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In a healthy marriage, you never stop dating each other! But sometimes money is tight. OK – maybe it’s most of the time. But whether money is tight is not, you still need to be dating each other regularly. To make it easier, here’s a list of 40 great cheap & free dates for you to try.
Try at least a few – and then use the list to brainstorm other cheap & free dates that match your personalities and needs.
- For outdoor fun on beautiful weather days, rent a kayak or canoe at a state park. State parks are some of the best bargains around so get familiar with all those within an hour or so drive! Pack a picnic lunch with a special treat (but nothing that needs to stay cold) to have after you’ve worked up an appetite paddling.
- If you have water near you, plan a date at the beach or lake. Keep it cheap by bringing your own snacks and drinks.
- Go bike riding. Exercise & a date – how much better can it get?
- For a great nighttime date, have a stargazing picnic dinner in the country. If you’re a city-dweller, you may have to drive an hour or so, but the view on a clear night is worth it. And all it costs is the gas because you’d eat dinner anyway!
- Go to a pick-it-yourself farm and pick strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apples, or whatever is in season. At home, make jam, cobbler, muffins, or even cider!
- Take a hike – or a slow stroll – through a local park or nearby state park. Or maybe your city has great walking trails you can check out. Bring your water bottle and enjoy your local area.
- Train for – and then run – a 5K together. If you’re super fit, make that a marathon!
Go Exploring Dates
- Take a local road trip. Avoid the roads you are familiar with and explore new places. Back roads to nowhere are special and can lead you to new favorite places. Include lunch at a local diner.
- Check out seasonal festivals within an hour or two of driving time. I live in Georgia and north Georgia explodes with festivals in the autumn – they take advantage of the fall colors! But south Georgia has more festivals in the spring when flowers are bursting out all over. It’ll be different where you live, but you’ll find festivals somewhere! Great food, interesting crafts and products, plus talk time in the car make this a great date.
- Walk around and people-watch at a local fair or carnival. There’s no need to spend money on rides or games necessary if money is tight. People-watching is enough entertainment – but do spring for your favorite carnival food.
- Take a scenic drive to see the fall colors and find a local restaurant for lunch
- Go geocaching. Do research on what that is and how to do it first, if necessary.
- Find a small town you’ve never been to and walk through their downtown – window shopping, people watching, and snapping a few pictures and selfies.
- Go window shopping at a mall, antique store, upscale shopping district, or even a flea market. End the date with shared ice cream or frozen yogurt.
- Go on a thrift store treasure hunt. Even if you aren’t usually a thrift store person, going together with a goal can be exciting. I’m a thrift-store person and I assure you – it’s all about the hunt. Make sure you have a goal such as wall art or tacky sweaters for an ugly sweater party at Christmas. But be open to unexpected finds!
- Play miniature golf. This can get pricey, especially if you get snacks or a meal while golfing. So bring your water ball and a bag of your favorite snacks for celebrating your victory – and try this time-tested activity for great fun. Bonus idea: if you live in an area with several mini-golf courses, try a new one every other month or so.
- Sports fans will love this idea. Catch a minor league baseball game. Minor league games are usually lots of fun and a whole lot cheaper than major league games!
- Go roller skating or ice skating – if you’re coordinated enough! We’ve tried this a few times and then gave up due to my total lack of coordination!! But even on those ill-fated attempts, at least we had pizza.
- Go bowling. Laughing at yourself is part of the fun!!
- Visit an arcade. My husband loves skeeball (although that’s getting harder to find!), so this has been a favorite of ours for years.
- Pretend to be a professional photographer! Take on a drive around your city or hometown with the eye of a photographer and take lots of pictures. Be sure to include some selfies of the two of you also. You might be surprised at what you’ll notice when you start looking for what makes a good photo.
- Go to your local high school football game and cheer on the home team – even if you didn’t go there and don’t know anyone playing.
- This one’s completely free: check out what your local library offers. Many libraries have free classes, special speakers, movie showings, and book clubs. But often you can also find unusual offerings such as speaking a foreign language for travelers, taking great photos with your phone, or how to start writing your memoir.
- Attend a local outdoor concert. Many cities have free or low-cost concerts, especially in the summer. Although depending on where you live, outdoor concerts might be held in spring or autumn instead (or winter if you’re down under!).
- Visit a local museum. If you don’t know of any local museums, do some research and visit the closest museum you can find. You might be bored to tears – or you might be pleasantly surprised. Either way, if you end the trip with your favorite fast-food dinner and conversation with each other, it’s a win.
- Go see a play at a local theater or college or even a high school production. These plays and shows are really inexpensive compared to professional shows. Plus, you’re supporting the local community, local youth, and enjoying a more intimate setting.
- Cook a new recipe together. You can find something in one of your cookbooks, online, or even using a video that walks you through all the steps. This is a great way to try a new cuisine such as Indian or Brazilian, because if you hate it at least you haven’t spent as much as at a restaurant!!
- Make homemade pizza and watch funny YouTube videos together. Laughter required. Cats and dogs are great for laugh-out-loud videos!
- Bake cookies or banana bread and then deliver them to your local police station or fire department.
- Have an at-home fondue dinner, dessert, or both. If you don’t have a fondue set, you can usually find one at thrift stores.
Dates at Home
- Buy a new 2-person game and learn to play it together at home. This is especially good if you are ‘game people’ – you might discover a new pastime you love! Up the competition value with a small wager: the winner does the dishes (or laundry or cleaning the kitty litter) for a week!
- Buy a puzzle to do together. You might choose one with an image from your travel bucket list or one from places you’ve been already. If you’re new to puzzles keep it small (under 1000 pieces).
- Create a playlist for each other of your high school favorites and have a vintage night in – complete with slow dancing. If you’re high school sweethearts, you could even recreate your prom for an extra-special date at home!
- Take a trip down memory lane with old yearbooks, photo albums, or the DVD of your wedding. If it’s been a few years since you’ve looked at some of those photos, they can lead to wonderful conversations, reminiscing, and often laughter.
- Choose a book neither of you has read and take turns reading it to each other. You can trade places by paragraph, page, or chapter – it doesn’t matter. Try some fiction just for fun or a nonfiction book as a conversation starter. If neither of you are big readers, start with fiction books aimed at teens, such as those you remember from your childhood or one that you’re familiar with because it’s been made into a movie.
- Play video games – even if you’re not usually into video games. For us, we’d have to borrow games from our grown-up kids! Maybe your local library lends games and systems – it doesn’t hurt to ask.
- Have a water fight in the backyard – get your water guns from the dollar store to make it really cheap! Or go big with a monster-sized water gun (or the old standby, the garden hose!).
Planning for Future Dates
- Find out a quirky holiday or national day and plan a date, dinner, or adventure to celebrate.
- Plan a dream vacation. Go all out researching and creating a detailed itinerary. Bonus: determine a budget and start saving to make it real.
- Create a date jar together so you never run out of date ideas!