Falling in Love: 10 First Date Ideas Perfect for Fall

Photo by Kate Perkins

There’s something about hot August days and cold September nights that make falling in love easy. Maybe it’s the sea of new faces on campus, or the momentary peace before our schedules fill up with projects and exams, but this season always feels ripe for romance.

The key to a perfect date is entertainment and opportunity. If this is your first chance to spend some alone time with your date, it helps to have something to engage in that relieves pressure and fuels the conversation. This is the entertainment factor. But too much entertainment can become a distraction. You need to find a balance of fun and relaxation so that you have the opportunity to talk and get to know one another.

If you’re struggling to come up with anything better than “Netflix and chill”, we’ve got you covered. Here are ten tried and true date ideas that will have you two off the couch and into a relationship before you know it.

1. Catch a Game

Baseball is one of the best sports to watch on a date. It has all the fun of a football game, without the long lines and screaming fans. Plus you can rock your favorite baseball cap. Next week is the State College Spikes’ final string of home games, but you can look forward to some other fall sports like men’s soccer and women’s volleyball kicking into gear soon.

2. Play a Sport

Prefer to get in on the action? Tennis is a great one-on-one game, and is relaxed enough that you can keep up a conversation while you play. If you’re looking to get a little closer to your date, you can improvise with soccer or touch football. Playful tackling is great, just try not to dislocate anything.

3. Take a Walk

If you’re new to campus, pick a spot on the map and find it together. Getting lost is half the fun and can lead you to places you never would have found otherwise. If you’ve been around awhile, take your date to some of your favorite places on campus and share stories about the memories you built there. This is a great way to enjoy the final warmth of fall and get to know a little more about each other.

4. Have a Picnic

You can keep this date simple by packing sandwiches or ordering takeout, but if you’re up for a challenge, stroll through the farmer’s market with your date and pick out a fresh meal. You can purchase delicious homemade bread and pies from the Amish families. Bonus points if you buy fresh ingredients and then cook the food yourself. Extra bonus points if you buy your date fresh flowers.

5. Learn Something New

This date takes guts, but it’s well worth the risk. Penn State and its numerous clubs offer all kinds of lessons, most of which are free if you are attending them for the first time. See what your date is into and then sign up! Whether you’re looking to sweep them off their feet at salsa class, or try your hand at some arts and crafts, you’re bound to have a great time trying something new. Or at least you’ll share a laugh when you realize how terrible you both are at pottery.

6. Stop and Smell the Roses

This date is simple and totally Instagram-worthy. Start off at Berkey Creamery and order some delicious cones. Next stop- arboretum! It’s the perfect distance to walk and talk and finish your ice cream before exploring the garden and all its beautiful Fall flowers. You can take pictures of the plants, stop and smell the roses, or my favorite, look for the most awkward plant names and proceed to call each other those names. Why settle for “babe” or “honey” when you could be calling each other something much more romantic like, “sausage tree” or “banana plant”?

7. Dinner & Show 

This date is an absolute classic, and a great opportunity to dress up for each other. Start by grabbing food someplace cozy and quiet (Hint: The Tavern Restaurant is fancy and offers unlimited sides). Then get creative with your show. Movies are easy but overdone. Instead, buy tickets to a play or a concert. State College is home to numerous theaters and attracts everything from touring Broadway shows to Kanye West. You can even catch a free performance by on-campus talents like one of our many dance teams or acapella groups.

8. Climb the Mountain 

Climbing Mount Nittany is something every Penn Stater should do before they graduate. But doing it with a partner is a lot more fun. Not into walking uphill? Head to Tussey Mountain and check out their Fun Centre. They have a ton of awesome activities to choose from like go karts or zip lining.

9. Horseback Riding

If you have a car and feel comfortable around large animals, there are several stables near State College that offer lessons and trail rides for every skill level. Buffalo Run Farm even offers a special date night trail ride which is BYOB. What’s more romantic than literally riding off into the sunset together?

10. Evening Drinks  

As fun as a night out can be, this version of evening drinks is even better than the bars. Pack a blanket and a thermos of hot chocolate or warm apple cider and head for someplace open and quiet. Then cuddle up with your warm drinks and stargaze. Not a natural astronomer? Shooting stars are easy to spot, and there’s no rule against inventing your own constellations.