8 First Date Ideas that Fit Into Any Budget

Love may be all you need, but it usually requires a good first date to get there. Even if you don’t have a lot of money in the bank, there are quite a few fun and intimate ways to get to know a new love interest. Some of the most popular first date ideas don’t cost much (if anything) at all. Affordable first date ideas include trips to a museum, an old-fashioned picnic, or a winery tour.

Art Museums and Galleries

While some of the larger art museums in metro areas will charge admissions, most of the smaller museums and galleries are free to the public and make for a cheap first date. In addition to the fantastic cultural experience, gazing at art helps keep the conversation moving. It’s also helpful to those who are particularly shy or find eye contact difficult.

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If strolling through the paintings isn’t stimulating enough, choose to visit a local gallery on a night when an artist is presenting or an auction is taking place. The added activity can keep things exciting. They often service light appetizers or drinks for no additional fee!

Old-Fashioned Picnic

There’s something about eating outside that can cause a spark! Whether you decide to go fancy with a cheese plate and wine, or stick to a slice and some dessert, this is a stress-free way to date. Didn’t think you could picnic during cold weather? Bundle up or use outdoor patio heaters and serve hot chocolate or brandy. Cold-weather dining can be especially cozy!

Winery Tour

If you like getting outside and adore a good red, a winery tour is a perfect first date. Some tours cost nothing, while other charge a nominal fee. Go during a weekday to take advantage of smaller crowds and dining specials. Even if you don’t drink, the fresh air and scenery are sure to impress your date!

first date ideas for any budget(Not a wine fan? Beer brewery tours are on trend right now. Many women love to drink beer. Ask your date if he/she has a preference between beer and wine. A beer tour may be just the ticket!)

Board Game Night

If your date is the competitive type, a little friendly rivalry may be perfect for starting something. Choose a location where you can relax with snacks and drinks and bring 5 of your favorite games. (Need a hint: many of these best cheap family games would work nicely.) For extra excitement, place bets on the outcomes of each game, including “winner picks next date location” or “loser pays for dinner.”

Photography Walk

Long, casual strolls are perfect chatting and getting to know one another. Adding in a photo element can extend the memories long after the date is over. Start by creating a list of things to photograph on the walk, similar to a scavenger hunt. After the walk is done, compare the pics taken from your smartphones. If the date went well put the highest ranked into a Facebook album or make a photo gift from Snapfish. Order two so you both have a treasure from your special day!

Binge-Watch with a Purpose

Netflix without the chill is a great way to share a common interest. Do you both love zombies? Stream 2 or 3 of the most ridiculous undead flicks. Have a love for all things Bogart? Get classic with oldies that you can enjoy together. Bring your themed movie experience to life with a few drinks or snacks that resonate with your topic. If you’re not big movie fans, you can do the same thing with a season of a good sitcom, too!


If you are both into helping others and want to show your good side from the get-go, offering to help a local non-profit is a good way to go. Pick something that’s not overly stressful for your first outing; serving food at a veteran’s kitchen, for example, isn’t likely to be too traumatizing. Charities with kids or animals will win you extra date night points! Contact local charities near you and find opportunities that don’t require a lot of paperwork, background checks or other extensive red tape. You want the time together to feel like a good time, even though you are helping others.

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Even More Affordable First Date Ideas

Still looking for the perfect date? These are also popular but money-saving first date options:

  • Visit an arcade – See how much fun you can have with $10 in quarters each. High scorer gets dessert!
  • Play pool – Even if you’re never played, it’s a blast to get started and can end up with lots of laughs. Go when it’s not very busy (avoid happy hour) to avoid excessive noise from crowds or lines for the tables.
  • Go bowling – Yes, people still bowl. There’s nothing like both having to wear another person’s stinky shoes to bring a couple together.
  • Antique – Even if you don’t collect, looking at artifacts in a local book or collectibles shop can make for a fascinating time!

Ultimately, the activity you do on your date isn’t as important with the person you are dating, but a good first date idea can go a long way. The money saved from your affordable first date can go toward a more lavish second-date experience – if you’re lucky!