It can be hard to date on a budget these days when it costs you upwards of $50 just to catch a movie together (as if we’d ever go and skip the popcorn). The idea of finding cheap date ideas itself can seem completely unromantic, but once you realize you’re saving the cash to do something else together—like go on a vacation or buy a new piece of furniture—it all seems worth it.
If you have no idea where to start to find awesome budget-friendly date ideas that won’t put a dent in your pocket, we’ve got you covered. We’ve found inexpensive or totally free outings that will interest everyone from the art enthusiast to the homebody. Below, find 31 completely awesome date ideas for when you’re trying to save for something else.
Go to a Free Concert
Record stores and community centers are consistently packed with indie bands playing gigs for free. Some museums have recurring jazz nights. Check out your local paper and subscribe to weekly newsletters to stay abreast of cool happenings.
Stroll Through a Museum
Many museums have one day a week where you can get in for free or with a small suggested donation. What could be more classic than a day spent taking in art and culture? Wander and explore to your heart’s content.
Mingle at an Art Opening
Check your city’s listings for local galleries hosting events. Opening nights play host to free booze and killer people-watching. Dress to impress, and enjoy.
Get a Buzz on a Brewery Tour
Take a tour of a winery or a local brewery. You’ll learn fun facts to prattle off at your next dinner party and score some free drinks along the way.
Visit a Community Theater
Summertime is the perfect season to take in a free community show. From Shakespeare in the Park to dinner theater, there is sure to be a host of comedies and dramas alike available.
Have a Netflix Marathon
Forgo the theater and binge on your favorite show together from the comfort of your home. Concessions are considerably more reasonable when purchased outside the multiplex.
Host a Game Night
Whether it’s playing a one-on-one game of cards or hosting friends for board games, you can’t go wrong with old classics like backgammon and newer gems like Cards Against Humanity.
Walk Your Local Dogs
Your local humane society is in constant need of dog walkers. Volunteer to take a few pups around town for an afternoon. The dogs will be adorable, and it’s great exercise. Win-win.
Dance the Night Away
Kick up your heels to a live band at a dance hall. Odds are the cover charge and theme will vary depending on the day of the week, so plan ahead.
Tour a Local Landmark
The hectic pace of city life often leaves residents little time for actual exploration. You’d be surprised home many “landmarks” longtime dwellers have never visited. Make a list of places in your city you’ve always wanted to see, and get cracking.
Head to your local observatory for a star party, or simply drive outside city limits to stargaze. Download astronomy apps on your smartphone or pack a telescope for bonus points.
Pack a Picnic
Even if you’re not an impressive chef, packing a masterful picnic is a simple affair. Wine, a cheese board, a simple salad or two, and voilà! Lunch alfresco is served.
Volunteer in Your Community
Bond over a common social issue near to your heart. Sign up to devote your time to building homes for Habitat for Humanity or gardening in an urban farming project. Making a contribution as a couple is super sweet.
Get in Some Laughs at a Comedy Club
Sense of humor is critical. Take in an improv or standup show. There’s usually a drink minimum, and depending on the venue, ticket prices may vary.
Have a Listening Party
Pop into the record store and pick up a few used vinyl gems. Take them home for a spin over a bottle of wine. The exercise of making selections alone will make for great conversation.
Go on a Hike
Get outdoors and go for a scenic hike. If you’re looking for more conversation than actual exercise, opt for trails with a less steep incline or scenic-overlook resting areas.
If you don’t have your own, rent city bikes and glide around town. Stop off at your favorite landmarks or sentimental spots. It’s a great way to show off your neighborhood or explore together.
Hit Up a Dive Bar
Skip the swank martini vibe and hit up a local dive. Choose a place with pool tables or shuffleboard. Throw your favorite tunes on the jukebox and stay awhile.
Shop the Flea Market
Cruise your local flea market for antiques and hidden gems. Combing the aisles together is a veritable walking tour of conversation pieces.
Roller-Skate the Day Away
Find out just how much your hand-eye coordination has declined since early youth. Roller rinks are a bargain. Pick up your favorite childhood candy on the way over for a real jolt to the past.
Go for a Scenic Drive
Save up for a weekend getaway or simply get out of dodge for the day. A sunset cruise with the windows down offers a cool, romantic vibe ideal for showing off your Spotify playlist curation skills.
Test Your Bowling Skills
The pastime is tailor-made for a chill evening of beer and conversation. While upscale alleys offer higher price points (and, to be fair, newer shoes), the old classics will still keep you entertained for very little cash.
Get Inspired at the Library
Get lost in the public library together. The architecture will be undoubtedly cool, and you can hunt around for your favorite works as you resist the urge to make out in the stacks.
Hit Up Open Houses
Don your finest attire and see some of the swankiest places on the market. Even if you’re not really looking, it will be nice to keep yourself on top of real estate trends… Plus, sometimes they give out freshly baked home goods. Done and done.
Have an At-Home Spa Day
A day of pampering doesn’t have to be expensive. Start by giving each other relaxing massages, and then move onto sheet masks and some meditation. Bonus points if you whip up some spa water to sip on.
Settle In for a Staycation
It’s all about spending real quality time together. Change your sheets, light some candles, and cozy up in bed for the night. Don’t even think about doing chores or throwing on a load of laundry—unwind as you would if you really were away.
Attend a Poetry Slam
Grab a cup of coffee together at a poetry slam or book reading. It doesn’t need to be with anyone famous, either. Plus, you’ll get a chance to bond over whatever topic or subject was covered later on.
Race Each Other Go-Karting
The need for speed is real. Go go-karting together and let out your inner child. Chances are you haven’t felt that alive since your last trip to an amusement park. Plus, a little friendly competition never hurt.
Go for a Test Drive
Pick out your ultimate dream car on the lot and take it for a test drive together. (It makes it more fun if you pretend you’re actually going to take it home afterward.)
Have a Cook-Off
No matter your skill level, pick a certain dish or cuisine and get cooking. You’ll have the chance to get close as you chop, sauté, and bake your way to victory.
Break Out the Home Videos
Settle in for an evening of embarrassing home videos, including your kindergarten graduation, your first dance recital, and your S.O.’s first birthday. As you stroll down memory lane, you’ll learn things about each other that you would have never thought to bring up in casual conversation.
What is your favorite cheap date idea? Up next: this is how to say "I love you."