Whether you’re just getting to know each other or have been together for a long time, the current economy can have you down on dating. No matter what stage of the relationship you’re in, making time for “date night” (or day) at least once a week is key to maintaining a good relationship. There is a secret to dating on a budget. These 20 inexpensive date ideas can help get you started.
1. Have a Picnic in the Park
Always a favorite, the picnic in the park is the best in cheap dating. Make it classy. Spring for a real picnic basket and fill it with her favorite fruits, breads, crackers, and cheese and head out to the park. Add a bottle of wine or champagne and you’ll toast the sunset together in style.
2. Dinner and a Movie…at Home
Who says you have to go out for dinner and a movie? You can create the same atmosphere at home with a little wine, candles, and music. Class it up a little. Grab one of those “fireplace” DVDs and pop it in. Viola! Instant mood lighting. Cook together or surprise her by cooking her favorite meal and doing the dishes afterward. Dates on a budget don’t get much easier than this.
3. See the Stars
For another cheap dating idea, try heading to your local college during the school year and visiting the planetarium. It costs under $10 and it’s a lot of fun to cuddle up in the dark and spend time under the stars.
4. Library Events
Your local library carries more than just books, you know. It’s also the perfect place for dates on a budget! As you walk in the door, there should be a bulletin board or calendar announcing book readings, lectures, concerts, and movies being offered at no charge to the public!
5. Attend a Beer or Wine Tasting
Beer and wine tastings are a lot of fun and can be a nifty cheap date idea. Not only do you get to taste a wide variety of adult beverages, you usually get some nice bonuses like free wine glasses or coasters.
6. Attend a Student Art Show
Browse around the web for local college student art shows. They’re completely free to the public and snacks are often included. Of the inexpensive date ideas, this one is of the easiest. Hold hands and browse around the creations or duck into an alcove and steal a kiss or two. You may not want to go back to that awkward age again, but it’s fun to pretend!
7. Take a Hike
When the weather is nice, there is no better way to connect with nature (and your sweetie) than a quiet nature hike through the woods. If you’re new to the hiking scene, be sure to start out at local parks with easy-to-traverse marked trails. At most, it will cost you a small parking fee to get out and see the sites. Remember to take your cell phone, some food, water, and a camera. Have fun but play it safe.
8. Visit an Art Gallery or Museum
For great cheap dating ideas, you can’t go wrong with a visit to an art gallery or museum. You can take in a little culture and history without breaking the bank. The quiet, subdued atmosphere also opens up the possibility for more intimate conversation.
9. Go to the County Fair
When the county fair or carnival comes around, it takes you back to your childhood when worries were few and fun was all around. Breathe in the scent of popcorn and cotton candy and win a teddy bear for your lady. As far an inexpensive date ideas go, this one is always a winner!
10. Have a Game Night
Stay home and break out the board games for a night of fun that’s completely free!
11. The Play’s the Thing!
High school and college plays may not offer Oscar-caliber acting, but they do offer free or nearly free entertainment for a couple of hours.
12. Visit Some Tag Sales
Take $10 or $20 out of the ATM and go treasure hunting. You don’t have to take anything home but you can just enjoy the drive, the unusual finds, and the thrill of bargaining. Who knows? You just might find that comic book or old record you’ve been after for years!
13. Take a Class Together
If you’re married or have been dating for a while, try changing it up by taking a class together. You’ll learn something new for a small fee and have a new skill you can show off.
14. Go to an Arcade
If you haven’t been to an arcade for a while, it’s a great inexpensive date idea. All you need is a handful of quarters and a sense of adventure!
15. Go on a Factory Tour
Factory tours are another great cheap dating idea because they give you so many options to choose from. Depending on your area, you can tour furniture factories, cheese factories, movie studios, and racing speedways, just to name a few.
16. Play Video Games Together
You don’t have to visit the arcade if one of you already has a gaming system at home. Gaming doesn’t have to be a solo thing. There are plenty of fun video games for couples. You just have to know where to look.
17. Go Apple Picking at an Orchard
Walking around in a sunlit orchard with your significant other can be a great way to get closer and feel romantic. Grab a bushel and pick your favorite fruit. It won’t cost much and you’ll get exercise and healthy food in the bargain!
18. Sing Karaoke
For some, this is cheap dating at its most embarrassing but it can also be a lot of fun. Head to your nearest dive bar where the drinks are free and the singing is off-key and belt out your favorite tune. Don’t worry, everybody sounds a little off on karaoke. You’re supposed to!
19. Visit the Farmer’s Market
The farmer’s market is another of the great inexpensive date ideas. They’re fun and filled with fresh air and good food. Pick out some fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat and create a healthy meal at home.
20. Go Camping
Not everybody is into “roughing it” but camping can be a great cheap date idea. Just pack up the tent, some air mattresses (she’ll appreciate it), a cooler full of food, and a few other outdoor essentials and make a weekend of it. Go sightseeing, hiking, and take some photos. It will be worth it for the chance to make love under the stars.
Dating on a budget doesn’t have to be boring or without class. There are plenty of inexpensive date ideas for you and your significant other to try. These are just a handful. Don’t blow your whole paycheck on one date when you can make some real memories for under $20. What are you waiting for? Get creative. Get cracking. Get out there!