Words and photography by Harriet Lowbridge
So much pressure is put on first dates, they can make or break any potential relationship no matter how much chemistry you’ve had brewing in the flirting days. But, you’re stuck on where to actually go. Who hasn’t been there? Especially when you want to make a decent first impression. So, if you need some inspiration, here’s my guide to some simple but amazing first dates in Cardiff city centre.
Anyone can take you for a movie, or for a quick Maccies and have a half decent time. In reality though it’s just too easy. Why not step your game up and go for bowling, drinks, and food? My partner and I revolved many of our first dates around a little competition, a couple of rounds of bowling is a great way to spark a little challenge (as well as attraction) between yourself and your partner. So why not challenge your date to show you up at some bowling at Play at Pins off the side of the St David’s Centre? A little competition to get any date off to an exciting start. Plus, you can set challenges: whoever loses buys dinner or drinks. It’s a great way to either show off your athletic skills by trouncing your date or show off your genteel side by “letting” them win. It’s a win-win scenario for you. Then when you’ve had some fun and worked up a proper appetite, they offer a huge spread of amazing food (not to mention cocktail classes) to suit anyone. Your date will be over the moon and mooning for you in no time.
Maybe you just want to go for something sweet and simple instead? Why not go for a stroll around Bute Park? There are dogs to meet and play with, or ice creams and coffees throughout to purchase at either the Summerhouse Café or Pettigrew Tea Rooms. You could take a romantic stroll around the riverside or under the trees. If it’s ended up being a hot day, grab some cheap water guns and have a water fight in the park. Or you could dress to impress and treat your date to a homemade picnic beside our very own Cardiff Castle. Throw together a pasta salad, mini sandwiches, fruit salad, crisps, some chocolates, your drinks of choice and drop to a local bakery or café to get your favourite cakes or pastries. Whatever you fancy goes and will impress any date with the amount of thought and effort you’ve put in. A day out just strolling through the park and taking in the nature is a nice chilled way for the pair of you to relax on your day off while really getting to know each other. You can people watch or come up with stupid questions to get your dates brain working and find out the random bits there are to know about them. The world really is your oyster here.
Let’s say a peaceful, daytime date isn’t what you’ve got in mind. This is a date you want to properly wow. In that case what could be better than an evening meal and stroll around Cardiff Bay. You can get glammed up and hit the town for a few drinks or a great meal at any of the waterfront restaurants or bars in Cardiff Bay. My personal favourite is the outdoor tables at Pizza Express. You can grab a fantastic meal while watching the lights, and/or moonlight if you’re lucky, shining on the sea. Whether you like pizza, pasta, salads, something vegan or just the sweet treats at the end, Pizza Express makes for a simple but effective way to impress your date any night of the week. It’s a little out the way if you live city centre but an uber, bus or even train will get you to the waterfront in minutes and you can show off your romantic side with an evening stroll along the pier. You can even bring your date for a simple ice cream or lunch and still make a great first impression with this top-notch date spot.
Let’s say you want to get festive with the holiday season fast approaching. One tried and true way into any holiday lover’s (or Christmas grinch’s) heart is the Cardiff Winter Wonderland found along Park Place. A gorgeous grotto is set up every year, so it’s a must see for any couple looking for a date night. Start your night, as we did, buying disgusting Christmas jumpers from any clothes shop in town (bonus points if it lights up and/or flashes)- the uglier the better for these jumpers. Then head straight to the wonderland for maybe 7/8pm. The night will be dark, you’ll be cosying into those hideous jumpers and you can start the night with a warming crepe, mulled cider, or roasted marshmallows. With restaurants galore there are hotdogs and burgers among the cornucopia of fantastic holiday treats. Once you’ve finished on the rides, treat yourself to the candyfloss and carnival games to win your date a prize. You can show off your skills (or lack thereof) in the ice-skating rink, or have an evening falling over- either way will be fun. Then to top off a picture-perfect evening, take a Ferris wheel ride for two with a warming hot chocolate covered in cream and the Christmas lights twinkling all around you. This Christmassy date is sure to set a twinkle in any date’s eye.