Planning a cheap date night doesn’t mean you or your partner is a cheapskate. It’s actually thoughtful — it means you’ll save more money for future dates.
We’ve got you covered if you’re looking for inexpensive date night ideas. The following 10 ideas are probably best for established couples, but some may work as first dates. Get ready to paint the town red!
— Visit a museum.
— Have a game night.
— Hold a movie marathon.
— Hit a farmers or flea market.
— Go for a hike.
— Play tennis or pickleball.
— Go for a walk.
— Dine by candlelight.
Prepare a special or gourmet supper together, recommends Nicole Graham, a District of Columbia-based lifestyle and relationship coach at Womenio.com, a lifestyle blog for women. ” Cooking a meal with your significant other is an excellent opportunity to spend quality time together,” Graham says.
“Experiment with a new dish or get some items you don’t regularly purchase,” she advises. “Prepare beverages and enjoy them on your terrace. Whatever beverage you want, serving it at home is likely to be far less expensive than purchasing it somewhere.”
Get outdoors for an affordable and romantic date. “If you live in an area that is not densely populated, you may be able to view a decent quantity of stars in the sky. Take a blanket, raise your eyes and be surprised. That ambiance is unbeatable,” Graham says.
For the ultimate cheap date night, Graham adds that you may not even have to leave your yard. Of course, if you live in a big city, you may have to hold off on stargazing until you go on vacation in a secluded area.
Tana Williams, a personal finance blogger at DebtFreeForties.com and a resident of Hilliard, Ohio, seconds the idea of watching the skies as a cheap date night. She says her area has a local astronomy park for viewing the stars at night.
“They run programs about twice a month where you can rent one of their telescopes or bring your own. Pack a picnic and a blanket, and it’s a great romantic night to learn, relax and enjoy the skies above,” Williams says.
Visit a Museum
This can be a cheap date night, although many museums aren’t open in the evenings, so maybe it’s more of an afternoon thing.
Williams says that there are a lot of ways to save on museums, which otherwise can be pretty costly to visit.
“There are many different ways to save on tickets, such as watching for free or discounted days that you can attend. Bank of America runs a yearly promotion that provides free tickets on a specific weekend if you have one of their credit cards,” Williams says. “You can also get discounted museum entry if you have a military or student ID. However, my favorite creative way to get into a museum free? Check your local library. They often have passes that you can check out, use and return.”
Have a Game Night
It’s a simple, obvious idea — and yet, probably not the first thing you think of when you think of dating. But if you break out Monopoly, Scrabble or your board game of choice, you’ll probably have a blast.
“I love doing this kind of stuff with my husband,” says Sherry Morgan, founder of Petsolino, a website loaded with information about pets, and who is based in Beckley, West Virginia. “You get to bond and have fun by playing board games, and, yes, eating some pizza and chips too. I love playing card games too. This is another really fun thing to do, especially if you’re a competitive one.”
[See: 35 Ways to Save Money.]
Hold a Movie Marathon
Browse your streaming service for flicks you’d both enjoy. “Who doesn’t love movies?” Morgan asks. “Just have a chill night in your living room or even in your backyard with prepared movies, some chips and drinks.”
Hit a Farmers or Flea Market
Set a cheap budget before you go, of course. This is another cheap date to schedule in the day time.
“You can enjoy looking around, grab a cup of coffee, hang out and stroll,” Morgan says. “Maybe try some delicious morsels or buy a carrot. It doesn’t matter — it’s fun when you do it together.”
Go for a Hike
This date is also better suited for the daytime than the night. Mike Earl, a partner and director of wealth management at The Wealth Group in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, says he and his wife like to use the website AllTrails.com to find trails while at home and traveling.
“We have found trails within a 10-minute drive of our home that we had never heard of before. There are a lot of hidden gems out there,” Earl says.
Play Tennis or Pickleball
Sports can make for a fun and inexpensive date. “Outdoor tennis and pickleball courts are easy to find and free to use,” Earl says. “You can buy a new racket on Amazon for about $30, or you can go used for even less.”
For those who don’t know anything about pickleball, it’s basically a sport that’s been around since 1965 but really caught on during the pandemic. It’s a mix of badminton, table tennis and tennis.
Go for a Walk
This is similar to the hiking idea, although a walk can be anywhere — not just the woods. Stroll through your neighborhood or perhaps through a charming downtown or around a lake at a park. And a walk can be safely done in the evening, especially if you’re in a public place, such as a boardwalk or other pedestrian-friendly area.
“Walking dates are becoming extremely popular, and dating experts can see why,” says Samantha Moss, an Oakesdale, Washington-based editor and content ambassador at Romantific, a relationship advice website for women.
“Relatively cost-free and casual, going out for a walk has been the choice of first dates for some as it doesn’t put pressure on either person. Walking dates are good for longtime partners too, especially for young parents who want to keep things on a budget,” Moss says.
Dine by Candlelight
Candles are affordable, after all, and you can buy something cheap and delicious to make or serve for dinner.
As Moss points out, “Any meal can be special with the right ambiance, and with candles lighting the room, you’ll be in a different mood. Soft lighting changes the atmosphere and creates a more romantic and intimate environment. Play soft music and be in the mood for romance and candlelight, even if you’re just eating a home-cooked meal or takeout.”
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