30 Cheap Date Ideas to Save Money (and still have fun!)

March 12, 2023

Dating is fun! But daaaang going out for dinner and drinks all the time can get expensive! Whether you’re with a steady partner or playing the field, here are some cheap date ideas to keep the costs down. The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice fun in the process!

Cheap Date Ideas:

Keep in mind — no matter how much money you spend, the overall goal of dating is to have a good time and get to know the person you’re spending time with. While some of these cheap date ideas might seem basic and amateur, that can be when life’s best memories are made! Check the expensive and fancy ideas at the door.

1. Go for a hike (free)

I know, I know. Hiking never sounds fun. But the truth is, walking and talking is very non-confrontational and helps people open up. And being outdoors allows you to enjoy the beauty of nature which usually puts people in a calm and happy mood!

Google a few nearby hikes in your area. It might be nice to give your date a few route options so they can pick the length and difficulty of the hike. Don’t forget to pack a few granola bars and Gatorade’s if it’s a long slog. You could even pack some nicer snacks (a nicer dark chocolate) to enjoy at the viewpoint once you reach the top!

Pro tip: Geocaching is really fun, too! It turns the date into more of an adventure, searching for hidden stuff! It’s also free!

2. Hit the library (free)

If you live in or near a major city, chances are your downtown area has an old, gorgeous, historic library building packed full of culture and antiques. Libraries are hidden gems, and visiting one can make you feel like you’re playing tourist in your own town. Your date will love it!

While you’re there, try a library scavenger hunt! Challenge each other to:

  • Find the oldest book they have
  • Ask the librarian an embarrassing question
  • Find your favorite children’s book from when you were a kid
  • Play a board game (like chess) against each other
  • Find a funny movie you can borrow and watch later

Here are some other fun things to do at the library!

Cheap date ideas

3. Watch the sunset or sunrise (free)

The sun rises every day, and sets every day. Nothing is more common, yet nothing is more beautiful! 🤩 But we often ignore these everyday moments of beauty.

If you Google the best places to watch the sunset in your city, you’re bound to find a couple options for you and your date. Just make sure to get there about 30 minutes before the actual rise/set time, that’s when the magic starts happening!

Pro tip: Bring some snacks or a cheap bottle of wine. It could turn into a spontaneous picnic!

4. Try a new recipe ($10-20)

Instead of spending money eating out, invite your date to your house and try cooking together. Cooking a meal together can be a fun and intimate experience. 

Depending on how long the evening is supposed to last, you could even meet at the grocery store to select the ingredients together beforehand. It’s always fun making things from scratch, and it’s a lovely chance to impress your partner with your frugal grocery shopping skills!

By the way, even if you’re a horrible cook and the meal turns out to be a complete disaster, the experience can be unforgettable in a good way. Failing hopelessly is a lovable trait, and it gives you both something to remember and laugh at potentially for years to come. 😉

5. Visit a local museum (free – $20)

Most cities have museums with free admission. But even if you have to shell out $10 – $20 for a museum ticket, they’re still one of the easiest cheap date ideas! No matter how many times you visit a museum, there is always something new to discover.

There is a vast treasure trove of blogs and online news sources to see what cool exhibits are in town. It pays to do a bit of research to make sure you’re visiting a spot that has art that you’re interested in.

Botanical gardens are also a great place to check out, and often free! 🪴⛲️🌻

6. Play your favorite video games 🎮 (free!)

Depending on your age, you can kick it old school with Mario Kart or Donkey Kong! Or if you’ve both got laptops, try some newer online games!

Whatever you play, just make sure it’s enjoyable for *both* of you! It’s no fun when one person is crushing the other. If that’s the case it might be a short-lived and unenjoyable experience.

Pro tip: Dance Dance Revolution, Just Dance or any of the Wii fit games are super silly and will get you both laughing — a LOT!!

more cheap date ideas

7. Follow a Bob Ross painting tutorial ($5 – $10)

Some small art galleries host paint date nights. But they can run you $20-$30 a ticket depending on the class size. Instead, pick up a few supplies from your local art store and host a painting night at home! You don’t need easels or anything too fancy, just some canvases and a basic paint set!

Bob Ross tutorials are easy to find on YouTube, and there’s a number of other free beginner tutorials that are fun, too!

8. At home spa night (Up to $20)

This is one of the best cheap date ideas suitable for married couples or partners who are already living together. If you invite someone over that you barely know, they might get the wrong idea!

Setting up a DIY spa night is pretty easy. Here are a few tips:

  • Set the stage! Dim the lights, light a few candles and clean the house.
  • Play relaxing music. There are a number of “zen music” playlists on Spotify or even YouTube you can find.
  • Prepare comfy PJs or robes, bath salts, massage oils, face masks, scrubs, etc. Whatever you and your partner are into.
  • Small snacks are welcome! Cut up fresh fruits, or have a couple of chocolates on standby in case you’re feeling naughty.

9. Hit the batting cages ($20 – $50)

This one’s perfect if you’re a sporty person. Actually, come to think of it, it’s perfect if you’re *not* a sporty person! It’s not about how good you are at baseball, it’s about how much fun you have while playing.

You might be able to find indoor batting cages, but these are typically more expensive. Also, if you don’t own any sporting gear they may charge for renting some.

A free option that’s fairly similar is to hit up your local basketball courts. Shooting hoops and flirting… I’m blushing just thinking about how cute this is!

10. Learn an instrument together (Cost varies!)

Depending on the instrument you choose and your musical background, this could be a challenging date. But, it’ll still be fun (and cheap!)

Instruments can be picked up fairly cheaply online. Check out Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or OfferUp. Depending on how long you want to commit to learning, you may want to shell out a few extra dollars for nicer gear. It will pan out better in the long run.

As you and your partner get better, you could consider paying for private classes, which might cost $20 – $50 per hour depending on the difficulty level. These could either be online, or in person!

11. Make ice cream sundaes ($10 – $20)

Yes, you could probably go out and buy some delicious desserts for under $20. BUT, for $20 at the grocery store you can get SO MUCH MORE stuff (and have leftovers for future date nights!)

Get creative and challenge your date to make the most beautiful looking sundae possible. You can add fruits to compliment the look and taste, too!

If you’re not into ice cream, baking cupcakes or cookies are great cheap date ideas. 🧁You can buy pre-made recipe packs fairly cheap, which can sometimes be cheaper than getting all the individual baking ingredients that you may never use again.

Pro tip: If you make too much, knock on your neighbors door and offer them some deserts. It’s a fun surprise for them, and it shows your date you care about giving to others.

12. Spring cleaning (free)

This might sound like a chore, not a date… but the truth is cleaning can be a very relaxing and fun activity. And it leaves you feeling awesome afterwards!!

If you live with your partner, choose a single cabinet or drawer set to clean out. Slap on some fun music, roll up your sleeves and start organizing! You can repeat this once a month and your place will be beautiful in no time.

For new couples, helping clean another person’s house can give you insight into how they live. Obviously we’re not recommending making your date clean your bathroom or scrub out the fridge… It’s more like “hey, want to come round and help organize my closet? You can tell me your favorite clothes and choose some outfits I can dress in this summer.” Fun!

If you don’t live together, this comes with the added bonus of getting to discover memories from each other’s pasts! Going through your old belongings can lead to tons of fun storytelling! You’ll learn so much about your date by helping them sort through their old stuff!

(while you’re at it — don’t forget to do some financial spring cleaning!)

save money dating

13. Binge watch a show (free)

Instead of going to the theater, stay in and watch a show together. You can make some popcorn and snuggle up on the couch for a cozy night in.

Whether you’re watching old Seinfeld reruns or a new feel good show like Ted Lasso, just make sure it’s something you both find interesting and can stick to.

Psst! 🤫If you’re looking for slightly awkward/controversial shows that spark up conversations with your date, check out Black Mirror, Love, or Easy!

14. Host a “Happy Hour” (Up to $30)

Invite some friends around and ask everyone to bring a different type of drink. You can google different cocktail recipes or fancy drinks to try. It might make sense to set a time limit for your happy hour, that way nobody drinks too much and the night won’t accidentally turn into an “oops we just spent $200 on fast food” kind of night.

Your date will love meeting some of your friends, and mingling over drinks. Or, if you want to keep the night small and intimate, you don’t have to invite anyone else! The point of DIY happy hour is to save money at home, vs. blowing cash at a bar.

Pro tip: For those of you who are sober-curious, try making “mocktails.” These drinks can be just as delicious, without any alcohol!

15. Watch a stand-up special (free – $20)

There are a TON of funny stand up comic shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and most other streaming apps. To make your date feel more comfortable, be sure to ask them what type of comedy they enjoy.

Another option is going out to a comedy club or a pop-up comedy night. You can find these on facebook, Groupon, or sometimes Instagram. It’s usually $10 – $20 for a ticket, but they last a couple hours and are a great cheap date idea. Some even let you BYO! And what’s better than laughing together!?

16. Go thrift shopping! (Up to $10)

Here are a few fun ideas for your date at a thrift store…

  1. Frugal Challenge: You and your date both start with five dollars each. The challenge is to spend 30 minutes in the store, finding the best stuff you can for under five dollars.
  2. Dress each other! Using a $5 or $10 budget each, pick out clothes for each other. The funnier the outfit, the better!
  3. Blind buying: Walk through the thrift store isles with your eyes closed, randomly selecting 2-3 garments. Whatever you pick out, you have to buy and where that night out to dinner!

Another cool thing about this cheap date idea is you get to see how frugal your date is! Being thrifty is an attractive life skill! (Well, we think it is 😉)

17. Go walking in a new neighborhood (free)

If you’re up for a quiet suburban walk, try finding the fancy and rich neighborhoods near you. Just strolling around the streets and looking at the mansions and well manicured lawns is really fun. Perfect for morning dates!

Or, historic downtown areas are always fun to check out. Plenty of little nooks and crannies to stumble across and explore.

Another cheap date idea is to create a scavenger hunt with clues that lead to different locations or objects around town. It’s a fun way to explore new places and work together as a team.

18. Trivia night double date (free)

Invite some friends over for a game night. Trivia questions and games are pretty easy to find online, for free. It’s a fun way to socialize and have some laughs without spending a lot of money.

Not everyone is super nerdy and great at trivia, so it might be a good idea to throw in a few easy questions. Charades, Heads Up, and other group games could be fun too!

19. Hit the bike path (free)

Rent bikes or use your own to explore a local trail or bike-friendly area. Enjoying the outdoors and getting some exercise is an easy and cheap date!

It can be a little hard talking while riding, so it’s nice to plan a place to stop and rest for a little bit. You could be way over some snacks or find a little shop to grab a cheap smoothie.

20. Drive in movie-BYO Snacks! (Up to $30)

Yes, drive-in theaters still exist! You just have to search for them. Many drive-in movie theaters play old movies or cult classics, so choose a movie that seems fun for you and your date.

For snacks, you can pre-make popcorn at home, buy candies at the store, or even bring a few sneaky beverages if that’s your thing. 🤫 The best cheap date ideas usually involve thinking creatively and BYO-ing snacks!

6 cheaper date ideas

21. Go to a garage sale with a small budget ($20)

Garage sales and estate sales are fun to walk through, even if you don’t buy anything. But it’s always good to take a few dollars cash, just in case you find a great deal!

Pro tip: Estatesales.net is a great way to find sales going on in your area. My advice is to choose the fanciest upscale area for estate sales. Walking through wealthy people’s homes can be incredibly fun, leading to many dreamy conversations with your date. 🥰

22. Have a board game night

Dust off your favorite board games and have a game night. It’s a low-cost way to have some fun and a little friendly competition.

If you have a few board games at home, that’s great! If not, you can pick some up at a secondhand store, rent some from your local library, or sometimes find them in those free little library boxes!

23. Picnic at the park ($10 – $20)

Pack a simple picnic and head to a local park or beach. You can enjoy the scenery and each other’s company while sharing a meal.

The trick to a cheap picnic date is not going overboard with expensive, prepackaged food. No need for an $80 charcuterie board… Just a few chopped carrots, cucumbers, and a simple hummus will usually do.

24. Visit a local bookstore (free – $10)

Whilst you don’t need to spend any money, it’s always nice to support your local family owned bookstores.

The soothing vibes and ambience of local bookstores can make a magical first date. (that’s why a bookstore setting is so often used in romantic comedies 😉)

25. Wine or beer tasting ($30 – $40)

If you live near wine country, book a tasting at a beautiful vineyard or winery. This can cost around $20 per person, depending on how prestigious the operation is.

Microbreweries have exploded the past 10 years and there are new ones popping up every month! Head out to one that looks fun and order a tasting flight!

Other cheap date ideas with booze include BYO to the park, or hosting your own tasting party. Some grocery stores like Trader Joe’s let you buy single bottles of beer and small bottles of wine. You can hand select a few and try them at home.

cheap dating tips

26. Walk around a local fair or farmers market ($20 – $40)

Farmers markets are a great place to sample local foods, pick up fresh produce, and support small businesses. (they’re also great for people watching 😂)

Depending on the season, you can find a local fairground with rides, petting zoos, and other fun stuff to see. Farm tours, pumpkin patches, Christmas displays, etc. might be available depending on the time of year!

27. Go to the beach (free)

If you live near a beach and rarely go, shame on you! Ha ha, just kidding. I know how tough it is to fight the crowds and what not with some busy public beaches.

That being said, there are probably some remote beaches and locations that are rarely crowded. You just need to do a little bit of research for these cheap date ideas at free beaches. Not everyone likes the beach, so it’s best to check with your date before planning anything too sandy.

28. Try a free workout class (free)

Check out Craigslist or local library listings for any free outdoor workout classes in your area. These can be great ways to get your body moving while having some fun! Plus, it can be a great opportunity to make some new friends. Ask your friends or social media audiences if they know of any good free classes they could recommend.

Another option is using trial memberships or free intro classes at new gyms. Some dates might not be comfortable doing hardcore, sweaty workouts in front of you, so my recommendation is sticking to light and easy classes!

Bonus- Check out this episode about the money lessons you can learn from exercise if you’re looking for some talking points for your date!

29. Go rollerskating ($10 – $30)

Depending on where you live, local roller rinks cost around $20 for skate rentals. Ice skating is an option too if that’s more accessible.

If you own your own skates, rollerblading at a local park or basketball court is a great free date option. Just bring a small speaker and hook up some dance tunes… Your date will be impressed with your DIY roller-disco! 🕺

30. Have a bonfire (free – $5)

First, a word of warning – be safe!!! Fires are dangerous if you’re not in a controlled area.

That being said, bonfires are also extremely FUN! You can bust out some music, have long and serious conversations, or roast up some s’mores! 

If you don’t have a backyard suitable for a bonfire, some local parks and beaches might have fire pits you can rent. Check online and see what is available.

finding a babysitter for dates

The bottom line:

Dates don’t have to be expensive to be enjoyable. There are so many cheap date ideas out there these days, it’s easy to find things that are comfortable for you and your budget.

Using the Rule of 173, saving just $100 per month on cheaper dates adds up to a total savings of $17,300 over a 10 year period. That’s a huge amount of money you can apply to other life goals.

One last note – It’s OK to communicate with your partner about their expectations and what they are comfortable with spending on a date. The more you are open and honest, the better your relationship will be.

Happy dating!

**Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash

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