There are twenty different ways to see a movie for cheap or free, and thousands of blog articles on how to do it. If you’re looking for a frugal date night that doesn’t include a flick, you’ve come to the right place. Here are five different ways to have a good time together on five different types of dates.
The Romantic Date
What could be more romantic than gazing up at the stars together? Most major cities have an observatory. And visiting most of them is free. There’s usually a night open to the public complete with education about what you’re seeing. These public nights tend to fill up quickly, so call and reserve two spots if your location allows. While there’s usually no cost, most observatories will ask for donations. It would be polite to at least bring a couple of bucks. Examples include York University Observatory in Toronto, and the Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh. To find one near you, ask the internet: “free observatory (your city here.)”
The Outdoorsy Date
One of my favorite dates with my husband is going to the tennis courts at our local park and playing a game. We’ve also done basketball, but I actually have a competitive edge against him in tennis. Outdoor dates are usually cheap to free because the outdoors are, naturally, free. Take a hike in a park. Go biking together. Pack a picnic for adults and find a great spot. Rent a kayak or canoe for a couple of hours. Sit in a grove of trees and talk about your hopes and dreams. Nature is for lovers, people.
The Bonding Date
Another date idea that can bring you closer together is learning each other’s hobbies. Caring about someone enough to show an interest in what they like to do speaks volumes to them about how you feel about the relationship. You can also learn a lot about each other. For example, when I tried to play the video game “Oblivion” to appease my husband, a zombie popped up on the screen in training mode. “Oh, hell, no!” I said, and turned the console off. In that moment, my future husband learned that as much as I loved him, I would not do anything for him that involved zombie attacks.
On a more serious note, he’s taught me a lot about guitar. I had a few basics down before I met him, but he can use the instrument to make beautiful music. As he’s invested the time in my slow progress, I’ve learned that he’s a kind a patient teacher. On the flip side, I enjoy geocaching. His description of it is, “You use a dork machine to find treasure in the woods.” Which is pretty accurate. During our early dating days, we’d often use this activity for a frugal day out together, and built a lot of great memories along the way. We learned that we could work together as a team, and I learned that he cared about me enough to enjoy my dorky hobbies.
The Educational Date
We are from Pittsburgh, a city full of museums. Unfortunately, not many of them are free, but they do all offer some pretty amazing discounts. See if you can use one of these at your local museum to score a frugal outing:
- student discount
- active military discount/veteran discount
- discount if you’re in a family that has a member with a disability
If none of those apply to you, keep in mind that your city may be more accommodating with the whole “free museum” thing than Pittsburgh. St. Louis, for example, has a bunch of them in Forest Park. If the big ones in your area aren’t free or affordable, get creative in your search and look for off-the-wall places. Like if you live in Eastern Idaho, you can go to the TV museum in Rigby for $2. (Or $1 if you use your student discount!)
The Social Date
While you might not be as interested in it when you’re newly dating, double dates can be a lot of fun. And when you’re double dating, the frugal options are nearly endless. Want to stay in and have dinner and a bottle of wine at our house? That’s a date! Want to have a board game night with a few other couples? Another date! Of course, you can all go out and rent kayaks, wander around museums, gaze at stars, or play a game of doubles tennis together, too. But the nice thing about having other friends that are couples is that you can turn what would normally be a mundane night in into a big night in.
What are your frugal date ideas?