Summertime sunshine appeared alongside an intense heat wave that simmered through much of the country. Brian and I tucked ourselves away indoors. As we enjoyed a simple, air-conditioned date night, I thought to myself that it’d be fun to share some of our cheap date night ideas with you!
The average cost of a date in 2018 was around $100. Of course, costs fluctuate based on a variety of factors, including location, establishment, and interest. As we consider the circumstances of the last few years, we know this cost now ranges widely. From an economic (and social) shutdown to crazy high inflation, the dating scene has experienced quite a few changes.
Brian and I tend to favor easy, low-key dates (especially when we find a great deal!) over more extensive ones. However, pre-pandemic, we were a little more relaxed with our spending. We enjoyed restaurant-hopping and exploring different bites and drinks throughout the day and into the evening.
We adjusted our preferences and expectations as we navigated life during the pandemic. It turns out that we’re A-OK with eliminating our previously loved restaurant adventures. We have since found plenty of other ways to connect and hang that don’t cost an arm and a leg (lookin’ at you, inflation!).
Dating is all about having a good time and connecting with your person. It doesn’t HAVE to be costly.
Summertime Date Ideas
1. Visit a Cemetery
Ditch the typical ‘dinner and a movie’ and head to a local cemetery. Cemeteries are full of history. They’re fantastic spaces for quiet contemplation and conversation. Enjoy a peaceful walkthrough or have a little picnic.
2. Go Geocaching
Grab your smart phone or any other GPS device, download the Geocaching app, and hit the road! Geocaching is a real-world treasure hunt. Participants use navigational skills and clues to play a hide-and-seek game in search of ‘caches’, or hidden containers.
3. Visit a State or National Park
Take a few hours to explore a state or national park. Hit the trails, see the sights, and take in nature together. Keep an eye out for free entry days or discounted entry times for a greater bargain.
4. Stroll Through a Local Farmer’s Market
A farmer’s market offers a chance to peruse fresh, local produce, handmade products, and even listen to live music from local performers. You don’t even have to purchase anything unless the mood strikes; simply wandering around to different vendors is a great time!
5. Make a Giant Slip and Slide
Cool off under the summer sun with a childhood favorite. Grab a thick, 100-foot long plastic sheet or tarp, turn on the hose, and add a little baby shampoo for some silly fun.
6. Relax in a Korean Bathhouse
This date isn’t for the shy or timid; you will be naked, as will others. Nudity is required in sex-specific areas. However, many Korean spas offer co-ed spaces, in which you are required to be fully dressed in a provided uniform.
- Low admission fee (typically around $30/person)
- 24-Hour access per fee
- Hot and cold baths
- Body scrubbing
- Steam and cold rooms
Massage, reflexology, and masks are among the additional services available at an additional cost. So, enjoy a relaxing dip on your own. Connect with your partner in a few of the saunas, grab a bite to eat at the food court, and relax with each other!
7. Hobby Swap
Take a few hours to introduce your favorite hobbies to one another. Even though your hobby may not resonate with your partner’s and vice versa, it’s still a fun opportunity to learn something new.
8. Pop into an Estate or Garage Sale
Drive through your closest major city and you are sure to pass by an estate or garage sale. Venturing through one of these is easily one of the most interesting ways to spend an hour or so. It can turn into a bit of a treasure hunt!
9. Rent a Car
Take a scenic drive in a one-day rental. Cruise around in an open-top Jeep Wrangler. Or, better yet, save on gas money and hit the road in a sleek, electric-powered Tesla.
10. Develop Your Palate
Grab a bite to eat at a never-been-to hole-in-the-wall. Of course, do your due diligence to make sure the food is GOOD. Offbeat hole-in-the-wall restaurants are incredible opportunities for culture, new flavors, and new friends.
11. Free Concerts in the Park
Big city parks often offer tons of free entertainment, including concerts, street performers, and more. Smaller cities also host free outdoor concerts throughout the year, many of them during the summertime. Hit the park, listen to some tunes, and enjoy a couple of hours outside.
12. Create Your Own Adventure
Log onto websites like Yelp or Tripadvisor and limit your findings to low-cost or Free Entry activities. Pick and choose through the options to create your very own tour through the city.
13. Go On a Scavenger Hunt
You can either create your own scavenger hunt or find one online by searching for free printable scavenger hunts. Go head-to-head for a fun competition or scavenge together for some quality time.
14. Embrace the Early Bird Dinner
Boy, do I LOVE my early bird dinners. Not only do Brian and I find awesome deals, but we usually get to have the place to ourselves. It’s a simple way to enjoy a meal out and still be able to connect in a nice, quiet space.
15. Early Morning Challenge
Head out before sunrise and get in a nice, long walk together. It’s wonderful to start the morning slowly and unrushed. Or, you can jump into a P90X Challenge and work out together, which is how Brian and I have started off many of our early mornings!
16. Volunteer Together
Volunteering can be as social or intimate as you want it to be. Whether you’re looking to join a community Habitat for Humanity or help your local animal shelter, there are endless opportunities to lend a helping hand alongside others. If you and your partner are looking for something a little more intimate, you can arrange for your very own neighborhood clean-up session or volunteer to help a nearby neighbor.
17. Have a Power Outage
You’ll have to pick a cool summer day or evening for this one! Get creative and come up with some fun things to do together with the power off.
18. Learn Something New Together
I’m a sucker for education. Street, traditional, or DIY, I love it all. Pick something totally out of your element that neither one of you has tried and learn about it. Put it to practice if you can! Learning new things together encourages growth, connection, and excitement.
- Attend free DIY Workshops through your local hardware store
- Take a dance class together (check out a local spot or hop to it through free YouTube lessons)
- Build something together (start with something small – a nightstand or table)
- Practice a new language
- Repurpose old furniture
- Start a vegetable garden
19. Two-Wheel Exploration
Grab your bikes or rent them for a day. Pick a new neighborhood and explore. If you want to up the ante, try tandem biking.
20. Sunset with a Twist
Catch sunset at a local spot with a haunted history. Stray from the standard rooftop or ‘lover’s peak’ and enjoy a spooky evening. It might be scary, but also a lot of fun.
21. Elements of Nature
Separately, plan parts of your date incorporating the different elements of nature: earth, wind, fire, and water. You can plan for a single date or two separate dates, depending on the extensiveness of your elements.
A good date is a fun and memorable one. It doesn’t require a high price tag, but rather an open mind. Whether you’d prefer to save a few bucks or just want to try something different, these budget-friendly date ideas will provide you with interesting experiences. Break out of the box this summer; ditch the expensive night out and get creative!
Have you tried any of these dates? If so, do you have any favorites? Comment below!
These were great and we’ve tried most over the years….
Thanks! It’s nice to play with different ideas over the years.
One of the fun things that Mom and I used to do was to go on photography jaunts to wooded areas and farms. Watching a photo that you developed appear before your eyes under a darkroom light is a lost treat in these days of digital photography.
That’s a great date idea! Sounds like a really enjoyable way to spend a day. Today’s digitized world is a double-edged sword. I agree; though I haven’t developed photos myself, it sure does sound like a lost treat.