9 Places To Go On Your First Date In London
Parenting is a game of firsts. We have to learn quickly how to navigate first teeth, first school uniforms, first disappointments and first orthodontist appointments.
Soon – sooner than you think – you’ll be offering dating advice and ideas on fun first date ideas for teens.
Luckily, in a city like London cheap date ideas are in abundance. From foodie markets and vintage shopping to seaside day trips and romantic walks, we’ve got your teen and his or her first date sorted.
Jason is an authentic 108 year old canal boat that sets off from Little Venice throughout the day on a 45 minute journey that costs £12.
For the young history-lovers, there’s a trained guide on board who lets you in on canal history from 1800 to the present day.
If learning about London’s waterways isn’t your teens’ thing, the daters can always romantically watch TikTok videos on split headphones or play ‘Spot The Heron’.
Jason drops its passengers in Camden which is a perfect stop off for lunch – the Camden food market in Camden Lock Market is full of ever-changing options that should please everyone from ethnic-food lovers to teen vegans.
The market is a hive of vintage clothing stores, pop-up shops and regular teenage haunts.
This is a free (older) teenage date idea but feels like an expensive romantic movie meet-cute situation.
The highest public garden in London, the scene from the Walkie Talkie building is billed as the ultimate view of the city.
You’ll need to be 18, have to prebook and the security process getting into the building is a bit airport-esque, but once they are in and have been elevated up 38 floors, they’ll be transported.
The view is really wonderful while the garden itself is pretty with many seating areas to have a little cuddle on.
There is a cafe for a reviving flat white and a croissant should the teen budget extend to snacks.
On a Sunday, Brick Lane has the crowds, street art, live buskers, food, vintage fashion stores, cheap clothing knock-offs, stolen bikes and flea market finds that any self-respecting teenager and his or her date would be mad about.
It’s a place for soaking up the atmosphere and for scoffing sizzling hot dumplings, vegan brownies or bao buns. There are a few quirky galleries and market craft stalls to have a browse in.
This is the perfect open-air hand-holding promenade for the young and cool and thrifty.
V&A Museum (opens August 6)
If your kid and their crush are interested in culture, design or history, send them to the V&A for a wander.
They can aimlessly take in the riches of the museum from room to room or meet up with one of the free tours that happen on the hour.
To set the mood, you should remind them that the Victoria & Albert Museum is really a love story of a Queen and her King itself.
Throughout the collection, there are treasures that are attempts to capture romance and passion in all decorative forms, from jewellery to painting, wedding dresses and pottery loving cups.
The shop is pretty great, too.
Through a little gate a short distance north of St Paul’s Cathedral is a public garden on the site of former churchyard and burial ground of St Botolph’s Aldersgate.
In 1900 the park became the location for George Frederic Watts’s Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice – a quirky memorial to ordinary people who died while saving the lives of others.
Tell your teens to follow the path until they come to the long back wall which houses various ceramic tiles.
These tell tales of the daring exploits of people who tried to save other people’s lives, but who then died themselves in the process.
It sounds maudlin, and it is, but it is also a joyful place and a reminder of the goodness of people. Your teens might even gain a little perspective.
The Tate Modern is always a wonderful place to visit. It is free and full of the most challenging, delightful and disturbing works of art.
The Turbine Hall offers the magnificent and thought-provoking installation by American artist Kara Walker – Fons Americanus – a 13-meter tall working fountain inspired by the Victoria Memorial at Buckingham Palace.
Any teens interested in race and colonialism should see it.
Afterwards, suggest they wander back over the Millennium Bridge and find the steps down to the Thames foreshore if the tides are right.
There, on the foreshore surface, your teens can do a spot of mudlarking. Things to look out for are clay pipes, Roman ceramics, Victorian pottery shards and garnets.
If they fancy a bit of a dig, they will need permits and a pair of disposable gloves.
The largest library in the world, the British Library’s collection of books, maps, newspapers, gifts and music exceeds 150 million items with at least 3 million added every year.
For teenagers interested in literature and music, the collections are pretty special. Housed within the building you can visit Mozart’s musical diary – a handwritten notebook of his compositions.
For bookworms, you can seek out Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures Underground, Jane Austen’s Persuasion, selected works by Charles Dickens and Shakespeare’s First Folio.
For teenage Beatles fans, the library houses handwritten song lyrics on the backs of envelopes, torn out notebook pages and on the back of a birthday card meant for John’s son Julian.
For the slightly older teens, encourage them to go on a day trip date to Whitstable. It’s just an hour and half from Victoria Station and St Pancras International.
The town is completely Instagrammable with fresh sea food, annual oyster festival, an 18th century castle, shingle beach and fishing boats.
The coffee is good (tell the kids to try Grain & Hearth, and Blueprint, both on Oxford Street) and independent record store Rock Bottom Records is a hive of pre-loved treasures.
Encourage your teens to skip the loud, charmless multiplexes and seek out an independent cinema for a movie and a canoodle on a double-seater sofa.
The Everyman cinema chain has lovely little boutique-feel cinemas dotted around the Capital.
The Electric Cinema in Portobello Road (currently closed) is a glorious old theatre and has the benefit of food stalls and the market just outside. Kensal Rise has the Lexi Cinema (reopens Sept 2020) and Dalston has the Rio (currently closed) ; an art deco masterpiece.
Think back; where did you go on your first date when you were a teenager?