We’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to go on dates when money is tight. Drinks, food, and activities add up and have the potential to burn a serious hole in your wallet. But it doesn’t necessarily need to be that way. In fact, there are plenty of free date ideas that don’t cost anything at all. All you have to do is look around to get inspired. To help you find the best options that will strengthen your bond, we asked the experts for the best free date ideas that will keep your romance—and bank account—in top shape.
1. Visit the farmer’s market
But switch things up a bit! Peruse, take a lap or two, and then “try to find things that start with every letter of the alphabet,” says Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics. The best part of this already free date is that most stands also give out free samples. So if you do find that you’ve worked up an appetite, you can satiate your cravings. Heck, you could probably make a meal out of the samples if you wanted to.
2. Channel your inner chef
You don’t need to go to a fancy restaurant for a nice meal when you can easily make one in the comfort of your own kitchen. Thanks to YouTube, you can take an intimate cooking class with your favorite celebrity chef at any time. Simply type their name and your favorite dish and see what pops up. Chances are, there’s a step-by-step tutorial you can try out. “Cooking together is just plain sexy. Maybe it’s because you’re using your hands—all that kneading and rolling,” says Connell Barrett, founder and executive life coach of datingtransformation.com.
3. Figure out your personality type
Dying to know your partner’s love language? Take a seat on the couch and find out. Figuring out your personality is equal parts fun and insightful, says Amanda L. Grossman, a financial intimacy expert. And when you’re done, you’ll wind up knowing yourself a little bit better and also have a good idea of what makes your partner tick too. Grossman specifically recommends the Love Language Test for Couples, Fascinate, and 16 Personalities.
4. Go on a yoga date
Most yoga studios offer a community class once or twice a week. And there’s something incredibly sexy about being drenched in sweat. If you’re feeling adventurous, take things up a notch at a hot yoga class where things get particularly steamy. It’s one of the best free date ideas you’ll want to make a habit.
5. Download a karaoke app
What’s better than actual karaoke? Singing alone in your home where you’re safe from embarrassment and judgment. Barrett recommends the singalong app Smule. “It lets you rock the karaoke mic with your partner, no matter how far apart you are,” he says. “And a couple that sings together, stays together.”
6. Pet some animals
Go to a local shelter and spend some quality time with its furry residents. This free activity will definitely relieve stress and make you feel like you’ve done some good while you’re at it. You’ll definitely be tempted to take a cat or dog home so be sure to leave your wallet behind for this one if you’re not seriously considering adoption.
7. Look at the stars
There’s nothing more romantic than stargazing. For optimal viewing, leave the city with on a clear night, but make sure the moon isn’t full. Barrett says “it will wash out the stars that are visible to the naked eye.” You can get creative and invent constellations based on inside jokes. And don’t forget to wish upon a star!
8. Watch a movie outside
Put a twist on the dinner and a movie cliche by popping your favorite microwave popcorn and heading to a free movie screening in a local park. Lounge on a cozy blanket, inhale the fresh air and be thankful that you didn’t spend an arm and a leg on overpriced tickets.
9. Take a walk
Just being outside with one another without any distractions is a great way to reconnect without spending a dime. It’s an excellent option for couples whether it’s an old or new relationship. “Being outdoors offers plenty of icebreaker topics to get to know each other better,” says Mayla Green, a sex and relationship coach and co-founder of theadulttoyshop.com. “And if you find yourself in a secluded spot on a hiking trail, it’s a romantic chance to share a kiss.” Plus, it’s a good way to get some exercise too.
10. Recreate your first date
Slightly cheesy, yes, but just go with it. Travel to where you and your partner met for the very first time and recreate the moment as best as you can remember. Lean into the nostalgia! “To dial up the romance, jot down some sincere, poetic words about why your S.O. is so special to you, and read it aloud,” says Barrett.
11. Explore a new neighborhood
Get on the subway and exit at a random stop or drive in one direction for an hour and get out. Odds are you’ll discover something new thanks to your spontaneity!
12. Have an indoor picnic
If the weather is too cold where you are to enjoy nature or watch an outdoor movie, keeping things inside is just as romantic as the great outdoors. “Make a yummy picnic-type lunch or dinner complete with a picnic basket, blanket, and wine, of course,” says Justin Lavelle, chief communications officer for peoplelooker.com. “And you won’t get any bug bites!”
13. Create a time capsule
Save your favorite ticket stubs, photographs, and write love letters to make a scrapbook of your memories. Bury it somewhere safe and open it up on your anniversary.
14. Have a movie marathon
Start early enough in the night to watch a romantic comedy from every decade you’ve been alive. For peak coziness, create a pillow fort and spend the whole night in the living room. Lavelle guarantees “you’ll fall in love all over again.” If you can’t decide on a movie, finally binge watch that television show you’ve been meaning to start.
15. Test drive your dream car
Who doesn’t love a good window shop? Have a good time thinking about your future together, says Bridget Fonger, a health, lifestyle, and relationships writer. That could be anything from stopping at the Mercedez-Benz dealership to test out a car or touring a dreamy penthouse apartment. “Take turns sharing your favorite places or things you’re hoping to buy one day,” she says. Just make sure you don’t actually come home with a brand new car!
16. Swap your favorite music
Even though the mix-tape is very much a thing of the past, making playlists and sharing them with your loved one is still incredibly romantic. Curate one based on your favorite love songs then have a listening party together.
17. Go on a museum date
Most museums have pay-what-you-wish entry days or completely free entry if you’re a student or of a certain age. Backe suggests a scavenger hunt once you’re inside. “Get there a little earlier than your partner and put out clues you prepared the night before,” he says.
18. Have a spa day date
Candles? Check. Lotion? Check. That’s all you really need for a home-spa date. Dim the lights and loosen up together. Be sure to take a silly selfie or two in your matching face masks and robes. This is one of those free date ideas that’ll also help you relax.
19. Learn a new language
While you and your partner continue to save up for a big trip abroad, practice learning a new language together. Start by downloading Duolingo, an extremely user-friendly free app. You can take your pick from 24 different languages. You’ll be impressing each other with your new vocabulary before you know it. Et voila!
20. Play a board game
It’s one of the most classic free date ideas for a reason. Dust off your Monopoly set or bring out a newer cult-favorite board game like Codenames and spend the night in. It’s always a good time reliving childhood memories while also getting in touch with your competitive side.