Conventional dating sucks. You know it, I know it. This author recognizes that the word "date" in the English language is fraught with connotations, usually negative. The standard, culturally approved date consists of dinner and a movie. The dinner consists of sitting around with a stranger and trying to impress them with your accomplishments and conversational ability. Then, the (un)lucky couple goes to a movie for two hours. They might have an interesting, emotional experience, but it isn't with each other. Its with the movie. Most conventional dates either fail or get in the way of the couple making a connection.
Dates should be active and fun. Don't be afraid to show some personality by taking your date somewhere unusual. Here is my list of off-the-beaten-path date ideas for Shanghai. Please note that the city changes quickly and this specific information may go out of date, however, the ideas will still be valid. You do need to do your own research to see what current conditions are like.
Archery is a very Zen activity. You clear your mind, fire the arrow, and then aim. Its simultaneously easy but difficult enough to do well that you have work at it. There are clubs in Shanghai and they are not very expensive. I recommend Da Shun Archery on Fuxing lu.
Explore a forest park
Tired of the city? Oh yes, you are. Scattered around Shanghai are a ring of forest parks. These are larger than normal parks and afford more privacy and room to explore. Forest parks come with activities like paddle boating and usually have some street food and restaurants. I recommend Binjiang forest park, She Shan (not technically a park), and Dong Ping park on Chong Ming island. Please note that all of these are full day trips.
Check out the galleries
Art is like a Rorscharch test. What you like and respond to says something about you. Why not take your date out to see some art and test them a bit. In Shanghai, Red Town is your best bet for a relaxed stroll with a high density of galleries. Also, the sculpture part is outstanding and there are a few cafes and restaurants.
China went through a roller disco craze in the 90's, and some of these bizarre throwbacks can still be found around town. Usually they involve a bit of drinking, renting some old school skates, some terrible pop mash-ups, and a couple of near death experiences. So, yeah, basically fun for everyone. I recommend Minxin roller disco in Putuo district.
Hookah (or Shisha) is a middle eastern water pipe for smoking tobacco. Its a highly sociable activity and will get you a little buzzed if you are a non smoker. I recommend either Perry's locations. They are fun, grungey, down to earth, and filled with interesting (and "interesting") people.
Korea has an amazing sauna culture, and a trip to one is guaranteed to make you feel better. Its also a great way to hang out naked with strangers. It's OK though, they segregate bathing areas by gender. There is also a common area where people hang out, eat, drink, watch TV, and relax. The sauna is a great pick-me-up during the winter. I recommend the New Star franchise.
Those are my creative date ideas. I've had some success with all of them. Feel free to contribute others in the comment section.