28 Ideas for Free Romantic Dates

When my husband and I started dating, we were young and broke. Many months he could not even make his rent payment, forget spending money on dates. Yet that didn’t stop us from spending every moment together. Fast forward 20 years. We are happily married with three kids. Although our income is higher, we still don’t spend money on gifts or date nights. We don’t need to spend money to enjoy each other’s company or show our love. Here are 28 ideas for romantic dates that don’t cost any money.

Unless there’s a concert from a band from the ’90s in town, my husband and I do not go out on dates. Yet we consider ourselves to have date night every day. We put the kids to bed (7:00 on the dot for the little ones, 9:00 for the older one) and enjoy an evening together either just talking about our day or relaxing in the hot tub.

In 20 years together, I cannot remember the last time we bought each other a present. We do not express our love with flowers or gifts. Instead, we give each other something much more precious: time and attention.

On really special occasions, like an anniversary, birthday, or Valentine’s Day, we will do something extra special. For example, we might have Key Lime Pie for dessert (which we ate on our honeymoon) or play “our song” (which is of course a Matchbox Twenty song).

Anecdotally, it appears to be the couples who care more about daily acts of kindness than gifts who seem the happiest.

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

So grab some strawberries, champagne, or whatever you have in your pantry. Put the kids to bed or call a sitter. Here are 28 ideas to try alone or better yet in combination for a free or nearly free date.

  1. Star gazing
  2. Walking, hiking, or biking
  3. Picnicking (either outside or in the living room)
  4. Exploring your city by taking a free trolley or ferry ride (I would not recommend taking the bus, though – that’s not so romantic)
  5. Going to a wildlife viewing center, nature preserve, or garden
  6. Watching free movies or listening to free concerts in the park
  7. Taking a scenic drive
  8. Hot tubbing
  9. Giving and receiving massages
  10. Making popcorn and cuddling on the couch to watch a movie
  11. Writing each other a card or letter
  12. Sipping hot cocoa or wine by a fire
  13. Writing a poem or song for your partner (I wouldn’t draw their portrait unless you are a REALLY good artist)
  14. Recreating a favorite memory
  15. Making a memory jar (write memories on strips of paper then roll them up, tape shut, and put them in a jar)
  16. Cooking your partner’s favorite dinner or dessert
  17. Picking up take-out (I account for this in my weekly meal budget)
  18. Putting your gift cards to good use (restaurants, movies)
  19. Making a coupon book (this could be filled with romantic things like a ticket for a back rub or really romantic things like offering to do their chores)
  20. Inviting your besties over for a double-date dinner
  21. Going old-school and creating a mix-tape
  22. Showing them a keepsake you have from one of your first dates and telling them the special memories it holds for you
  23. Having a game night (strip poker perhaps)
  24. Suggesting a night of role-play
  25. Dancing in the moonlight
  26. Going for a midnight swim
  27. If it’s too cold for a swim, how about sharing a candle-lit bubble bath
  28. Trying something your partner loves and has been wanting to share with you

Forget about spending money! Most people want to feel young, fun, attractive, appreciated, and loved. That’s what makes a perfect date.

What do you do for date night?

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