Graphic illustration of three couples enjoying cheap date ideas

18 Cheap Date Ideas – Dazzle Your Date on a Budget

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it may be time to plan some special time with your significant other. But what if money’s tight? You’ll need some cheap date ideas that still show your partner you care.

The truth is not everyone has the funds to shell out on a lavish five-course dinner, but the good news is that there are plenty of ways to spend a romantic day without breaking the bank! Check out these 18 cheap date ideas to curate a fun and intimate night to remember for years to come.

1. Have a Picnic

Couple on picnic blanket at park

Whether in a picturesque park, or cozied up in your warm living room, plan a picnic for two complete with a blanket, romantic playlist, wine, cheese, flowers, and anything else you can think of to make the occasion special! 

2. Have a Romantic Movie Night In

Pop some popcorn, grab your fuzziest blanket, and snuggle up to your favorite movie or the newest rom-com blockbuster! Make it extra special with candles, other kinds of mood lighting, and a spread of your significant other’s favorite snacks. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out this list of the best romantic date night movies.

3. Volunteer Together

You’d be hard-pressed to find a bonding experience that brings you closer together than helping others. And of all the cheap date ideas, this is the one that turns frugality into generosity. Volunteer at a food bank, an animal shelter, or somewhere else you could make a difference. Enjoy doing some good for the world while you enjoy that time with each other. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

4. See a Play

Cultural experiences like local theater can be more affordable than you think. Instead of a touring Broadway show, think small intimate theatrical experiences. Do some research on what’s out there and what critics are saying. These smaller productions can sometimes be as good or even better than the big touring shows.

5. Write Stories of Your Love

If you and your partner are good with words, take this opportunity to write down the stories of your love from each of your perspectives. Share how you feel about each other in a way that goes further than the everyday “I love you’s.” In the long run, these stories and shared feelings will mean more than a steak dinner and you’ll have them to keep forever.

6. Go Ice Skating

Cheap date ideas depiction - couple ice skating and holding hands

What’s more romantic than bundling up and whizzing ‘round the ice, hand in hand? If one of you is a stronger skater than the other, no problem! This could be an opportunity for you or them to show patience and support in an area where the other is learning to be comfortable. 

7. Watch the Sunrise or Sunset

When was the last time you watched a sunrise or sunset? Sometimes our lives get so busy that we forget to stop and appreciate these beautiful events that happen literally every day. Bring your favorite drink, find a romantic place to sit and watch, and share this experience with your loved one.

8. Cook or Bake a Special Dinner or Dessert Together

Cheap date ideas depictions of couple preparing a meal together

Who says you need a 5-star restaurant to enjoy a 5-star meal? Pick a recipe together, gather everything you need from an affordable grocer, and get cooking! Preparing food can really bring a couple closer because it combines many of the elements that bond people — tackling a challenge, doing something new, and collaborating. Not to mention, it can be tons of fun!

9. Create a Treasure Hunt For Your Significant Other

Hide clues around your house that lead to places that have special meaning for the two of you. Bonus points if you can create rhymes: “Look in the place you first shared with me, that our family would soon total not two, but three.” The final “treasure” can be something sweet but affordable like a framed photo of the both of you, or some hand-picked flowers.

10. Go Bowling

Who says your date has to be fancy? If you’re looking for great cheap date ideas, bowling can be a winner because it is so casual. Formal is not for everyone — beers, onion rings, and some friendly competition might be you and your partner’s idea of the best night ever.

11. Go on a Romantic Walk

Graphic illustration of couple going on a walk

Is there an especially scenic area in your town? Pick flowers, appreciate the view, and just spend some quality time together enjoying the outdoors and each other.

12. Build Something Together

Maybe it’s just putting together a puzzle, or perhaps it’s something more advanced like building a birdhouse. Whatever you decide to do, you’ll be joining forces to, not only build this thing, but build a beautiful memory.

13. Visit a Conservatory 

These tropical wonderlands are generally free, very warm, and totally romantic. Explore one of these horticultural hide-outs together — decide which is your favorite exotic plant, bask in the comfortable humidity, and appreciate each other’s company.

14. Go on a Road Trip

Enjoy a quick road trip together! Hit the open road, explore, and stop at a few affordable or free roadside attractions. Maybe you’ll even decide to spend a night under the stars!

15. Teach Each Other Something

Have completely different skills and hobbies? Ever consider bringing your partner into each other’s worlds? Take some time to share your love of baseball — teach them how to swing at a curveball or even how to appreciate the intricacies of the game. And maybe you’ll enjoy crocheting more than you ever thought you would.

16. Do a YouTube Tutorial Together

This is similar to #15, but here you’ll learn something new together. Whether it’s creating a stop motion animation, painting a landscape, or making a special cocktail, you’ll connect through a mutually novel experience.

17. Go Mini-Golfing

You can’t deny how fun mini-golfing can be! Lean into that competition, discover each new strange fiberglass character and obstacle, and celebrate each hole with a new victory dance. If you and your partner are still in touch with those children within, this could be the date for you.

18. Take a Walk Down Memory Lane

Couple looking lovingly at each other at table drinking coffee

It costs nothing to pop in the wedding VHS, pull out old albums, or just hearken back to fond early memories of your relationship — but it can mean a whole lot more than an extravagant night out. Take a romantic walk down memory lane and take stock of how far you’ve come.

Final Words

If you’re on a budget, you should never feel obligated to have to splurge on dates. While spending money on a special experience or gift can be a nice gesture, it’s more important that you spend quality time with your partner and show you care. 

With one of these clever cheap date ideas, you don’t have to sacrifice being financially responsible to have an amazing, romantic night with your significant other.

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