As soon as the weather warms up and the days get longer, you can start getting pretty darn creative coming up with summer date night ideas. When the weather gets nice there are so many different activities at your disposal, as well as events happening around town. Being on a tight budget doesn't mean you can't enjoy bae's company on a dreamy summer date. If you're trying to come up with a summer's worth of creative date ideas, consider researching what's happening locally or in neighboring towns or cities. Is there a giant sunflower field that's just a drive away? That would be perfect to roll up to at sunset, and you can plan the date for when the flowers are fully blooming. Is there a festival happening soon? Consider planning a day around attending and taking in the festivities with your partner.
If you'd love to get out of the heat, your movie theater might have some nights when films are cheaper, or seeing a matinee could be friendlier to your budget, while providing some sweet, sweet time spent in air conditioning. Research your local museums and community spaces and find out about events and free exhibitions that would be perfect to stroll through while holding hands.
Summer is a fantastic time to date on a budget, so here are 20 super romantic date ideas that are also easy on your wallet.
The pros of stargazing are threefold: free, beautiful, and perfect do while laying on a blanket. It's the perfect activity for making out under the stars, under the guise of "stargazing." You can plan an evening picnic on a particularly warm day, so when the sun sets, you aren't too cold. Then you can watch as the stars peak out one by one. Prepare to feel like the starry-eyed emoji when looking at the sky, and your bae.
A Bonfire With Friends
Hosting friends around a bonfire this summer can be really fun and easy. If you have a backyard, this is can be a great way to spend time without spending too much money. You can ask everyone to BYOSI (bring your own s'mores ingredients)! It's a great excuse to snuggle up under a blanket next to your partner or crush while you laugh with friends into the night.
Rollerblading And Ice Cream
Beaches and boardwalks can both be super fun places to take dates. Instead of playing any of the super pricey games, you could pack roller skates or skateboards. Plan to get ice cream when you're worn out, and hold hands while walking into the sunset.
An Outdoor Movie
Summer usually means movies shown outdoors either in local parks, on rooftops, or at your local drive-in. Check your local park's programming to see if they are showing movies outside this summer. This is a great date idea because it's usually free! Camp out with a blanket and some great snacks.
Local Seasonal Festival
Summer can be full of random festivals and fairs, if you know where to look. Some of these can get kind of pricey, but others can be fully free or have frugal aspects to them! Fairs can be great if you're feeling bored by your usual haunts and want to try something different together.
Dollar Oysters And Other Happy Hour Deals
OK, hear me out on this one. Nothing feels fancier to me than a $1 oyster happy hour. If you really crave the experience of going to a restaurant for a date, consider heading to a happy hour with some delicious, affordable eats. I love oysters for summer because they're light and fresh, as opposed to downing a hot meal. Afterward, you can head out on a walk around your local park or botanical garden.
Another excuse to be in an air conditioned room, check out an innovative, preferably free exhibit at your local museum. You can also check what's going on at your local college campus! For example, my university had a planetarium that held regularly scheduled, free shows for the public. A planetarium can be a fantastic date idea, a reason to escape the heat, and an opportunity to learn something together.
Camping is great if you want to experience some one-on-one time with your partner, but it will also require you to work together. Camping requires cooperation when doing things like navigating the woods, pitching your tent, and starting your fire.
If you're really invested in the idea of a nice dinner date, consider bringing it home to you. There are a lot of great summer recipes that you could plan to make together and eat in your backyard or on your roof. If you want to try a new recipe or you and bae aren't the most proficient in cooking, you could order a dinner meal kit specifically designed for an at-home date night. A dinner meal kit is a neat date idea because it's similar to taking a cooking class, but much cheaper and you don't have to be around other people.
Watch The Sunset
Sunsets happen almost every night and they're free AF. Consider driving to a spot in your town or city that has a really great view of the sunset. You can pack snacks and feel like teens at the movies as you sit on the roof or the hood of your car and watch the sky's colors fade until the stars come out.
Rent Kayaks Or Paddle Boards
If you live near a body of water, it could be a great idea to head down and see if there are any water activity rentals. You can make a whole day of it! Pack a lunch, grab your boo, and head down to the river. Alternatively, you could also post up on the beach and watch as each of you try (and perhaps fail) to balance on a paddle board.
For the couple that enjoys exciting activities, consider going paintballing with friends or on a date. You can agree not to shoot each other and be allies on the same team or engage in a little friendly competition and see who wins! Pro tip: Check activity sites, such as Groupon, for paintball coupons.
Your city may have a botanical garden, and if this is true for you, you absolutely must check yours out this summer. Some even have great admission deals. For example, in New York City, if you have a library card, you can sometimes get discounted access to the city's gardens and museums. This can be a great way to fill up your summer with a variety of activities. Even when it's raining outside, you can waltz through greenhouses full of succulents.
Highly Specific, Niche Museums
Bike To The Beach
One of the most tedious parts of taking a trip to the beach can be getting to the beach. But you can make that part of the fun by biking there with bae! Consider it two dates in one — you can pack up for a leisurely bike ride, then kick back on the beach.
Stage A Photoshoot
Lights, camera, action! If you have a friend who's building their photography portfolio, consider asking if they'd be willing to stage a shoot for free. You and your bae could take some cute couple pics together, while enjoying a fun evening of smizing and smoldering at the camera.
Play "Top Chef"
One tried and true method of having fun with bae is to get busy in the kitchen (no, not like that). Try playing your own version of a cooking competition, like Chopped or Iron Chef. This can be a great activity if you have a lot of random stuff in your fridge that you need to clean out!
Spending time together doesn't have to be super flashy. In fact, it can be as simple as pulling one of your favorite board or card games off the shelf and playing for a few hours. Although you may already spend a lot of time with each other, doing something like playing a game can engage you fully.
Hot Air Balloon Festival
Hot air balloon festivals are held all over the country, every single summer. Research the one nearest to you and post up along their journey (for free)! In fact, the largest hot air balloon festival in North America is held in New Jersey at the tail end of July. If you want a more immersive experience, you can even score deals on tickets.
Honestly, having someone to go on cute dates with in the summer is awesome. There's something really freeing and romantic about the way that the longer days and warm weather seem to put everyone in a better mood. Here's to the melted ice cream cones and long walks in the park you'll be taking with that someone special this season!