30 Super-Cheap Valentine’s Day Date Ideas (That Don’t Actually Suck)

Brandon Woelfel
Brandon Woelfel

For the food-lovers.

1. Host a home-hosted Iron Chef Competition.

You’ve probably seen a cooking show at least once in your life – one of those crazy competitions where people battle against each other to make the best-tasting dish in the shortest amount of time. Well, this Valentine’s Day, host your own. Using random ingredients from around the house, fight to the death with your S.O. and see who can make the yummiest dish. Loser takes the winner out for dessert.

2. Spend the day/night wandering around and getting free samples.

Costco, a farmer’s market, a ‘Taste of __’ event: it doesn’t matter where you go, it matters that there’s free food. Nothing says ‘I love you,’ like feeding your S.O. bite-sized sandwiches or chocolate-dipped fruit as you blissfully wander down the streets or aisles, hand-in-hand.

3. Plant something.

Okay, how cute is making your own mini-garden of yummy fruits and veggies?! (So cute.) Not only will you bond over the actual planting (kissing, having mud fights, rubbing dirt on one another’s noses, being in love) but you’ll also share special, Lady and the Tramp-type moments later, when you eat the pasta with fresh garden basil (or whatever you create). Cute, sentimental, and Disney-movie-esque all in one.

Quid Corner
Quid Corner

4. Go on a brewery tour.

This is more for the drunkies than the foodies – but don’t worry, the tipsy-munchies will come into play later. In all seriousness, though, a brewery tour is an awesome way to spend this Valentine’s Day. Not only can you sample a bunch of beers you’d probably never order at a bar (aka: my life in a nutshell) but you can drink together, bond, laugh, and explore a bunch of places in your community that you maybe haven’t been to before.

For the wander-lusters

5. Play the penny-game.

Get in the car, back out of the driveway and head to the end of the street. Then flip a coin. Heads – take a left. Tails – take a right. Do this until you get to a date location!

6. Let the map decide your fate.

I know, I know – GPS rules the world. But it doesn’t have to – not on V-Day at least! Grab a map and pick a location at random. Make sure it’s a place you haven’t been before. Now, pretend you’re explorers and use the map to actually get you there (no Google maps this time!). Bonus points if you walk!

7. Explore a rummage/car boot sale/flea market.

We all have junk laying around – junk that we’ve probably wanted to sell for ages but never took the time to. Gather up some of your stuff and head to a sale/market. Not only will you come up with some extra $$ but you can probably find a few cool things, too.

Quid Corner
Quid Corner

8. Create a scavenger hunt for your S.O.

Remember those door-to-door scavenger hunts you did on sleepovers as a kid? Well, make one for your partner (and add a little love, of course). You can have one through the house, the neighborhood (by hiding little love notes in difference places) or even in a supermarket (have them find all the ingredients for a special recipe, etc.) Whatever you decide, make sure that the clues are filled with love, memories, and sweetness. This is a fun and sentimental way to satisfy your wanderlust-loving partner, while showing how much you care.

For the adventurers.

9. Go ghost-hunting.

Maybe you or your S.O. are totally into the supernatural – if so, research local, spooky locations to check out. It doesn’t matter that it’s mid-February, the ghosts are still a-haunting, and this will make for an interesting, non-traditional date idea that your partner will never forget.

10. Try indoor skydiving.

Indoor skydiving is basically the real thing – machines simulate the feeling of jumping into the wind and floating in the sky – it’s crazy! And your adventure-loving S.O. will absolutely love it. No skydiving place around? Go to a indoor trampoline place or even hit up an indoor amusement park – if your partner loves adventure, any of these places will be sure to them a thrill.

11. Go hiking.

Or some other outdoor activity. If it’s freezing cold – bundle up and go ice skating, skiing, or sledding (if you want to indulge your inner child – and I mean, who doesn’t?) If it’s warm – hike, bike, roller blade, swim, etc. Get out and get active.

12. Test drive a car.

The thrill of being in a brand new car, rushing down the highway – there’s nothing like it – especially if your S.0. is the thrill-seeking type. Not only will this be super exhilarating, but you’ll feel like a bada$$ picking them up in a fancy new whip.

Quid Corner
Quid Corner

13. Go to a zoo or aquarium.

Adventurers are always looking to go somewhere, or do something. Instead of a typical dinner date, take your S.O. to a zoo or aquarium. and if possible, sign up for petting the stingrays, feeding the llamas – anything out of the norm. Check out deals, too! Sometimes zoos offer cheap entries during the week, or some may even be free! A cheap, and fun way to satisfy the adventure-lover in your life.

For the die-hard romantics.

14. Make an uber-cute relationship time capsule.

Okay, you most definitely did one of these as a kid (where did that thing go, anyways?) But this is wayyy cuter because it’s romantic. Write each other notes, gather pictures, decorate a little container and put all the artifacts inside. Seal this and hide it in a safe place – months, years, etc. from now you can open it and reminisce on where you were, right at this moment. #adorbs

15. Go cloud-watching or star-gazing.

Nothing beats a sweet, lazy afternoon/night, curled up side-by-side with someone you love, looking at the sky. Feeling super romantic? Plan a picnic, or bring wine and cheese to snack on as you talk and watch. (Bonus points if you watch the sunrise/sunset!)

16. Make a scrapbook together.

Gather a bunch of pictures, cute notes, memories and put them together in a mini-scrapbook. You probably won’t finish it all today, but it’ll be a great start. And it’ll be the cutest bonding experience ever.

17. Look through old photo albums together.

Nothing screams romantic more than going through old photo albums together. Share the best (and most embarrassing) moments from your childhood with your S.O. Not only will this teach you so much about who you both were when you were young, but it will bring you even closer. (And give you perfect blackmail material, if you ever need it.) :P

Quid Corner
Quid Corner

18. Write a love letter/poem/song for each other.

If your partner is a die-hard romantic, this will absolutely melt their heart. Love can be expressed in a zillion-and-one ways, but for someone who values the sappy stuff – writing a poem, a song, or letter will show them how much you care, and be a memento that they can keep close to their heart forever.

For the culture-lovers.

19. Attend a local, free concert.

Guaranteed your community has a free concert coming up. Snag some tickets and attend. Then snag some dessert afterwards.

20. Go on a creative date.

Go to a painting class, sculpting class, cooking class, etc. – something that brings out your creative side and leaves you with a new skill, or cute item to take home in remembrance.

21. Hit up an open mic night.

Go and listen, or if you’re feeling bold, share something. It’s amazing the cool words/music/ideas people share, and it’ll be a date out of your normal routine.

22. Pick something at random from your community’s newsletter to attend.

Every community gets those newsletters that tell you what’s happenin’ – pick something from the list at random and attend! Whether it’s a speaker, comedian, art gallery, museum, movie night in the park – just go and see what it’s all about. If nothing else, it gets you out in the community and doing something different.

23. Make an outdoor photo shoot of the two of you.

Photo shoots are fun – make a night of it! Get dressed up, grab your camera, and pose in front of cool places around down. Take model shots, selfies, goofy group photos with strangers – remember, every picture tells a story, and these will be silly memories to look back on, long after V-Day has passed.

24. Go to a local bar you haven’t been to before.

Defy all the Valentine’s Day expectations and go to a bar with your S.O.! Get the cheapest drink special and share laughs, talk to people, dance – whatever you want! The bar doesn’t have to be the stereotypical ‘lonely’ place on February 14th. Get out, have fun, and experience a slice of the local culture.

For the home-bodies

25. Create something together.

Draw pictures of each other, paint together, color a giant, poster-sized wall hanging, or make a collage of pictures – the opportunities are endless – and inexpensive. Plus, you’ll bond and get closer and more comfortable with one another.

26. Play truth or dare.

Caution: this can get intense! But nothing more revealing and exciting than playing a childhood game with your S.O. Discover secrets about each other’s past, be open, and well, get a little crazy if you want, too. (Drinks encouraged.)

27. Build a fort.

I don’t care how old you are, forts are awesome. Get all your sheets and blankets, couch cushions and pillows, candles and wine, and make a big-human-sized fort in your bedroom or living room. Then hang in it and play games, watch movies, or snuggle and talk.

Quid Corner
Quid Corner

28. Host the ultimate game night.

This is the competition of all competitions, playing a different game each round – video games, board games, silly, childhood games like hide-and-seek – all that matters is you’re competitive and having fun. (Drinks optional.)

29. Make your own nightclub.

Love to dance but hate the craziness of going out? Turn your apartment to a nightclub – disco lights, loud music, fancy clothes – and dance and drink the night away, just the two of you.

30. Have a movie marathon.

Lazy days are good. This V-Day, indulge in a Netflix/movie marathon, complete with snacks, drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) and plenty of comfy blankets. Some days you just need to enjoy one another’s simple, blissful company. February 14th is one of them. TC mark

Another fun Valentine’s Day activity? Thought Catalog’s first coloring book, Relax Already & Get Sexy! Get your copy here (NSFW).

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Marisa Donnelly

Marisa is a writer, poet, & editor. She is the author of Somewhere On A Highway, a poetry collection on self-discovery, growth, love, loss and the challenges of becoming.

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