Free and Affordable Date Ideas Bound to Impress Your Partner

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Dating is exhilarating but let’s face it: it’s expensive. In the long term, going out to restaurants, the bar or the movies up to three times a week isn’t financially sustainable. But the good news is that you don’t have to postpone plans with that special person until payday. Keep the romance and excitement alive with this list of free and cheap dates.

1. Plan a Day Trip

Sometimes a change of scenery can be a simple yet fun activity to make lasting memories. Whether you’re planning to go to a new place or somewhere you’ve been a dozen times before, you’re bound to find a hidden gem when you reach your destination. Before the trip, you two can create a road trip playlist and get to know each other’s music tastes. What are you waiting for? Pack a homemade lunch, gas up the car, and hit up all the places you want to stop by on the way. After all, the journey is almost as fun as reaching your destination.

2. Cook a Meal Together

couple cooking in the kitchen
Credit: iStock
Maybe you’re tired of eating out or it’s becoming too expensive. The solution: Cook at home together. You can either go grocery shopping to get all the things on your ingredient list or you can cook with what you have at home. If you’re feeling the latter, you should consider using SuperCook, a recipe search engine that lets you search by ingredients you have at home. Cooking is a fun way to get to know each other. Plus you might even discover a new favorite recipe!

3. Tour a Fancy Open House

This idea is for the spontaneous and brave. Get dressed up and look up some open houses within your area. Or if you’re looking for a real adventure, you could make it a day trip and go somewhere further! It’s the perfect date to go on with a person you’ve been seeing for a while because house hunting (real or pretend) is an exciting way to envision a life with someone.
Bonus: There might be small snacks provided for you as you two shuffle through the house of your dreams!

4. Disposable Camera Photoshoot

woman using disposable film camera
Credit: Unsplash
For less than $15, you can create your very own photoshoot date. All you’ll need is a disposable camera (here is one from Fujifilm for $12.99), a cute outfit, and a scenic background. You can take the photos downtown, on an open field or if you’re lucky enough to be near the ocean, at the beach! Afterward, take the film to be developed and in a little over a week, you’ll have the photos as a physical reminder of the fun you’ve had.

5. Sip and Draw (Each Other)

This is the perfect date for those cold winter nights when you just don’t feel like leaving the house. Pick up your favorite bottle of cheap wine and a pencil and let your creative hearts spark with this activity. After a few glasses of wine, grab some drawing supplies and get to sketching one another. Depending on each other’s drawing skills, you’ll either be left with some beautiful portraits or a good laugh.

6. Window Shop at a Bookstore

You can learn a lot about someone from the books they leaf through. That’s why window shopping at a bookstore is the perfect date option for someone you’re trying to get to know. Head down to your favorite local bookstore and browse around for an hour or two. There, you can show them your favorite books or what’s on your wishlist and you can see theirs. You’ll learn a lot about their interests, hobbies and favorite childhood reads. If you’re lucky, you might even find a book to take home on sale!

7. Go for a Hike (or Swim)

couple taking selfie on hike
Credit: iStock
If you and your significant other are into working out, consider going for a hike together (or swim if you live near a beach). Plan out what trail you two want to tackle and be sure to pack some granola and plenty of water. Reach your workout goals for the day and then take a victory selfie when you reach the end of your trek.

8. Visit a Museum

A classic date you can’t go wrong with. Not only is walking around an art museum hand-in-hand one of the most romantic things you can do, it’s also affordable. Most public museums are free on Sundays and most private museums offer low-cost tickets for general admission. Afterward, you can hit up the gift shop where there are trinkets available at any price point.

9. Have a Game Night

settlers of catan game night
Credit: Unsplash
A little friendly competition never hurt anyone. You can start with the classics–think Jenga or scrabble–then move to card games and maybe even to video game consoles. Whatever you choose, it’s bound to be a fun-filled and memorable night.
Bonus: Make it a double date and team up to challenge (and defeat!) another couple.

10. Do Volunteer Work Together

Schedule an afternoon to play with dogs at the animal shelter or join a community trash pickup group. If you both have a cause that you are passionate about, make it a date so you can spend quality time together while giving back to the community.

11. Enjoy an At-Home Concert

YouTube will occasionally have live streams of concerts or clips of full concerts. You can get dressed up, turn up the speakers, and sing or dance together while watching your favorite artists perform on the big screen.

12. Play Nostalgic Video Games

mario and luigi figurines
Credit: Unsplash
There are numerous two-player games that couples can enjoy. Get the controllers out and play a round of Mario Kart or spend the night creating a virtual realm in The Sims.
Bonus: Invite other couples to play in multi-player mode for even more fun.

13. Collaborate on a DIY Project

Why not build something together or create a fun project that both of you can be proud of? Explore your creative side with a simple arts and crafts project like a photo album or create a cute accessory that both of you can wear.
If you don’t know where to start, Home Depot sometimes has free DIY workshops and there are tons of DIY videos you can find on YouTube as well.

14. Stroll Through the Farmer’s Market

Most cities will have Farmer’s Markets every week, and some will even have live entertainment and tons of booths you can browse. Both of you can also get some light exercise in as you stroll through the venue, which is always a plus.

15. Binge a Show or Movie

remote selecting streaming app
Credit: Unsplash
Whether you’re starting something new or continuing a series, you can’t really go wrong with watching a movie or a television show. Pick any streaming service of your choosing, turn down the lights and grab a snack and some drinks before tuning into your must-watch list. Together, you two can watch the classics or get more experimental with a genre you’re both new to.
Not sure what to watch? Check out this list of the best things streaming on Disney+ right now.


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