101 Cheap Date Night Ideas
Remember when you and your partner used to go on date nights? It used to be so easy -- and now it all seems like a distant memory.
The good news is that you can always bring date nights back into your routine. They don't have to just be for special occasions, either; in fact, you should definitely have date nights that are "just 'cuz." The key here is to establish a regular day for your date night -- whether it's on a weekly or monthly basis -- and stick to it. (And make sure to lock down your babysitter or nanny ahead of time so you don't have to scramble last-minute.)
Keep in mind that your date doesn't have to be expensive. We reached out to Ben Homan (relationship blogger at Top Date Ideas), Stef Safran (matchmaking expert of Stef and the City), and Kalyn Brooke Comings (deals expert at Creative Savings), and put together 101 unique and cheap date ideas and activities to get you started.
(You can even do some of these at home, while your kids are sleeping!)
Active & Sporty Date Night Ideas
- Bowl a game or two.
- Cheer on the high school sports team.
- Find some discount coupons or online offers to try out free martial arts or exercise classes.
- Get in a round or two of mini golf.
- Get in touch with your inner kids and play on a playground -- they're not just for kids!
- Go for a run together.
- Have an alphabet scavenger hunt. Challenge yourselves to kiss in front of an item that starts with each letter of the alphabet.
- Head to the basketball court and play a game of HORSE or 1-on-1.
- Hit some balls at a local driving range or batting cage.
- Play racquetball or tennis.
- Ride bicycles.
- Roller skate around your neighborhood or in a local park.
- Stroll through a college campus.
- Swim a few laps together at your local community pool.
- Take a dance class. Chances are good that there are a few low-cost lesson options in your area.
- Throw the Frisbee around in a nearby park.
- Try out a yoga class at a local studio. Sometimes, yoga studios give discounted rates for classes taught by instructors-in-training.
- Volunteer together.
- Watch planes take off and land at the airport.
Arts & Culture-Related Date Night Ideas
- Attend a free concert in the park.
- Browse the stacks at the bookstore or library.
- Check out free- or low-cost museums. Small-town museums often have low admission rates while large, city institutions often have free or pay-what-you-wish hours. Some museums even have "free nights" that just ask for donations!
- Do some people-watching at a local carnival or town festival.
- Enroll in a class together. Usually, you can find reasonably priced programs through your community college, parks and recreation department, or community center.
- Find a poetry reading in your area -- whether it's at a coffee shop or community center. Maybe consider reading one of your own compositions, too!
- Go to a local record/music store and browse the shelves for new genres or musicians you haven't heard before. If they allow you to listen to certain CDs, have at it!
- Listen to a concert by your community band or orchestra.
- See a movie at a drive-in theater.
- Sing in a karaoke bar.
- Sit in on a presentation or lecture at your local library.
- Stroll through a local art fair or show.
- Take in a play or musical performance at your local high school or college.
- Test your smarts at a trivia night. "It's a fun and inexpensive way to bond over teamwork," encourages Safran.
- Visit a historic site in your area -- admission is usually inexpensive.
Food & Drink-Related Date Night Ideas
- Browse the farmer's market -- and don't be shy about trying the samples they put out!
- Conduct a taste test. Comings suggests driving to three or four local bakeries, picking up one chocolate chip cookie from each, then tasting and rating them to decide which the best is.
- Get a scoop of ice cream at a nearby scoop shop.
- Go out for breakfast or brunch at a restaurant you've been meaning to try.
- Grab coffee at your favorite coffee shop.
- Head out to happy hour for a drink -- and maybe even make a meal of appetizers while you're at it! "Enjoying a drink or two together won't break the bank," says Safran.
- Look up lunch-hour specials at restaurants in your area and pick a spot to have a lunch date.
- Pick up your favorite pizza and eat it in the park.
- Take advantage of buy-one-get-one-free meal coupons for local restaurants. Keep an eye out for deals like these in the newspaper, the phone book and online deals sites.
- Participate in wine or beer tastings at your local liquor stores. Many shops offer these tastings for free -- or for a small fee.
Home Improvement-Related Date Night Ideas
- Browse a home-improvement store and brainstorm some renovations you'd like to do in the next year or two.
- Get some inspiration from your home improvement projects by checking out houses in ritzy parts of town.
- Scope out new home furnishing possibilities at different furniture and home goods stores.
- Take a peek at homes in your community during real estate open houses.
- Walk through a garden center or arboretum to get ideas for your own landscaping or garden.
- Wander through an antique store and come up with backstories for some of the more interesting treasures you find.
Nature-Related Date Night Ideas
- Attend any "free days/nights" that are offered by your local zoo or aquarium.
- Buy -- or make -- cheap kites and go fly them in the park.
- Camp at a state park, which often has lower fees than a privately owned facility.
- Check out the wildlife at a park or wildlife refuge in your area.
- Collect shells at the beach.
- Feed ducks at the pond.
- Go fishing -- whether it's at a lake or the ocean.
- Go for a scenic drive -- especially nice when the autumn trees are in full color.
- Hike the trails at a nature preserve.
- Participate in a local astronomy club's stargazing event.
- Pick your own apples or berries at a nearby orchard or berry farm.
- Play with the puppies and kittens at your local animal shelter.
- Rent a canoe and paddle around for the day.
- Research birds in your area and go bird-watching.
- Take a walk in the local park or botanical gardens. "Even going for a simple walk is an easy way to enjoy each other’s company, while getting some fresh air," Safran says.
- Try your hand at geocaching.
- Watch the sunset. This can be done from the beach, the hood of your car or your own front porch.
Shopping-Related Date Night Ideas
- Browse a secondhand store for new-to-you treasures.
- Drop by any local estate sales in your area.
- Go fantasy car shopping. Browse the lots and dream about which ones you'd like to own. Maybe even take one for a test drive!
- Hit up a used book sale.
- Stop by the mall for some window-shopping. Treat yourselves to a soft pretzel or a giant cookie as you stroll through.
- Stroll through your local flea market -- and keep your eyes peeled for great deals!
- Walk through your downtown area and browse the boutiques.
"Stay at Home" Date Night Ideas
- Bake each other's favorite types of baked goods.
- Challenge each other to a video game competition.
- Cook a special dinner together. After the kids go to bed, "Dress up for late-night dinner in and bring out the fancy china," suggests Comings.
- Dip fondue. "We love strawberries, marshmallows and pretzels," says Comings.
- Do crosswords or other types of brain puzzles.
- Draw pictures of one another -- stick figures are allowed!
- Eat takeout by candlelight.
- Ever play the game Name 5? Take turns calling out categories and seeing if the person can name five things that fit (five Tom Hanks movies, five pizzas topics, etc.)
- Go camping in your own backyard.
- Grill a pizza in your backyard.
- Have your own little spa night, complete with bubble bath, foot massages, and whatever else your ideal spa treatment would include!
- Hunker down for an epic movie marathon.
- Listen to a new podcast together.
- Look through travel brochures and plan your next vacation.
- Invite friends over for a game night.
- Make a fancy popcorn recipe and eat it while you watch a movie.
- Play a favorite card or board game -- or maybe try a new one!
- Put together a time capsule that you can bury in your backyard.
- Read aloud to one another from a book or magazine.
- Rent a TV show on DVD and watch as many episodes as you can in one night.
- Roast marshmallows around a backyard fire pit.
- Set up an indoor picnic. Homan says, "My wife and I do this one now and then, and it's so nice to get away from everything and have an organized night in."
- Snuggle in a backyard hammock.
- Take a trip down memory lane together by looking through your old yearbooks.
- Try your hand at Google Roulette. Homan suggests this game, which involves plugging random words into a search engine and picking an activity from the results. "This will push both people involved out of their comfort zone," he says.
- Visit a hobby store to pick out supplies for a project you can work on together, like a vacation scrapbook or a model car.
- Watch your wedding video.
Don't let lack of funds hamper your dating creativity. No matter your budget, you and your partner can enjoy fun, romantic, relationship-building times together.
Originally written by Meghan Ross. Updated by Alexa Gahan, Katie Bonadies, and Kayla King on 29 June 2017.