The best places in Calgary to take a first date this winter

Dec 12 2019, 7:00 pm

This article was written by Madeline Hosking, a recent graduate of the University of South Australia. She enjoys traveling, bar hopping, and seeking out the best pho in town. You can find her documenting her misadventures on Instagram at @madelinehosking.

Whether you met through Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, slipped into the ol’ DMs, or perhaps you met the old fashion way and caught each other’s eye from across the room… This one is for all the new lovebirds out there.

It can be super stressful trying to decide on where to go for a first date, especially if you’re new to the dating world.

We all know the struggle of when you’re trying to send out your romantic intentions to somebody and they’re just not picking up the vibes – it’s frustrating when someone can’t read your mind… and it’s even worse when you’re just so taken aback by their charisma that your date starts to fizzle out because you can’t seem to articulate a coherent sentence around them (or is that just us?)

Regardless, we’ve compiled a list of various ideas and potential places around Calgary you can take your new special someone to ensure you both have a fun time!

For the outdoorsy types

first date

Skating at Olympic Plaza (@jesse.ell/Instagram)

Olympic Plaza

There are multiple outdoor skating rinks in and around Calgary that are a great idea for a first date. This downtown rink is open from mid-November to mid-March and operates from 10 am to 9 pm every day. Rentals are available there through Skate Hut, but skating is free!
Picture this: hand in hand, skating under the twinkling lights of the Plaza, now that’s romance!

Rock Climbing

There are tons of rock-climbing places in Calgary. You can show off your upper body strength while simultaneously building trust in your partner as you belay them from below.

Below are some nearby locations:
Atmosphere Calgary Downtown – #817 10 Avenue SW
Lycée Climbing Wall – 4099 Garrison Boulevard SW
Calgary Climbing Centre Stronghold – #140 15 Avenue SW
Bolder Climbing Community – #5 5508 1 Street SE
University of Calgary Active Living – Kinesiology Complex, 2500 University Drive NW – 77 Edmonton Trail

Bowness Park Lagoon

Located in the northwest, this outdoor skating rink is unique in that it’s skating on the actual river, and also it has fire pits! There are rentals available on site run by the University of Calgary’s Outdoor Centre, and a coffee shop to provide you with a warm beverage while you’re there. Stay tuned as to when the rink will be opened, because the river may have a little bit more freezing to do before it’s officially opened for the season (you can check for real-time updates here)

Flying Squirrel

“The World’s Largest Indoor Trampoline Fun Park!” While can’t verify if this is 100%, we can definitely suggest that you take your date here and bounce your way into their heart. General admission is $20 per hour, or $30 per 1.5 hours. On Friday and Saturday night from 9 pm – midnight they have Neon Lights Night, where you can dance and jump around to fresh tracks under the glow fluorescent lights for just $25 for three hours.

Where: #105 572 Aero Drive NE

WinSport at Canada Oympic Park

Ahhh the COP… Provider of endless outdoor fun for all. Here you can go downhill skiing and snowboarding, bobsleighing, and luging, or utilize the Acura Tube Park with tickets for less than $27. The park is set to open around December 20. You can also go ice skating here; rentals are available and there is an admission cost of $6.00 for adults.

Where: 88 Canada Olympic Road SW

For those with a sweet tooth

Made By Marcus Hillhurst

Made By Marcus ice cream (@elleteedubs/Instagram)


Each of their dishes are crafted by the heart, and it’s sure to grab your darling’s, too. Their About Us page literally describes it as, “leaving you wanting more.” We hope that’s how your babe feels about you too as you lock eyes over a mouth-watering dessert.

Where: #100 933 17 Ave SW

Made by Marcus

Another delicious location sure to tickle your taste buds. There are three Made by Marcus locations across Alberta and each location provides unique, seasonal flavors of ice cream. Why not grab a cone and go for a wander down 17th Avenue to look at the twinkly lights in the nearby park, or cozy up by their window and people watch for a little while?

Locations: #121 1013 17th Avenue SW
#221 19th Street NW
#10426 82nd Avenue NW (Edmonton)

For the drinkers

Greta Bar


Greta Bar

Greta is an excellent location for a first date. Grab one of their cheap beers or cocktails and go play one of their many arcade games! It helps to take the pressure off making conversation when you’re battling it out on Mario Kart, shooting hoops or scoring goals over them in air hockey – and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition! The bartenders are wonderful, their globally inspired street food is delicious, and their in-house DJ keeps the vibes bumping. On Tuesdays, they have half price games from 7 pm to close and date nights on Wednesdays from 6 pm to close! Grab a $20 gaming card, a shareable cocktail, and a trophy for the winner.

Where: #213 10 Avenue SW

Betty Lou’s Library

The Library is a super suave speakeasy hidden away in the depths of the Devenish Building. If you make a booking, they’ll give you a password – which changes every day. Once you find the entrance (look for a blushing red light), you’ll come to an old 1920s telephone that you’ll pick up and tell the voice your password. The host will appear from behind a bookshelf before leading you into the soft glow of the speakeasy. This location is intimate and an interesting setting to take your date. It’s the perfect surprise place, sure to keep them guessing until they’re through the books and sipping on a superb cocktail. There are regular events, including jazz bands, musicians, dancers, and burlesque shows. Be sure to check out their website for further details.

Where: The Devenish Building, #908 17th Avenue SW

Cold Garden Brewery

Feeling like a beer and chilled out evening is the way to go? Cold Garden Beverage Company has you covered. Located in Inglewood, the brewery is an old warehouse that is dog friendly (heck yeah!) and boasts some damn good beers. It’s got a causal and eccentric vibe, with a ton of a weird and wonderful things all over the walls and ceiling. They’ve brewed fun flavors such as “The All-Nighter Vanilla Cappuccino Porter” and “Cakeface,” so be sure to be bold with your order!

Where: #1100 11 Street SE

Frenchie Wine Bar

Frenchie is a small, sort-of hidden wine bar. It’s tucked away behind UNA Takeaway and Bread and Circus Trattoria. They don’t take reservations, so be sure to get there early! It’s a funky little venue that provides an intimate setting for you and that special someone. They’ve got you covered for wine (obviously), beer, and cocktails. You can also grab dessert and fondue if you’re feeling at all peckish.

Where: #616 17th Avenue SW, Calgary

For the foodies

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ/Facebook

Peter’s Drive-In

This place gives us old-school Grease vibes. Peter’s Drive-In has been a Calgarian love since 1964 and is a unique place to go for a burger or dog and a shake. They provide consistently quality products and your date will likely love it as much as we do. It’s open from 9 am to midnight, seven days a week.

Where: #219 16 Avenue NE

Dark Table

Alright, indulge us in this idea… Take your prospective partner to Dark Table. A culinary adventure that will heighten your senses of smell, taste, and touch – but not sight. You’ll be able to focus on conversation and all the flavours of your meal. This restaurant employs servers who are blind or visually impaired, who will be there to help you navigate your way through your four-course meal and providing you with insight into what it might be like to be unable to rely on your vision. There are no cellphones, watches, or other light-producing technologies allowed in the dining room, enabling you to enjoy dinner the way it was meant to be enjoyed, full of flavour and genuine conversation.

Where: #731 6th Avenue SW

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ

Gyu-Kaku provides a unique way to experience your food – and your date. This person could be your future life-partner, so you may as well get straight down to it and see if they can cook. Every table has a personal grill installed and you’ll have your own server there to provide suggestions or help if needed. But basically, you’re on your own to show off those mad grillin’ skills. Go forth and fry up.

Where: #100-638 6th Ave SW

For those who just want to get down and boogie

Sub Rosa

Sub Rosa is located below the heritage building on the corner of 8th Avenue and 1st Street downtown. You’ll find the entrance under a glowing triangle symbol. Secret bars and hushed havens are fun for first dates because it adds a little bit of adventure and mystery to the evening, and awakens a child-like sensation of exploration. Sub Rosa is only open on Fridays where hip hop, rap, and R&B are the theme of the evening and Saturdays when Red Dynasty serves up deep house, vocal house, and club mashups.

Where: 8th Avenue and 1st Street

For the ones who love to game

The Rec Room

The Hexagon Board Game Café

We don’t tend to condone mind games, but board games we can definitely get behind! The Hexagon Board Game Café in Kensington has over 600 games in its library and is open seven days a week! Get the competition going over a game of Monopoly, Connect 4, or Jenga. For as little as $2.50 per hour per person, you check in, choose a game, and pay at the end. They’ve got plenty of snacks and drinks to keep you going while you battle it out… perhaps there will even be a slight accidental touch of the hand to get those sparks flying.

Where: #200 1140 Kensington Road NW

A Calgary Flames Game

What better way to form a connection on a first date than through the electric atmosphere of a hockey game? If you both hail from YYC, you can bond of the mutual dislike for the Oilers or the Canucks. It’s a stress-free way to experience a first date. Grab a beer and some popcorn and enjoy the game.

Where: 555 Saddledome Rise SE

The Rec Room

Up around Deerfoot City is the Rec Room. It’s got Canadian-inspired cuisine, virtual gaming, video games, and live entertainment. You and your date can come here, grab a pint, and indulge in the various games on offer. It’s basically your go-to playground in the north of Calgary.

Where: #1180 – 901 64 Avenue NE

For something completely Different:

Yuk Yuk’s

Are you scared that maybe you’re not as funny as you first thought? Not to worry, take your date to Yuk Yuk’s. Their shows are not censored and are guaranteed to provide a night full of laughs – even if they’re not provided by you. Laughter is contagious, so get ready to get your giggle on. These types of dates also help break through any initial awkwardness and nerves you might be feeling. You’ll both be entertained, hyped up, and in a good mood after the show, so follow it up with a couple beverages (at one of the above locations, perhaps) and lockdown that second date.

Where: #218 18 Avenue SE

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