It’s summertime, and the livin’s easy. The dating? Not so much. For a night out that’s more interesting than an air-conditioned movie theater followed by some sweaty grappling in the front seat your dad’s Buick (but still might earn you some of that!), check out our list of summer first date ideas in Philly. –Chelsea Karnash
Movies Under the Stars
It seems like there’s an outdoor movie screening happening every two blocks on any given night of the summer in the City of Brotherly Love. While not veering too far from the tried-and-true date night formula, theater-going al fresco ups the fun factor—who doesn’t love being outside on a warm night?
And the best part about these options? They’re free! And they don’t require any real conversational skills! So pack up a picnic basket, grab a blanket or a lawn chair and head to one of these temporary outdoor theaters with your soon-to-be love.
Screenings Under the Stars at Penn’s Landing
Columbus Blvd at Chestnut St
Thursdays in July and August; 8:30 p.m. or 8 p.m.
Chill out at Penn’s Landing and watch flicks that range from “The Goonies” to “The Hunger Games.”
Moonlight Movies in Mt. Airy
Lovett Library Park
6945 Germantown Ave
Fridays and Saturdays, through Aug. 16; 8:30 p.m.
For those too lazy to pack a picnic, there are pop-up food trucks and vendors just outside the park at this Friday night film series, which has expanded to include Saturday nights as well for 2014. Chow down while you watch a showing of the classic “Rear Window,” or take in something more family-friendly, such as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”
Schuylkill Banks Movie Nights
Every other Thursday until Aug. 22, dusk
Attention cheapskates: show up to a Schuylkill Banks screening, and you and your date will get free snacks and raffle tickets! Movies range from the 80s classic “The Karate Kid” to the hilarious “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” Plus, this year’s venues now include Paine’s Park skatepark and the Grays Ferry Crescent.
The Awesome Fest
Throughout the summer, times vary
For rock and roll legends and wannabes, the totally awesome Awesome Fest has curated a series of films spotlighting rock this summer. Check out everything from “Kung Fu Elliot” and “The Karate Kid” to “Riot on the Dancefloor” at the aptly-named “The Soundtrack of Awesome!” series.
Cinema in the Cemetery
Laurel Hill Cemetery
3822 Ridge Ave
Saturday, June 27; 9 p.m. ($10)
Bring-your-own-picnic (or enjoy burgers from food truck Spot Burgers!) and settle in amongst the graves for a showing of the 1962 flick “Carnival of Souls.” Cue the fear-induced cuddlefest.
Summer is the season of love, but it’s also the season of outdoor concerts. Combine the two with this date night option. For one, there are a plethora of live music events happening during Philly summers, and for another, everything is better outdoors. Noting a trend here?
Orchestra at the Mann Center
5201 Parkside Ave
Various dates and prices
It doesn’t matter whether they’re backing Ben Folds or performing Beethoven’s 9th; what does is that you can BYOB! Okay, that’s not the only reason why these concerts at the Mann are so much fun, but it’s definitely part of it. On the roster for this season? Everything from the aforementioned Beethoven to the score from “Gladiator.” And at some concerts, you might be lucky enough to see some fireworks with your ticket…which might just encourage you to make some of your own (hint, hint).
P.M. @ the Penn Museum
3260 South St
Wednesdays through September 3rd, 5 – 8 p.m.; $10
Penn students know what a gem this place is; do you and your date? Find out on Wednesday nights, when the two of you can relax in the beautiful outdoor courtyard to the sounds of a live band playing global music, then explore the galleries until 8 p.m.
40th Street Summer Series
40th & Walnut Sts
Saturdays; June 28, July 26, August 30, September 27
West Philly hipsters, rejoice: The 40th Street Summer Series is back, bringing with it semi out-there groups like Music Over Matter (aka MOM) and Nation Beat. Bonus: There are also free Ben & Jerry’s and pretzels up for grabs at each performance.
Paddling or Tubing on the Water
It’s hot as hell, so you might as well face it: There is no way you’re going to look cute for the duration of your date. While jumping into the Schuylkill definitely isn’t going to help the situation (um, ew), a kayak tour or tubing trip is a fun way to cool down without completely submerging yourself in the nastiness of our local rivers. Here are some options to consider:
Hidden River Outfitters
Want to stay within city limits? Need a little guidance? Hidden River is your pick for an on-the-water date. From classes to movie nights to brewery tours (!!!), they have a number of kayaking events scheduled throughout the warmer months, so check the sched regularly.
Bucks County River Country
2 Walters Lane
Pt. Pleasant, Pa.
Make a day trip out of your date in Bucks County. This company, one of the oldest in the area, offers tubes, canoes, kayaks and rafts for rental. Want to get really cozy? Rent a “Snuggle Tube” and go on a Tuesday for “Snuggle Date Day.”
Schuylkill River Outdoors
131 N Main St
Head to rural Berks County for a day on the water. Pick your watercraft (tube, raft or kayak), then take a 3-4 hour float down the Schuylkill.
Northbrook Canoe Company
1810 Beagle Rd
West Chester, Pa.
Rather relax and float along than brave any sort of currents? A float down the scenic Brandywine Creek is for you. Rent your kayak, canoe or tube and embark on a one to 6.5 hour trip through Chester County.
Delaware River Tubing
2998 Daniel Bray Highway (Rte 29)
Your tubing date begins in Frenchtown, NJ and ends with a delicious hot dog from the famous “River Hot Dog Man” at picnic tables along the river (because “you’re here to spend a day, not a fortune”). Set off on your choice of kayak, tube, canoe or raft—you can even strap your floats together so you don’t—literally—drift apart!
From stuff-yourself-stupid food fests to block parties and multicultural events, the Philly area has ton of festivals happening this summer. Spend a day roaming the streets with your sweetie drinking beer, gorging on goodies and listening to live music at the 2nd Street Festival in August, or take a dance class and practice your salsa moves or pop-and-lock at the Illadelph Legends Festival. A word of advice though—the surra de bunda probably isn’t appropriate for the first date.
Here are a few of the best summer fests for daters:
Eastern State Penitentiary
Because what’s better than a first date involving a prison, a guillotine and free Twinkies raining down from the heavens?
Philadelphia Zoo’s Summer Ale Fest
3400 W Girard Ave
Adorable animals, a plethora of craft brews and tasty food from some of Philly’s best restaurants provide the ingredients for one of the most awesome dates ever.
2nd Street Festival
2nd St from Germantown Ave to Green St
With multiple beer gardens, live music and a slew of vendors selling food, jewelry and art, this year’s 2nd Street Fest truly offers something for everyone.
Longwood Fireworks & Fountains
1001 Longwood Rd
Kennett Square, Pa.
Various dates throughout summer
$38 per person
Longwood’s gardens are gorgeous as is, but add colorful fountains, sparkling fireworks, live music and a sky full of stars, and they’re the stuff of a Jen Anniston rom-com. Bring or rent folding chairs (blankets are prohibited) and enjoy dinner at one of three dining venues within the blooming gardens. Bonus: The fairy-like Meadow Garden is now open!