Everyone loves a cheap date—and if a date is free, well, that’s just perfection. The only hitch is, coming up with free date ideas that aren’t a little lame is not super easy.
Dating can be a lot of things: exciting, fun, nerve-wracking… and also pretty expensive. Getting rid of the pre-date jitters is easier said then done, but solving the pricey problem is definitely doable. From hiking to hosting an at-home movie marathons, great dates don’t have to cost a fortune—or anything at all.
Here, our 30 top free date ideas that are actually pretty cool.
1. Go on a hike
Head to the closest trail and go on a hiking date. If you and your date happen to be morning people, make it a sunrise hike—you’ll get some killer Instagram shots.
2. Pick a random neighborhood and head off to explore
Be a tourist in your own city! Take the subway or bus, get off at a random stop you are unfamiliar with, and explore. It’ll feel great to spend a day with no inhibitions and hey, the date practically plans itself!
3. Find a free concert
No matter where you live, there’s usually a good, free summer concert going on. Plan a date around it, and soak in both the music and the summer rays.
4. Seek out a food market with lots of free samples
Feeling hungry but don’t want to splurge on a restaurant date? Head over to a local food market or food festival with your date and snack on some delicious samples.
5. Try geocaching
This modern-day real-world treasure hunt is the perfect adventure. Visit geocaching.com to begin your active escapade. Who knows what you’ll find!
6. Plan a game night
This is the perfect group date activity. Split up into teams and let the dice (and the good times) roll. A little tip to make it extra fun and a little saucy? Cards Against Humanity is always a hit!
7. Spend a night at the museum
Look online for times that local museums offer free admission (it’s usually in the evening) and roam around with that special someone.
8. Make it a beach day
Take a dip, make a sandcastle, play a game of beach volleyball, or just totally chill out together while soaking up some sun this summer.
9. Go roller skating
Strap on some roller skates and roll around town or a nearby park with your date. In the winter you can swap out the roller skates and go ice skating at a park rink.
10. Build a Slip ‘N Slide
Set up a Slip ‘N Slide in your backyard. Not only is this silly date a sure-fire hit, but it’s refreshing way for the two of you to cool off in the summer heat.
11. Volunteer together
Whether you want to play with the puppies at an animal shelter or help out at a soup kitchen, volunteering with your date is not only super fulfilling, but you’ll make some awesome memories in the process.
12. Have a movie marathon
Pop some popcorn, cuddle up together on the couch, and start up a movie marathon, a.k.a. Netflix and chill. Take turns watching picking what to watch.
13. Get dressed up and go to expensive open houses
Toss on a cocktail dress, grab a tie, and become whoever you’d like to be for the day! Check local listings of open houses and take a look around a dream home that you and your date could never afford. Tip: Walk in like you own the place (just don’t get carried away and try to actually own the place).
14. Go camping in your backyard
Pitch a tent in the backyard for the night. Make a bonfire, roast a marshmallow (or two, or three) and end off the evening with some stargazing—there’s nothing more romantic than that!
15. Play a messy game of Twister
Take it to the backyard and play game of messy Twister. The same rules apply, but put coordinated paint colors on the Twister circles and let the games begin!
16. Find a movie screening in the park
This is the classic dinner and a movie date with a (free) twist! Instead of heading out to a pricey restaurant, plan a picnic followed by a free movie screening in the park. It will be way more romantic than a stuffy movie theater, anyway.
17. Go to a local basketball court and shoot some hoops
There’s nothing better than letting your competitive spirit out now and then, so head to the local basketball court and challenge that special someone to a one-on-one showdown.
18. Download a karaoke app
Whether you sound like Beyoncé or William Hung from “American Idol,” karaoke is always a great way to loosen up and have some fun! A no-cost way to do it: Troll the app store for free apps you can download and sing along to.
19. Host an at-home poker night
Can you keep a poker face? Find out by playing a game of poker with your date, waging with anything other than money.
20. Test drive your dream car
Rev up the car and the relationship by getting behind the wheel and test driving your dream car with your date.
21. Go on a free brewery tour
Many brewery tours are free, so take advantage of this when planning a date. If beer isn’t your thing many wineries offer free tours as well.
22. Go to a trivia night at a bar
There’s nothing more attractive than intelligence! Channel your inner nerd and impress your date at a local trivia night. Hopefully they’ll impress you too!
23. Play truth or dare
Revisit the infamous childhood game of Truth or Dare by walking around town taking turns asking each other the age-old question. You’ll learn tons about each other and have a total blast!
24. Get together and share old embarrassing photos
Headgear, frizzy hair, and some freaky looking sweaters? Check! Collect some old photos, be it baby photos or high school grad pics, and share them with your date. Not only will it provide some good laughs but it will keep the conversation flowing.
25. Have an old-school video game showdown
Dust off the old controllers and turn on that Nintendo 64! Be Mario, Princess Peach, or Toad for the night and have an old school face-off playing Mario Kart, Mario Party and all of the classics.
26. Have an Instagram date
Juice up your phones and head out and about on any one of these 30 dates, and then see where the day takes you based on what you see that’s most ‘grammable. You might find yourselves drawn to a park you never noticed before, or a gritty part of the city where the graffiti is super-photogenic. Take tons of selfies so that you have your own Instagram trail of the date.
27. Go on a scenic landmark crawl
Be a tourist in your own city, but only hit up landmarks that don’t charge an entrance fee, like statues, museums, or other places that you’d go if you were only in town for a day.
28. Weather allowing, go for a swim
If it’s summertime, hit up a public pool, lake, or ocean and sunbathe and swim with your S.O.
29. Spend an afternoon or evening wandering art galleries
Check out local and up-and-coming artists on display at galleries in your area. You’re not there to shop, but you might spot your new favorite talent. Also, if you go at the right time, some galleries will offer snacks or free drinks to people wandering in and out, so Google first to see if there’s a good time to go.
30. Give each other massages
Light some candles, break out the lotion or oil, and give each other a nice long back-rub. You’ll both get a chance to unwind (while knowing that you’re not on the clock and paying for every minute of enjoyment), plus, who knows where it will lead.
Originally published September 2016. Updated June 2017.