1. Cheer on an amateur sports team in your city. It’s just as fun as supporting a Real Team but tickets are dirt cheap. My city’s non-pro baseball team has a few dates during the summer where tickets are $5 and they have $1 beers all night. Also, until we got a new baseball stadium whenever there was a home game on a Wednesday you could get in for $3 with a student ID (mine didn’t include a date so no one knew I graduated ~3 years ago).
2. Make a fire outside. This is free and hands down, the best date ever.
3. Go through this list of questions and answer them all, back and forth. Or, use it as part of a game of truth or dare.
4. Bowling is always a fun night out, and if you go during the week you can find somewhere to do it super cheap. The bar near my house has free bowling for ladies on Tuesdays and dudes can play for a reduced price ($5) too.
5. Lots of cities are getting cheap and easy bikes you can rent around town and return at any number of vending locations. This is a great way to see your neighborhood differently.
6. Go to a park where you can feed the ducks.
7. Go to a local park and rent a canoe or paddleboards. This will be just $10-20 each at most places and beats the hell out of another movie.
8. Play a Monopoly game through until someone wins. Play music (not TV) in the background. You’ll have fun conversations and learn a lot about your partner’s business sense while doing it.
9. Go to a flea market or hit some thrift stores. You don’t have to buy anything, it’s fun to look around at antiques and nostalgic products from the 90’s.
10. If you do find things at the flea market/thrift store, you can fix them up together. I used a version of this tutorial to turn a junky 80’s coffee table into a beautiful beachy one, and it was a simple, fun project to do with another person.
11. Hike anywhere nearby with a great view.
12. Look up the events calendar of your local paper, there’s tons of free events like art shows, block parties, and festivals that you can go to together.
13. My go-to cheap date is to grab some food from my apartment and walk to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and walk around/hang out on the grass. This works with a community garden or a regular park as well.
14. Take a community education class together.
15. Learn how to cook and spend time together at one of your homes making nice dinners and eating them over candlelight.
16. Go to the beach.
17. Volunteer at the Humane Society together and play with dogs that need extra love.
18. This is not necessarily a cheap date, but a very cheap weekend away: my DNR rents cabins in state parks for just $50 a night and they are new on the inside and have real beds, a table, and a fire pit outside.
19. Go for a walk downtown together on a Friday or Saturday night. There’s so much insane people watching as people get drunk and run around, you’ll have a ton to laugh about and Watching all the crazies will bring you closer together.
20. On the first windy day of spring go buy the $4 kids kites from the grocery store and fly them in the park.
21. If you live somewhere without light pollution, sit outside and try to identify as many constellations as you can. There’s some handy apps for this, or you can just try from memory and be creative.
22. Build a fort and then make out inside it.
23. Join a rec league and play on the same team together.
24. Find a coffeehouse that has live music and go there for a night. Even if you have two drinks each coffee is inexpensive and you’ll have paid less than $10 each for a whole night’s activity.
25. Go on a ghost hunt. Here’s a good how to.
26. The gold standard of a cheap date: mini golf. It’s a fun outdoor activity that takes awhile to complete and forces you to have conversation while giving you something to talk about the entire time. If either of you is actually into golf, the driving range can be just as fun, but slightly more athletic.
27. In the summer, get some ice cream and go for a walk through a fun neighborhood.
28. Ice skating. Outdoor rinks in the winter are so romantic and beautiful. There’s a weird amount of privacy despite being around other people, so you can have good conversations without being forced into it. Tip: if you don’t skate a lot find a rink where you can rent skates for a few bucks, even if you have them. Skates that are worn a lot are a lot “softer” and your feet won’t hurt right away like they will with skates you haven’t worn in a year.
29. Find out the free or reduced-price days to go to your local planetarium or museum.
30. Learn to play pool if you don’t already know how. You can go to any bar and spend the whole night for very little money. You can get competitive and play each other or make friends by playing as a team against other couples.
31. If you don’t like coffee, try a juice press shop.
32. If you’re an extroverted couple: karaoke. If you’re not: watching other people karaoke.
33. Go to www.pickyourown.com and search for the area you live in. You’ll get a list of local farms where you can pick your own produce. Spend the day filling a bucket up with strawberries and then go home and make strawberry shortcake and/or jam.
34. Most communities have some form of “movies in the park” going on in the summer months. It’s usually a free activity where they play movies in a local park on a giant screen. Just pack a blanket (and hey, maybe a secret bottle of wine) and the whole night is set.
35. If either of you is interested in photography, spend the day walking around a nearby town or city, trading the camera back and forth and see who comes out with the best shots.
36. Make and bottle a batch of salsa together. Figure out who likes it spicy and who likes it with corn added. Come up with a name for it.
37. Go to a nature center on a day when they are doing some kind of guided tour. It can be interesting to learn the names of your local trees and plants that you’ve seen forever but known nothing about.
38. Buy the ingredients for you to both make variations of the same dish and have a cooking competition.
39. Buy two lottery tickets. Get a laptop out and dream up a bucket list of places you’ll visit and things you’ll do when you win.
40. Go tubing down a lazy river in the summer.
41. Go to bingo night somewhere. You’ll make tons of weird friends. Bingo people are a lot feistier and more interesting than you’d imagine.
42. Strip chess.
43. Internet comedy: spend a cozy night in watching funny YouTube videos and laughing your asses off. Here’s a good place to start.
44. Google how to give a great massage and take turns perfecting your techniques.
45. Go through each others phones or computers and share pictures of memorable trips or events from your life. Tell stories about what is important to you.
46. Take up tennis — it’s free after you both have racquets and you get to spend time outside together.
47. Indulge in a seasonal activity: pumpkin carving, making hot chocolate from scratch, grilling outside, etc.
48. Wait for a night that has nice weather and go somewhere where you can see the city lights/skyline and just chill out. This could be from a scenic overlook in your car or just heading up to the roof of your apartment building.
49. Buy a few different cheeses, some grapes, and some three-buck Chuck and have a mini wine and cheese party at home, just the two of you.
50. Go on a tour of a local brewery or winery. Not only are they free and interesting, but usually you end the tour with a bunch of free samples.