Fancy restaurant dinners, expensive craft cocktails or box seats at the opera might not be in your date-night budget. But you can still spend less on romance without feeling like a cheapskate. Start with these free or cheap date ideas.
1. Go for a walk
Wander through a park or hit the hiking trails. You can search for scenic spots and snap a few photos or simply keep each other company. Nighttime walks can be especially romantic. Explore the breathtaking — and free — opportunities: Take a moonlit stroll hand-in-hand, stargaze or check out the city skyline.
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2. Cook or bake something
A happy stomach makes a happy heart, right? Treat your partner to a homemade dinner or dessert. Better yet, spend some quality time making something together. You can save considerably compared to eating at a restaurant, plus the effort shows you care. Set the mood with a candle, and voilà!
3. Grab a cup of coffee
Want to keep it casual? Coffee shops are great for laid-back dates. A few bucks, a cozy setting and conversation are all you need.
4. Find a happy hour
For weeknight dates, seek out happy hour deals at bars and restaurants. Order discounted appetizers, meals or drinks off the menu to fill up for less. Sharing can give you even more bang for your buck.
5. Listen to live music
Check out bands you like or discover new ones together. Parks and other venues often host free shows or charge a small admission fee for performances. You can also save on concert tickets by purchasing them at the last minute or buying nosebleed seats.
6. Go dancing
Sway, twirl or groove the night away. Find a club with a dance floor and bust out your moves. Not an experienced dancer? Take lessons — we’ve seen discounted salsa, lindy hop and other dance classes for couples on websites like Groupon.
7. Have a movie night
Rent a movie (or browse Netflix), pop some popcorn and snuggle up on the couch. If you prefer something less intimate, look for free movie-in-the-park events near you or explore ways to get cheap movie tickets.
8. Pack a picnic
Load your picnic basket with a blanket and snacks. You can make sandwiches or grab a few cheap eats, such as fresh fruit and salad, from the grocery store. Then, head to the park or another peaceful location and enjoy the outdoors.
9. Pick your own produce
Here’s a sweet activity: Harvest your own fruit or vegetables at a local farm. You can get apples, strawberries, pumpkins or other produce in bulk, sometimes cheaper than at grocery stores. Research what’s in season and make a tasty recipe with your haul.
10. Play arcade games
A game of Pac-Man, pinball or air hockey can make you feel like kids again. Visit an arcade — or a bar or restaurant with machines — and let the fun begin. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, as long as you don’t get carried away. Pick an amount you’re comfortable spending, say $15 or $20, and see how far it goes.
11. Take a bike or boat ride
A leisurely bicycle or boat ride on a pleasant day bundles fun, romance and exercise into one activity. Many cities have affordable bike-share programs. If you own bikes already, it’ll be a totally free date. Never ridden a tandem bike? Try taking one for a spin. If you’d rather be on water than wheels, rent a paddle boat, rowboat or canoe.