First dates can be awkward, a little scary and, worst of all, sometimes quite dull. Instead of the usual dinner and a movie, or an evening spent at a bar, why not take in a ball game, or better yet, go somewhere you can play a game? How about a picnic in the shade of a castle, or a night at the theater, or an afternoon with Mark Twain? There are a lot of options unique to those on their first date in Connecticut, and here are just five suggestions for those who want something different to help break the ice.

The Ballpark At Harbor Yard
500 Main St.
Bridgeport, CT 06604
(203) 345-4800

“Take me out to the ball game” is not just an old song; for many it is a wish if not a command, and a great way to spend a first time together. While a day or evening at a major league ballpark can be quite expensive, the seats at the home field of the Bridgeport Bluefish, one of four minor league clubs in Connecticut, cost only a few dollars more than a movie ticket. There is ample parking and ample choices for food, from sit-down dining at the Harbor Club or Marina or casual dining at the Beer Garden, to the traditional food court which offers couples hot dogs, popcorn, pizza and other fare to take back to their seats. There is even a picnic area for those who want to pack their own meal. The Bluefish have day and night games and the stadium has plenty of parking.

Gillette Castle State Park And Mansion
67 River Road
East Haddam, CT 06423
(860) 526-2336

What young girl hasn’t dreamed of being a princess in a castle, and what little lad hasn’t pretended he was a knight, walking the battlements of a stone fortress? A day at Gillette Castle in the Connecticut state park of that name will certainly awaken those musings, and offers any pair on a first date a chance to live in a fairy tale, and to spend time together as they leisurely walk its majestic hallways, stroll through its beautiful grounds and enjoy the majestic view of the surrounding Seven Sisters Mountain Range and the river valley below. The castle was built about a century ago by the famous actor William Gillette, who like many of the Victorian Age had a fondness for the days of yore. He was also a man of modern times, however, and the castle is furnished for comfort and show, and includes his collection of railroad memorabilia. There are picnic and camp grounds nearby, for those who want to extend their date to include a meal or even a night under the stars.

The Mark Twain House And Museum
351 Farmington Ave.
Hartford, CT 06105
(860) 280-3130

For those whose date may have a fondness for or interest in literature or history, a visit to Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford will break the ice and ease the awkwardness of a first outing. The house is beautifully furnished and houses an excellent collection of the great writer and humorist’s works. The tour guides are friendly and knowledgeable, and have many amusing anecdotes to share. For those who want to give their date a bit of thrill, there are ghost tours and ice cream socials, as well as Clue (as in the mystery game) tours and other special events available on select days and evenings. The museum is situated on Farmington Avenue, an area known for its unique restaurants, allowing a couple to easily plan a before tour lunch or after visit dinner.

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Nomads Adventure Quest
100 Bidwell Road
South Windsor, CT 06074
(860) 290-1177

Not all first dates have to be spent sitting down. Sometimes the best way to break the tension is to get up and move, and at Nomands Adventure Quest in South Windsor there are a lot of ways to do just that. Nomads is a huge indoor fun land with its own rock climbing wall, bounce house, laser tag area, mini-golf course and more. There are more than 60 old school and modern arcade game machines, as well as billiard tables and even a bumper car ride. Refreshments are available for those in need of break in between playing games or going on rides. Nomads is a great place to act like a kid, and to bring a smile to the face of your date.

The Warner Theater
68 Main St.
Torrington, CT 06790
(860) 489-7180

Recently redecorated and upgraded, the Warner Theater in Torrington offers a couple out on their first date an evening of music, dance, comedy or drama. The theater books national acts, like Bill Engvall and Vince Gill, brings in Broadway musicals, and offers a venue for symphony orchestras, ballet troupes, rock bands and others in the arts. There are several delightful restaurants within a block or two of the theater, notably Backstage, Dos Amigos and The Venetian, just to name a few.

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Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at