From playing a round of outdoors crazy golf to walking around the city’s eerily beautiful cemeteries, here are some alternative first date ideas that don’t break London’s tier two lockdown rules.
First dates are nerve-racking enough, but London’s tier two lockdown restrictions have just made them even more of a minefield to navigate.
We can’t stay in a bar, restaurant or pub past 10pm thanks to the curfew. And we can’t even step foot in an indoor venue with someone outside of our household or social bubble anyway.
This means that the “let’s grab a few drinks at the pub” date, along with that tipsy midnight snog, is well and truly dead. And, unless you’re prepared to sit outside in the cold, the coffee date is no more.
So what can we actually do on a first date in London? It’s time to get creative, embrace a bit of romance and think of new ways of getting to know that person you just matched with.
Play outdoor crazy golf
Head to Plonk in east London for a round of crazy golf with a cocktail from the bar. The 9-hole outdoor course is just opposite London Fields park in Hackney, a short walk from the Overground station. There are no household restrictions and groups of six can play the game. Happy putting!
Walk around a cemetery
Sure, walking around a bunch of old gravestones might not sound like the most romantic thing to do. But London is home to some pretty magnificent cemeteries that are actually eerily beautiful and fascinating to walk around. You can stroll around one in famous spots like Nunhead, Highgate, Kensal Green, Brompton and Abney Park.
Take a tour of London Mural Festival
Download a London Mural Festival map, wrap up warm, grab a coffee and take your date on an arty tour around London. Over 200 artists have painted murals from Walthamstow to Wembley Park, with over 75 large-scale murals and activations. You can expect futuristic bridges, giant portraits, canal boats (if you can find them), theatres, gable-ends, air-vents, council estates and some of the biggest, brightest and best murals in the world.
Spot deer at Richmond Park
No matter how old you are, there’s still something special and exciting about spotting the deer around Richmond Park. And, let’s be honest, it’s also pretty romantic. However, you need to keep your distance during rutting season and stay at least 50 metres away from the deer.
Discover Epping Forest
First things first: you absolutely are not allowed to pick mushrooms in Epping Forest. But it can be fascinating walking around and spotting all the different types in this ancient, vast forest – especially when the trees you’re getting lost among boast an autumnal palette.
Meet in the Horniman Museum and Gardens
The Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill is home to 16.5 acre gardens, including the Grasslands Garden, Sunken Gardens, Medicine Garden and Prehistoric Garden. You can also discover the Clocktower, the Conservatory and more on the Architectural Walk. You’ll of course have to meet and stay outside, but you can easily spend a couple of hours exploring.
Find an outdoor heated terrace
Stylist’s lifestyle writer Megan Murray recently rounded up the best London restaurants and bars with heated outdoor terraces – and it’s an essential source of information for first-daters who want to sit down for a drink or some food. Pergola Paddington is just one option, and the beautiful floral terrace is basically made for Instagram. Just remember to keep your one metre+ distance.
Stroll around Hampstead Heath
Pandemic or no pandemic, walking around Hampstead Heath is always a great idea for a first date. Make your way up to Parliament Hill for a view of the city below, watch the brave souls taking a dip in the cold ponds and do some serious dog-watching.
Indulge at a street food market
Maltby Market. Broadway Market. Borough Market. Berwick Street Market. Camden Market. Boxpark Shoreditch. Netil Market. Pop Brixton. London has got all the best food markets. Soak in the atmosphere, grab some delicious street food (and maybe a drink) then find somewhere to sit, munch, people watch and chat.
Of course, you should remember to wear your face mask, keep your distance, and stay safe. Socially distanced first dates aren’t exactly ideal, but you can still have fun and, if you think about it, they’ll definitely be memorable.
Top image: Getty