First dates are usually awkward, but they can be especially rough in the winter, when your options are limited by cold, snow and lack of daylight. Here are some winter-friendly ideas for a first date in Philadelphia. –Chelsea Karnash
Ice Skating at Blue Cross RiverRink
Columbus Boulevard at Market Street
The Blue Cross RiverRink is the only outdoor ice skating rink in Philly, and its Penn’s Landing location makes for great (read: romantic) views. This year, the rink is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a very special Waterfront Winterfest, which includes a warming tent and pop-up restaurant (open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays). Plus, on Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to midnight, there’s a live DJ taking requests, and on Valentine’s Day, the rink hosts three “Sweetheart Skates” from 7 p.m. to midnight. But be warned: While you don’t have to be Johnny Weir to have fun on this first date, ice skating does require a sense of humor.
1001 Longwood Road
Kennett Square, PA 19348
Though Longwood’s Christmas celebration is over, there is still tons going on at the gardens. The Longwood organ—one of the largest Aeolian organs in the world—was restored a few years ago, and there are concerts and musical performances scheduled throughout the winter months. Not to mention, of course, the gorgeous 1050 acres of indoor and outdoor gardens that you and your date are free to explore.
1 Riverside Drive
Camden, NJ 08103
Who doesn’t love the aquarium? Cute marine mammals, colorful fish, scary-but-fascinating sharks…Okay, I may be slightly biased (one of my better first dates was at an aquarium), but it’s hard to think of a better wintry date venue than the aquarium. Aside from all of the adorable and interesting creatures and the soothing (dark…uh, water-y) environment, there’s so much going on around you that the first-date awkward pauses aren’t as noticeable. Trust me.
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
1020 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
The Magic Gardens are a half-block of beautiful mosaics by local artist Isaiah Zagar that feel…other-worldly. Aside from a fully mosaiced indoor gallery, there’s also a massive outdoor labyrinth (all mosaic, of course), newly revamped “interpretive” tours that include a visit to a not-open-to-the-public second site, and indoor mosaic-ing workshops with the master himself. Because one man’s junk is another man’s treasure…and a great ice breaker.
Bowling at North Bowl or Lucky Strikes
909 N. 2nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Lucky Strikes Bowling Alley
1336 Chestnut Street
While it may seem swanky to take a first date to the lounge-esque North Bowl or Lucky Strikes as opposed to going to your local lanes, one fact remains: everyone looks like an idiot in bowling shoes. They’re loud, they’re dirty, they’re ill-fitting…they’re fabulous. And they cut the edge. Plus, bowling is probably the least sporty sports-date you can go on, not to mention one of the most fun.
Eastern State Penitentiary Winter Tours
2124 Fairmount Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19130
How fitting—a prison for your first date. Gives you an idea of what you’re in for.
Just kidding. While it might sound a tad grim, anyone who has visited Eastern State Penitentiary before knows just how entertaining and interesting a dank, crumbling, creepy prison can be. During the winter, the Pen runs tours (from December through March), and the small group size of under 25 people keeps the atmosphere intimate. Bonus: This date runs the horror movie date gamut, with plenty of “I’m scared” opportunities to move closer to your date. Only you’ll get bonus points for originality.
A classic date night option? Head to one of Philadelphia’s many bars with fireplaces or firepits, where you can cozy up and get to know one another.