Published on Meld Magazine, read the original article here.

WANT to impress that cute girl? Meld reporter Marcella Purnama drops some not-so-subtle hints for guys wondering what to do on the first date.

romantic in a springtime

FIRST DATES are scary. You only have one chance to make a good impression, otherwise the girl you’ve been crushing on for a day/month/year might never call you again.

One of the keys to a good first date is picking the right spot. That’s no easy task. Melbourne has thousands of places you can take a girl for a first date, but if you get it right, you’ll be well on your way to securing a second date.

But first, the rules:

The rules of a first date are always the same. First, never choose a fine-dining restaurant. Yes, it’s a good way to show a girl you have cash, but it’ll also make you look ambitious and obsessive. Not to mention, make us girls even more nervous.

Second, no fast food restaurant or movies. We want to get to know you better, not just hang out like friends would. Don’t make us have second thoughts about whether we made a mistake agreeing to go on a date with you.

Third, always be on time. Girls like to be treated with care and picking us up on time from our homes shows us you’re a responsible guy.

Fourth, pay, pay, pay. You don’t need us to remind you that you’re the one who is taking us out in the first place, do you?

Fifth, and most importantly, prepare beforehand and do your research!

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are three awesome ways for sweeping the girl you’ve been crushing on off her feet.

1. Casual meal with a perfect atmosphere and good food

The way into a man’s heart is through his stomach, but the way into a woman’s heart is by immersing her in a great environment. While guys ask, “What’s for dinner?”, girls ask, “Where should we go for dinner?”, and then wonder about a restaurant’s atmosphere, how comfortable the seats are and how crowded the place is.

There are plenty of cosy spots in the Melbourne CBD, but it may be fun travelling a little further afield (treat it like a mini excursion), exploring suburbs with lots of character. Streets such as Lygon St in Carlton, Errol St in North Melbourne, Brunswick St in Fitzroy; and Acland St in St Kilda come to mind.

Remember the earlier tips about doing your research? Make sure to check out the menu beforehand so you know it’s within your budget (you’re generally looking in the order of $30 to $40 per person), and it’s also impressive if you know what the restaurant’s signature dishes are. If you’re a bit of a wine connoisseur, show off your prowess by suggesting a glass of wine that would complement her meal.

Photo: Shaun Lee

If you’re headed to North Melbourne, try Auction Rooms on Errol St. The cafe is a spacious warehouse with brick walls, dim lighting, light music and the perfect ambience for a first date. The ocean trout salad is a winner, fresh, light, but tasty, and great with a glass of white wine. Plus, it’s light enough so you’ll still have room for dessert. If you’re thinking of something more substantial, try the wagyu steak paired with a glass of red wine.

For some finger-licking good, there’s Oskar Pizza just down the road. The bull boar sausage pizza is to die for, and for vegetarians, the roast pumpkin and pine nut pizza is a great option. The place is small and cosy – so it’s best that you make a reservation.

And finally – whoever said a first date had to be over dinner? To keep things casual, why not do breakfast? Melbourne is well-known for its chic cafes, hearty breakfasts and silky smooth coffees/chai lattes/hot chocolates.

2. Picnic in the park

Girls like a guy who is full of surprises and original ideas. So guys, if the girl you’re asking out is outdoorsy, plan a picnic in the park, complete with a picnic mat, blanket, some macarons, a cheese platter, canapes (or make your own sandwiches or finger food), a light dessert wine (or maybe a lemon, lime and bitters), two plastic cups, two water bottles, napkins, wet towels and some board games, just in case you don’t know what to talk about.

Nympheas Lake at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne. Photo: Toby Ord

Start the date by picking her up and heading to the Royal Botanic Garden or another garden of your choice. The Royal Botanic Garden is a nice, historical place with colourful flowers and a beautiful lake in the middle, so it’s a winner for a first date.

Again, don’t forget to scout out the ultimate picnic spot beforehand.Pick someplace not too quiet or too far from the crowds – you don’t want your date to think you’re a sleaze trying to get up to some hanky panky – but someplace not so noisy you’re straining to hear each other. You want to choose a spot near the flower beds or perhaps the lake. Again, do your research. It will annoy the girl if she has to traipse around a huge park looking for the right place to picnic.

Depending on what you buy, picnics could be easier on the wallet, and $20 per person could go a long way to planning the perfect picnic.


3. Quirky, but fun activities

There are some girls who like shopping and high-end restaurants, but there others who would much prefer a wild, out-of-the-box experience. For the quirky and fun girl, I’d suggest Scienceworks, but you could also pick the Melbourne Zoo or the Melbourne Aquarium.

Scienceworks is a great place for a first date because it has plenty to keep you occupied, from guessing optical illusions to playing ‘mini-sports’ and seeing how long you can keep your balance. Scienceworks is also a great place to break the ice. Plus, if you’re struggling for conversation, there’s always the planetarium or the spectacular lightning room.

Just a side note though, the food at Scienceworks isn’t anything to shout about, so take her to the popular brunch spot nearby, The Duchess of Spotswood, instead. Just five minutes walk from the museum, The Duchess of Spotswood has top notch coffee and a great menu.

All in all, be prepared to set aside around $30 to 40 per person for a day at Scienceworks (remember to bring your student card for concessions) including lunch.

In the end, what a girl really wants from a guy on a first date is to know that he’s made the effort to impress. Choose somewhere that you’ll know she’ll like or enjoy going to. Then make sure it’s an experience she’ll remember forever.

Know of other great first date places in Melbourne? Share them in the comments box below!