When you don’t have a lot of money to spend but want to have a fun first date or date night, what do you do?
Fear not! Being romantic doesn’t have to break the bank. There are endless cheap date ideas out there, that you can do for free or without spending very much at all.
If you’re struggling for inspiration, here is a list of great budget-friendly ideas…
1 Picnic in the Park
You can enjoy a great evening outdoors by packing a nice picnic and eating at a park. If you have a park close by, you could walk to the park to make the date even more fun.
2 Sunset Hike
Find a local spot that you can hike to easily, preferably a place that will be a higher elevation so you can see out over the city. Look up what time the sunset is going to be, and determine how long you will need to hike to your chosen spot. Leave with enough time to hike, giving you a nice buffer of 15-20 minutes, and hike to the spot to watch the sunset.
3 Star Gazing
Look up star gazing diagrams and print one out that corresponds to the month and day of your date. Print this out and bring it along with a flashlight and a blanket. Head outside, to a backyard or park, after the sun has gone down and see how many constellations you can find together.
4 Watching Meteor Shower
Look up and find when the next meteor shower is going to be. Plan a night out under the stars watching for shooting stars.
5 Water Balloon Fight
Go to the dollar store and grab some water balloons. Fill them up and have a good time tossing them at each other.
6 $10 Dinner
With a budget of just $10, head to the grocery store and see what you can come up with to make at least a 3 course meal. Be creative!
7 Dollar Store Gift Challenge
Head to the local dollar store; you each get to choose one gift that you think makes a great gift for the other person. You can only choose one item!
8 Cooking Dinner Over a Fire
Find a park that has fire pits available. Take some wood and matches to start a fire, or use charcoal. Choose a menu that is easy to cook; hot dogs and hamburgers make easy choices. Cook your meal over the fire.
9 S’mores roasting
Get graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars, and head to a fire pit to roast some S’mores. You could also make them a little fancier by using cookies or different candy bars.
10 Baking cookies
Choose a favorite cookie recipe to bake together. You could make shopping for the ingredients part of the date.
11 Movie and popcorn at the Dollar Movies
Find out what is playing at your nearest dollar movie theater (or other cheap theater). Head out and enjoy a movie with a bucket of popcorn.
12 Bike Ride
If you don’t have bikes, you can rent them from a local bike shop. Find a place where you can go for an easy or adventurous bike ride depending on your skill levels. Make sure the trip is enjoyable and not an overly exerting experience. If you have a boardwalk, or river walk nearby, these make fun destinations.
13 Sand Castle Contest
Head to the beach with sand castle building supplies. Just grab whatever you have handy: cups, bowls, and utensils make great substitutions for the toys. You make the night competitive by building individual castles, or make it a joint project to take out the competition.
14 Plein Air Painting
Take a set of paint and some canvases out to a pretty spot that isn’t too far away. Spend some time painting the scenery.
15 See Holiday Lights & Have Hot Cocoa
Fill a thermos with hot chocolate and go for a stroll to see the holiday lights around you.
16 Volunteer at an Animal Shelter
Go to the local animal shelter and volunteer for an hour.
17 Drive In Movie
If you still can find a drive in movie near you, head there for a night of retro fun!
18 Attend a High School Sports Game
Go support your local high school and cheer them on at a game.
19 Watch a Local Play or Musical
Find a production that is being put on by the local arts council, or a private acting group.
20 Free Concert in the Park
Most cities have a free concert in the park series during the summer. Find the one closest to you and spend an evening enjoying live music for free.
21 Go to an Art Museum
Go spend an evening strolling through the nearest art museum.
22 Go to a Botanical Garden
If you have a botanical garden center near you, go for a visit. If you don’t have a botanical garden, substitute it with a local nursery center.
23 Food Truck Tour Downtown
Go out for a three course meal at the food trucks downtown. Make each course come from a different food truck.
24 Play Board Games
Make some popcorn and spend the evening playing your favorite board or card games.
25 Art Stroll
If your city has art galleries, find out if they host an evening stroll. Most of them will have one night a month set aside for this. It’s free, and it is like visiting an art museum.
26 Photo Album Reminiscing
Each of you bring a photo album an spend the evening telling stories from your childhood.
27 Local Diner
Find a local diner to eat at, the more unique the better.
28 Photo Booth
Go to the mall, or another spot that has a photo booth available. Take a few dollars, and make as many funny photo strips as you can!
Go to the store and grab a pad of Mad-Libs. Spend the evening taking turns filling them out and reading them to each other.
30 Zucchini Boat Race
Find overgrown zucchini, most gardeners will have some they will gladly give you. Carve them into boats and race them down a river, stream, or canal.
31 Paper Airplanes
Use the internet to find new ways to fold paper airplanes. Spend the evening trying the different designs out.
32 Thrift Store Date
Head to a thrift store and try to out-do each other on the best find you can make. The funnier, the better!
33 Check Out a Movie From the Library
Go to your local library to rent a movie. Then head back to watch it at home with some treats.
34 Soap Carving Contest
Grab a bar of plain soap and see what you can carve. If you don’t have any pocket knives, just use kitchen utensils.
Learn how to fold origami shapes. You can often find paper at the dollar store that will work.
36 Flashback Cartoon Night
Rent, or find online, your favorite cartoon from your childhood. Spend the evening watching them.
37 How Well Do You Know Me?
Make a list of things that your date may know about you, or that you think they should have figured out. Make four copies of the paper, and give two to each of you. You each fill one out about yourself, and you fill the other out about your date. Then compare them to see who knows the other better.
38 Sidewalk Chalk Art
Grab a box of sidewalk chalk and make as many pictures as you can.
39 TV Dinners by Candlelight
Grab some frozen dinners, heat them up, and eat by candlelight.
40 Miniature Golf
Go out for an evening of miniature golf.
41 Fly Kites
Grab a couple of kites, or make them, and go fly them at a park.
42 Painting Snow
Fill squirt guns or squirt bottles with water and some food coloring. Go out in the snow and paint pictures by spraying the snow with your colored water.
43 Build a Snowman or Fort
Wait for a wet snow, then build a snowman or snow fort. Make it as big as you can.
44 Cookie Scavenger Hunt
Grab your favorite cookie recipe, and then go door to door asking for the ingredients. Make note of who gave you an ingredient. Go home and make the cookies. Then go back and surprise each of the donors with some of the cookies.
45 Put Together a Puzzle
Find a puzzle that you can put together.
46 Drive to see Fall Leaves
When the leaves have changed for Fall, go on a drive to see enjoy them.
47 Christmas Caroling with Friends
Get a group of friends together and go Christmas Caroling to neighbors or friends.
48 Ice Skating
Head out for a night of ice skating. End the evening with some hot chocolate.
49 Roller Skating
Find a roller skating rink to spend the evening at.
50 Trampoline Park
Go to a trampoline park for an hour of exhausting fun!
51 Carve Pumpkins
Spend the evening carving pumpkins together.
52 Play on Elementary School Playground
Go to your closest elementary school and play on the playground. You can reminisce about your childhood.