8 Free (Or Cheap) Dates That Don’t Make You Seem Like a Cheapskate

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Every now and then, you need a date idea that’s going to really shake things up. (Then again, this is coming from someone who spends half of her date nights at the diner up the street. Seriously – don’t judge me.) It can be tough to find something interesting to do without spending a ton of money – it seems like there’s nothing fun and free anymore.

Really, it just takes a little bit of creativity, though – there are a lot of things you can do for next to no money, and they’re pretty sweet when pulled off right. After all, most of these things rely purely on you and the other person – meaning you can actually tell exactly how the two of you are going to get along after the date is over. (This, of course, pertains to the early dates only – once you’ve already established a bond, they help keep you close. It’s a win-win!)

Interested in seeing what ideas we came up with?

A walk in the park.

If you have a local park, and the weather is nice, a stroll through the relative nature can be beautiful. (If you don’t have a park near you, you can try a meadow, forest, or orchard – just make sure you’re not trespassing.) Bring a small blanket with you so you can lay in the grass when you feel like taking a break. There’s really no limit to what you can do out in nature – you could have a picnic, play a game of tag, or even read books. Whatever works for the two of you, make it work.

Have an adventure.

One of my favorite things to do when I was younger was to go exploring. Sure, I got lost sometimes – but I have a smartphone now. Getting lost is pretty much a thing of the past – so why not go exploring? Get lost in your own city. Walk around until you find a family-owned restaurant you’ve never been to. Try geocaching. Even star gazing can be a great hobby – especially if you’ve still got that blanket from your walk in the park.

Open air markets = better than any mall.

Want to combine the joys of shopping, the thrill of a good deal, and the feeling of walking in the fresh air? Open air markets are the only way to go. Whether you visit the local farmer’s market for organic ingredients to make dinner together or you’re walking around a swap meet to find kitschy collectibles, open air markets help the world to be a little smaller – and happen to give you good exercise, too. I love Amazon as much as the next girl, but nothing quite beats that nostalgic feeling you get when you shop out of a booth.

Make art together.

There’s something bonding about the creative arts, and I for one love the idea of getting creative with my partner. My girlfriend and I have entirely different creative styles, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do creative things together. Whether you paint, make a sculpture, or even just color a picture together, art is beautiful – couldn’t your world use a little more beauty?

Play a sport together.

Okay, maybe it’s a little cliché, but… Could you join the local softball league together? (Probably want to make sure you’re on the same time.) You can even organize a game among friends. It doesn’t have to be softball, either. Tennis, mini-golf, Frisbee… Whatever sports and games you like to play, play them. Not only does this mean date time counts as exercise, but you’ll also have a lot of fun!

Find a downtown event.

Most cities have outdoor events when the weather is nice. The town I live in now has the Olive Festival – a little silly, but fun nonetheless. Another city I’ve lived in had the Creek Walk, where bands would play alongside the local creek. The combination of independent music and peaceful nature sounds was pure bliss. The events themselves are bound to vary, depending on where you live, but every town I’ve ever lived in has had something – and your town probably does, too.

Leftover Picnic

Leftovers aren’t very glamorous, but sometimes, you’re going to have to have leftovers on a date. This is particularly true if you guys have lived together forever and you don’t really feel like cooking. To make the idea of leftovers just a little more romantic, take them on a picnic! Suddenly, day-old Chinese food sounds pretty exciting, when you’re surrounded by flowers and trees the whole time.

Volunteer together.

There’s something sexy about a woman who’s willing to help others. If the two of you are both interested in getting involved, volunteer work can be put on your resume or college applications, and it’ll generally make you feel better about yourself. Find your local soup kitchen, animal shelter, or community service center to see what they need help with. Or, you can make care packages for soldiers or the homeless. Whatever you do to make the world a better place, you’re going to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment – and you might just make someone’s day.

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