Whether you’ve been in a relationship for a while or are going out on your first date, dating is an important part of connecting with someone. On the other hand, couples often get weary of the day-to-day routine and want to shake things up by going out to the movies or eating out at a restaurant.
Sadly, the cost of dating this way quickly adds up. If you’re going out to movies or restaurants for your dates regularly, you should consider that each date can easily cost $60 or more, which is also pretty problematic if you're currently on a budget.
Thankfully, there's a solution to this. Plenty of them, in fact. In this post, we'll show you a list of cheap (or even free) date ideas that you can use to keep the spark alive (or get to know someone better) while also avoiding going broke.
#1 Going Out For Dessert
This cheap date idea might seem counter-intuitive considering going to a restaurant can be expensive, as we've mentioned before.
But going to a restaurant just for dessert instead of a full course meal can drastically reduce the cost of eating out.
Besides, dessert is the best part of eating out, and you’re often too full to properly enjoy it by the end of a full meal. Why not take a shortcut?
#2 Cooking A Recipe You’ve Never Tried Before
Another date you could try instead of going to a restaurant is cooking a fancy meal you haven't tried before.
This should be a pretty fun activity that costs far less than actually going to a restaurant. You can cook together and have fun while doing so, or you can invite your better half over for a freshly made dinner you whipped up by yourself. It's a cheap date idea you'll definitely want to try out with your partner if you haven't done so already.
#3 Going Out On A Picnic
Going out on a picnic always makes for a great first date, and it'll let you save some money on food, with the added bonus of getting some fresh air.
All you need to go out on a picnic is to make an easily packable meal you can eat outside, and you'll be good to go. If you want to keep things as simple as possible, you can make a nice charcuterie board with a loaf of freshly-baked bread, a few types of cheese, and some fruit. It'll be delicious, romantic and memorable.
#4 Flying A Kite
Speaking of getting some fresh air, flying a kite on a date is another cost-effective way to have fun and create long-lasting memories.
Kites are inexpensive and reusable so, if you have access to an open field on a windy day, you'll want to make the most of it with your partner.
It's also a great idea to make your own kites. You'll find hundreds of tutorials online, and that way, you can start bonding even before you go out on your date. Just don't forget your phone or camera so you can take plenty of pictures and videos to relive the experience later on.
#5 Decorate Eggs In Easter And Carve Pumpkins In Halloween
Another cheap first-date idea you could do is taking advantage of the season and doing any seasonal/holiday-related activities together.
This includes activities like getting lost in a corn maze, sledding and building snowmen during the winter, decorating a Christmas tree together… The list goes on, and all of those activities are pretty fun.
#6 Go Hiking
A good way to spend time with your partner while also avoiding overspending on a date is by going hiking together. Of course, this only works if you're both into nature and being outdoors.
The good thing about going hiking on a date is that you don’t necessarily have to live near the mountains to enjoy one. Trails in your local park or neighbourhood could be enough to provide a way to spend time together out in nature, so make sure you consider this idea.
#7 Go Bowling
Bowling is a bit of a hit-or-miss cheap date idea — this is because it's becoming more expensive as old lanes are torn down, and trendy, high-end bowling alleys are becoming the norm.
However, if you're lucky enough to live near an affordable bowling alley, you can definitely take advantage of that and go on a date with your partner that way.
#8 Going To A Coffee Shop
Going to a coffee shop is a classic idea for a date that doesn't cost much money. One of its best advantages is that the comfortable and easygoing atmosphere of the place allows you to keep the date as short or long as you’d like.
Make sure you pick a coffee shop with cozy nooks and comfy chairs!
#9 Renting A Bike
Riding a bike around town is a great way to explore parts of the city you never knew before, and discovering these new places together while on a date makes it all that much more special. If you don't have a bike, renting one is a cheap solution.
Also, if you want more of a challenge, you could rent mountain bicycles to go on more rugged terrain, which would be an even tougher workout.
This option is probably best for those who are in good physical condition, because, otherwise, the strenuous exercise won't let either of you enjoy each other's company.
Few things sound more fun than karaoke night, and thankfully, it's also a pretty inexpensive idea for a date.
You could go to a dedicated karaoke place, but visiting a bar that has a karaoke night is also just as viable. You'd only pay for drinks, but you can either watch others sing or get up on the stage yourself.
Nothing beats dueting with your partner on a first date. Whichever song you choose to sing will forever be an important part of your relationship.
#11 Visiting A Botanical Garden
Botanical gardens are beautiful and a great option if you want to visit the tropics without spending a lot of money on a plane ticket.
They often provide secluded pathways and hidden benches where you can enjoy a little privacy, which can give you a much-needed break from the usual stresses of life.
#12 Having A Photo Shoot
Is there somewhere in your town that is a popular photo spot? If that's the case, then you might want to go there and have a photo shoot with your partner as a date.
The advantage here is that you don’t need a fancy and expensive camera to take great pictures anymore, thanks to how advanced phone camera technology is today. Most modern phones can take impressive pictures for a fraction of the price of a professional camera.
#13 Taking A Scenic Drive
Sometimes, a date can be as simple as going out on the open road and taking a drive without a clear destination in mind.
Every city has its own stretches of road that are just a wonder to drive through. Whether you’re driving through the woods or out in the plains, being in a car together is a great way to connect and talk while appreciating the scenery.
#14 Salsa Dance Lessons At Home
You'd think this at-home date idea would cost quite a lot of money, but surprisingly, you can learn how to dance salsa by using YouTube like in our previous date idea.
There are plenty of step-by-step salsa dancing videos aimed at beginners, and you and your partner can follow them from your living room.
Few things are as breathtaking as contemplating outer space and the millions of bright stars that are in it on a clear moonless night. Fortunately, it's also pretty cheap to do so.
The good thing about stargazing is that you can do it with or without a telescope —although, if you own a telescope, it can be a lot more fun. You can even learn some constellations ahead of time so you can impress your partner as you point them out.
#16 Having A Backyard Movie Night
Watching a movie in your backyard is an inexpensive alternative to checking out the latest movie at the theatre.
If you don’t have a projector, you can still have a backyard movie night using your laptop, even if the screen is a bit small.
#17 Camping At A State Park
If you’ve been dating a while and love spending time outdoors, then camping at a state park is a cost-effective weekend away.
Renting campsites at a state park is pretty inexpensive and just as nice as private campgrounds.
#18 Solving A Puzzle Together
Have you been struggling with a puzzle lately? Well, two heads will always be better than one.
Puzzles require communication and teamwork to be solved, unlike board games where you'd be competing against one another. So, unless you two like to be competitive, there's a lot more fun to be had with puzzle-solving.
#19 Videogame Night
For the more competitive folks out there, there's nothing better than a videogame date night.
Of course, there's also plenty of co-op videogames out there, but fighting games never fail to be engaging. It's also worth mentioning that this date idea works for double dates, as plenty of videogames have four-player modes. Hey, you could even mix things up, start with a game night, and end with a movie night.
#20 Going To The Zoo
Zoos will often have free days or discount tickets available at certain times of the year, and some zoos still offer free admission all the time. If you need an inexpensive date idea, this is a great one.
#21 Playing Mini Golf
Yet another classic but one that many seem to forget about. Even in places where there's a lot of tourism going on, mini-golf tends to be an affordable option for a date. There are a lot of downtimes to talk, and the eccentric decor is always a conversation starter.
#22 Setting Up A Book Club
If you both happen to share a love for reading, setting up a book club for the two of you can become a recurring date. It's a great way to get started with new book sagas, and you can have as much fun as you’d like with the book you choose since it’s only the two of you.
#23 Going To A Museum
Another great cheap date idea is going to the museum — after all, a lot of museums tend to have free days every month, especially in seasons where there's not a lot of traffic. You don't necessarily have to have the entire date at the museum. You can do a stopover after enjoying a good dessert or a steaming hot cup of coffee on a cold winter evening.
Checking out movies at the theatre and going to a restaurant are great ways to enjoy a good date, but they can also take a heavy toll on your finances.
Fortunately, there are plenty of inexpensive (and even free!) activities you can do on a date, whether you're on your first date, you’ve been in a relationship for a while, or you're actually married.
We strongly encourage you to consider some, if not all, of the ideas on this list for your future dates. Remember that, to avoid getting caught up in the day-to-day routine, it's much better to have 5 or even 10 cheap dates every month than to have one fancy and expensive dinner twice or thrice a year.