I'll be honest, my girlfriend and I don't go on many fancy dates. We're both at a time where we're trying to save money and we don't make a ton as it is, so we usually stick to cheap date ideas that we can do at home or outside for free.
Occasionally we'll find something cheap to do in the town or city too, but that's more of a once or twice a month thing.
While this works out great and saves us money, I've realized we do a lot of the same things pretty often. We still have a great time together, but I know changing things up every once in a while would be more exciting.
So, to step up my game and still keep things affordable, I've dug inside my mind, done some research, and come up with some cheap date ideas that I can use for the future.
Below, you'll find:
- Date night ideas
- Summer date ideas
- Winter ideas
- First date ideas
- Dates for different types of couples (e.g. teens, marries/not married, etc.)
(Ok yeah, you got me, my girlfriend helped me come up with some of these date ideas too.)
What Even Is a Date?
Before we even get into the cheap date ideas, it's important to clarify what a date even is. My girlfriend and I were talking about this the other day and it actually got pretty complicated.
According to the dictionary, a date is a “social or romantic appointment or engagement.”
You might have your own definition of date, but with that definition in mind, a date can pretty much be anything. As long as you put in the effort to plan it out, set a time, and invite the other person, you've got yourself a date.
Free or Cheap Date Ideas That Are Romantic and Fun
Yeah, you read that right. Some of these are actually FREE date ideas. That's pretty much as cheap as it gets.
1. See a Movie
When it comes to cheap first date ideas, seeing a movie is the undisputed champion. It's also a classic for teenage couples (or soon-to-be couples), and it's also one of my favorite cheap date night ideas.
Now you may be wondering, what's so great about seeing a movie?
Well, first of all, it IS cheap. A ticket is max $10 a person and you can skip the outrageously priced concession area and just sneak in some candy instead. No one will really care anyway.
Second of all, seeing movies is a lot of fun and, if it's the first date, awkward silences are filled with movie previews and the movie itself. Once the movie is over, you have something to talk about too.
Note: If you can drive, going to a drive-in theatre at night is a great date experience for first dates and beyond.
2. Picnic at the Park
This is a great daytime date idea for the summer and it doesn't matter if it's your first date or your 332nd as a couple.
Here's a checklist of things you might want to bring for your picnic day:
- Food basket (preferably filled with delicious snacks and drinks)
- A game (e.g. soccer ball, croquet, frisbee)
- A blanket
Cost: $20 for food and drinks.
3. Board Game Night
Board games rock and if you disagree you just haven't played the right ones. This date idea is perfect for really any time too: summer, winter, day, night, it doesn't really matter.
If you don't have any board games on hand, I recommend checking out thrift stores near your house as they carry them for cheap. Just make sure all the pieces are there.
Side note: There's this place near me that serves Crepes and lets you play board games while you eat. It's cheap and SUPER fun so I recommend checking to see if anywhere similar exists near you.
4. Movie Marathon
(Can you tell I like movies?)
This is another idea that's optimally executed at night time, but hey, no one is saying you can't build a blanket fort and spend a whole day watching Harry Potter. I ain't gonna judge.
If you ARE going to do that though, I'd recommend doing it during the wintertime otherwise you might just sweat to death which isn't very romantic.
5. Stroll on the Beach
For this to qualify as a cheap summer date idea I'd say getting ice cream is a sort of a requirement. You also have to let your partner lick ice cream off your face so you know it's real.
Ok, maybe you don't have to do that. No one wants to see that in public.
Cost: $5 for ice cream.
6. Have a Beach Bonfire
I'm pretty sure this is going to be illegal in most places but if it's not where you live, that's lucky! This is another fun date idea for the summer and you can enjoy your fire until the late hours of the night.
7. Watch the Stars
Something about looking up into a starry night is just romantic. If you're going to do this during the wintertime though make sure to grab some blankets.
8. Netflix and Chill
All the cool kids are doing it. Seriously though, there's a lot of good stuff on Netflix and it's a cheap subscription so light some candles and binge-watch The Office or something.
9. Cook a Romantic Dinner at Home
If you can cook a romantic dinner for your significant other there's really nothing better than that. Set up some candles, make it look nice, go all out!
Cost: $15-$30 for ingredients and drinks.
10. Build a Snowman
Bundle up together in snow gear and go build the best damn snowman your street has ever seen! Trust me when I say it's a lot more fun than it might seem.
My girlfriend and I actually spent a snowy day attempting to build an igloo and, although we weren't successful, it was still a really good time. Plus, we got to drink hot chocolate in a half-built igloo.
11. Ice Skating
I've yet to do this one because I always sucked at ice skating as a kid, but it's definitely a good one for the wintertime. Y'all can hold hands while trying not to fall and stuff.
Cost: About $5-$15 depending on the rink and if you're bringing your own skates or not.
12. Roller Skating
Roller skating is basically the summer version of ice skating so yeah. This is a great one to do at night too, especially if you can find one of those hip roller skating places that play disco music.
Cost: Similar to ice skating. $5-$15 depending on the place and the blade rental.
13. Go Thrifting
I've done this one before and it's a lot of fun just looking through the aisles of random stuff at thrift stores. Maybe you'll even find something fun to buy like an old board game or movie.
You could have some extra fun by adding rules to this as well (like this couple did). For example, see who can find the coolest thing in the store for only $5 and then compare items at the end.
Cost: If you just look around, it's free! You can find some cool finds for $1 or less as well.
14. Hit up Garage Sales
Just like thrifting but I'd say garage sales are even more fun. If you can find one of those neighborhood-wide garage sales then that's even better.
Cost: Varies (similar to above).
15. Chill By The Pool
If you have a pool already or know someone who has one then this could potentially be a super cheap (or even free) date idea. If not, you should be able to find an affordable community pool near you.
Cost: $5-$10 for admission. Free if it's a friends pool!
Bowling is good because you can do it day or night during the summer or winter. It's an all-year-round cheap date idea.
Also, it's just a lot of fun and most bowling alleys aren't too pricey. You could even do a group date if you're into that.
Cost: $20-$40 including shoe rental.
17. Go for a Hike
Going for a hike can get your blood pumping and even give you a bit of an adrenaline rush which is perfect for a first date. Plus, once you finish the hike and you're on top of the mountain, you should get a pretty romantic view.
Cost: Transportation (e.g. gas) and drinks + snacks.
18. Take a Walk
A nice long walk may not feel like much of a date but it can be pretty romantic under the right circumstances! Maybe you can go out on a warm summer night and find somewhere to sit for the sunset.
If you both like a bit of friendly competition you can download these apps that pay you to walk and then see who can earn more! Not super date-like but hey, still a bit of fun.
19. Pokemon Go Date
I don't know if many people still play this game anymore but if you both like Pokemon, go catch some together! This could add some fun to your walk date.
20. Scavenger Hunt
For this date idea, you can either set up a custom-made scavenger hunt for your significant other, or you can look for an already-done scavenger hunt to do together. Just Google something like “Scavenger hunts near me.”
You can also try this app called Let's Roam which has group scavenger hunts available all over the world. I did one of these recently with my girlfriend and it was extremely fun!
To make this date even cheaper, sign up for Let's Roam here and you'll get 300 coins for free once you make your first purchase. Those coins can be used to purchase tickets for scavenger hunts.
Cost: Varies. $20 or less is easily doable.
21. Mini Golf
This is a classic date idea perfect for day or night. It's typically inexpensive and good for all ages too. If you have a good minigolf course near you, take advantage!
Cost: $15-$20 or less.
22. At-Home Spa
Have a bath, light some candles up for extra relaxation, give each other a massage, and put cucumbers on your eyes for full immersion.
Cost: Free or $20-$30 for supplies.
Going geocaching is like going on a big treasure hunt around your town/city. To get started, download the Geocaching app, pick a geocache near you, and try to hunt it down!
Be warned though: some geocaches are extremely tough to find in my experience. Still, it's the adventure that's the fun part.
Cost: Free! (Paid memberships are available for some geocaching apps though.)
24. Watch Funny Videos Online
Sometimes you just need a good laugh. Don't get sucked into the Youtube blackhole for too long though, maybe combine this with some of the other cheap date ideas on this list.
25. Attend a Trivia Night
Trivia nights are usually either free or cheap to attend, and sometimes there are even prizes to be had! Plus they can be a lot of fun and they'll test your teamwork skills (unless it's not a team trivia game).
Cost: Typically free.
26. Play Mad Libs
This is another simple idea that can be really fun. There's even a Mad Libs app you can download on your phone to make this super easy.
27. Check Local Events
Can't find a trivia night? Check your community for other local events that you can attend!
Cost: Will vary based on the event.
28. Build a Blanket Fort
Who says you can't build blanket forts as adults? You could add this to your movie marathon date or you could just try to build the coolest blanket fort ever.
Oh, and make sure to name your blanket fort too. Every good fort has a name, just like Fluffy Town from Community (if you've never seen Community before, you should watch it).
Cost: Free (assuming you own blankets already).
29. Go Sledding
Nothing more romantic than speeding down a snowy hill together screaming your heads off. Bonus points if you can get air.
30. Go Tubing
If it's summer instead of sledding season, grab some drinks and hop on a tube together. Floating along a river or in the lake is super relaxing and romantic.
31. Try Ice Blocking
Ice blocking is another great summer date option that involves sitting on a big block of ice and sliding down a hill. Sounds weird, but it works!
Cost: However much a big block of ice is where you live.
32. Grab Coffee
This is probably the most basic of cheap first date ideas. There's a reason why it's so common too: it works. Coffee is cheap, it boosts your mood, and coffee shops have a nice atmosphere.
Cost: $3-$10 depending on how fancy you like your coffee.
33. Do a Puzzle
If you're both into puzzles, find a cool one and go at it! You could have a movie playing in the background or you could just hang out.
Cost: Free or $20-$30 if you don't have a puzzle already.
34. Make Art
Whether you're doing some craft project or just working on a drawing/painting together, getting creative is always fun.
Cost: Free! If you don't already have art supplies, this can get more expensive.
35. Camp in the Backyard
If you don't have time or can't afford a campsite, the backyard is all you really need. Make some smores first, check out the stars, and then enjoy the tent life for a night.
36. See a Cheap Sports Game
Lacrosse, hockey, soccer, have a look at whatever is near you and find something cheap. Or, if you both have a mutual friend who plays a sport, go cheer them on!
37. See a Cheap Show
Sometimes you can find cheap comedy shows or improv shows in your area just by doing a quick Google search. They could be really good or really bad but either way, it's still a good time!
38. Go Skateboarding/Rollerblading/Biking
Pick whichever one you would both enjoy. If your significant other doesn't know how to skateboard or rollerblade you can have fun teaching them how!
Cost: Free as long as you already have the equipment!
39. Visit a Museum
A lot of museums have high ticket costs but if you can find a cheap one, go check it out! Just do a Google search for “Free museums near me” and you should get some good results.
Cost: $10-$40 depending on the museum.
40. See an Art Gallery
Similar to the above, some art galleries have free admission days and others can be quite cheap.
Cost: Free or $5-$30.
41. Find a Nice View
There are some “secret” viewpoints near where I live that are great for this. Find some nice viewpoints near you, grab some fold-able chairs and snacks, and enjoy the view together.
42. Teach Her Stick Shift
This one doesn't have a real date feel to it but if your girlfriend has asked you to teach her how to drive a manual car, it could be a fun experience. It shows a lot of trust on your part too.
Cost: Gas and potential car repairs (jk…I hope).
43. Karaoke Night
You could go out to a bar for this or you could just do it at home by yourselves.
Cost: Free or $10-$20 for drinks at the bar.
44. Play Video Games
There are some great party games out there for couples. Bust out the Wii, blow the dust off, and play some old Wii Sports or something! Just Dance is another good option.
45. Have a Fast Food Date
Want to go out for food but don't want to spend much? Hit up your favorite fast food joint or pizza place, drive somewhere nice, and have a little fast food date in the car.
If you want to goof around a little bit, have a fun photoshoot with your significant other. Then laugh at your pictures later.
47. Go Karting
This is one that some people may be reluctant to try at first, but trust me, it is SO fun. Some tracks even have double carts so you can drive around with your significant other next to you.
Tip: I've found a lot of Go-Karting deals on Groupon.
48. Wine Tasting
Some wine tasting places can be really expensive but you can also find some for $5-$15 per person. If you find a wine that you really like and you purchase it they'll usually waive the tasting fee as well.
49. Water War
Having a scorching hot summer? Grab the water guns and water balloons and have a water war!
50. Snowball Fight
This is just the winter equivalent of a water war. You could turn this into a cheap group date as well and do a couple vs couple game. Keep it friendly though!
51. Couples Yoga
Have you seen those photos online with couples doing crazy intricate yoga poses like the one above? Well…you probably won't be doing those right away.
There are, however, some simple couples yoga poses you can do together that are supposed to strengthen your bond. And hey, maybe once you get good at those you'll be able to do some of the more advanced stuff too.
52. Have a BBQ
As long as you already have access to a BBQ this is another fun summer date idea. Could potentially be a group date as well.
Cost: Food and drinks!
53. Read a Play Together
Acting out a short two-person play sounds like it could be a lot of fun. I haven't done it before, but I'm definitely going to try it in the future.
If you want to give it a go, there's actually a site called Plays2Play.com that has short two-person plays made for cheap dates. Each play has some questions you can ask each other at the end too.
Cost: Free or $2-$3 for a script.
54. Go for a Swing
Seriously. Find a playground near you, walk to it, and just start swinging. You can either swing together or take turns pushing each other.
55. Head to the Driving Range
One of my digital marketing clients owns a golf course/driving range and I got some free vouchers so I'm waiting to try this one.
Even if you two don't golf, it can be a lot of fun learning together! Plus, if you don't already have some, you can usually rent clubs for pretty cheap.
56. Meet at a Bar and Pretend You're Strangers
This one won't really work for first dates (because then you ARE strangers) but for couples, it's a pretty fun idea. Just dress up and meet for the “first” time. You could even make fake names.
This idea is from a scene in a movie I saw called Four Christmases (watch the scene here).
Cost: $10-$20 for drinks.
57. Hit Up the Arcade
Arcades are pretty inexpensive so go play some skee ball and random games of luck together! See if you can rack up enough tickets for a prize.
Cost: $5-$25 depending on how many games you play.
58. Go to a Pumpkin Patch
This is a classic cheap Halloween date idea. Before you leave be sure to pick out a pumpkin (or a couple) so you can carve together afterward.
59. Find a Cheap Festival
If you're lucky you'll be able to find various cheap festivals near you for $10 or less per ticket. Some may even be free.
Cost: Free or $10-$20.
60. Do a Cheap DIY
The ideas here are endless. Just search for “cheap DIYs” on Pinterest, pick one that looks interesting, and get to work together!
61. Plan a Dream Vacation
Even if you won't be able to afford it for a while, plan your dream vacation together! Talk about the places you'd like to visit the most, what you want to do there, and how long you want to stay.
62. Visit a Pet Store
…Preferably one with actual pets in it. I have a pet store near my house with birds, hamsters, reptiles, and other things, and it's fun just to watch them. Some places will let you play with the animals too.
63. Take a Cheap Class Together
This one is a borderline cheap date idea. Some classes can get pretty expensive. If you're lucky though, you'll be able to find cheap or free classes near you, and you can also check Groupon for deals.
64. Bake Something Together
My favorite part about this cheap date idea is eating the thing at the end. Cookies, cake, muffins, yummm.
65. Play a Strip Game
People are always talking about strip poker, and while I love poker, why can't you strip while playing other games too? Strip Go Fish, Strip Yahtzee, play whatever you want!
Sometimes all it takes to have a good time is some music. Have a two-person dance party! You could also find one of those dance tutorials online and try to learn real dance moves, but I prefer to just freestyle dance (that's what I call not being able to dance).
67. Tour Your Own City
Recently when my girlfriend and I did a Let's Roam scavenger hunt in my city, I realized there's SO much cool stuff that I haven't seen IN MY OWN CITY. Go explore your city as a tourist would and I guarantee you'll have a good time.
Want More Cheap Date Ideas?
If you're looking for more cheap date ideas that still feel expensive, the best place to look for ideas is on Groupon. I've already mentioned it a few times in this post and it's because they have SO MANY different deals.
For example, they've got an entire “Things to Do” section filled with super interesting and affordable ideas. They also have deals on restaurants which you can use to make your cheap date nights even better.
There really are an endless amount of cheap date ideas out there and they can be just as fun as expensive date nights! I think the most important thing is that you're spending quality time with the one you love.
As a bonus, because you'll now be saving money with these inexpensive date ideas, you'll be able to afford to spend a bit more for an extra special date every once in a while!
PS: If you're looking for an easy way to save up for dates and other things together as a couple, check out Koho Joint – it's an easy way to share a spending account with your S/O. Read my Koho review to learn more.
The Cheap Date Challenge
If you want to do a super-date that's still cheap, combine as many cheap date ideas above as you can and try to fit them all into one day/night! Let me know how many you manage to do in the comments.
Let's hear your best cheap date ideas: Let me know in the comments some fun ideas that you've done or have thought of!