Are elaborate candlelight dinners and tickets to her favorite show sending you hunting for a second job? A study called “Singles in America” conducted by Match.com found that the average single spent $61.53 per month on dating, including preparations purchasing new clothing, subscriptions to online dating services and the actual date activity. Cosmopolitan Magazine said a man who dishes out money on the first date is looking for a committed relationship—but does less spending mean less sentiment? No way! Here’s a list of 20 fun AND romantic date ideas that don’t leave you kissing your savings goodbye.
Score without striking out the ATM. A game of pins and stripes averages between $11-20 depending on locale, whether it’s glow in the dark, and if there is an adjoining bar.
Free movie Showings in the Park
For a super romantic (and free!) venue for the summer, check out your community’s local listings for free movies in the park. Prepare a basket of snacks and a blanket to sit on, and enjoy a cabin-fever-free alternative to cartoons on the couch. Remember to keep the grass cuddling kid-friendly.
Bike Ride and Picnic
Although gas is selling at its lowest in 4 years, why not get to your picnic destination by going the green and inexpensive route? Hit the trails for an energetic outing or take to the city streets for a leisurely ride. For the impromptu date planner, take a spin using a bike-sharing system like DIVVY, which has bike docks every few blocks throughout downtown areas and offers 1 hr. rentals for 9 dollars.
Lace up and go classy or classic! Throw on gloves and watch the lights and starry night skating around iconic outdoor-rink venues like Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, or Millennium Park. Rink admission can cost between $6-9, with skate rentals tacking on a minimal fee. Or beat the cold and go classic, grooving out to Disco beats at an indoor roller rink. It’s fun, nostalgic, and did I mention, cheap?
Movie and Make Your Own Pizza Night
If you and your significant other are the homebody type and enjoy curling up on the sofa with some nostalgic classics—Netflix lets you pay a monthly $7.99 rate for unlimited shows. If you’re not good with commitment (when it comes to subscriptions) stop by a Redbox for 1.50 DVD or $2 Blu-ray. For the super-couch potato, there is always Amazon Prime or Itunes for On-demand streaming. Add some pizazz by dubbing it a “make your own pizza” night and try testing each other’s taste buds by seeing who can make the other’s perfect pie!
Go to a museum
While admittance to museums can often total $50 per couple, look online and take advantage of the holidays by going to a museum during their “free days.” If you live in an area where museums are always free, like D.C., you may not feel compelled to cash-in on these infrequent opportunities.
Home Improvement/Paint Something on the Walls
Get messy together doing some redecorating around your crib. Grab multicolored pails and paintbrushes and have fun taking over a really big canvas. 8 oz. paints start at under 3 dollars at The Home Depot. For the creative couple, try an abstract mural!
Barbeque at the beach
Grab a grill, roll down the windows, and head to the beach for some rest and relaxation. Bring along some activities like a volleyball or a pair of baseball mitts for catch. Assuming it’s a public beach, the only item that will cost will be the food, but no worries, according to U.S. Labor Bureau ground beef is at a retail average of $4.26. But the sun, the beach, the breeze, those are all free!
Literally put your money where your mouth is: at orchards you pay as much as you pick! Picking season typically runs from the beginning of the Summer through Fall with varieties of blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, and apples. Spend the day exploring the fields or partaking in orchard activities like visiting the farm animals or DIY pickling at the canery. You pay for the produce by the pound at the end—usually just a few bucks.
Drive-in movies were the ideal date of the 1950’s but aren’t necessarily a thing of the past. There are a few outdoor cinemas still operative and you pay per car: for a full list of Drive-In theaters visit driveintheater.com.
For the outdoorsy romantic (with a flair of Lion-King nostalgia) set up a telescope outside for an evening of star gazing. Try finding the big dipper until everything looks like the big dipper and nothing at all resembles a bear. (pretty much the only diamonds you can give that won’t cost you a cent!)
Drinks and Karaoke
Belt out “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” with friends for drinks and karaoke. All you pay is for the drinks. Warning: don’t expect a singing contract by the end of the night!
Training for a 5K together
Make a date to train for a race together. Women’s Health Magazine reported studies that indicate couples who run together have more sex. Running with your significant other amps up your adrenaline making you both feel stronger and supportive of one another. An added bonus: put your time together well-spent and race for a cause!
For the fairest maiden of them all, dress up as a cavalier knight and drive your horse and buggy to a renaissance festival. There’s tons of activities like archery, jousting, candle making, elephant rides, human chess, and shows by the fair jester. Feast on food and beer, and pay the fairest of rates.
Plan a Scavenger Hunt
Set up cute and creative clues in your neighborhood. Have the clues lead her to inside-joke places and familiar people. She’ll be oohing and aahing over your sentimentality, and not even paying attention to the fact that it was free.
Build an Igloo, Build a Fort
Channel your inner child and plan for a day of outdoor-indoor snuggling. Venture outdoors and spend the day building snowmen, dodging snowballs, and building an igloo. Afterwards, warm up indoors by building a private blanket fort beside the fireplace with mugs and marshmallows. Try not to lose any limbs to frostbite—that WILL be expensive.
Plan a Photo-shoot
A girl likes to know she has your full attention, let her know how she captivates you by setting up a personal photo shoot. Get shots of her in different outfits and switching up the scenery using Instagram, number four on Itunes top app chart. Sharing is caring—share your album with friends and loved ones. New profile picture material?
Play with Animals at Petco
Take her to visit the animals at your local pet shop, where you both can play with animals who haven’t found homes yet. Shopkeepers are usually are very helpful assisting you with extracting animals and holding them correctly. Just make sure she’s not allergic to anything first and who knows, cuddling with dogs and rabbits may not be the only thing she cuddles with that day.
Make a music video
Every couple’s got a song, now give yours a new twist. Tell your love story through the minutes of laughing bloopers, toned-deaf cracks, and deleted make-out scenes. For the minute it takes to download a free movie-making app on your smartphone and the cost of transportation, dress up, go out, explore the neighborhood and gather friends on the way.
Hit up the arcade
Remember trying to beat the high score on the SuperSlam basketball machine, and stomping to a Dance Dance Revolution Japanese remix? If you can’t, then it’s time to revisit the arcade. Plan a date to a nearby arcade, and fihure-out beforehand how many tokens you intend to purchase. Score 1/2 price games all day Wednesdays at Dave & Buster’s, and end the night by using your tickets to buy her something to remember the night…besides the hilarious snapshot of you both tearing-up DDR.