43 Under-$50 Date Night Ideas for Romance On a Budget

Recently, my partner and I entered a “season of savings,” as we’re prioritizing upcoming travel, future home-related furnishings, etc. It’s no easy feat for two hard-working people who love to dine out, go to shows, and lean into fun. Date nights for us always feel like an adventure. So, rather than make this time of reigning it in feel restrictive or boring, we’ve made it into a fun challenge. Whenever we go out together, we can’t spend more than $50. If you’ve tried recently, this is a bit harder than it sounds. That’s why we’ve gotten creative with cheap date night ideas that keep the adventure alive—just on a budget.

But after experimenting a little, we’ve found that with a little out-of-the-box thinking, when we’re tasked with planning a day we know we’ll each love, it’s that much more intentional and meaningful. Not to mention, I love the mystery and surprise of seeing what my partner chose for us. 

Featured image by Michelle Nash.

Image by Michelle Nash

12 Cheap Date Night Ideas That Are Oh-So Special

The list of options is truly endless, and the most important part is to have fun with it! Remember, it’s ultimately the time you spend together that matters the most. Whether you’re in a season of savings too, or simply up for the challenge, discover my favorite cheap date night ideas to get you started. What are you adding to your under-$50 list?

Image by Michelle Nash

Visit a Bookstore

When you get to the bookstore, each of you has to pick out a book that you think the other person would love or that speaks to you. My partner is a voracious reader so recently before I left for a trip, I walked into a bookstore with no agenda other than finding something I thought he’d love. I came across Raw Dog by comedian Jamie Loftus. He LOVES hotdogs and comedy, so it was a perfect match. 

Go to a Burlesque Show

Last January, Dita Von Teese was in Austin for a show at the Paramount Theater. It was spicy, sexy, and such a blast. Chances are if you have a theater scene in your city, there’s a burlesque show you can catch. 

Hike with a Picnic

If you’re in Austin, I’d run over to Foxtrot Market on Burnet, grab a bottle of wine (or not!) and snacks, and then head to Mount Bonnell. Go around sunset time to hike up the stairs and watch it from the top. It’s stunning. Of course, you can do this with any nature area or walking paths in your area.

Image by Michelle Nash

Coffee, Walk, Museum

Cheap date night ideas can always transition to the early hours. For those who prefer mornings and something alcohol-free, grab a coffee and head out on a walk to a nearby museum. 

Bowling or Bingo

A true classic. I you’re lucky, either place usually has cheaper bites and drinks letting you at least get one good game and a bite to split. 


Find an organization you’re both into supporting, or better yet, each of you chooses one that you’d like to support. Instead of using that $50 towards your date, donate it back to the organization. 

Image by Michelle Nash

Night in Cooking

Nothing too novel here, but I love the idea of picking a recipe I know my partner would devour, and then putting him in charge of the playlist while I cook. We both get a little bit of a surprise and hopefully, he’ll add some romantic song we can dance to in the kitchen, which we actually do from time to time. 

Go Dancing/Two-Stepping

Two of my all-time favorite places in Austin for dancing are The Broken Spoke and Donn’s Depot. Donn’s is right down the street from me and for $50 we get: cover fee, a few drinks each, and a little extra to tip the band playing. I love being on the dance floor with all ages and I swear you will not find a person NOT smiling on the dance floor. Plus, dancing is a beautiful way to get closer to your partner. 

Image by Michelle Nash

Tie-Dye Old T-Shirts + Movie Night

This one is a total throwback. If I were choosing the movie it would probably be Teen Wolf or Troop Beverly Hills. Without pause, he’d pick Rad. But we’d probably both align on Heathers at the end of the day. Anyway, grab an old t-shirt and make an evening of it tie-dying, watching a movie, and ordering in pizza. It’s chill, laid-back, and adds the element of surprise as you never know how your shirt will turn out. 

Learn a New Game Together

This really could be “learn anything new together.” I love the novelty that comes with trying something new for the first time and having that element of discovery together. There are SO MANY games I haven’t played, but recently, my partner and his kids brought their Nintendo Switches on a family vacation, and low and behold, I caught myself playing until 2 a.m. almost every night. (And, to be clear, having the time of my life.)

Image by Michelle Nash

Visit a Farmer’s Market 

You’ve got $50 and have to come up with something to make for dinner without going over your budget. While this might be stressful to some, for me, it’s exciting to think about what my partner likes and how I can get creative for him. 

Pay it Forward

This could go so many ways. Spend the $50 cooking a meal or using a food delivery service for a sick friend or new mom. Put together care packages for kids in the hospital. My partner’s sister’s family recently found out their 6-year-old was diagnosed with Leukemia and I can’t imagine how much it would light the little one up to have a surprise drop-off of toys.  

Image by Michelle Nash

More Cheap Date Night Ideas We Love

When it comes to dating on a budget, with only a little to spend, you’re invited to get a little more creative—and have all the more fun because of it. Ahead, we’re sharing more of our favorite cheap date night ideas that’ll have you counting down until Thursday (or Friday, or Saturday… ) every week.

  1. Explore a plant store. I can’t be the only one who can get lost in a plant store for hours! Pick up a little cutie and get some tips from the plant whisperers that be.
  2. Go out to breakfast. It’s way cheaper than dinner, and honestly, what’s better than hot coffee (or in my case, cold brew) and pancakes shared with the one you love?
  3. Run errands together. If your relationship with Target is anything like mine, you know just how fun this can be.
  4. Go apple or pumpkin picking. Make something sweet with your pickings afterward.
  5. Do a dive bar crawl. Prices are typically so cheap, you don’t need to find a happy hour special.
  6. Puzzle night. You could take it one step further and order a customized puzzle of your favorite pic together as a surprise. 
  7. Watch the sunset together. When was the last time you intentionally watched the sunrise or sunset? Pack a bottle of wine, a mini cheese board, and a blanket. What could be more romantic?
  8. Rent bikes. Some places offer bike rentals by the hour, making your $50 date doable and active. 
  9. Visit an art store. You can have so much fun with this one. Buy supplies to create a piece together or for one another. 
  10. Thrift shop. The goal: each of you takes $25 from the $50 pot you have and has to put together an outfit. Have fun with it. 
  11. Play an intimate card game. Relationship expert and therapist Esther Perel’s game, Where Should We Begin is a great way to learn more about your partner. 
  12. Theme night at your home. This could go in so many directions, but is mostly inspired by a Christmas-themed bar in Austin called Lala’s. There’s nothing like transforming your house to get you into the spirit, whether it’s a holiday or leaning into an 80s night. 
  13. Go mini-golfing. A tried-and-true staple for any couple. Plus, it makes a perfect first date.
  14. Go see live music. Pick a venue you have never been to and go see someone new. There’s something so fun about adding novel elements to your relationship. 
  15. Drive-in movie. Grab a blanket and BYOP (bring your own popcorn!).
  16. Trivia night. I’ve got pop culture covered and my partner has history and sports.
  17. Create a scavenger hunt for each other. You might not even need to spend a dime on this one unless you want to put the funds into prizes. 
  18. Visit a record store. Grab a vinyl you each love to play at home for your lazy Sundays. 
  19. Go to a comedy show. Every so often, you can score tickets for two under $50. Who doesn’t love a night of laughs with your significant other? 
  20. Host a potluck for a few couples. This is the best of all worlds: spending $50 or less by having others bring over a dish AND you get time with your pals. 
  21. Surprise and delight. Take your $50 and spend it on friends or family to surprise ’em. You’ll both feel great and even more connected. 
  22. Swimming and ice cream. There is no shortage of swimming holes and hotels that offer day passes to use their pool. Grab an old school soft serve cone after and your day is set. 
  23. Try a new physical activity. Rock climbing, pickleball, tennis, etc. It’s a fun way to get your heart rate up with your heart throb.
  24. Create a spa experience. Making your own massage oil is super easy and cheap. If you and your honey love a massage, this is a great way to create your own experience at home. 
  25. Take a mini road trip. There are so many small and cute towns across the country that really amp up the cheer during the fall and winter months. Grab a few road trip snacks and take a drive, walk around, and make a day out of it. 
  26. Explore the Kama SutraNo shame in wanting to explore the art of lovemaking and sexual positions with your partner. Have fun with it. 
  27. Recreate your first date. This one might be tough with $50 to spend pending where you went, but maybe you have the same outfit at the ready or can pull in elements that are similar. 
  28. Binge watch a TV series and order in. There are so many series my partner and I want to start. Yellowstone, anyone? 
  29. Write out your 2024 goals. Likely won’t cost you a single thing, but it’s a really lovely time to carve out an intentional moment to set big goals together and help keep one another on track. Y’all know we love a good vision board-making night.
  30. Go rollerskating. A friend of mine recently hosted a birthday at a rink and it was such a throwback, not to mention less than $50 for two people.
  31. Find a park concert series. As the temps cool in Austin, several parks host “Jazz on the Green” or “Music in the Park” and they’re usually free! 

29 Unexpected Valentine’s Day Date Ideas to Make Your S.O. Smile

When the second week of February rolls around each year, Adam and I inevitably look at each other a little bewildered and ask “So… what should we do for Valentine’s Day?” Most of the traditional ideas can feel a little cheesy (not to mention overpriced), so I’m always on the hunt for unexpected Valentine’s Day date ideas that will still feel romantic and special.

I remember the first year we celebrated Valentine’s Day as a couple, we cooked a really fancy dinner at Adam’s place complete with steak and chocolate soufflés, and it was so memorable that we’ve tried to do something outside the box every year since. Whether you’re coupled up or single, keep scrolling for 29 unique ideas that will ensure your Valentine’s Day is actually fun, with no clichés in sight.

Featured image of Rebekah Peppler’s Parisian dinner party by Joann Pai.

Image by Michelle Nash

29 Unique Valentine’s Day Date Ideas to Try This Year

1. Find and go to a drive-in concert. Bonus points for dressing up and bringing your own lawn chairs and snacks.

2. Create a private movie theater in your house with a projector and screen a romantic movie. Just add popcorn, Raisinets, and two pairs of cozy socks.

3. Go roller skating. Or ice skating. The goal here is to channel your favorite hand-holding scene in just about every classic rom-com.

4. Host a karaoke night in your living room. This personally sounds like my vision of hell, but I know it’s right up some of your alleys. Plus, if you were born with the voice of an angel, this could be a great strategy for making them fall in love with you on the spot. If you want to be super professional with it, check out this Wireless Bluetooth Karaoke Mic.

5. Take an early morning hike to watch the sunrise. I know, I know—sounds kind of painful. But there’s nothing more magical than watching the sun come up. Plus, getting up that early to break a sweat is a total bonding experience.

Image by Belathée Photography

6. Take a virtual cooking class. Bonding over pots of marinara and pans of tiramisu? Sign me up!

7. Put together care packages for the homeless. Stuff paper bags or shoe boxes with food, water, socks, hand wipes, etc. and keep them in your cars for the next time you drive past someone in need. It’s pretty cool to see your S.O. serving others and sacrificing their free time for a worthy cause. You’ll likely fall in love with each other all over again.

8. Host an at-home art night. Whether this means sketching in an adult coloring book, making a collage of your favorite photos together, or streaming an artist’s documentary, get your creative juices flowing.

9. Schedule a tasting at a winery or brewery. While we did this virtually during the pandemic, there’s nothing better than taking an excursion to your favorite spots. Or, if you want a more low-key experience at home, buy three bottles of wine: one that is $25, one that is $15, and one that is $10. Cover the bottles in foil and mix them around, then try to guess which is which! It’s pretty surprising sometimes.

10. Pick up your favorite take-out and drive to a scenic location for stargazing. When was the last time you and your S.O. really looked at the stars together? There’s something about gazing at the nighttime sky that is such a reminder of the vastness of the universe—and how lucky you are to have found each other in it.

Image by Michelle Nash

11. Take a “staycation” at a favorite local hotel. I think every couple should splurge once in a while and spend the night away, even when a full-blown vacation isn’t in the cards. Order room service, watch a movie, jump in the hot tub, and sleep in.

12. Take a virtual dance class. Check out YouTube instructors that offer salsa or swing instruction. Perfect your dance moves for the next time you go to a wedding or a country bar.

13. Recreate your first date. For Adam and me, this would involve a dive-y Chinese restaurant, Peking Duck, and one too many glasses of chardonnay. If you’ve been together a long time, you’ll undoubtedly have fun laughing about those early days, and it may even be a valuable reminder of why you fell so deeply in love in the first place. Be creative about how to recreate your dates at home! Pick up takeout from the restaurant, dim the lights, use tablecloths, or any unique aspects that a specific restaurant has.

Image by Belathée Photography

14. Pack a picnic and bike ride to somewhere special together. There is something so special about riding bikes together to a special spot to indulge in a picnic together. Pack your favorite cheeses with dips and snacks in a picnic basket—don’t forget the bottle of wine!

15. Explore a local bookstore. You don’t have to be a bookworm for this to be a best-ever date (although, bonus points if you are). Head out and browse the stacks! Select a read for yourself or pick one for your partner. When you get home, curl up on the couch and read side-by-side. Nothing like a little literature to set the mood.

16. Make breakfast in bed. Nothing beats feeding each other bites of pancakes while you’re snuggled under the covers. Whether you want something healthy and vibrant or are craving your favorite comfort food (again, pancakes), as long as you’re getting in the kitchen together and sharing a meal, you really can’t go wrong with this date.

17. Travel by train. This idea might be a little more involved, but it’s nothing a little planning can’t make happen. Train travel lets you take in your surrounding sights in the most relaxing way possible. You don’t even have to set out with a specific destination in mind—it’s all about the journey.

Image by Christie Graham

18. Theme your date night. Date nights are great and all, but when you center it around a specific theme, you can immerse yourself in a whole new experience. And of course, nothing says romance like a little jaunt to France. Want all the Parisian vibes without having to get on a plane? Make a playlist of all your favorite French music, plan out a French-ified menu, and transform your dining room into the chicest French restaurant, no matter where you are.

19. Make a vision board. Sharing your dreams and setting the foundation for future plans to come is the ultimate way to connect. You can each create your own vision board or collaborate on one together. It’s a fun and inspiring process, and can guide conversations for what you each want for yourselves and your shared goals as a couple. For steps on how to get started, check out our guide to vision boarding.

20. Camp it up. While a get-lost-in-the-woods date can be just the adventure many of us are looking for, there are others who’d rather camp out in the living room. Whether you were a scout in a past life or have never spent a night in the great outdoors, there are plenty of ways to tailor this date for a magical evening (hello, glamping). Just don’t forget the marshmallows.

Image by Michelle Nash

21. Ask questions designed to build intimacy. This list of 32 questions was written specifically to help deepen your relationship. Because as the author, Nihel, writes: “With the right mindset, intention, and questions, setting aside these special moments can deepen your love and bring a fresh and renewed perspective to your relationship.”

22. Read your favorite “Modern Love” stories. Who else skims the Sunday paper’s ‘Style’ section for these vignettes of real-life romance and heartbreak? If you’re already a fan, help your partner get on board. Pick an essay from their archives and take turns reading them aloud to each other. You’ll get a glimpse into a life unlike your own, as each story is a window into unique perspectives on, and experiences with, love.

23. Get competitive. Game night anyone? Care to challenge your S.O. to a round of tennis? Whatever your competition of choice, pick it and gear up! There’s nothing like a little healthy competition to set the sparks flying.

24. Bake a new recipe together. PSA: Valentine’s Day dessert doesn’t have to involve chocolate. In fact, some of the best draw upon unique flavors and clever spins on classics. The Kitchn has you covered with its list of 40+ delicious desserts.

25. Recreate each other’s favorite cocktails/mocktails. Even if you don’t consider yourself a mixologist, you can have a little fun getting creative at your home bar. Ask (or guess!) each other’s favorite drinks and make them at home. It’s a kind gesture that will make them—and you—feel seen in your tastes and preferences.

Image by Michelle Nash

26. Play Esther Perel’s conversation game, “Where Should We Begin?” We counted down the days until the famed psychotherapist released her conversation deck. With prompts like “Share something that’s changed your worldview” and questions that ask you to share what’s been keeping you up at night, trust that there’s no holding back. Pick up your copy here.

27. Write a letter to your S.O. for them to open next year. Who wouldn’t love receiving a letter that took you back to where your relationship was the year prior? Reflect on your feelings, thoughts, and what you love most about them in this moment. It’s a touching gesture and one that you’re both likely to keep stored in your dressers forever.

28. Find out each other’s enneagram. If you haven’t heard, intentional personality tests are back. (Key word being “intentional”—there’s nothing hokey about them.) Discovering each other’s enneagrams is an eye-opening way to dive deeper into what makes your partner tick. Learn more about the enneagram—and what it says about your personality—here.

29. … or uncover your love languages. If you haven’t done a deep dive yet, understanding the love languages (and knowing which best describes you and your partner) sheds insight into you each give and receive love. We share everything you need to know about love languages here.

Valentines Day Date Ideas

This post was originally published on February 9, 2020, and has since been updated.