Cheap Romantic Date Ideas

Romance Doesn't Have to Mean Expensive

If you are like most couples, you love romance. The problem is that date nights tend to get expensive. When you’re in the middle of saving for a down payment, a baby, or paying off your student loans, you might not think you have the money for a date night, but these 20 romantic and cheap date ideas focus on reconnecting with your partner so you can keep that spark—and your savings—alive.

Go for a Hike

man and woman on a date hiking a canyon with the man helping the woman up an embankment
Colin Anderson / Getty Images

If you and your partner love nature, going for a hike together can be relaxing—or challenging, depending on the trail you take—experience.

Hikes that include waterfalls or scenic overlooks can be the most romantic, but like walking, just getting out together can be enough. Stop and admire the beauty of nature and leave the electronics behind.

Most hikes can be had for free, but if you want to have a better chance at a clean path, look to state parks, which often charge only for parking.

Get in Touch With Your Creative Side

Hope you are a prince!
PeopleImages / Getty Images

While date nights fall by the wayside as life gets busier, so does getting in touch with your creative side. When is the last time you painted, drew, or colored something?

Introduce some playfulness into your life by getting your partner in on the fun. Buy an adult coloring book and pick an illustration to color. Have fun drawing cartoon versions of yourselves together. Pick one of your favorite pictures together and paint it.

Have a Picnic in the Park

Couple carrying picnic hamper on coastal path.
Dougal Waters / Getty Images

This is a tried-and-true romantic date idea that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Make food at home and bring some snacks and beverages. Take a blanket or some chairs and go to your local park for lunch. Spend a few hours talking, enjoying the food, and people-watching.

Reconnect Over Your Future

Couple sailing on sunny ocean
Hero Images / Getty Images

Has it been a while since you and your partner discussed future goals and desires? While neglecting date nights is one thing, not having a clear direction on where the two of you are headed with another.

Talk about it over some beer or wine and make a financial plan that gets you both on the same page again. In a time when everyone is too busy and their schedules are packed, it’s important to reconnect on a regular basis to make sure you and your partner are happy.

Take a Scenic Drive

Caucasian couple driving convertible under blue sky
Colin Anderson / Getty Images

If hiking isn’t your thing, taking a scenic drive can be the next best option. Scenic drives may differ with each season. Almost anything is scenic during autumn if you’re lucky enough to live in an area where the leaves change colors, and most highways near coasts are beautiful in the spring and summer. During the holidays, it can be fun to go for a drive to see houses lit up.

Go on a Day Trip

Couple watching the sunset in a convertible car parked by a secluded beach
courtneyk / Getty Images

If you live close to a major city or some nice attractions, you easily can take a day trip for the cost of gas if you bring your own food. Scout out some areas nearby or run a search on Google to see what fun things are around. Maybe you can take a hike or enjoy a day at the beach, a day in a neighboring city, or ride bicycles around.

Drive Down Memory Lane Instead

Man holding a photo
Thanasis Zovoilis / Getty Images

Didn’t find anything especially scenic around you? Take a drive down memory lane instead. Go back the furthest you can. If you live in the same place where you started dating, you might have a long trip ahead of you.

The point is to drive to places that hold special memories for each of you and reminisce about the past. Maybe it’s where you had your first kiss, where your proposal took place, or where your first apartment together was. Craft a timeline of events and places and go visit them.

Go to a Museum

a couple having a date at a gallery

JGI /Tom Grill / Getty Images

Are you and your partner history buffs, or do you just enjoy learning more about your local area? You can choose the price of admission at a lot of museums, or you might be able to go for free on a certain day of the month.

Not all museums need to be grand buildings, either. You might run across educational centers in parks or other tourist attractions in your town that offer a bit of insight into its past. If you or your partner are students, you might be eligible for a student discount if you have your student ID on you.

Have a Fun Photoshoot

young couple taking a picture of themselves
David Malan / Getty Images

Smartphones come equipped with fairly decent cameras, so you shouldn’t need any extra equipment for this other than an optional tripod or selfie-stick. This could pair nicely with a drive down memory lane or park scenery. You also can have a fun double date with another couple and take pictures of each other.

Reminisce Over Old Photos

couple snuggled together looking at the photos stored on a smartphone
Geber86 / Getty Images

Does either of you have pictures from when you were much younger? Get them out of storage or borrow them from a relative and have fun going through them. This is a great sentimental way of sharing your pre-relationship life with each other. Once you’re done with that, move onto reminiscing over old photos taken of the two of you together.

Grab Dessert, Tea, or Coffee

Couple having breakfast.
Courtney Keating / Getty Images

Dessert, tea, or coffee is often much cheaper than going out to get a full meal. Plus, if you’re willing to splurge just a little, you can try new flavors or specialties you normally wouldn’t bother with. Intimate coffee and tea shops or bakeries make for great low-key dates as they are suited to close proximity and quiet conversation.

Go to the Zoo

A woman laughs at her partner who has had a butterfly land on her head
jeffbergen / Getty Images

Going to a zoo might be a little more interesting than a museum, especially if it includes exotic animals. The price of admission varies greatly, but many larger cities have small zoos that might be free or cost less than $30 a couple. Just make sure to pack your own snacks as anything purchased in a zoo is usually pricey.

Visit a Botanical Garden

Couple walking through botanical garden looking at view

PhotoAlto / Ale Ventura / Getty Images

Botanical gardens are usually set in picturesque locations that lend themselves well to a romantic day or evening. Some are even free, though they might offer a tour or admission to a historical landmark on-site for a few dollars.

Play a Game Together

Young couple playing chess

Plush Studios / Bill Reitzel / Getty Images

Game night can be a lot of fun with friends, but it can be equally as enjoyable with two people. If all you have are regular cards, that’s even better; there are plenty of card games that require only two to play.

Do you and your partner already have a collection of board games? Look through them and see if there are any you can play together. Games like Roll For It, Age of War, Love Letter, Onitama, and trivia games can work well.

Video games often make for good date nights too. Check for those that have couch co-op, take turns (when one person "dies," the other gets to play), or even try splitting the controller.

Have a Movie Marathon or Binge Watch Seasons of Shows

Couple watching television together and eating popcorn
Chris Ryan / Getty Images

Is there a movie or show you and your partner have been meaning to watch, but haven’t had time for? Mark a date on the calendar to go on a viewing marathon.

Since most people have a subscription to a streaming service, this should be close to free, but YouTube can come to the rescue if you don’t have a subscription. There is plenty of web series available for free online.

Optionally, you could go shopping for some candy, popcorn, and other movie staples to enjoy throughout the day.

Work on a puzzle

Jigsaw puzzle pieces shaped like a heart lay on a table
Feng Zhao / Getty Images

Puzzles aren’t that expensive; there are plenty to be found for around $10. Plus, you don’t need an extremely elaborate one unless you want to make “puzzle night” a regular thing. You even can do a ​digital puzzle.

The great thing about doing a puzzle together is that it’s a collaborative exercise. There’s nothing like searching for one particular piece for what seems like forever and finally discovering it. The sense of accomplishment you feel when the puzzle is complete can be shared among both of you.

You even can glue the puzzle together and hang it on the wall as a picture! This has a little bit of an extra cost associated with it, but it’s probably more meaningful than a $100 painting you can purchase.

Take a walk

A same sex couple walking with their arms around each other down a sidewalk
Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

Sometimes simple is better. If you’re looking for a quick and super cheap escape, take a walk around a part of your neighborhood that you’ve never explored before or taken a trip into a town and walk around the main streets.

You can walk in silence, taking in the scenery, or you can catch up on each other’s lives while enjoying the weather.

Either way, you get fresh air, some light exercise, and you get to reconnect with your partner. If you don’t want any interruptions, leave your phones at home or turn them off.

You even can make this a routine. Go for walks after dinner, or make it a point to go for a walk at a time when someone can watch the kids on the weekend. Even if you’re out for only an hour, that hour can do wonders for your relationship.

Cook a Meal Together

A couple laugh as the prepare a meal together in a kitchen and follow a recipe
Peopleimages / Getty Images

Not everyone enjoys the culinary arts, but if you and your partner love experimenting in the kitchen, take some time to create a meal or prepare a special dessert together.

Then dine in candlelight—without having to wait to be served and without the $60-$100 price tag.

Look for Specials

a couple search for entertainment deals using a tablet
kupicoo / Getty Images

Want to go the traditional route for a date night and catch a movie with dinner afterward? Or do you want to have fun outside of the house and go bowling or to an arcade? Look around for specials.

Many movie theaters often have half-price days or cheaper rates for matinees, and if you search hard enough, you’ll find quite a few local restaurants offering great deals at happy hour or after-hours food and drinks.

The same goes for bowling alleys and arcades. Take a look around their social media pages to see if you can find the days when discounts are offered.

If All Else Fails, Look on Groupon

Cheerful couple using laptop at home to look for Groupon coupons
Portra / Getty Images

It might sound uninspired, but if you’re tired of trying to find interesting date ideas, let someone else do the work for you. That someone else can be Groupon, a site where you can find deals on adventures that you haven’t thought about like horseback riding, bungee jumping, medieval times, or rock climbing.