It’s easy to keep conversation on a date going when you’re a drink or two in – but are there really sparks, or is it just the alcohol talking? More and more Aussies are looking at sober dates, with Bumble’s research finding that 77 per cent of Australian singles believe sober dating sets you up for better connection. And luckily, and there are options beyond just dinner or a walk in the park. From collecting art in local markets to getting down and dirty (literally), we’ve rounded up five date ideas that promise a memorable experience, minus the awkward silences and the hangover.

Get fired up at a pottery class

Sculpting a plan for your next date night? A spin on the pottery wheel is a great way to be silly, get messy and show off your hidden talents – or lack thereof. Doing a class together gives you plenty of time to discuss your masterpieces offers an opportunity for playful banter. You can exchange your creations and keep each other’s pieces after, or make it a competition: whoever makes the wonkiest vase buys dessert.

Brush up on your romance with some painting

A painting date is less about the final product and more about shared laughs, and brush strokes that make you ask, “What on earth is that meant to be?”. You can give it a bit more structure by booking a class together, or buy the paint, brushes and canvas yourself to DIY at home for a more intimate feel (plus, you can BYO snacks). At the end, you’ll either have a cute paint-splattered keepsake from a great date, or a hilarious memento you can laugh about with friends. Either way, it’s a win.

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Shop for a connection at a buzzy market

For a different take on the usual coffee-and-a-walk date – but one that’s not a full-blown activity – grab a takeaway cuppa and walk through one of Melbourne’s many markets. Peruse the fresh produce at a farmers’ market (and pick up ingredients to cook a meal with your date at home), find the quirkiest items at a secondhand bazaar, or support local artists at a makers’ market like the Rose Street Market in Fitzroy (and you can head around the corner after to check out the Bumble mural). The eye-catching art, homewares and fashion – and the colourful street art all around the area – provide plenty of conversation starters. If things go well and you want to keep the date going, there are plenty of cafes and shops to explore.

Lay the picnic blanket out on the grass or sand

Picnic dates are criminally underrated, and Melbourne is blessed with plenty of spots to choose from. These dates are low-pressure (and cheaper than a meal or snack out) but also high-reward as you test to see if their conversation skills are as sharp as the cheese knife. Will they impress with homemade hummus, or will you cringe when they offer an already-open bag of chips? (True story.) And don’t forget the activities. Frisbee, card games and people-watching are all on the table (blanket).

Dig into a garden date

Do you dream of finding someone to put roots down with? A gardening workshop at Ceres Farm lets you weed out your incompatible partners , get your hands dirty with your date, dig a little deeper into your connection and see if anything else blooms (aside from the flowers). Or you might meet someone at Ceres’s Weed Dating sessions – it’s like speed dating but you’re crouched in a veggie patch instead of sitting at a table for two. It’s casual, earthy and practical – and it might just plant the seed for something more. After that, stop by the farm gate store for a well-deserved pastry and continue laying the groundwork for a bountiful harvest.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Bumble.