Update: We have just posted a new blog post called 25 Frugal Valentine’s Ideas That Won’t Make You Look Cheap. It is worth a read too.
Have you noticed how expensive it is to go out on dates these days? Even if you’re going Dutch to dinner-and-a-movie, you need to pay upwards of $10 for your movie ticket and a minimum of $20 for your own dinner (without drinks). That’s not even considering the money you’re paying on gas to get to and from this date. As all of us try to decrease our spending, the dating arena can seem like an obvious place to cut corners. But that doesn’t mean that we should stop going out on dates. Our lives need some romance in them! We just need to start being more creative in finding low-cost dates that fill our lives with fun but don’t severely damage our finances.
Whether you’re in a relationship that needs some romantic rekindling or you’re a single person looking for a swinging good time, these 30 creative date ideas should bring a low-cost spark back into your world.
- Free factory tours (Free Beer). There are all types of different factories that offer free or very low-cost tours of their premises. Microbreweries are great for this, they are educational and you often get free beer samples, and who can say no to free beer? If free beer is not your thing there are also factory tours for places ranging from chocolate shops to piano makers.
- Cook a low budget meal together. If you’re not meeting a stranger for a first date then it’s safe to get together in your kitchen and cook a terrific meal together. If you choose dishes and ingredients wisely, it costs a lot less than going out to dinner. Plus the act of cooking together will add romance and creativity to the night.
- Free classes and lectures. There are all sorts of free classes offered in most communities and they often make for great dates. Learn to host your own television show at a Public Access TV training session or get the basics of a language down together at the local library. Free event lectures are also great for learning together on a date.
- Art gallery openings. You don’t have to absolutely love art to have a great date at one of these events. They offer free wine, snacks and a place for conversation. Who needs more than that?
- Stargazing. When was the last time that you took a blanket out into the yard and cuddled up to look at the stars? It’s one of the most romantic activities out there and yet we often forget about it. During the day, find shapes in the clouds together.
- Home improvement projects. The DIY lifestyle is one of the best ways that people save money in their lives but it’s a whole lot more fun when you’re not doing it alone. You and your sweetie can get together and make bookcases or frame magazine photos for art or reupholster old furniture together and you’ll probably find that you have a really good time.
- Penny arcades. These places have made a comeback in recent years. They don’t always cost just a penny anymore but you can play games for a long time on less than $20 which is a whole lot less than more modern arcades.
- Student screenings and shows. If there are colleges in your area, there are free student events. Fashion programs have seasonal fashion shows. Art students have gallery showings. Film students screen their work. Go see this stuff with someone you like a lot.
- Parks. The park is a great place for good dates. Challenge yourself to visit every park in your city or state so it’s even more of an adventure. Or spend some time playing around on the playground for a nostalgic good time.
- Play dress up. You love getting all dolled up before a big date, right? Skip the expensive date part and just play dress-up together. Take digital photos in fancy clothes and costumes and have fun daydreaming about where you’d be going if you were going out.
- Free music. Concerts are expensive but there are a lot of small venues that have live music for free. Find the places in your area that offer this because it makes for a great cheap date.
- Throw board game nights at your home. Sometimes the best dates are group dates. Get together with the people you know on a regular or semi-regular basis and have everyone bring some board games for a great time together.
- Open mic poetry nights. Coffee shops and bars around the nation host weekly open mic poetry nights that are fun to attend. Be a good date and write a love poem to read to the person that you’re taking to this event.
- Go nature hunting. Head to the beach together and search for the perfect seashell on the sand. Or go to the countryside and find the best wildflowers for a tabletop bouquet. If you’re not a fan of taking things out of their place in nature, take a camera along and capture what you find in images instead.
- Make art together. Being creative together is something that can really enhance a relationship and it’s something that doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Tear up old magazines to make collages and scrapbooks. Buy a big box of crayons and color together. The point isn’t the product but the process.
- Go house hunting. You may not be in the market to buy a home but it doesn’t cost anything to look. Attend the open house events that are held for rentals and for-sale homes in your area.
- Flea markets, swap meets and yard sales. Shopping is a lot more fun when you do it with someone else and it’s better when you do it on the cheap. Go browsing through other people’s junk and see if there are any low-cost treasures to be found.
- Get active. Exercise is good for your body and it gives you those good feelings that make you like your partner even more. Go for the free activities like jogging, hiking, at-home yoga and bicycling together.
- Say yes to invitations. Anytime that you’re invited to a party or work event, say yes. Then take a date along with you to make it all the more fun.
- Test drive cars together. Gone are the days when it was inexpensive to just go for long drives together. Cars can still be romantic, though, and it’s a lot of fun to go test drive luxury vehicles that you’re not really going to buy.
- Look for city events. Parades, walking tours, street festivals and other events happen in all areas all throughout the year. As long as you don’t buy things from the vendors, these dates are free.
- Feed the ducks. A bag of bread doesn’t cost much but it can go a long way towards making you feel like a kid again and that’s one of the best experiences that you can bring to a date.
- Volunteer. There are tons of different places where you can volunteer your time and a lot of them provide enjoyable experiences as you give back to your community. Do it as a date to double the fun.
- Build a bonfire. Whether it’s on the beach or in the backyard, nothing’s going to warm you up more than being by the fire with someone you want to make sparks with.
- Coffee, ice cream and happy hour dates. If you need to go on a date where you get to know someone new or you just want to get out of the house on the cheap then you want to look for inexpensive food and drink dates. Skip the big dinner and just get dessert. Or skip the cocktails and go to $1 well drinks night at the local bar.
- Dance in the rain. There doesn’t actually have to be rain. Dance on a bridge. Dance in the street. Dance passionately or in a silly way.
- Free days at museums. Some museums are free all of the time but even those that aren’t always free typically have one free day each week or month. Explore science museums, history museums and art museums together at no cost.
- Go to the garden. Somewhere in your town is a garden waiting to be discovered by you and your darling. Public rose gardens, gardens in front of government buildings and private gardens with free tours are some of your options. Alternatively, you can always start your own garden together.
- People watch. Go to an airport, a mall or a public square and sit down together to watch the people. Make up stories about who they are and where they’re going.
- Make life lists together. This is an activity that is fun in and of itself but it also lets you brainstorm ideas for future low-cost dates. Together, you compile a list of all of the things that you haven’t done yet in life but want to. It could be as simple as “put all of my pictures in a photo album” or as involved as “climb a mountain in every national park in the U.S.” You’ll get to know yourselves and each other better and you’ll get new ideas for things to do together in the months to come.