On average, most people spend between $50 and $100 on a single date, and often much more when it’s the first one. So what do you do when the money is tight, and you have a big date scheduled? You get creative and enjoy fun, affordable dates that can turn out more memorable than fancy dinners at luxury restaurants. You won’t like all of these cheap date ideas, but one of them might be just what you’re looking for!
Cheap First-Date Ideas
On a first date, you don’t want to seem cheap. No one finds that attractive. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be frugal and smart with your money while still making an impression.
First dates have changed since the advent of online dating. You’ll often be meeting someone for the first time, so you want it to be in a public place. You’ll also want it to be intimate and interesting. Try these ideas!
1. Visit a Gallery
Art galleries are a great place to go on a first date. They’re public, so both you and your date can feel safe and comfortable. They’re affordable, unique, and insightful and will give you and your partner something to talk about. Many art galleries will have free entry, so you won’t have to spend a dime when going out.
2. Go to a Museum
An alternative to having a first date in an art gallery is having it in a museum. It will make you seem sophisticated and cultured, and both you and your date could use the experience to learn something new. Follow this up with a walk in the park, and you’ll have yourself a trophy-earning date.
3. Check Out the Local Petting Zoo
They say that a person who doesn’t like animals doesn’t like people. Spending some time with animals on your first date could be just what you need to get to know your potential partner.
A petting zoo is a great place to have some casual, relaxing fun and create a memorable first-date experience for animal lovers.
4. Visit the Local Animal Shelter
Not every town has a nice petting zoo, so an alternative to this is visiting your local animal shelter. Even if your date doesn’t go as well as you might hope, you’ll at least get a chance to spend the day giving some love to abandoned animals who need it. And who knows, you might even find your soulmate in a fur baby or someone who loves fur babies as much as you do!
5. Have Some Fun Bowling
Bowling is a classic first-date idea that can help you break the ice. Since you’ll be busy playing the game, you won’t have to worry about handling awkward silences or trying to come up with conversation topics. You can just relax, play the game, and the conversation will flow smoothly.
6. Go Ice/Roller Skating
Nothing’s more romantic than going ice skating in the middle of winter with your potential love interest. Splurge a little on some hot cocoa after the fact and enjoy an affordable but by no means cheap-looking first date.
If it’s too hot out for ice skating, roller skating is an excellent alternative.
7. Schedule a Breakfast Date
If you really want to take your date out to a restaurant but can’t afford expensive dinners, opt for a breakfast date instead. Even the fanciest restaurant will have a significantly cheaper breakfast menu, and you won’t have to worry about covering the costs of pricy alcoholic beverages – few will opt for a glass of fine wine early in the morning.
8. Hit the Street Food Stalls
Fancy restaurants are out, and street food stalls are in. Take your date to your favorite street food place or even a favorite food truck, take a romantic walk through a nearby park, and enjoy a wonderful experience at a reasonable price.
9. Enjoy the Open Mic Night
Depending on where you live, there are likely at least a few pubs or bars that have an occasional open mic night. Have a couple of cheap drinks, share a few laughs, and support emerging local comedians.
10. Visit an Arcade
There’s just something nostalgic about spending your evening at an arcade. If your date enjoys playing arcade games or wouldn’t mind giving them a try, you could have quite a memorable time. Bond over your favorite childhood games, have some fun and make a lasting impression on your date.
11. Take a Painting Class
If you want to show your date your creative side, take them to a painting class. Depending on your location and who’s organizing the event, two tickets could easily cost under $50, and you might even get a complimentary beverage.
12. Take a Cooking Class
Why pay for an expensive dinner at a fancy restaurant when you and your date can learn how to make the same food in a cooking class? Cooking together can be a great bonding experience, but since the first date is a bit too early to take anyone home and cook for them, join a cooking class together and have a blast.
13. Make Some Pottery
Making pottery is a fun experience in and of itself, but it becomes much more enjoyable when you’re doing it with a partner. Sign you and your date up for a pottery class for a truly unique experience. At the very least, you’ll have a quirky handmade creation even if the date doesn’t go over well.
14. See a Drive-In Movie
Going to see a drive-in movie is always a great experience, even when the movie isn’t all that good. You’ll enjoy a more private atmosphere and get to talk with your date without disturbing other viewers.
15. Play Darts at Your Local Pub
A couple of beers and a game of darts is all you need for a perfect first date that ensures there’ll be a second one. Pub games are always immersive and exhilarating, even if you’re not very good at them.
16. Act Like Tourists
If you live in a city that’s popular among tourists, you’ve likely learned to avoid places that are crawling with them. These places often have a lot to offer. So take your date, pretend to be tourists for the evening, and visit all the popular attractions for a newfound appreciation of your city.
17. Scout for Free Events
Even a small town will have immersive free events that you can join without spending a dime, especially during the summer. Whether it’s a free performance in the park, a fun fair, or a group picnic by a nearby lake, you could have a great first date by joining these free events.
18. Have Some Fun Picking Fruit
If you’ve scheduled your date around harvest time, you might find fruit picking to be just the activity for the two of you. Depending on the season and your location, you could go berry picking, apple picking, or even orange picking. Not only can this be a fun activity for the first date, but you’ll also get to go home with some fresh produce – it’s a win-win!
19. Shop Around a Farmer’s Market
The farmer’s market always has some great deals to offer, and most people could easily spend the entire day going from one stall to another. Turn this into a first-date activity, shop around for things you may need at home, and be productive and romantic at the same time!
20. Visit an Escape Room
Escape rooms have grown in popularity over the past few years, so use this to your advantage. You and your date could complete the escape room by yourselves, or you could even turn this into a group activity with your friends for a great bonding opportunity.
21. Go to Your Favorite Bookstore
If your favorite pastime is reading, why don’t you share this passion of yours with your date? Visit your favorite bookstore together, discuss your favorite authors, browse through the books, then grab a quick cup of coffee on your way out.
22. Join a Pub Trivia Night
Trivia games are a great way to get to know someone, learn about their interests, and find out whether you share the same passions. That’s what makes pub trivia nights the perfect experience for a first date.
23. See a Drag Show
For some, this can be an outlandish thought. However, if you and your potential partner are up for it, seeing a drag show together could be an unforgettable adventure. Share a few drinks and a few laughs, and enjoy a casual evening and a great show.
24. Play Mini Golf
Miniature golf is a relaxing activity that gives you plenty of time to talk and get to know each other while still allowing you to share a few silent moments without any awkwardness. Tickets for mini golf usually go between $5 and $20 per person, so you won’t have to worry about spending too much money on your first date.
25. Visit a Planetarium
If there is a planetarium not too far from your house, you’ll always have a great first-date option available. There’s something intrinsically romantic about observing the universe together and learning more about it.
26. Get Tickets to an Aquarium
If planetariums aren’t your thing, another great bet is visiting an aquarium. Stroll around, see some unique sea creatures, and enjoy your day out and about with your date.
27. Go to a Small Coffee Shop
While you’ll always want your first dates to be in a public location, you don’t want them to be in obnoxiously crowded places that are too loud to hold a normal conversation. So, instead of hitting your nearby Starbucks with overpriced coffee, for example, for your date, choose a small coffee shop that’s public enough to help you feel comfortable and private enough to allow you to get to know each other.
28. Watch a Local High School/College Sporting Event
If you and your date are big sports fans, getting tickets to see your favorite teams play could be a dream come true. The only problem is that it’s extremely expensive. An alternative is simply enjoying your favorite sport by watching a local high school or a college sporting event in your town.
29. See a Play
Your local theater likely has a great selection of plays you could enjoy. It’s much more immersive than seeing a movie, and you’ll look far more sophisticated!
30. Go to a Public Garden
Public gardens are lovely, romantic places where you can truly connect with your date. They’re serene, peaceful, and relaxing, perfect for quiet conversations and sharing deep thoughts.
Cheap Indoor Date Ideas
If you’ve been with your partner for a while and are looking for ways to spice up your dates, check out these cheap indoor date ideas that will ensure you have a great time.
31. Netflix and Chill
Few things are better than cozying up with your partner, putting on your favorite show, and enjoying the evening. To make things more interesting, you could choose a show that you’ve never even heard of before or maybe even purposefully watch a poorly rated one just for some laughs and giggles.
32. Play Board Games
Playing board games is always a fun activity. From Monopoly to Connect Four, Scrabble, or Battleship, there are plenty of board games for two that will keep your evenings at home interesting and your mind sharp.
33. Play Multiplayer Games
Even if you and your partner aren’t much into gaming, there’s no denying that playing multiplayer games as a couple can be exciting. Find a few games you both enjoy and start having a blast at home!
34. Have a Spa Day
A full spa day for two can get pretty expensive, but not if you do it at home! Buy a couple of cheap sheet masks, light some candles, put on some relaxing music, and there you have it: a perfect spa day at home.
35. Have a Couples Massage
Like a spa day, getting a massage can put a dent in your budget. However, if you have some nicely scented body lotion or oil, have a couples’ massage at home. If you have no idea how you can perform a massage on your partner, look up a few simple tutorials on YouTube, and you’ll be good to go.
36. Get a Wine-Tasting Kit
There’s no reason to spend hundreds on fancy bottles of wine at a restaurant when you could get a cheap wine-tasting kit on Amazon or a similar platform and enjoy your evening at home with your partner. With some kits, you’ll even learn how to recognize different notes and flavors and pretend you’re a connoisseur the next time you hit a fancy restaurant.
37. Make Arts and Crafts
If you’re feeling artistic, you and your partner could try your hand at some simple arts and crafts. Get some cheap supplies at your local Dollar Tree, find a fun tutorial on YouTube, and go to town. Who knows, you might even end up with nice handmade home decor once you’re done.
38. Cook an Elaborate Meal
While it’s always nice to just relax at a restaurant and have someone else cook for you, it can be fun trying out a new fancy recipe together. See what ingredients you have in your pantry and do a bit of research to find out what you can make with them.
39. Go Axe Throwing
Have you ever tried your hand at axe throwing? It’s not as difficult as it may appear, nor is it as expensive as you might’ve thought. Depending on your location, prices could go from around $15 per hour, and you can easily find even better deals on coupon sites. It’s a unique date idea perfect for more adventurous couples.
40. Build Puzzles
At times frustrating and at times seemingly impossible to solve, building puzzles is always well worth it in the end. Incorporate puzzles into your at-home date night and enjoy a quiet evening with your loved one.
41. Have a Karaoke Night
Even if you’re bad at singing, having a karaoke night could be just the thing you and your partner need to spice up your dates. Go to a bar that has karaoke nights, or set one up at home with your favorite songs and favorite drinks.
42. Get Some Nerf Guns and Go to Town
If you’re feeling bored sitting around at home all day, spice things up with a couple of Nerf guns. You’d be surprised at how great playing childish games with your partner can be. Run around the house (and the backyard) having a Nerf gunfight, but remember to put all breakable things in a secure location before you get started.
43. Go Dancing
If a local club has free entry, take your partner dancing without spending a dime. If not, put on some loud music at home, dim the lights, and have some fun!
44. Take a Yoga Class
Many yoga studios will offer free classes to first-time visitors, so take advantage of it. Sign you and your partner up for a free yoga class and enjoy some quality time together.
45. Go Thrift Shopping
A thrift shop is always a great place to go when you need to find something that doesn’t cost much, be it furniture, home decor, clothes, shoes, or anything in between. So, the next time you’re in need of an affordable shopping spree, take your partner by the hand and make a date out of it.
46. Visit the Local Ikea
If you’ve ever been to an Ikea, you know how easy it is to get lost in the store and spend the entire day in it. It’s fun just to walk around and browse through all the items, even if you don’t buy anything. And, if you and your date start feeling hungry, you can grab some cheap meatballs and enjoy the day.
47. Go to a Local Band Performance
You don’t need to spend a small fortune to enjoy music by going to concerts with your date. Support a local band and go see them the next time they’re playing. Many bands will have weekly performances at bars around town, and they might not even charge an entry fee.
48. Set Up a Paint-Off
Your imagination is your only limit when you have a cheap canvas, some acrylic paints, and a few brushes. Set up a paint-off with your loved one, try to create two masterpieces, and compare your artistic skills.
49. Try Your Hands at a DIY Project
If you have some basic tools, creating a DIY project with your partner can be a great experience. You could try and make anything your heart desires: planters, furniture, cabinets, home decor, you name it. If it’s your first time trying your hand at DIY projects, start small.
As you and your loved one gain experience, you could even start flipping items for profit and worrying less about money when it’s time for your next date.
50. Go Volunteering
Volunteering is an excellent way to give back to your community and a perfect date activity for you and your partner when you’re on a tight budget. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to choose volunteering activities that let you spend some time together.
51. Hit a Bar With Pool Tables
Playing pool can be a lot of fun even when you have no prior experience whatsoever. Grab a couple of drinks, play a couple of rounds, and you’ll have yourself a perfect date, whether it’s the first one or the 101st one.
52. Have a Candle-Lit Dinner
You don’t need to spend hundreds on an expensive dinner at a restaurant. All you have to do to create a romantic atmosphere at home is a few candles and some soft music. Even if you’re eating chicken nuggets for dinner, the candlelight will make it seem like you’re at an exclusive resort.
53. Have a Costume Party at Home
If you and your partner want to reconnect with the inner child, throw yourselves a costume party at home. Use what’s already in your closet to create a unique costume, turn on some music, and enjoy the night.
54. Spend the Night at a Cheap B&B
Dates are always somehow better when you’re away from home. However, you don’t have to book a luxury vacation to have a few great dates. Just book a room at a cheap B&B the next town over and recreate the dating while traveling experience.
55. Hit the Gym Together
Couples who train together stay together, so put your gym membership to good use and go work out with your partner. Do a few couples’ exercises, be each other’s spotter, and stay fit, healthy, and happy.
56. Go On an Ice Cream Date
Skip lunch and go straight for desserts. You don’t need a full-course meal for your dates, just take your partner out for ice cream on a nice hot day and enjoy some quality time together.
57. Try a TikTok Challenge
Depending on your age and interests, you might find TikTok to be a bit too childish for you. However, there are some fantastic TikTok challenges for people of all ages, and you and your partner might just find something to your liking. Try a TikTok dance or a popular fitness challenge and loosen up a bit with your partner.
58. Learn How to Make Cocktails at Home
Drinking cocktails at a bar can be great, but it will quickly run your bank account dry. So, instead of going out and spending hundreds on a few drinks with your loved one, try learning how to make cocktails at home. Popular drinks like a Tequila Sunrise or a Margarita are simpler (and cheaper) to make than you may think!
59. Make a Blanket Fort and Unplug for the Night
If you’ve got some string lights, a few blankets, and comfortable pillows, you don’t need much else for a romantic date. Return to your childhood, make a blanket fort, turn off your phones, and share childhood stories all through the night.
Cheap Outdoor Date Ideas
When the weather outside is gorgeous, it’s a shame to spend your dates indoors. Try these cheap outdoor date ideas!
60. Go Stargazing
Few things are more romantic than just spending a nice warm night outside looking at the stars with your partner. Take the opportunity to disconnect from the world and enjoy the spectacular views the universe has to offer.
61. Take a Hike
Whether you live in the countryside or a large city, there are bound to be plenty of breathtaking hiking trails you and your partner could take. Walk around, explore the wilderness, and enjoy this bonding time with your partner.
62. Take a Bicycle Ride Around Your City
Just like walking in the park at sunset, bicycle rides can be surprisingly romantic. So, take your date on a bike ride. You won’t even have to spend money on gas!
63. Have Fun at a Nearby Carnival
Many towns have carnivals, fairs, and festivals all summer long. Take advantage of it! Take your date to a nearby carnival, enjoy a few cheap rides and some fun games, and have a blast!
64. Visit a Neighboring Town
Just changing the scenery can make your dates that much more exciting. Instead of visiting the same old cheap restaurant in your neighborhood, head to a neighboring town, explore your surroundings and grab a bite of street food.
65. Set Up a Picnic in the Park
There’s a reason why picnic dates are so popular! They’re fun, romantic, and cheap. Pack a few sandwiches and a blanket, and spend the day with your loved one the old-fashioned way.
66. Go Camping
If going on a picnic isn’t exciting enough for you, take your partner camping. You don’t have to go far. Find the nearest camping site, pack some food, and spend some time in nature.
67. Spend the Day at a Beach
If you’re fortunate enough to live near a beach, take advantage of it! Lounge around or get a beach ball. Spend your time sun tanning, or bring your guitar and play a few songs for your loved one. You don’t need to spend a cent to make your partner happy and turn a random beach day into a memorable date.
68. Go Kayaking/Rafting
Many people see kayaking and rafting as exclusive sports that many people can’t afford. However, that’s not really the case. While buying the necessary equipment is expensive, renting it isn’t. Depending on where you’re located, you could go both kayaking and rafting for less than $50.
69. Set Up a Bonfire in Your Backyard
It’s a shame to spend your weekend nights indoors when you have a nice backyard where you can start a bonfire. Get some s’mores, or at least some marshmallows, and enjoy a cheap yet luxurious date night with your partner.
70. Get the Grill Going
You don’t need to wait for a special occasion to get the grill going. Pick a random weekend and surprise your partner with some delicious yet affordable food cooked on a grill. For less than the cost of a restaurant meal, you can buy some high-end meat for your grill session!
71. Play Badminton in the Park
If you’re up for some physical activity during your date, head to your local park, bring some badminton racquets and shuttlecocks, and play with your partner. While somewhat similar to tennis, it’s easier and much cheaper!
72. Have a Photo-Based Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts can be a great date activity. Google your town, dig up a few online photos made by others, then try and find the locations in the pictures with your partner.
73. Try Your Hand at Bouldering
If you and your partner are feeling adventurous, give bouldering a try. However, keep in mind that it’s not as easy as professionals make it seem. It takes strength and resilience, but it will be well worth it.
74. Sign Up as Volunteer Dog Walkers at your Local Shelter
Animal shelters could always use a few helping hands, so offer your support while enjoying some quality time with your loved one. You’ll give some attention to pooches who need it, get some light physical activity, and have a great cheap date.
75. Visit the Zoo
Visiting the zoo is a full-day activity that could be just what you and your partner need. For under $50 for two tickets, you’re bound to have a blast and a more exciting time than dining out at a fancy restaurant.
76. Feed Ducks or Other Birds
If there’s a body of water near you with some ducks or swans, spend the day feeding them. Alternatively, head with your partner to a nearby park, bring some bird seed, and feed the birds.
77. Go Fishing
You don’t have to be a great fisherman to head to a local fishing spot and try your hand at fishing. You need just some basic equipment, and if you happen to make a good catch, you might even get a tasty dinner for your date when you get back home.
78. Comb the Beach for Treasures
While lounging around on the beach is a pleasant experience, you might enjoy your date more if the two of you go comb the beach for treasures! Who knows, you might just find something of value while having fun with your partner, and if not, you could help clean up the beach by removing some trash.
While it’s nice to have an expensive date on occasion, you shouldn’t worry so much about spending a ton of money to make your partner happy. At the end of the day, what matters most is that you’ve spent some quality time with your date, and you can do that without spending a fortune.