This gateway city for Devon and Cornwall is an ideal meeting point if you’re from opposite ends of the county – or even country. If you’re not familiar with the area, you’ll find it easy to navigate – not too big and not too small – with plenty of fantastic places to hang out and get to know each other a little better. Here’s our rundown of the best places for a first date in Exeter.
9 best places for a first date in Exeter
Whether you’re planning a daytime meet up, a romantic evening, or a more energetic activity, we have a range of suggestions to suit your needs.
#1 The Plant Cafe
Meeting over a coffee is standard fare for a first date. But instead of picking a mainstream chain, opt for an indie spot. If you or your date is vegan – or if you simply prefer organic eco-friendly produce – this is a superb choice. Arrive in plenty of time to be sure of a seat, and in nice weather, you can grab a table alfresco.
#2 Dr Ink’s Curiosities
This multi-award-winning vintage-themed cocktail bar provides some of the city’s most eclectic libations including the exotic Tyger Tyger and Carnival recipes, along with the all-British Queen Vic’s Punch. Each has a story to tell, offering a talking point for you and your date. And if it goes well, you can order some antipasti and another round.
#3 Cornwall House outdoor pool
Perhaps you’d prefer a little more activity on your first date. Get the blood pumping with a refreshing outdoor swim at the University of Exeter’s own outdoor pool. It’s open to the public and surrounded by lush greenery. This is an ideal solution if you’re short on time and need to combine your workout time with your date. And you can check out their fitness levels while you’re at it. Don’t confine this option to the warmest days either. You’ll have even more fun laughing, splashing and shrieking when the air’s a little chilly.
#4 Exeter speed dating
Save time and money by squeezing many first dates into a single night out, at a speed dating event in Exeter. These fun nights are held at the sophisticated French styled Cote Brasserie. Enjoy a glass of wine, beer, or some bubbles while you get to know some new people in your age group, from your local area. With a host taking care of proceedings, all you need to do is turn up, so there’s no date pre-planning to worry about.
#5 Pinces Gardens
Should you desire a picture-perfect, quintessentially romantic setting for your first date, make it Pinces Gardens in spring. At this time of year, the 45-metre Wisteria arch is in full bloom. Wander the length of the stunning 19th-century pergola, as the sun glints through the branches and soft pink petals shower you like confetti. The gardens are well worth a visit throughout the year, not just during the spring months and are a charming place to take the air along with a gentle stroll.
#6 Exeter Quayside
For those who like an outdoor setting with a little more hustle and bustle, there’s the Quayside. This attractive waterfront area is a city highlight, boasting a mix of contemporary and modern design. It’s suitable for a brief amble (ideal if you’re not well acquainted with your date), which can then be extended into stopping for a coffee, dinner, or even to hopping on a boat trip. If either of you is interested in antiques and collectables, there are plenty of intriguing boutiques to view in the vicinity too.
Whether you’re planning to meet for breakfast, lunch or dinner (or it might turn into all three if a morning meeting goes really well), Hubbox has you covered. It’s best known for its mouthwatering burgers made using dry-aged beef from Philip Warren of Launceston and is perfect for a casual bite to eat with no frills or fuss. There’s a delicious range of gourmet burgers and plenty of gluten-free, vegan and veggie options too. The vibe is trendy, local and ethical, with a focus on great quality grub.
#8 Exeter’s underground passages
Whilst we wouldn’t suggest you go wandering underground alone with someone you barely know, this activity is done in groups. A guided tour is a great way to spend some time together without the intensity of a purely one on one situation. These vaulted medieval walkways designed to carry water, are rich with stories of wars and sieges, plague and pestilence and are the only of their kind in the UK. If you or your date is claustrophobic it might not be the right choice (so do check with them first). Otherwise, this makes for a fascinating and unique way to spend your first hour together.
#9 The Secret Garden at The Agricultural Inn
Enjoy a ‘slice of Devon heaven’ at this pretty traditional 18th-century inn on the rural edge of the city. If a sit-down meal seems a little formal for your first foray into dating, come here for Asian street food. The menu includes poke bowls, Hirata buns, kimchi and Korean fried chicken wings. It’s an outdoor affair with orchard views, although if the weather does turn, you can always head into the indoor pub. And with food items at The Secret Garden costing anything from £3-£11, it’s good for all budgets.
Are you looking for a suitable person to take to one of these best places for a first date in Exeter? Consider trying speed dating in Exeter to meet single people. If you live further afield in Devon, why not book a space at speed dating in Plymouth. Or if you’re over the border, take a look at our speed dating events in Somerset.