Tired of the classic movie and dinner date night combo? Us too. That's why we're always on the hunt for new things to do, scouring the city for not-boring Melbourne activities — ones that are guaranteed to take your next date way beyond done-before beers at the pub. Whether you're taking someone on a second date or doing your 100th with your significant other, we've got some killer (and, yes, cute) ideas for dates to go on this week, no matter how much money you've got to spend. Just think of us as your cultural wingman. You're welcome.
SEE A FREE COMEDY SHOW AT FRINGE
This year's Melbourne Fringe invites you to swap your usual reality for something a little more lighthearted, with its 2018 theme, which embraces the playtime in everyday life. And you can do that at the CBD's Highlander. It's holding free stand-up each Friday and Saturday night of the festival — and it's entirely free. The program features a lineup of up-and-comers and shows run at 7pm, 7.45pm, 8.30pm and 9.15pm each night, so you can either go before or after dinner.
PLAY A FEW 'FRIENDLY' ROUNDS OF MARIO KART
It's time to whip out your console of choice and start practising — QV Melbourne and its surrounding laneways are about to be transformed into an old-school arcade wonderland for its new retro gaming festival, from this Friday, August 31.
A live competition will pit everyday gamers against professionals across a four-week Friday night knockout series, and there will also be weekly heats of Super Smash Bros if you fancy getting serious. But if you don't want to show your cutthroat competitive side just yet, we suggest hitting the pop-up gaming arcade. It's open daily from 11am–7pm throughout the festival and stocked with all the favourites: Mario Kart, Pong, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong and heaps more. There'll also be a pop-up Nintendo-themed candy bar, to sweeten the deal.
TRY SALTED EGG CUSTARD SNOW BUNS
Manila's TuanTuan Chinese Brasserie has opened its first Australian eatery in Melbourne. It focuses on French-accented Hong Kong comfort food — think soups, congee, curries and other Macanese classics. But there's one true star of TuanTuan's menu sure to have fans flocking and that's the famed signature 'snow bun' — a riff on the Chinese favourite xue shan bao. Pillowy soft in the centre and topped with a crisp streusel-like layer, these beauties will be sailing fresh from the oven every hour. The Melbourne menu boasts four varieties, including barbecue pork, salted egg custard, almond cream and pineapple.
Every Friday evening, once Scienceworks' usual working day is done, adults can come out to play at Planetarium Nights. That means sitting in the reclining chairs, looking up at the 16-metre domed ceiling, listening to the 7.1 surround sound system and soaking in the best the full-dome video projection system has to offer. It's ripe date territory.
Alien invasions, dives through black holes and more are also on the Planetarium Nights bill, as is a What's In The Sky Tonight tour through the night sky by Museums Victoria astronomer Dr Tanya Hill. The latter forms part of the 7.30pm sessions, which focus on astronomy, while the 9pm timeslot is all about mind-bending blends of science and art. Making things even better is the fact that there is a bar, so you can grab a drink, take it into the auditorium and sip while you watch.
ONE BIG BLOWOUT
LEARN HOW TO MAKE GNOCCHI TOGETHER
Surely the only thing better than sitting down to a big bowl of gnocchi on date night is having the skills to make it yourself. And the gratitude that follows.
To make it easy you can enjoy the best of both worlds at one of 48h's monthly gnocchi making workshops. You'll be welcomed to the pizza and gnocchi bar's South Yarra outpost with a coffee before you're handed your apron and put to work. And of course, you can't have a culinary masterclass without some good old-fashioned food appreciation, so you and your date will also sit down to a lunch of prepared-earlier gnocchi and a glass of wine.
The morning's activities will set you back $70. Alternatively you could do the glass in preparation for a date that night — you'll be given a goodie bag with all the ingredients you need to make it from scratch with your newfound skills.