15 Thoughtful But Cheap Date Ideas That Make A Big Splash

Sometimes life gets super busy. When you're stretched for time and money, having a sweet date night with your partner might fall lower on your priority list. Other times, this may be exactly what your relationship could benefit from: some TLC and intentional quality time. Whether it's rent week or that tighter budget period before you get your paycheck, there are still tons of thoughtful but cheap date ideas that will make you and your bae feel super recharged and valued.

Even though there can be a huge pressure to make a purchase in order to have fun, there are plenty of activities that you can do with your partner that are low-cost or, in some cases, even free. It's all about getting to spend time with each other, and sometimes, the stuff that costs more means that you'll actually get to catch up less. For example, heading out to the movies or seeing a musical can mean spending money, but not really catching each other up on your busy lives.

To save some money and spend more time with bae, consider the following low-cost date ideas. Remember: You don't have to flex your wallet in order to flex on a date.


When it comes to low-cost activities, camping can be up there if you do it right. If you already have the equipment, this can be a really fun retreat for you and your sweetheart that is way less expensive than book a hotel for the night. It'll be just you and your boo, under the stars.


If you want to spend quality time on a budget, hiking can be a great date idea. You can strap on your favorite hiking boots and head out together for as long as you want. All Trails can be a useful resource if you're new to hiking and are looking for information about the trails near you!

Mystery Ride

Honestly, if the weather looks nice and you don't have concrete plans, why not take a joy ride and see where you end up? You can stop at a gas station and stock up on your favorite snacks. Put on cute summer outfits and look up any sights to check out in or around your town or city.

Snacks With Friends

Invite friends to come over (the more couples, the better!) and bring the food in their fridge that they've been wanting to get rid of. Grab all the snacks that you've been meaning to eat and see how big and bountiful a spread you and your friends can assemble.

Game Night

If you and bae want to spend some time together but are on a budget, consider dusting off a board game and giving it a go. Games can be a great way to spend QT because they keep you engaged. And, hey — if you get bored, you can always pull a rom-com type move and swipe the board off the table in favor of some, ahem, other games.

Local Festivals

For a creative date night, research the local festivals happening in your town or neighboring towns. These festivals usually have free or low-cost activities. This is especially true if the festival is creative-based, like an arts fair or a hot air balloon festival.

Bike Ride Or Walk

Bike rides can be a great way to spend time together because you can get a bit of exercise without getting completely sweaty. You can also come up with a decent destination, like an ice cream shop or even the beach!

Beach Day
Stocksy/ Lucas Ottone

Forgo the bikes all together and just park it at the beach for a low-cost hang with bae. You can pack a bunch of snacks, so you don't even break the bank with expensive boardwalk food.

Dinner And The Library

Make dinner at home, then take a walk to the library. Libraries are absolutely underrated places to visit on a date. You can browse the books, read together in some comfy chairs, and then pick out a few books to take home.

Their Favorite Author's Reading

One super freaking thoughtful date night idea is to pay attention to what books your partner likes to read. Then look up your local bookstore (my personal favorite is Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, New York), and see if any of your boo's fave authors are going to be reading there any time soon. Plan a date with your bae to go see them perform. You could even keep it a secret for a sweet surprise!

Picnic In The Park

Set up a sweet picnic for your bae and invite them to meet you after work. You can make this a surprise, too. Pack enough wine and cheese to feed the masses!


If there's a cause that is super close to you or your partner's heart, find a way to volunteer for it in some capacity. For example, you could volunteer at your local animal shelter or homeless shelter. This can be a great way to spend some time together while doing something that feels meaningful to both of you.

Blast From The Past

One of my favorite things to do with someone I am dating someone is to check out their old haunts. I have moved around a lot, so I can't really drive my dates to my old high school in Indiana, but when I date someone who grew up in the town we're currently in, I love to see where they went to school. If you feel like going for a drive, you can show each other where you grew up and the different places that are important to you.

Redo Your Room

A good, old-fashioned room reorganization can feel super refreshing. Consider doing this as a date idea one night, because when it comes to moving furniture, two minds (and four hands) are better than one.

U-Pick Farm

One way to spend time together this summer is to find local farms in your area that have self-pick crops. This is especially common for raspberries, strawberries, and peas. The cost of these is usually pretty low and you can plan to make a dessert with whatever you end up picking.

Overall, this might be a great way to catch up with your partner and still stay within the rigid boundaries of your budget. Quality time doesn't have to be super costly to be worth a lot.