40 Cheap Date Ideas for Couples on a Budget

"Love don't cost a thing." —J.Lo

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Fancy dinners and costly ticket prices add up, especially when you're trying to get to know somebody new. So we've put together the ultimate guide to dating on a real-person budget, from stay-at-home options for the true homebodies to outdoorsy adventures that only require a little bit of spare cash and the right attitude.

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Stocksy
Make a Bonfire

Pretend one of you knows what you're doing and grab some wood and matches to light up a bonfire on the beach. It's perfect for cooler nights when it's not totally freezing outside.

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Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
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Visit a Museum

While certain museums have steep ticket prices, many hold free or discounted days or hours during weekdays so you can get cultured on a budget.

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Studio shot of a Bulldog puppy sitting with a blue background.
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Volunteer

S.O. with a heart of gold? Find a local charity, like a soup kitchen or a pet shelter, and volunteer for the day. Studies say that acts of generosity increase well-being and happiness, and couldn't we all use some more of that?

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Old style tabletop radio
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Go Antiquing or Thrifting Together

You never know when you'll find your next one-of-a-kind furniture piece, so spend a few hours perusing a dedicated antiques mart or thrift store. There's a good chance you'll find some kooky clothing options there too.

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inflatable rings in pool
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A Poolside Hang

A drink in your hand, a good book, zero cares in the world—all are ingredients for the ideal poolside date during the summer. (These celebrity floatie Instagrams are evidence.)

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Grunge cruise deck background
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A Ferry Ride

Speaking of water views, relocate your date to the nearest ferry if you want a change of scenery. Aim for an unexplored area for a longer day trip, or try a short round-trip ride for a first date where you're still—literally and figuratively—testing the waters.

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Spa natural
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Make an At-Home Spa

Recreate your own spa experience by drawing a bubble bath, lighting a few candles, and throwing in a soothing massage. Bonus points if you can get your partner to put on a face mask.

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Spring Training
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Hit the Bases

Head to the stands to cheer on your favorite team and devour some hot dogs.

FIND TICKETS

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Illuminated Multi Colored Pinballs
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Arcade Night

For an awesome time at an arcade, all you need are some quarters. Make things more interesting by betting a drink on the person who can win the most prizes.

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Single microphone with blurred background.
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Karaoke Night

Karaoke is a guaranteed fun night, even if you can't hold a note to save your life. Stick to duets like 03 Bonnie and Clyde and What's My Name? for a great time.

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Viewing Orion
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Go Stargazing

When's the last time you actually put your phone down and looked up? Grab a blanket and try to find your favorite constellations. If you need some guidance, you can download apps like Star Tracker.

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Red wine, grapes and wine bottles. Winetasting al fresco.
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Enjoy a Brewery or Winery Tour

Most local brewery or winery tours are free, and you'll leave with knowledge you can impress your friends with—and you'll get some free sips of booze, obviously.

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Yellow Guitar Against Yellow Background
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Hobby Swap

Spend an afternoon sharing your talents and hobbies. You can demonstrate your musical chops by giving your date a guitar lesson while they show you how to throw a free-throw. Or vice versa.

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Interior of bookstore
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Attend a Reading

Find a poetry reading, or performances of works by a specific writer, by searching local book readings.

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Red bowling ball sitting in middle of newly oiled lane
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Go Bowling

Yes, the shoes are disgusting, but you'll have a great time and a little friendly competition never hurts.

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Row boats on The Lake in Central Park
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Spend Time on the Water

Test your sense of adventure by renting a kayak, canoe, or paddle boat at a local lake or beach. Rentals should be around $20, and you'll definitely get a good 'gram.

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Rides at State Fair
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Find a Carnival

Two words: cotton candy. If there's a carnival in town, bring your date for a few rides on the Ferris wheel.

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Freshly Baked Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies on Cooling Rack
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Find a Cookie or Chocolate Factory Tour

Go on a cookie or chocolate factory tour together to solely pay attention to the free samples.

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Tasting cheese dish on a dark stone plate. Food for wine and romantic date, cheese delicatessen on a black concrete background. Top view
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Have a Wine and Cheese Night

Take a moment to decompress by grabbing a bottle (or two) of wine and snacks for a cozy night in.

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Kettlebell
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Sweat Together

Working on your #fitnessgoals? Do some research to find classes with great first-timer rates, or "consider joining" a gym by trying out their facilities.

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Wellfleet Drive In, Cape Cod
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Pull Up to a Drive-In Movie

All you need for this date is a tank of gas and a companion.

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Blue Pool table with balls
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Discover Dive Bars

Switch up your weekend routine and head to a dive bar for a few rounds of darts and cheap drinks. Okay, and also some Fireball shots.

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Rear view of a man and a woman walking in front of a building, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
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Have a Foreign Film Night

Old, black-and-white foreign films are romantic, and usually the tickets are slightly reduced for art-house flicks.

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Apples in wire basket
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Try Fruit Picking

Is there anything that says fall romance quite like apple picking together? We didn't think so.

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Sign pointing the way in woods
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Hit the Trails

Outdoorsy types can get their workout in with a morning hike on the nearest wilderness trails. Endorphins + scenic views = a good time.

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Before the Show
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Laugh It Out

When you just want some light-hearted entertainment, scoop up tickets for a comedy club amateur night or improv show. You can't guarantee that the jokes will always be on-point, but when tickets are only $5, you're not risking much.

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Beef steak fillet
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Strategic Cooking

Don't want to blow your food budget on eating out? Pick a recipe and team up ­on the chopping, sprinkling, and stirring.

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USA - 2013 Global Citizen Music Festival
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See a Concert Under the Stars

Even if you don't make it right to the front and center of the pit area, you can still sit on the grass and stargaze. Pack a blanket and enjoy the good music.

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Minigolf 1
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Go Mini Golfing

Pretend that you're both PGA champs on a putt putt course and see who can come closest to par. Winner buys dinner.

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Exhibition Preview And Dinner For Andy Warhol - From A To B And Back Again Hosted By Sotheby
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Find Local Art

Local galleries tend to have public events for acquiring new works, as well as free nights on weekdays. You'll get to mingle with interesting, like-minded people while also scoring some free wine. #Cultured.

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