The Top 9 Budget-Friendly Date Ideas You Need to Know About

Joseph Oliveto

Sep 22 2020

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One of the best ways to boost your chances of winning over a potential romantic partner is also one of the simplest: impress them by taking them on a memorable date.

This isn’t merely something to keep in mind when you’re first getting to know someone. Taking a long-term partner on fun, romantic, or otherwise enjoyable dates is also a smart way to remind them you still feel the same way about them that you did when you first started seeing each other.

That said, dates can be very expensive these days. Just consider the traditional night out. Between dinner, drinks, and some sort of activity (like visiting a museum), the cost of a single date can easily be outside your price range. In fact, conducted a 2019 study that found that the average cost of a date night out by state is over $100, and is actually closer to $300 in New York.

Don’t worry if that’s the case. As the following examples prove, there’s no shortage of cheap date ideas that will make the right impression without breaking the bank.

Our Favorite Cheap Date Ideas

1. Go on a Hike

This won’t be a fun date idea for everyone. Some people simply don’t enjoy hiking. However, if you know the person you’re taking out enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking gives you the opportunity to spend hours getting to know each other, all while not spending a dime.

You should also know that any date which involves working out with someone could make them more attracted to you. According to one study, after just 15 minutes of basic physical activity, people tend to feel more attracted to those they’re working out with. This is just one more reason hiking is one of the best cheap date ideas!

2. Take a class or attend a lecture

Many local libraries regularly offer classes or lectures guests can attend at no cost. This is a free date idea worth considering if you believe your date is the type who enjoys learning about new topics.

That said, you need to be fairly confident the topic of any free class you take or lesson you attend will be one that interests them. Luckily, if you’ve met someone through an online dating site, you may be able to research their interests simply by chatting with them and reading their profile. For example, such popular online dating platforms as EliteSingles and eHarmony allow users to describe themselves to potential matches, helping you better understand what type of class or lecture might appeal to a prospective date.

3. Stay in (creatively)

This is the type of cheap date idea that’s best when you’re taking “out” someone you’ve been dating for a decent amount of time. After all, while constantly indulging in fun date ideas with a long-term partner can be enjoyable, it can also cost quite a bit of money over time.

That’s why you might want to get creative and turn staying at home into the kind of romantic experience you would have if you were going out on an actual date.

For example, a night out might involve attending a show or music performance, followed by a delicious dinner. You could easily recreate this experience at home by decorating your space like a restaurant, setting up some candles, finding a free show or music performance available online or via a streaming service, and serving the best meal you know how to make.

4. Play games

When trying to think of things to do on a date, too many people overcomplicate the process. Original and unique ideas can result in fun dates, but so can basic ideas, such as playing board games or video games. You could easily do this at home or take a board game to a cafe or park. You could even sign up for a trivia night together or go to a local arcade.

couple playing video games

5. Go on a picnic

This is another classic that many forget about when trying to come up with ideas for things to do on a date. Going on a picnic with a date will combine the benefits of enjoying a meal together with the benefits of enjoying the outdoors together.

It could also give you the opportunity to impress a date with your culinary skills. While you can simply pack basic picnic staples like sandwiches and snacks, you could choose a specific cuisine for a picnic, such as barbecue, French bistro food, or anything else your date would enjoy, and make small picnic-friendly meals that fit into that cuisine. While not free, you can easily make this a cheap date idea.

6. Turn your home into a spa

Disclaimer: this cheap date idea is most likely only practical if you’ve reached a point in your relationship with your date where you know they’re comfortable with physical contact. You also need to have some decent massage skills and related talents to make it work.

That said, pampering your date by giving them an at-home spa weekend experience is often an inexpensive way to make it clear you thoroughly value their comfort. This weekend could involve giving your date a relaxing massage, offering them an affordable cosmetics treatment, serving tea and/or wine, and otherwise using the skills and resources you have at your disposal to help them unwind.

couple doing a home spa date

Best of all, unlike a traditional spa weekend, which your date would most likely enjoy on their own, this is a spa weekend during which you’ll actually get to spend time with one another. While treating them to a variety of relaxing experiences, you could also talk and connect with them.

7. Try a monthly cheap date idea

One of the best qualities of some free date ideas is the fact that they can be repeated every week or month. This helps you save money on dates not once, but throughout the course of your relationship.

An example of this type of idea would be a one-on-one “book club.” If you and your date are both avid readers, you could both commit to reading the same book every month, meeting at the end of the month to discuss it over a meal or drinks. If you’re not the biggest reading fan in the world, you could discuss movies, TV shows, or anything else that interests you instead.

8. Look through your old yearbooks

Plenty of couples find some of the best dates are those which give them the freedom to laugh at each other a little (in a friendly way, of course). You could plan such a date without spending any money at all by meeting up with your romantic interest and browsing through your old yearbooks together. Thanks to social media, you could also theoretically browse through old Facebook or Instagram photos.

You need to know someone well enough that you’re both comfortable poking fun at each other if you plan this date. If you’ve reached that stage, though, this type of get-together can be a lot of fun.

9. Go on a scavenger hunt

A scavenger hunt can serve two purposes. One, it’s a fun date idea that doesn’t involve spending a lot of money, so it gives you a chance to have a good time with a date when cash is tight. Two, depending on the stage you’re at in a relationship, you could organize the scavenger hunt around a theme, such as “past dates” or general relationship memories.

Cheap Date Ideas: Romantic Fun at a Low-Cost

When the cost of an average date in the U.S. is more $100, it’s completely understandable if you need some free or cheap date ideas to keep in mind when you want to show a romantic partner a good time. This list will help.

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