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48 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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Grunge cruise deck background
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Take A Ferry Ride

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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Man turning opening sign on door coffee shop
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Go Window Shopping

Without having to spend a penny, walk around and check out the pretty window designs of local stores. For the S.O. who hates shopping, the activity will be the walk and conversation while you ogle the storefronts.

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Pool and hot tub on patio
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Relax in a Jacuzzi

Want to relax, but don't have a pool/the weather's not cooperating? Opt for this luxurious version—whether it's accessing a local facility for a couple hours or going somewhere a bit more out of the way if it's cheaper.

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Students having class in outside auditorium
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Learn Something New

There may be free courses and classes available locally, or if not, see if you can find something online. This offers a fun way to be together and expand your mind—from learning to play a musical instrument to watching a cool motivational speaker.

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Smiling food truck owner taking credit card for payment from customer
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Visit a Pop-Up

Some of the most fun and experimental stuff is available at pop-ups. Whether the owner's just starting out or testing the market for a new type of food/drink/item, these "here today, gone tomorrow" mobile stores are often inexpensive. Either way, it's a fun-filled experience seeing what's out there.

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Sunset San Francisco
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Look for a Spectacular View

You don't have to go to Paris to grab a fabulous photo op. Whether it's going to a roof deck or observation tower, or even heading out of your area to look at the skyline, go out of your way to see things from a new perspective.

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painting process
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Make Something

Paint and sip bars are a fun experience, but they can sometimes get pricey and you don't always have control over what you make. So recreate something similar at home, whether it's a fun DIY project you guys have been thinking about, to buying a brush and a small palette to make something for the wall.

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California Street Cable Car
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Ride a Train or Trolley

We're always so busy running around that it can be fun to take a leisurely mode of transportation to nowhere in particular. Sightsee on the cheap, head to a new place, or just sit and snuggle while you let you mind wander.

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Couple Sitting On Field
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Find Your New Happy Place

Love picnicking? Go exploring for a new perfect spot. Enjoy grabbing coffee together? Try a just-opened cafe. The vibe might be new, but the activity has all the fun memories and shared experiences you need. Plus, you just might find a new favorite spot.

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New York Public Library Rose reading room
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Visit the Library

Granted, not every library sports the spectacular views like this one in New York, but it's a totally fun (and underrated) place to go. Listen to a local speaker or take a class! Participate in a book club or group reading! You know, borrow a book or movie! You'll find stuff to do, promise—especially if the library is connected to a school or university.

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Beautiful powder explosion in all directions with vivid colors and black background.
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Play Paintball

Whether indoor or outdoor, playing paintball with friends, strangers, or just the two of you can be a fun, enjoyably messy activity—especially if you're both competitive. Check out local offerings, which can be as low as $10-30 if you bring your own paint. Just, you know, go easy on the loser!

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Happy new year 2020 word made from sparkler light firework
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Write Out Your Goals

Is there somewhere you'd like to go? Some milestone you want to achieve together? Or, if the relationship is new, share what you both want to get out of this year and offer support for each other's hopes and dreams.

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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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