The biggest change that The Sims: Hot Date makes to the base game is adding the Downtown sub-neighbourhood which includes a variety of new restaurants, picnic areas, beach lots, shops and picnic spots. At any time sims can ask another sim to go Downtown with them and they will make a trip to one of the lots in the new sub-neighbourhood. When sims go Downtown the game generates a random of group of sims to fill the Downtown lot called Townies, however, if a sim forms a relationship with a townie (be it positive or negative) they become a permanent character in the game. If The Sims: House Party is installed certain 'party' items will also appear Downtown and if The Sims: Unleashed is installed Downtown lots will have amenities for pets and may sell items to aid sims in their gardening.
Hot Date also furnishes players with a number of new 'Build Mode' items and adds new jazz tracks to the game soundtrack, composed by saxophonist Marc Russo. As well as new interactions that sims can make with objects Hot Date adds over 40 new social interactions that sims can make with each other and makes conversation a slightly more complex affair by adding 7 new interests: romance, exercise, food, parties, Hollywood, technology and style. In addition it is also the first Sims expansion to add separate "Daily" and "Lifetime" relationship meters. The expansion also changes the organisation of the 'Buy Mode' interface to make it easier to navigate and removes the need for players to turn lights on and off manually, automatically turning lights on or off depending on whether there are sims in the room.
Restaurant Staff- The restaurants in Downtown are run by a staff of maitre d's, waiters, waitresses, chefs and busboys. For the most part they exist only to keep the Downtown environments in working order.
Minstrel- If your sims are eating in a restaurant the minstrel may come and serenade them with a song, however, if not tipped he can try and spoil your sim's date by taking out a glove puppet and mocking them in front of their date.
Miss Crumplebottom- A grumpy, old woman who lurks around Downtown areas and scolds sims who try to make romantic interactions.
Claire the Bear- A humanoid bear who sometimes wanders onto residential lots and goes rifling through sims' rubbish. She will also interact with teddy bears or bear-skin rugs. Her trash-looting causes piles of rubbish to be dropped around the trash can, lowering the environment score outside a sim's house until the trash is cleaned up.
- Expansion packs much like The Sims: Hot Date exist for The Sims 2 and The Sims 3 and are called The Sims 2: Nightlife and The Sims 3: Late Night respectively.
- Much like in the Vacation Island neighbourhood from The Sims: Vacation the Loch Ness Monster can be seen swimming off the coast of the Downtown neighbourhood.
- Miss Crumplebottom (not to be confused with Mrs. Crumplebottom) also makes an appearance in The Sims 2 and 3 where her backstory is fleshed out greater and it is revealed that her first name is Agnes. It seems that Crumblebottom's prudish attitude is due to a bitterness she has held after her husband drowned on their honeymoon.
- One of the streets in Downtown is called Wright Way. Besides being a possible play on the phrase 'right way' it is also a reference to The Sims creator, Will Wright.
- It was rumoured at one time that Claire the Bear from Hot Date would appear in The Sims 2, however this transpired to be incorrect.
- The Tragic Clown makes an appearance in Hot Date, hanging around anywhere that has a Tragic Clown burger restaurant sign. He appears upset that the restaurant chain has stolen his likeness and is using it for their own profit.
- A glitch existed in Hot Date which could make the game crash when sims married Townies. The glitch was known as the 'Urban Renewal Loop' and would occur when the game was trying to generate a new Townie to replace the one being married and moving away from Downtown. This glitch was eventually fixed in The Sims: Makin' Magic.