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15 Budget-Friendly Date Ideas

You want to go on a date with your significant other or crush, but payday is a week, or two, away, and everything seems so expensive when researching date night ideas for a budget-friendly date. Especially considering you could be spending nearly $1,600 a year on dating. 

It is important to remember that dating doesn’t always have to break the bank and that the fun you can have is worth more than a fancy dinner or a night on the town.

However, that still doesn’t make it easier to think of some enjoyable, fun, and not expensive date ideas, so you need this list. You don’t have to wait after all as long as you can get creative with these 15 budget-friendly date night ideas! Plus, in the end, we offer some great tips for coming up with your own cute and cheap date ideas. 

Let’s get started! 

Movie Night At Home

Sometimes the most straightforward ideas are the most overlooked. While it may not seem like a date just to lounge around the house and watch a movie, it can be. Going to the movies can be pricey, and many don’t even allow wine! 

You may have heard of “Netflix and Chill,” and that’s because it can be a great option for those on a budget and people that just enjoy the environment of an at-home date. Make sure to get some snacks ready, carve out time for the entire night together, save time before and after the movie, and browse the selections together before deciding on the best film to watch. 

A movie at home makes it much easier to talk to your date because you can pause the film, and you don’t have to worry about bothering other people in a theater. You may enjoy it more than going out to the movies! 

Go to the Park 

Parks aren’t just for kids, and visiting one with your significant other can be a great budget-friendly date idea. Plus, studies show that spending time outside in nature can be great for your emotional health, which is perfect for an enjoyable time with your date.

Most areas have multiple parks, so you can choose one that suits your mood. You can also choose a time that isn’t busy with children or other people, so you get that precious alone time you want from a good date. 

Whether you want to take a walk, check out the swings, or just people-watch while talking to each other, a trip to the park can be enjoyable, relaxing, and surprisingly exciting. Just make sure you and your date wear appropriate clothing for the weather. 

Cook Together

Cooking can be a lot of fun, and it may help you bond and improve your relationship, according to one survey. Cooking allows you to get to know the person’s tastes (literally) and gives you a meal to enjoy afterward, so it is a two-for-one idea. 

If you don’t know how to cook, that’s okay because learning a new recipe with your date can be just as enjoyable, even if you mess it up. Trying new things can also open up new possibilities for future dates.

One of the best things about this inexpensive budget-friendly date idea is that it makes it easier to break the ice. Cooking distracts the mind from self-conscious thoughts and gives you something to talk about. It can even be fun to choose recipes to cook and decide on pairings for drinks and desserts. 

Go For Coffee

Coffee can get expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. A local coffee shop is one of the cheap places to go on a date that can be just as entertaining as dinner and a movie. Plus, it can provide a relaxing atmosphere that you may enjoy, especially for a first or second date. 

Even if you like expensive coffee drinks, you will discover that this is still a much cheaper idea than a complete dinner. It still gives plenty of time for getting to know your partner and learning about the things they like. 

A cup of joe can also keep you stimulated and talkative because of the caffeine, which can be a great way to spring into new conversation topics as long as you don’t overdo it with the espresso.   

Play Tennis or Basketball 

While this may not sound like a good idea for a first date (too sweaty?), it can be one of the really fun, inexpensive date ideas for couples. You can just play a simple game of P.I.G. on the basketball court or a quick game of tennis without worrying about the competitive aspects. 

Not only is this an affordable choice, but it is also something unique that many couples never think about. You can break up the monotony and get bored of doing the same things repeatedly without spending too much cash. 

Your date doesn’t know how to play? Well, that’s okay and may even give you a good reason to initiate physical contact. Exercise can make you happier during and after your date, which is something you always want.  

Go to a Museum 

Regardless of your and your date’s interests, a museum can be a fun and cheap date that encourages thought and conversation. If you live in a city, there should be a few museum options that will not cost much. There are science, art, and history museums, and many other types that may pique your interest. 

When looking at exhibits, try to spark a deep conversation about what you and your date enjoy or dislike. Whether you agree or disagree, you can learn about your date, speak about uncommon topics, or discover parts of their personality that you adore.

If the museums in your area are pricey, you may be able to wait until a certain time or for specific deals that occur every so often. Sometimes you can get free tickets if you sign up for a mailing list or newsletter. The best part about this idea is that museums often rotate exhibits multiple times a year so that it always remains new for multiple visits. 

Try a Picnic

Many of the budget-friendly dates in this article may not seem romantic, but this is one of the cheap romantic things to do that must be included. A picnic can involve beverages, food, and relaxed conversation, perfect for inexpensive Valentine’s date ideas. You can’t get much better than that! 

It also offers a lot of flexibility for locations and times. Depending on your preferences, you can picnic at the lake during the day or in the woods at night. You may also enjoy a sunset picnic for a romantic vibe that sends you into the night with your partner. 

A picnic also gives you options for what to bring with you. You can go to a place with a grill or just pack simple sandwiches or a charcuterie board. One fun idea is to create your own wine-tasting experience (or beer if that’s your drink of choice), even if you have to use cheap wine options. 

Visit a Botanical Garden 

Botanical gardens are beautiful, and they have a great atmosphere for a romantic yet casual date. Many of them also have free or cheap events that can be interesting and pleasant. With various plant species and interactions and the fun of walking around the ground, a botanical garden gives you more to do than you may think. 

Many botanical gardens have separate gardens included, including Japanese, rose, desert, or water gardens that you may also find enjoyable and relaxing. Try going during different seasons to see different flowers and vegetation. 

Spending time with plants, both indoors and outdoors, is great for mental health and could help you reduce stress. So, with this idea, you can stop worrying about money, head out to the gardens, and spend quality time with your partner all at once! 

Build a Puzzle

When was the last time you built a puzzle? It may be time to add it to your list of free and budget-friendly date ideas. Sitting down to a puzzle with someone can be quiet, tranquil, and extremely fun. Try setting an atmosphere with music, snacks, and drinks, and get started. 

One of the best things about this idea is that you can work on the puzzle with your partner for several nights as long as the puzzle is large and difficult enough. You’ll have date night covered for a while!

If you feel like you will get bored, you can mix some friendly competition into the equation. For example, you can select certain portions of the puzzle and assign them to you and your partner and see who can complete the area first. You can also make the puzzle more challenging and try to solve it, or at least part of it, without using the picture on the box. 

Go Antiquing

Antiquing can be a great way to spend time with tons of conversational pieces that can promote nostalgia, agreement, and topics to talk about. Another person’s junk is another person’s treasure, but sometimes it’s just junk and gives you something to laugh about with your significant other, especially if it has a high price tag. 

Looking at old furniture, toys, and other objects can be a great way to learn more about your date’s past and vice versa. Exploring each other’s past experiences and discovering shared ones can be an exciting and one-of-a-kind way to connect on a deeper level. 

Other options include thrift stores and flea markets, and you may enjoy bouncing from one to the next. Set aside a Saturday morning or afternoon and see what you can find to create an adventure. 

Take a Hike

You may not want to just come out and tell your partner to “take a hike,” but as long as you bring up the idea carefully, it can be a great selection for your next day together. As we mentioned earlier, exercise on a date is almost always a positive thing, and hiking is a great form of relaxing exercise. 

A hike gives some great opportunities for games as well. Challenge your partner to find certain types of plants or see who can locate a certain species of bird or butterfly. Even if you aren’t having a constant conversation, just walking casually while holding hands can be a satisfying experience as one of the better cheap date night ideas for married couples. 

You can even incorporate a picnic, number 7, on our list, for a romantic getaway without getting too far away. That’s not a bad way to spend even more time together, which you certainly want to do. 

Gaze at the Stars

Gazing at stars should be on everyone’s list of romantic, affordable date ideas because it is calming and meditative. It also gets you and your partner away from the hustle and bustle of the overly busy world. There are plenty of stars to make a wish, and you can bring along blankets, food, and drinks to create an outstanding experience. 

Many people love this idea because star gazing makes it easy to unplug and disconnect from electronics, social media, and distracting notifications. This puts you in the moment with your significant other in a way that you may not experience as much as you would like. 

Don’t make the critical mistake of going on a cloudy day, or even worse, before an expected rain. Many people choose this as an inexpensive first-anniversary date idea because of how it creates special memories. 

Ride Bikes

Riding bikes can be freeing, and if you’ve looked at other lists of budget-friendly dates you probably understand how popular this option is. Whether you want to go for a casual ride or set a destination to reach, you may find that it takes you on a journey of bonding. 

There is also the possibility of using a tandem bike for extra fun and potential laughs. Even if it is only something to do occasionally, a tandem bike combines the best elements of entertainment and romance in a quirky way. 

This option is easy to combine with many other options because you and your significant other can head to a picnic, bowling alley, park, or just back home for a fun puzzle or movie night. What a great addition to your already-growing list of fun and inexpensive date ideas! 

Bowl at the Lanes

Bowling is a fantastic date idea for a few reasons. First, it is a great icebreaker activity that isn’t stressful but still encourages conversational fun. Second, it is casual and involves food, drinks, and a social atmosphere where you and your date can still be largely alone. 

Bowling can tell you a lot about a person on a first date. Whether your bowling partner is competitive, chill, funny, or rude, bowling can be a great way to find out. Most people don’t get too competitive when it comes to bowling, but friendly competition can be a good thing on a casual date because it adds some spicy, passionate fun. 

A similar option is to go ice or roller skating. Like bowling, these are cheap options that involve moving around, food, drinks, and lots of fun to keep the date interesting throughout the whole day or night. 

Take a Class

Taking a class as a couple is exciting and incredible because it is unique. It also gets you out of your comfort zone because it allows you and your partner to try something new. Just go in with an open mind, and you may find a new hobby or passion. 

There are also tons of choices for classes, from painting and drawing to music to pottery and everything in between. Many classes are multiple sessions long, which means several date ideas are all rolled into one! Plus, you may come out of it with a skill or object you adore because you associate it with your loved one. 

You could also attend a lecture for a similar experience with learning together and creating growth in yourselves and the relationship. You can look at community centers, colleges, and libraries for some potential event possibilities. 

Tips for Inexpensive Date Nights

Have you already tried most of the inexpensive dates suggested here? Here are some fantastic tips to help you think of your own creative cheap date ideas. 

Use Coupons and Deals

If you are set on going out to dinner or a movie, you can save money by looking for deals like free appetizers, buy one get one free, or rewards programs for your dates. Next time you get a coupon for a new restaurant in the mail, save it. You could even use it as a way to ask someone on a date, “Hey, I have a coupon for this new place. Want to try it with me?” 

Try Day Dates

Regardless of which cool cheap date ideas, you choose, going during the daytime can be fun. But did you know it could save you money as well? It can save you money with matinee pricing, happy hour drinks, and lunchtime specials. This is a great option because then you can go home together for a movie, just like number 1 on our list. 

Split the Bill

While it isn’t the traditional way to go on a date, it can help you spend more quality time together. Plus, who wants to be traditional these days anyway? If you don’t like splitting the entire cost of paying for your dinner, you could share a plate, which is easier on both your wallet and your waistline. 

Keep an Eye Out for Local Events

Most cities and communities have free or affordable events from time to time, like parades or concerts. These can be fun and cheap and give you something to do that isn’t on our list of budget-friendly dates and inexpensive first-date ideas. You may get a chance to do something you would never have thought of otherwise. 

Create a Budget and Talk About It

It can be easy to order a dessert, a second glass of wine, or spend more money willy-nilly on anything when on a date. Creating a budget can protect your wallet from impulse buys and help you decide on what cute and cheap date ideas from this list you can afford each week or month. Then, you need to talk about this budget with your significant other if you are in a relationship to stay on the same page.  

Alternate Ideas

This could mean two things. First, you can try alternating who thinks of the date ideas, so you don’t have to struggle to find as many free or cheap date ideas yourself. Second, you can alternate dates being budget-friendly and more expensive so that you always continue spending time with your significant other while staying flexible and original. Either of these ways to alternate ideas can save you and your partner some serious funds. 

Try Group Dating

Group dates are probably not something you want to do every time you go on a date, but they can sometimes be very entertaining. It also opens up possibilities and can reduce pricing for many of the items listed in this article. Whether you want to go out for drinks, get some appetizers, or cookout, doing it with others can often save you a pretty penny. 

Final Thoughts on 15 Budget-Friendly Dates 

Coming up with date ideas can be difficult, especially once you are tired of doing the same thing. Coming up with a budget-friendly date idea is even harder. We hope that this list, including tips, can provide you with enough variety and plans so that you can spice up your love life with something new that doesn’t break the bank!

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William Clark

William is a mental health writer with expertise in topics including couples counseling, fostering passion in marriage, grieving the loss of a partnership, improving individual well-being for relationship success, and navigating crises as a couple. He has written for local therapists and well-known publications and companies, including BetterHelp and Mantra Health. With an M.A. in English, William understands the power of the written word and its value in helping others with their mental health. He strives to help others with a combination of research-based information and personal experience with family and positive well-being practices. When he isn’t writing about psychiatric health, William loves spending time with his wife and children, playing guitar, and reading.

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