11 Low-Cost and Creative Date Ideas

Every dater, whether it’s your first meet-up or you’ve been married for 30 years, needs to shake things up with some creativity every once in a while. The dinner-and-movie sequence has been done to death, and it’s time to try something new.

Now, creativity often comes with a price tag. An Alaskan cruise is creative and so is front-row seats to an Imagine Dragons concert, but that doesn’t mean it’s the kind of creativity you’re looking for on a Friday night with $30 to your name.

That’s why we’ve compiled this list of 11 low-cost AND creative date ideas. From outdoors to indoors, dressing up or dressing down, food-related or not, there is bound to be an idea for you on our list. Enjoy.

Painting Painting

No, this isn’t a typo. One of my close friends came up with this genius idea, and I need to share it with the world.

For this date, you hit up a Dollar Store, Walmart, or other bargain brand with your date and each pick out a glass- or plastic-framed photo or painting. Next, you find a good painting spot: a library, park, your house, wherever you think would be best. Be sure to pack painting supplies such as brushes, paints, water, rags, aprons, and, of course, paint.

Once you’ve chosen your spot and set up your art station, you paint over the paintings that you’ve selected from the store. You don’t need to take the frame off – paint on the glass or plastic! When my friend did this, he picked out a framed photo of the forest and painted two colorful dragons on the plastic over it.

This low-cost and creative date idea is also flexible and requires no skill. Typically, with dates where you’re painting from scratch, there’s some pressure to be a good artist. But if you’re painting over a painting, there’s no particular skill necessary!

Fly a Kite

Bet you can’t remember the last time you did this, and your date probably can’t either.

Even better, go to the store and pick out your kites together! All you need is a windy day and you’re all set.

After you’ve flown the life out of your kites, you can grab a bite to eat and voila! Successful date.

Beach Picnic

Pack some food or grab it on the way, a blanket, some card games, sunscreen, and a speaker.

You’ll have lots of time to talk, activities/distractions if necessary, and the only cost is the food.

Cuisine Hunt

Each of you come up with a couple of cuisines (Peruvian, German, Mexican, etc) you like or want to try. One of you picks any street in the city, the other person chooses the direction.

And you start walking. Anytime you see a place that matches the cuisine, you go in, get a bite sized thing, and move to the next place.

This low-cost and creative date idea provides ample opportunity for walking, eating, chatting, and fun!

Thrift Dinner Outfits

Hit up your local thrift store and spend $20 each on an outfit that the other has to wear to dinner. Simple, cute, and lots of fun! Plus, you get to dress up your date just like you like ’em.

Want to see an example? Check out this cute couple thrifting each other’s outfits for date night!

Book Store Scavenger Hunt

This one is particularly fitting if you both like to read! It’s pretty straightforward: you come up with a list of prompts (examples below), go to your local (moderately large) book store, walk around, and talk!

Example Prompts:

  • “Find a book you loved as a kid”
  • “Find a book you’ve always wanted to read”
  • “Find a book that reminds you of your mom”
  • “Find a self help book that you think would be useful for you”
  • “Find a book whose main character is the most like you”
  • “Find a book written in the decade that you were born”

Yard Sale Sweep

Pick a Saturday, drive around some suburbs, and check out every yard sale that you see. Whoever finds the coolest item wins!

Comic Book Store

Check out some comic books, talk about super heroes, and grab a bite to eat after. Extra points for nostalgia.

Fast Food Competition

Pick a common fast food: chicken nuggets, fries, cheeseburgers, etc.

Pick a handful of places: McDonald’s, Burger King, Arby’s, Chick Fil A, Taco Bell, etc.

Drive around to each place, try the selected food, and rate it.

If you want to go the extra mile, you can print out little score cards beforehand – feel free to save and print out this image if you’d like!

Use this scorecard on your fast food competition date.

The categories that you choose to rate the food on might depend on which food you choose, so we’ve left the categories blank. Here are a few examples:


  • Overall Taste
  • Crispness
  • Salt Ratio
  • Presentation

Chicken Nuggets:

  • Overall Taste
  • Quality of chicken
  • Presenatation
  • Dipping Sauce


  • Taste
  • Quality of Beef
  • Quality of Cheese
  • Presentation

Animal Sanctuary

Whether you pick butterflies, birds, or critters, taking a date to an animal sanctuary is budget-friendly, creative, informative, and fun!

Multiple Choice Test

If you and your date have known each other for a while, this is a great option! You each make a multiple choice test for the other with questions to see how well they know you. Have some kind of designated prize for the winner!

If Multiple Choice isn’t your style, you can do this same thing with Kahoot or Jeopardy.

Here are some example questions:

  • “What is my youngest sibling’s name?”
  • “What is a food that I hate?”
  • “What is my favorite movie genre?”
  • “Which of these animals was my childhood pet?”
  • “Where do I go when I need to think?”
  • “Who was my first significant other?”
  • “When is my birthday?”

Looking for some date ideas that are a little more seasonal and location-specific? Check out 15 Fall Date Ideas in Utah Valley.

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