6 Free or Cheap Date Ideas

My husband and I are accustomed to living frugally. We are primarily a one-income home living on his teacher’s salary, and I provide supplemental income through freelance writing and editing. My flexible work schedule makes it easier to raise our kids, but we forgo a lot of things in order to live within our more-limited means. As a result, expensive dates at steak houses or at the symphony are rare.

We still take time to connect and do special things together, but it takes some creativity. Here are a few of our free or cheap date ideas for at home and out on the town.

1. Watch a movie at home.

free date night ideas


Find something to watch on tv, on Neflix or Hulu if you subscribe, or rent something from Redbox or from your local library. Our personal favorite is renting movies from the library because it’s free (aside from the small amount of taxes we pay to support our library system) and makes use of a resource that is already available to us.

2. Cook a nice dinner or lunch at home.

free date night ideas


During the rare times when our kids aren’t around (because they’re at a friend’s house or with grandparents), my husband and I like to cook a nice meal and share it while enjoying each other’s conversation. Sometimes it’s just hamburgers on the grill. Other times we splurge and buy snow crab legs or steak from the grocery store (it’s still cheaper than going to a restaurant and ordering crab legs or steak). The best part about eating crab legs with no kids around: no one asks for your crab or asks for help cracking their crab. We serve our crab legs or steak with baked potatoes and side salad for a complete meal.

3. Eat a picnic lunch or dinner at a park.

free date night ideas


Pick up some sub sandwiches or fast food food from someplace you have coupons for, or pack your own food from home. Head out to a park and sit at a picnic table, or spread a blanket on the ground, and enjoy your meal al fresco. Look for city parks, county parks, or even state parks for good picnic spots.

4. Go for a walk or hike.

free date night ideas


If the weather isn’t bad, my husband and I like to go for a walk around our neighborhood. Staying physically active is important to us, but we also enjoy just holding hands and talking while we walk. Sometimes we’ll head to a local conservation area or park and walk some trails.

5. Roam the mall.

free date night ideas


Just like when you were teenagers, it’s still fun to wander around the local mall — indoor or outdoor — if you have one. If you have a downtown shopping district that is pedestrian-friendly with many small shops, that’s good, too. You don’t have to spend any money. We like browsing in bookstores, tech stores, and whatever else we can find that grabs our attention. We talk about what we see and simply enjoy each other’s presence.

6. Look for free attractions to visit.

free date night ideas


We are admittedly spoiled living in a large metropolitan area with a lot of free attractions. We’ve gone on free dates at the zoo and art museum. Our city also has free admission to its history museum and science center, a sculpture park, an outdoor theater, and on certain days a botanical garden. Look for festivals, events at local universities or your library, church concerts, or high school plays or concerts to find more options for free or inexpensive dates.

What are your favorite free or inexpensive date ideas?

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