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Whether you’re newly married or have been together for years (my husband and I are going on 18 years of marriage!), it takes a lot of attention and effort to keep the relationship fresh and exciting. It’s easy to get into a rut of doing the same old things, day in and day out, and pretty soon it’s more like you are living with a roommate than with the love of your life. And while going on date nights with your hubby is a great way to keep the juices flowing, sticking with the old formula of dinner and a movie can get really expensive really fast.

Over the years Charley (my husband) and I have come up with a lot of fun, creative, and cheap date night (and date day) ideas to spend time together without breaking the bank. Some of been a great success (picnics with epic views are a personal favorite), some not so much. The list below contains many of our favorite date night ideas, and some we have yet to try.

One piece of advice – perhaps the most important lesson that I’ve learned from nearly 20 years of dating my husband is that it doesn’t really matter what you do, what matters is that you spend time together with the intention of enjoying and deepening the relationship. To that end – happy dating!

2 hands making a heart shape

Photo by Kristina Litvjak on Unsplash

Cheap date night ideas for staying in

  1. Make your favorite meal together – don’t forget the candles and romantic music.
  2. Give each other massages – it’s romantic and relaxing! Set our your favorite massage oils, dim the lights, and turn on the music.
  3. Movie night in! Or a Netflix binge. Pop up a big bowl of popcorn and crack a couple beers for the full experience. This one is equally as fun with a big plate of homemade nachos, or take it upscale with fresh bread, cheese, and a bottle of wine.
  4. Pull out your favorite board game. Cribbage is a favorite for us. Spice it up by making it a “strip” version. 😉 Every time someone gets a point, passes go, or whatever, lose a piece of clothing!
  5. Light up the BBQ or fire pit and have a s’mores night.
  6. If the weather is cool, snuggle up together in warm blankets and enjoy a hot chocolate with whipped cream outside.
  7. Snowy weather is perfect for a date night in – bundle up in snow gear and head outside to build a snowman together.
  8. Make a date to make a date – why not open a bottle of wine and make a list of fun things you would like to do together over the next 12 months?

Cheap date night ideas on the town

A couple holding hands with a city skyline in the background

Photo by Jen Palmer on Unsplash

  1. Head to your city center, stroll around and grab dinner from your favorite food truck or a fun deli.
  2. Go out for coffee. Bonus points if you bring a favorite small board game or card game to enjoy together.
  3. Stroll through a few favorite shops or go window shopping together.
  4. Is there a city or town nearby that you’ve never explored? Why not make a date of it, and explore it together?
  5. Or maybe there are parts of your own town that you’ve never explored – hop in the car and go exploring! An idea is to drive around a historic or a particularly eccentric area. Make it even more fun by stopping at a cute cafe or deli and enjoying a treat together.
  6. Play tourists in your own town and check out a few of the touristy sites.
  7. Tour a museum.
  8. Visit the local library and challenge each other to find a book that the other would enjoy.
  9. Wine or beer tastings are always fun but can be a bit expensive. Go online or call ahead to find out prices before you go. Another way to save a few dimes is to share a tasting. Charley and I almost always share a tasting – it’s cheaper and it means less alcohol in the system before embarking on the drive home.
  10. Go to a novelty hat store and snap silly pictures of each other in different styles of hats.
  11. Share a happy hour nacho plate at your favorite Mexican restaurant.
  12. Venture out for a romantic evening of roller skating or ice skating.
  13. Make it a double date and go bowling or mini-golfing with friends.
  14. A horse-drawn carriage or sleigh ride is a fantastically romantic idea.
  15. Go to an interesting lecture or class together. Check your local sports shop, kitchen store, or college for options.
  16. Support your local high school and attend a game together.
  17. Attend a local festival or carnival.
  18. Eat in and splurge on dessert out at your favorite restaurant.
  19. Support an important cause in your community and volunteer together. While this might not seem particularly romantic, it is a great way to come together with a mutual purpose.
  20. Take a stroll through your local zoo or aquarium.
  21. Many cities and rural areas offer tours of their public works. Why not tour the local dam or visit the water processing facility? It is an interesting and educational experience.
  22. If you are lucky enough to have a drive-in in your town, pack a picnic and take in a romantic flick.
  23. Are you reading this during the holiday season? One of our favorite holiday date ideas is to grab a tasty hot chocolate and drive around town to look at the holiday lights.

Cheap date night ideas for getting into the outdoors

  1. Go for a hike or a walk together. My hubby and I do this often – it is not only good for the body but is a great time chat and connect.
  2. If you like things a little faster, head out on a bike ride together.
  3. Is there snow on the ground? Head out for a snowshoe adventure. Pack a thermos of hot chocolate for a tasty warmup on the trail.
  4. Speaking of snow, why not enjoy a fun day of sledding or inner tubing in the mountains together?
  5. Attend a free concert in the park.
  6. Go bird watching. Do a little research to discover where the best places are to spot the wildlife. Be sure to bring a pair of binoculars and a camera.
  7. Watch a meteor shower. Find out when the next big meteor shower is happening in your part of the world, and seek out a dark location with big, open sky views. Be sure to pack camp chairs, a couple of warm blankets, and some tasty snacks to enjoy while you watch the show in the sky.
  8. Visit the dog park together – especially if you don’t have dogs. There are few things as uplifting as watching a happy dog. Why not make a point of sharing the experience together?
  9. Have a few days to spend together? Head out on a camping trip. It can be as rustic or as refined as you like. Plan a few delicious campfire meals and bring a bottle of your favorite wine for luxury in the woods.
  10. Tour a local botanical garden.
  11. Find a favorite swimming hole. If it is especially private and you are particularly adventurous (this is NOT me!), you might spice it up by going skinny dipping.
  12. Pack a fancy picnic. This is a personal favorite of mine – I love choosing a good cheese or two, grabbing a perfectly crusty baguette, selecting a few tasty treats, and of course, a good bottle of wine, and enjoying it all in a beautiful location. If the weather isn’t cooperating, try a picnic at home or a picnic in the car.
  13. Go for a hayride.
  14. Visit a local U-pick farm or orchard together. Load up on fresh, seasonal produce take it home to enjoy over ice cream.
  15. If it is autumn, head to a pumpkin patch and pick out a pumpkin together.
  16. Wander through a corn maze. This is especially fun while enjoying hot ciders made with locally pressed apples.
  17. Take an autumn drive to find the most beautiful displays of fall colors.

Do you have any great free or cheap date night ideas? I would love to know! Share them in the comment box below…

A couple holding hands with grasses and the sunset in the background

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash


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A couple holding hands with the caption Cheap and Free Date Night Ideas for Married Couples

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Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth – for your love is more delightful than wine.

– Song of Solomon 1:2