My rules for constructing great dates:
1. First Date? Never Go Somewhere You Haven't Been to Before
The most vital rule of creating a great date experience.
You won't be that guy trying to get your Google Maps to give you directions. You will know if a place sucks. You will know what to order. You will know what to suggest to her. Always visit a place beforehand by yourself or with a friend. Talk to the waiters and bartenders. Ask them what nights are busy so you can avoid them. Ask them what they like on the menu, remember their names, try a few plates and drinks out. When you finally take a date there, you put them at ease instead of looking like a clueless jackass. Speaking of ease...
2. Alcohol Required (In The Beginning)
I am very anti-lunch or coffee dates for the first couple dates. Those don't sound like dates, those sound like situations where your friend from high school is in town. Early in the dating game, both parties will be nervous. Alcohol is the solution. It will put you both at ease. If you don't drink, I can't help you here. This is how I do things.
Just remember this rule so you don't get sloppy drunk.
If you know you can have one more drink, but two will push you over the edge, stop.
3. Something PG + Alcohol = Adult Fun
You know what's funner than having alcohol on a date? Having alcohol on a date during the day.
One of my favorite dates my girlfriend and I went on: We went to a bar at 11am, got drunk, went to the Museum of Natural History and headed to Shake Shack afterwards.
4. Activity + Betting (And Why Not, + Alcohol)
This bumps up the fun factor of seemingly average dates while increasing your opportunity to make moves. Bowling, ping pong, pool, archery (see photo above), Chuck-e-Cheese games.
Make it competitive and bet. Add some drinks for a wild card factor.
Loser buys dinner. I get a strike, I get a kiss. Loser yells something self-deprecating out loud in public. The crazier the stakes, the funner.
Bonus: it makes you a lot more likable in the event you lose and follow through with the stakes.
Ah, nothing like a man of his word.