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Cheap First Date Ideas That Are Fun, Unique and Romantic

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Writing is one of my several hobbies, and lists like the one below help me with writer's block every now and again.

Smiley faces in love.

Smiley faces in love.

Don't Spend a Lot of Money on the First Date

Cheap first dates really get a bad rap, but they are in fact the one thing that can really help build a solid relationship in the beginning. If you really want to get to know someone on a first date, try doing it on a budget. Having several inexpensive first dates in the beginning will either create a strong bond for the future or make you quickly come to the realization that it wasn't meant to be.

While my "cheap first date theory" ought to be the standard it's not always a popular one with some people. With that being said, I do believe it is the best way to focus on one another, which is what you want on a 1st date. The article below is all about affordable date ideas that any couple can take advantage of to not only save money, but also strengthen their relationship.

The words "cheap date" often fills people with dread, but those sentiments are far from being a bad thing. Spending less money on a date forces the people on it to get to know one another instead of trying to impress one another. This should be the goal of every first date. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I didn't come to realize the above statement until I was in my forties. I have a feeling though, that there are plenty of people (both younger and older than me) that still don't realize how true the statement is. Connection is what people should want on a first date, and I can almost promise you that if you can come up with a cool first date idea that is unique and fun, your date won't care how much you spend or don't spend on them.

What brought you here?

First Date Tips For Men

Affordable Dating Suggestions That Are Unique and Fun

  • A picnic in a local park on a blanket is as a romantic backdrop as you can get for a 1st date (or 2nd, or 3rd, or any).
  • Build something with LEGO bricks. It's best to decide what that something is together, but make sure you have enough bricks to finish it.
  • Fishing for some bluegill (much easier to catch); you can let them go.
  • Rollerskating at a rink or park. You could even pretend to be bad so your date can catch you?
  • Sweat and motivate each other at the gym by lifting weight or hitting the bags.
  • Mini-golf is a riot, especially if on a group date.
  • Ice skating is fun, but only if both of you are half-way decent at it. You don't want to spend the whole date falling.
  • Cooking a meal together is a great way to talk and get to know one another.
  • Coloring a picture (with crayons).
  • Go to a karaoke bar and sing bad songs together. No sad songs, please.
  • A leisurely stroll is a wonderful opportunity to talk and get grounded. Doing it barefoot is even better.
  • Test drive expensive cars; no one needs to know that you don't plan on buying.
  • Scavenger hunts can be fun and fairly cheap if done locally. Have a friend make up a list of items or you and your date can make the list on the 1st date and find the items on the next date.
  • Street festivals, carnivals and local events come fast and furious during the fall.
  • Hiking on an easy trail makes for a great first date. If you get the opportunity to take your shoes off and put them in a creek for a while, do it.
Couple on a bridge.

Couple on a bridge.

Another Batch of Cheap First Date Ideas

  • Paintball! It'll be up to you if you want to let them win.
  • Visit a zoo (petting zoo even better) and see the animals.
  • Drive around to yard sales (set a price limit).
  • Feed the pigeons or ducks. This is a really affordable way to get to know your date as most of the date will be filled by you both talking to one another.
  • Bowling is fun, but midnight bowling is even more fun, and fun is what you want on a first date.
  • Shoot a game of pool.
  • Volunteer work is a great way to see how your date interacts with others.
  • Most museums are free.
  • A roll of quarters can buy a lot of fun at an arcade.
  • Going out to eat is always a dependable staple of dating.
  • Going shopping in a 99 cent store.
  • Dinner is always a good date idea, but don't be afraid to ask someone out for breakfast or brunch. This will make for a unique date that most people have never been on.
  • Wander around a used book store, and maybe even buy a few.
  • Visit a greenhouse or plant nursery; buy a flower for your date.
  • If you asked them out, wash their car together.

Really Fun Cheap Date Ideas

Ideas For Date Night That Won't Put A Dent In Your Wallet

  • Buy a couple cheap box cameras and spend a few hours taking pictures. Before going home switch the cameras and get the film developed. You're likely to learn a lot about each other by doing this.
  • Spend the day at a carnival or theme park.
  • Rake leaves and then play in them. A great Fall date.
  • A horse drawn carriage ride just oozes romantic. Some people may want to save the romantic dates for later, but I'm not one of them.
  • A group dinner date is one way to go if you are not sure you want to go out on a date by yourself. It really takes the pressure off is there are people there who are friends of each person.
  • Taking a one hour class at a local college or university. A little research is advisable for classes that are free or low-cost as they can fill up fast.
  • Collecting sea shells.
  • Hang out at an old-fashioned Irish pub; they're more common than you think.
  • Rent a paddle boat or canoe and explore some rivers or lakes.
  • Corn or hedge mazes make for interesting dates because you can take your time finding your way out (lots of time to talk).
  • Make a bucket list (lets say 10 items each), then suggest that you mark one or two off the list on your 2nd date.
  • Buy a bunch of Popsicle sticks and some glue and make something.
  • Give sandwiches out to homeless people.
  • Take a trip to a pumpkin patch.
  • Picking strawberries; try your best to not get into a strawberry fight or to snack on them. So unprofessional.

Questions You Should Ask On A First Date

First Date Ideas That You May Want To Think Twice About

The dating ideas below are not necessarily bad per se, but they would make for better 3rd or 4th date ideas, instead of using them as a first date. Any event you go to where you must focus totally on watching something means there is not much opportunity to talk and get to know one another, which is what you should be doing when going out with someone the first time.

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  • Going to a movie (unless you go to dinner first).
  • Seeing a concert that you both really like (save this idea for later).
  • Going to Hooters, or any kind of sports bar (unless you know your date is a really big fan).
  • Going to a sporting event where everything is on the line (playoff game, etc.)
  • Bird watching on a first date, while cheap is not a good idea because you have to be quiet most of the time. Definitely not a good first date idea.
  • Haunted houses may seem like a good idea, but only if you are already comfortable enough to hold each other.
Roller coaster dates are fun.

Roller coaster dates are fun.

More Great Ideas for a Romantic Date

  • Go to a haunted house. Something tells me she will want to get closer to you. Right after, have a candlelight picnic in a nearby field or park. Going through two emotional extremes should yield interesting results.
  • Looking for four-leaf clovers might bring both of you a bit of luck.
  • Gun ranges are lots of fun if your date isn't decidedly opposed to firearms.
  • Get ice cream, or better yet, share a large banana split together.
  • Watch a sunrise or sunset.
  • Spontaneous date idea generated by a stranger (just ask). This can be a real mixed bag of suggestions, but it will let you know how each of you will handle improvisation in your life. I've went on two dates this way and one of them turned out fantastic.
  • Picking and pressing flowers, which you can use to make gifts out of later on.
  • Go walking in the rain. You can use one large umbrella if you don't want to get wet. As long as it's not storming, you should have an unforgettable first date.
  • Stargazing is a great way to get close (bring a blanket).
  • Starting a puzzle together is always a way to get a second date (to finish it).
  • Reading a comic book together.
  • Sketching a scene together on a nice summer day. I guarantee you will each see the setting you see differently, which will give you a glimpse into how the other sees the world.
  • Horseback riding on a trail or learning how to ride horses for the first time at a ranch.
  • Fireworks are aren't just for July.
  • If you both are in the least bit interested in science, then taking an evening to look at things under a microscope can be quite fulfilling and fun.

First Date Tips for Women

Fun First Date Ideas To Get You Those Times When Money is a Little Tight

  • Play twenty questions (a clean version is advisable for the 1st date).
  • Enter into a zombie run or a short adventure race together, this should be able to get you some "training dates".
  • Drinks at a local or lesser known bar (best to scout it out first, though).
  • Go on a small road trip and get lost together. Be sure to document the experience somehow by using a notebook, recordings or a keepsake box of things picked up along the way.
  • Teaching one another how to prepare or cook each others' favorite meals.
  • People watching in a store or park; bring binoculars for both of you to spice things up a little bit.
  • Spend the first date coming up with fun date ideas for the future.
  • Escape rooms make the best first dates because they cause your heart to race as well as easing any tension or nervousness you might be feeling. They also make for a great double date.
  • Going to the beach and building sandcastles together, while at the same time talking and getting to know one another.
  • Trading some penny stocks together can be fun and especially cheap since most brokers no longer charge commission fees.
Couple holding hands.

Couple holding hands.

© 2017 Don

Go Ahead and Share Your Unique Dating Experiences

Tom Steve from Los Angeles, USA on July 14, 2019:

I completely agree that the first few dates of a relationship should be about getting to know one another, and it does seem that dates that cost a lot of money always seems to stifle those conversations. BUT, going on low-cost dates like these are great ways to talk for veteran couples too.

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on March 10, 2019:

These are great ideas Don. Very useful to keep things interesting even with established relationships.

Tellos on October 09, 2018:

Unless you're wealthy, most couples at some point will have to cut back on some things when money is tight. Me and mine always try to go out on a date at least once a week, even if it's just a long, romantic walk in the park.

I completely agree that the first few dates of a relationship should be about getting to know one another, and it does seem that dates that cost a lot of money always seems to stifle those conversations. BUT, going on low-cost dates like these are great ways to talk for veteran couples too.

Tiffany on February 21, 2018:

I've actually went on 2 first dates where I went night hiking. On the 1st date he came up with the idea, and the 2nd time I did it I came up with the idea with a different guy. It's a great way to see if a guy is a weenie. Night hiking will make all your senses come alive; which is perfect for a 1st or 2nd date - and very affordable. Don't forget the flashlights!

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