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 the RiverStage
Thursdays in July and August; 8:30 p.m. in July, 8 p.m. in August
Chill out at Penn’s Landing and watch flicks that range from “The Muppets” to “Moneyball” and “The Descendents.”
Moonlight Movies in Mt. Airy
Fridays, through Aug. 16; 8:30 p.m.
For those too lazy to pack a picnic, there are pop-up food vendors just outside the park at this Friday night film series. Chow down while you watch a showing of the 80s classic “Ghostbusters,” or even the 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony!
Schuylkill Banks Movie Nights
Near the Walnut Street Bridge
Every other Thursday until Aug. 23, dusk
Attention cheapskates: show up early to the Schuylkill Banks screenings, and you and your date will get free snacks, beverages and raffle tickets for prizes! Movies range from the dramatic “Moneyball” to the kid’s classic, “The Incredibles.”
Bistrot La Minette Movies Under the Stars
Through September; Mondays and Thursdays at 8:30 p.m., Fridays at 9:30 p.m.
Whether you’re wooing a Francophile or trying to fool your date into thinking you’ve got that je na sais quoi, Bistrot La Minette will help you out. Picture yourself in old Paris (pronounced with a French accent, of course!) as you huddle under the stars with a bottle of wine in Bistrot’s gorgeous courtyard. Bonus: Even the films are French—but don’t worry, there are subtitles!
The Awesome Fest
Race Street Pier & Liberty Lands Park
Thursdays & Saturdays through the summer, times vary
For the film buff/geek, the totally awesome Awesome Fest has curated a series of indie films straight from Sundance and SXSW, to be shown at Race Street Pier and Liberty Lands Park, as wells as at other venues throughout the city.
International House Movie Series
Wednesday, August 8 & August 22; 8 p.m.
Though there are only two dates to take advantage of this one, iHouse is showing two films—“Silent Running” and “Dark Star”—in their outdoor courtyard. Ideal for students!
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
Various dates and prices
It doesn’t matter whether it’s the Pittsburgh Orchestra or Philly’s own; 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 music of Zelda (which will have you exclaiming, “I love this level!”) to John Williams’ classics to the Philly summer standby, Tchaikovsky. 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
Wednesdays through August 29th, 5 – 8 p.m.; $5
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.
FDR Park Summer Concert Series
July 27 & August 31, 7 p.m.; FREE
These concerts are on the rock end of the musical spectrum, and performers include singer/songwriters TJ McGlinchey and Dani Mari, folk-rocker Thom McCarty and roots-rock group Toy Soldiers.
40th Street Summer Series
40th & Walnut Sts
Saturdays; July 28, August 25, September 22; 6 p.m.
West Philly hipsters, rejoice: The 40th Street Summer Series is back, bringing with it totally out-there bands like Sun Ra Arkestra (afro-futurism, with touches of outer space and Egyptian mythology—yes, really) and Adventuredrum, featuring—what else?—all kinds of percussion set to sweet dance beats.
FIREWORKS & FOUNTAINS
July 21, 9:15 p.m.; Aug. 11, 9:15 p.m.; Sept. 1, 8:15 p.m.; Sept. 29, 7;15 p.m.
$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: Longwood is all aglow this summer with thousands upon thousands of colorful light installations designed by British artist Bruce Munro—a perfect nighttime adventure for you and your date.
From hip hop fests to a day of peach-centric 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.
For a list of summer festivals, visit our guide here.
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
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, “Snuggle Date Day.”
Schuylkill River Outdoors
Head to rural Berks County for a day on the water. Pick your watercraft (tube, raft or kayak), get on the shuttle, then take a 1-5 hour trip (your pick!) down the Schuylkill.
Northbrook Canoe Company
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
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!
URBAN MINI GOLF
Because what’s more fun than laughing at each other’s awful putt putt skills? While everyone knows that Franklin Square is a go-to spot in the summer for a game of mini golf (and a post-round Cake Shake!), this year, there’s also a 9-hole pop-up course at 30th Street Station’s The Porch throughout July. And you know what the means: don’t dilly-dally—call her!
That dude you met on Match couldn’t possibly be a serial killer if he wants to go for ice cream, right? While your run-of-the-mill ice cream shop wouldn’t work as a classy date night spot, Franklin Fountain isn’t your average ice cream shop. This old school soda fountain located (fittingly) in Old City features gargantuan sundaes served up with toppings like fresh berries, marshmallow glaze, malt powder and praline brittle. All of their ice cream is housemade, and there are a number of special flavors (like Concord Grape and Blueberry) always on the roster. Peruse the vintage candy selection while the dapper servers whip up your order, then sit outside and share your sundae with your sweetie like a summertime version of “Lady & the Tramp.” Perfection, indeed!
And–fun facts!–according to research done by HowAboutWe.com, a dating service, Philly’s top 10 first date spots for this summer are:
1. McGillin’s Olde Ale House
2. Silk City Lounge
3. Franklin Fountain
6. The Trocadero Theatre
7. Philadelphia Museum of Art
8. Franklin Institute Science Museum
9. Theatre of the Living Arts
10. Penn’s Landing