Got a big date coming up? Make yourself the most eligible bachelor or bachelorette in town with these top notch date night ideas.
Dating can be pretty darn nerve-wracking, right? But help is at hand, because Leeds is chock-full of ways to woo in style. Whether you’re a steady Eddie or a fearless Frances, whether it’s your first or fiftieth rendezvous, these top date ideas in Leeds will help keep things fresh, flirty and fun. But while we may have the date sorted, the romancing, that’s up to you.
First Dates – Inventive Icebreakers
First dates can be a tricky balance. You want a place to chat, but you need to avoid those awkward silences. You want to show off your personality, but also discover theirs. Keep things light and breezy with these ideal icebreakers.
Mix art and beer at The Tetley
For a chilled-out date with a dash of culture, The Tetley is a must-try. As you’d expect from a former brewery, the beer is top notch. But this art deco building also has a daily menu full of local produce and a generous happy hour on weekday evenings. Once your tummies are filled, it’s time for a slice of contemporary art. Entry to the gallery is free, so you can browse the range of ever-changing exhibitions without worrying about the final bill.
Swing into action at Junkyard Golf Club
It’s frivolous, it’s fun, it’s full of neon. Welcome to the future of crazy golf. A whip round Junkyard Golf Club’s outlandish courses is one of the best date ideas in Leeds. From tropical madness to a twisted circus, each of the three themed games is a barmy assortment of colour, props and flashing lights. Sugar hits come courtesy of the equally zany cocktails, where flavours are inspired by childhood sweets. It’s so bold and brash that the ice won’t just be broken, it’ll be well and truly smashed.
Admire the view from a rooftop bar
It’s hard to beat the romance of wooing while gazing out over an incredible skyline view. And as luck would have it, Leeds’ selection of rooftop bars fits the bill nicely. The highest is Sky Lounge on the thirteenth floor of DoubleTree by Hilton. It’s a classy affair, but if you’re in need of something a little more casual for your first date, Headrow House and Belgrave Music Hall will be happy to oblige. There’s even a nifty roof terrace tucked away atop of Everyman Cinema, making it a two-for-one date night destination.
Listen to live jazz at The Domino
Get hearts a-pumping and toes a-tapping at The Domino, where live jazz serenades a few lucky few who make it inside. Just knowing about this tiny underground bar is enough to impress – it’s hidden away in the basement of Lord Barbering barber shop, so most people don’t even know it’s there. Once you find their sultry speakeasy, slide into one of the dark leather booths, treat your other half to one of the delectable cocktails and enjoy the vintage vibes. Old fashioned, anyone?
Get cultural at Leeds Art Gallery
Dating can be an expensive business, but you don’t need to flash the cash to knock the socks off your love interest. Leeds Art Gallery is without a doubt one of the best date destinations in Leeds. Not only is it free, it’s also home to world class art from the likes of Anthony Gormley and Auguste Rodin. Dedicate a lazy afternoon to wandering through the exhibits and make sure to stop at the impressive tiled hall cafe before you go. The marble pillars, ornate tiles and vaulted arches are straight from a romance novel.
Dine around the world at Trinity Kitchen
Eating out can be a bit of a quandary when it comes to first dates. You might not like the same food, hell, might not even like each other enough to stick around for the food. Luckily, Trinity Kitchen solves both problems by offering up a dozen eateries, all in one place. There’s fried chicken, Vietnamese pho, Indian wraps, plus an exciting line-up of street food stalls that change every two months. Best of all, it’s fast, so you can make a quick exit if it all goes south.
Uncover the city’s secret cocktail bars
Take a break from your usual haunts and impress your date by introducing them to one of Leeds’ lesser-known drinking dens instead. Inconspicuous doorways, subterranean hideouts, speakeasy sanctums – it pays to be in the know. And it’s not just the novelty factor that makes these hidden bars so exciting. Master mixologists, sumptuous decor and the occasional jazz night mean they’re far more than just a gimmick. Just try to stifle that creeping sense of smugness that you found it – no one likes a know-it-all.
Catch a gig at Brudenell Social Club
Got a shared love of music? Surprise your would-be lover with a night out at Leeds’ most legendary gig venue. Brudenell Social Club was a former working man’s club, but it now caters for anyone looking for a good old fashioned bop. There are no airs and graces here. Instead, you’ll find international artists rubbing shoulders with local legends nearly every night of the week. And the beer? Cheap as chips. Classic Leeds.
Play a board game at Outlaws Yacht Club
In life, there are winners and there are losers. Find out which side your date falls on with an afternoon of vintage board games at Outlaws Yacht Club. Jokes aside, this chilled-out cafe-bar is perfect for first dates. Kick back, sample their own pale ale, indulge in the 2-4-1 cocktail hour and make eyes at each other over a platter laden with local Yorkshire meats and cheeses. Fighting to the death over a round of Scrabble? That’s optional.
Paint-your-own-pot at Jackrabbits Pottery
Fancy recreating ‘that’ scene from Ghost on your first date in Leeds? You can, sort of, at Jackrabbits Pottery in Oakwood. Here, pottery painting is the name of the game. Choose from a vast selection of plates, mugs and vases before making your mark with colourful paints and tools. It’s a chance to suss out your partner’s creative skills while giving you both plenty to talk about. Ask the staff to fire your work of art and you can pick it up a week later. Something to show the grandkids.
Prepare for Flirts and purrs at The Kitty Cafe
Smitten kittens will find plenty to bond over at Leeds’ very own cat cafe. Inside, 22 furry felines await to studiously ignore you as you relax into sinking armchairs with a cuppa in hand. Conversation a little slow to start? Sox, Pebbles, Crinkle and co. provide the perfect distraction as they leap and tumble around the walkways above you. What’s more, if your date is a bust, you needn’t leave empty handed. The Kitty Cafe also has a rehoming facility, so you can have your happily ever after with Mabel or Simba instead.
Second Dates – Deal Clinchers
Okay, you’re interested. But exactly how many boxes is your new love interest ticking? The second date is the perfect time to find out – and have some ruddy good fun while doing it.
Strap in for a spot of bouldering
Once you’ve built a little rapport with your crush, it’s time to put that newfound trust to the test. And bouldering is the perfect way to do it – it’s rope-free, it’s not particularly high and it’s got all the fun of an outdoor adventure with none of the weather concerns. Climbing Lab in Kirkstall is an excellent place to try it out. But if you’re worried about the drop, you can always check out Clip ’n Climb for the same experience, with a first time feel and a vast array of challenges, all with a rope to keep your date from crashing and burning.
Do beer and bites at Assembly Underground
If your idea of a good date starts with good beer, plan your next get-together at Assembly Underground. Nestled in a spacious basement on Great George Street, this food hall-slash-brewery is a match made in heaven. There are a mammoth 50 beer taps and even a couple of cheeky ciders. Spend a happy few hours browsing through favourites and trying something new. There’s even a gin room at the back if your other half doesn’t have the same heart for hops.
Keep things fresh with strawberry picking
Old romantics, listen up – this is the date in Leeds for you. Nothing feels quite so quintessentially British as a summer’s day strawberry picking, and Leeds has a handful of nearby places for you to punnet up. All are farms, all are pick-your-own and all win serious brownie points if your companion enjoys a date with a difference. Spend time choosing the juiciest prize specimens before paying for your haul by weight. It may even lead the way to your next meet up – jam making.
Refine your palate with a wine tasting session
Sometimes, a little wine is all it takes to get the conversation flowing. But a lot of wine? That’s what second dates are made for. Leeds is home to a bunch of scrumptious wine tastings, from sophisticated talks with wine professionals at Once Upon A Vine to informal food pairings at Lazy Lounge. And if wine doesn’t float your boat, maybe these gin tastings will put the wind in your sails instead.
Try new-age bowling at Roxy Lanes
Ah, bowling. Once the realm of awkward teenage dates, Roxy Lanes has given bowling a serious makeover. Not only is it adults-only after 5pm, but gone are the days of luminous slush puppies and sticky carpets. Instead you’ll find retro stylings, pizzas aplenty and enough drinks for you to toast every strike with a different cocktail. And when one of you has emerged victorious, you can make it double or quits with a beer pong battle. Who says romance is dead?
Cosy up inside or head out to a beer garden
When it comes to dates in Leeds, you’ll often find yourself at the mercy of the weather. But, come rain or shine, a good old pub never fails to hit the mark. If drizzle is looming on the horizon, cuddle up in one of the city’s cosiest pubs, complete with roaring fires and warming tipples. And when the sun finally comes out to play? Get yourself straight down to one of the city’s best beer gardens to soak up the rays, and your beloved’s company, obviously.
Indulge in a quintessential afternoon tea
Quite frankly, cramming tea and cake into your face never gets old. It’s one of the best dates around, and Leeds is rolling in options. Will it be dainty finger sandwiches on retro tableware at Just Grand! Vintage Tea Rooms or free-flowing prosecco in sleek surrounds at Crafthouse? There are choices to suit all budgets and tastes, so what are you waiting for? Butty up.
Protect your paramour at ghost hunting
If you’re looking for an excuse to get your love interest snuggled up in your arms, why not try scaring the bejesus out of them? Simply Ghost Nights have regular stints in Leeds and it’s the ideal date for thrill seekers. Go arm-in-arm to hunt down the paranormal at historic buildings like Armley Mills, Thackray Medical Museum or Leeds Town Hall – apparently the most haunted building in the city. Whether it’s screams of laughter or screams of terror, only time will tell. Probably best to line up a stiff drink for afterwards, just in case.
Spice things up at Chilli-Shop
Got a head for heat? Hotfoot it down to the Chilli-Shop in Merrion Centre. It’s not the most romantic date idea in Leeds, but it’ll show you what you’re both made of. The hottest chillies and sauces in the world call this place home, so slowly work your way up the heat-rating system, get advice from the knowledgeable staff and see who has what it takes to stand the heat. Free tasters ensure an extremely hot date, even if it’s not exactly the kind you originally had in mind.
Do it all at Belgrave Music Hall
Combine a three-storey arts venue with first-rate live gigs, food residencies and a cracking roof terrace – what do you get? One of the best places in Leeds for a date, that’s what. You and your other half can easily spend a day at Belgrave Music Hall, hopping between the two bars, sampling the hand-stretched pizzas and scoffing the delicious burgers. By day, you can catch some rays on the terrace, by night you can settle in for an evening of live music. It’s open ’til the early hours every night of the week.
Feast on street food
Eat your way to your lover’s heart by indulging in some of the city’s best street food. It may not have quite the same ceremony as a sit-down meal, but who needs ceremony when you have the north’s finest street food vendors on your doorstep? High on your hit list should be Belgrave Feast and Eat North. Both see a bunch of independent food traders plying their wares, both are free and both open late for maximum gobblage.
Visit the meerkats at Tropical World
You know that saying, two’s company and three’s a crowd? It’s often true, but there is an exception – meerkats. Yep, the more meerkats the merrier, which is why Tropical World is one of the best dates in Leeds. Once you’ve met the meerkat gang in the Yorkshire desert you can swing by the monkeys and make a beeline for the insects, before finally landing back in the butterfly house. It’s all sorts of magical and perfect first kiss territory.
Learn to cook together
One of the best restaurants in Leeds opens its doors for cookery lessons, and it’s delicious date night material. You can master Thai fine dining at Chaophraya as they take you through your paces making two classic dishes that you can tuck into later. Once you’re ready to go it alone, pay a visit to Rafi’s Spicebox in Kirkgate Market. These guys have 30 years in the biz and will give you everything you need, including a hand-made curry mix, to whip up your chosen feast together at home.
All the Rest – Keeping the Magic Alive
Looks like you’re in this for the long haul. By now you’ve been there and done that, but we’ve got a few more date ideas in Leeds to keep you going.
Work you way through the city’s tasting menus
The city’s tasting menus are a delicious check-list for foodies, so why not work your way through them all? From Michelin-starred restaurants to meat-heavy hangouts, this is a romantic mission you can take on together, ticking off the list one date at a time. And while it won’t come cheap, it is the perfect excuse to spend quality time together as you eat the best food in Leeds. The only question is, where will you start?
Sing your heart out at Loop Bar
Usually by this time you can let your hair down a little bit. You’ve flirted, you’ve schmoozed, you’ve downright impressed. So why not give yourself a night off and scream like a banshee at karaoke? Sure, you might murder Mariah, but it’s one of the best dates in Leeds for wannabe divas and Loop Bar is the place to do it. Private booths mean you can retain a shred of dignity, while sharing pitchers like Zestiny’s Child give you the necessary Dutch courage to hit the mic.
Escape the room (if you can)
Make it a double (or even triple) date and team up with your pals to puzzle your way out of a locked room. There will be clues, props and riddles aplenty to keep you all entertained until the clock ticks down and you make your triumphant getaway. There are so many options in Leeds now that you’re positively spoilt for choice, but start at The Great Escape Room where you can take on the devil himself or get locked into a submarine.
Take a running jump at a trampoline park
The longer you’re in a relationship, the more you appreciate that variety is the spice of life, so make it your mission to try something new with a visit to Oxygen Freejumping. It’s not a conventional date, but that’s what makes it so good. You’ll jump, bounce and somersault over 120 interconnected trampolines, before taking on the inflatable air bag and giant foam pit. Fancy going head-to-head? Tackle the obstacle course – loser buys the drinks.
Do a pub crawl your way
What sort of pub-dweller are you? Countryside pubber? Al fresco pubber? Waterfront pubber? Whatever tickles your collective fancy, there’s a pub crawl to suit. Check out our selection of the best pub crawls in Leeds, get some dates in the diary and make it your personal mission to work your way through as many as possible. By the end you’ll have made many happy memories and drunk the city clean out of beer. Smashing.
Rediscover your love of theatre
If you want to keep things interesting, the theatre is definitely your friend. You’ll find an ever-changing selection of shows in the city’s theatres with everything from thought-provoking plays to West End musicals on tour. But that’s not all. Northern Ballet and Opera North produce a constant-flow of critically acclaimed work, while North School of Contemporary Dance and Riley Theatre bring cutting edge acts from further afield.
Get your walking shoes on
When it comes to budding relationships, sometimes escaping the bustling city centre is just what you need. So grab that picnic, chuck on your boots and pack your plasters – it’s time to go for a walk. You needn’t go too far. You’ll find a slew of excellent walks right on your doorstep, from reservoir rambles to woodland wanders. There’s even a 20-mile stonker for the truly hardy among you.
Get wet and wild at Yeadon Tarn
Not quite ready for your first holiday together? Test the waters at Yeadon Tarn by jumping into a range of adrenaline-fuelled watersports. There’s sailing, kayaking and windsurfing, with plenty to get your teeth into out of the water too, with 17 hectares of parkland to explore. Try a spot of BMX’ing, see who can reel in the biggest catch with a day of fishing or simply go for a wander and engage in a day of duck-spotting instead.
Put your driving skills to the test at Go Karting
Want to inject a bit more adrenaline into your relationship? Take to the wheel at Leeds’ very own indoor racing track and leave your date in the dust. Every courtship needs a healthy dose of competition, right? You won’t have the whole place to yourselves, but with over 580 metres of track to whizz around, anyone else will just be a blur. Start off with timed laps, before embarking on a 50-lap race against your date. The fastest driver gets a trophy, ‘nuff said.
Take your time over a bottomless brunch
So many date ideas centre around nights out, but what about the early birds? Bottomless brunch is a canny compromise – sort of like breakfast, but with the bonus of booze. A morning meeting is perfect for star-crossed lovers who anticipate their date will extend long into day (or, indeed, for those who’ve just rolled out of bed together). Where should you try first? Take a look at our round-up of the best bottomless brunches in Leeds. We’ve also thrown in bottomless lunches and dinners for good measure.