67 Cheap Date Ideas for the Recession-Era Romantic

by Kyle O'Connor

When you’re in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression, it’s not always easy to come up with the cash to impress your date. Luckily, there’s still tons of fun and romantic things you can do that take little-to-no money — all that’s required is a little creativity. Here are our 67 favorite ideas for cheap dates:

    Kite flying couple
    Photo by ms golightly
  1. Browse the local farmers’ market.
  2. Go on a picnic. All you need is a blanket, fruit, sausage, cheese, crackers and water.
  3. Fly a kite.
  4. Enjoy a romantic home-cooked meal.
  5. Cook dinner together.
  6. Go apple picking.
  7. Give a massage.
  8. Go to the beach.
  9. Attend an open-air festival.
  10. See an art-house movie matinee.
  11. Build a snowman.
  12. Bike riding couple
    Photo by Gnome J
  13. Have a barbecue.
  14. Share a sundae.
  15. Attend an art gallery.
  16. Take a hike.
  17. Go to a book signing.
  18. Go for a bike ride.
  19. Play miniature golf.
  20. Attend a wine tasting.
  21. Go fishing.
  22. Go sledding (with a thermos of hot cider or cocoa).
  23. Visit the zoo.
  24. Rent a movie.
  25. Pick up movie at your local library.
  26. Drive go-carts.
  27. Girl swinging
    Photo by celebdu
  28. Go window-shopping.
  29. Invite friends over for board games.
  30. Do a Google search for free things to do in your city.
  31. Eat out with a gift certificate from Restaurant.com.
  32. Drive through the country (especially good around Fall).
  33. Play at a playground (swings and teeter-totters are fun!)
  34. Attend a planetarium show.
  35. Browse antique shops.
  36. Go to an open mic night at a coffee shop or bookstore.

  37. Volunteer at a favorite charity.
  38. Attend a high school sporting event.
  39. Watch Shakespeare in the Park.
  40. Have an indoor picnic.
  41. Star gaze (Orion is an easy constellation to spot).
  42. Couple ice skating
    Photo by Paul Keleher
  43. Take a pottery class together.
  44. Go bowling.
  45. Play pool.
  46. Go to the local community pool.
  47. Feed the ducks at a local pond.
  48. Go ice skating.
  49. Go roller skating.
  50. Play laser tag.
  51. Play frisbee.
  52. Go kayaking or canoeing.
  53. Skip rocks at a lake.
  54. Watch a meteor shower (here’s when they happen).
  55. Attend a local high school, community college or university play or musical.
  56. Go camping.
  57. Play basketball together.
  58. Visit a botanical garden.
  59. Go spelunking (but be careful!)
  60. Couple dancing tango
    Photo by min wye
  61. Get a cup of coffee together (hopefully at a spot that offers free refills).
  62. Take a factory tour. Breweries that offer free samples are especially fun.
  63. Take dance lessons at a local community center.
  64. Visit local historic landmarks.
  65. Put together a puzzle.
  66. Carve pumpkins (around Halloween). Or go trick-or-treating.
  67. Go strawberry picking.
  68. Attend a flea market or swapmeet.
  69. Check out yard sales.
  70. Assemble a model airplane then fly it in a park.
  71. Go out for brunch (cheaper than dinner).

Dating doesn’t have to be expensive. Often, your date will be more impressed with a creative dating idea than they will if you spend lavish amounts of money on them. So get creative, save money, and have fun!

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

The405Club.com April 29, 2009 at 3:21 pm

This is fantastic! We will definitely reblog on our site!

-The 405 Club
New York’s Official (Un)Employment Network, where members receive the $405 + stimulus per week from the state for unemployment.

admin April 29, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Thanks 405, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

Rob April 30, 2009 at 7:11 am

Oh man; I can tick a number of these off, but it’s been tool long for many of them.
The list just looks like a challenge, so thanks for giving me stuff to do this season!

Which was your favourite?

Mike May 3, 2009 at 1:22 pm

I like the list, not so sure about spelunking though, the proper equipment’s not cheap and I don’t think most people have any idea where to go.

Lorie H May 3, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Not just for dating. I think I’ll use some of these for ‘Date Night’ with hubby. Thanks for the reminder that you don’t have to spend a lot to have a good time.

Sar May 3, 2009 at 7:45 pm

thanks think me and the hubby will try some

Brian May 3, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Now i just need to find a girl worth doing these things with…

LDE May 3, 2009 at 11:51 pm

Restaurant.com is a scam – they sign you up for additional things that charge your credit card and they hurt the restaurants you go to. They don’t have their permission to give out gift certificates to the restaurants, they trick them.

Preeti May 4, 2009 at 12:14 am

Have sex! What could be cheaper? :)

Sam May 4, 2009 at 9:52 am

These are amazing! I see this as a challenge to do all of them :) i’ll try to make my way though them, get post :)

bill butler May 4, 2009 at 6:08 pm

a decent bottle of wine can be had for a mere $15 but would add much to the picnic with your date.

admin May 4, 2009 at 6:50 pm

@Mike – You’re right, spelunking can be dangerous. I used to do it in lava tubes in Hawaii with just a flash light, but that probably wasn’t too smart :) Follow the advice in this post at your own risk!

@Lorie H and Sar – Great points, these tips are good for married folks too.

@LDE – I didn’t realize that about Restaurant.com. Thanks for the heads up.

Samantha May 18, 2009 at 1:40 pm

This is such a great post. People needs as many ideas as possible to keep the romance going in these times.

Alex - unleash reality May 29, 2009 at 10:24 am

really cool topic!!

loved the list. nice and concise and actually doable!!

i’d prolly add picnics, browsing antique shops and lookout spots (amazing view and usually secluded – find your own and makes for an adventure :) )

all the best
alex – unleash reality

robb June 28, 2009 at 9:19 am

is pottery class an affordable class ?
the rest are great.
loved them all.

John July 12, 2009 at 8:52 am

If you filmed all of these things as movie scenes-throw in the obligatory breakup in the middle over some misunderstanding-then the make up scene-the wedding at the end-you would have one hell of a chick flick…..lol

Zoltan - self-esteem guy July 13, 2009 at 12:33 am

Dine and dash sounds like a cheap idea, don’t you think?
Besides that a nice romantic conversation somewhere outside would do it.

Life Coaching Online July 17, 2009 at 5:24 am

Hi Kyle,

Some great tips here that I will try myself.

I will also pass these on to my students with your permission. I think they will find them very helpful.

Keep up the great work helping others.


Kyle O'Connor July 17, 2009 at 6:57 am

Certainly, Tim. Please feel free to pass them on to anyone :)


James October 23, 2009 at 9:08 am

98% of these activities can be used for family time!

AngelKat August 23, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Definitely a great list. I did just about most of these while dating and its something that you can do again and again and it never gets old!

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