visitors. The back parking lot is reserved for staff and studio artists only.
Contact: 612-339-8007 • northernclaycenter.org
Activity: Play Indoor Mini Golf
Place: Can Can Wonderland
Address: 755 Prior Ave. N., Suite #004, St. Paul, MN 55104
The lowdown: Have food and drinks at the bar or play pinball before mini golfing indoors—on an artist-designed course, where each hole has its own theme. (A portion of proceeds economically supports the Minneapolis-St. Paul artist community.) Ages 21+ after 9 p.m. Thursday nights are variety show night.
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Thursdays, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Fridays, 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturdays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays *Closed Monday through Wednesday
Fun facts: In 2016, Can Can Wonderland was named “Best Art Venue” by Minnesota Monthly magazine.
Tips: Bring quarters for the arcade games (especially useful if you’re waiting to golf).
Contact: 651-925-2261 • cancanwonderland.com
Activity: Explore a (1930s-era) Gangster’s Paradise
Place: Wabasha Street Caves
Address: 215 Wabasha St. S., St. Paul, MN 55107 (along the Mississippi River downtown St. Paul, just 2.5 blocks south of the Wabasha Street bridge).
The lowdown: During the entertaining and informative 40-minute historic cave tour, learn how the space evolved from a mine to a mushroom farm to a speakeasy frequented by gangsters to a modern-day wedding venue and swing dancing site. If you want to learn about alleged ghostly sightings, there’s a “Lost Souls” tour the last Sunday of every month. Reserve a spot in the warmth of a tour bus for the St. Paul gangster tour, or seasonal (December only) “Winter Lights Tour.” If you’d like to try swing dancing, you can do that, too, on Thursdays nights from 7-10 (with a dance lesson available at 6:15). The speakeasy password is “Gus sent me.”
Dates/hours: Check the calendar at wabashastreetcaves.com for specific dates and times.
Fun facts: The bus tours are more in-depth, with costumed characters telling 1930s-era stories associated with local nightclubs, kidnappings, infamous gangster hideouts, and gun battles.
Tips: Dress warm if you’re going on a cave tour.
Contact: 651-224-1191 • wabashastreetcaves.com
Activity: Go Geocaching
Place: Fort Snelling State Park
Address: 101 Snelling Lake Rd., St. Paul, MN 55111 (off State Highway 5, just west of the main terminal exit for the International Airport)
The lowdown: According to geocaching.com, geocaching is “a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the cache (pronounced “cash,” like “cashing” a check) container hidden at that location.” Once they find the geocache, they log about it in a little logbook and then leave their own “treasure” (a small toy, a book, whatever). The rule is “take-a-treasure/leave-a-treasure.” The contents of the box should be family-friendly and nonperishable. Benefits include the thrill of the hunt and that ‘a-ha!’ moment of finding the cache, the fun of being out in nature, and the fact that it appeals to most ages and personality types. Certain state parks—like Fort Snelling—will provide you with a hand-held GPS unit for free at the visitor center.
Dates/hours: 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. daily
Fun facts: In addition to the newly developed History Challenge Geocache, Fort Snelling State Park has 18 miles of walking/hiking trails and 5 miles of biking trails.
Tips: Everything you need to know about geocaching can be found right here.
Contact: 612-725-2724 • dnr.state.mn.us.
Activity: Go Bowling & Watch the Game (at the same time!)
Address: 7520 32nd St. N., Oakdale, MN 55128
The lowdown: Have dinner at the on-site pub before bowling in 10 Pin Alley. The separate space includes private wait staff and a comfortable lounge atmosphere accentuated with music, lights, and a 56-foot video screen (typically showing sports). PINZ is also home to an arcade and multi-level laser tag.
Dates/hours: All bowling in 10 Pin Alley is by the hour, per lane. Monday through Friday – 10 a.m. to midnight $24.99, Saturday and Sunday – 9 a.m. to midnight, $34.99, shoe rental is $4.
Fun facts: The 49,000-square-foot family entertainment center opened in 2009.
Tips: There are always throngs of kids here. Be prepared. Another tip? Check Groupon for discounted specials.
Contact: 651-770-800 • pinz.com
Activity: Play Games at a Retro-Arcade Bar
Place: Up-Down in Uptown
Address: 3012 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55408
The lowdown: Classic arcade games for only a quarter (where else can you still play pinball or Nintendo 64?!), decent house-made pizza, superb craft beer selection with 60 beers on tap. With the fun, lively atmosphere, you don’t have to be a gamer to love this place, but you do have to be 21 to enter.
Dates/hours: Monday through Friday 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Fun facts: You get free tokens on your birthday!
Tips: Thursday through Saturday is busy, busy, busy (long lines). Try to go during an off-peak time when it’s less crazy and you can take advantage of specials.
Contact: 612-823-3487 • updownmpls.com
Activity: Go Green
Place: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Address: 3675 Arboretum Dr., Chaska, MN 55318 (4 miles west of Chanhassen)
The lowdown: If you’re a nature lover, this is your place. Explore the peaceful outdoor landscape along a 3-mile path and—when in season—check out the breathtaking botanical gardens of the Arboretum, open 363 days a year. As one reviewer commented, “Being from the country, this was like a mini wilderness recharge for me.”
Dates/hours: Daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (grounds), 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – Visitor Center + Snyder Building
Fun facts: In the winter, when there’s enough snow, the arboretum is a draw for snowshoers and cross-country skiers. The arboretum features 11 miles of trails that allow visitors to enjoy more than 1,000 acres of woodland, prairie, wetland, and open fields. *If you don’t have your own pair of snowshoes, you can rent them from the arboretum.
Tips: There is no admission fee at the Arboretum every third Monday of the month from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Otherwise, fees are $15/person ages 16 and up (free for U of M students and those ages 15 and under). *During the holiday season, according to the website, “Take in the enchanting displays of outdoor lights, installed in nearby gardens and entrances, all within close proximity of accessible viewing areas. Open special hours on Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays, Nov. 24-Jan. 1, from 5-8 p.m. Additional hours Tuesday through Thursday Dec. 26, 27 & 28, 5-8 p.m. Free to members/$15 gate admission for non-members.”
Contact: 952-443-1400 • arboretum.umn.edu