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(Mostly) Free Summer Date Ideas

Feeling a little strapped for cash? Summer is a great season for dating on a budget. There are plenty of fun free date options to pursue when the weather’s warm. Love don’t cost a thing. Dates don’t have to cost much, either.

Free Summer Date Idea: Go Outside

The weather outside is (finally) not frightful, so take full advantage of the great outdoors. It doesn’t cost a penny to go for a walk, hike a new trail or bike along the harbor front. Pick a favorite scenic spot to visit, or opt to explore a new neighborhood on foot.

If you have a boat — or have a generous friend with a boat — now is the time to use it. If you’re boat-free, grab a volleyball, sunscreen, and a cooler packed with drinks and snacks and head to the beach.

If you’re starting to date someone regularly, consider signing up for an intramural sports league together. If it’s too pricey, why not appoint one night a week as sports night, letting other friends join you in your favorite pick-up game of your choice?

Reminder: Be sure to pack an extra blanket to cuddle under when catching the local fireworks on long weekends.

Free Summer Date Ideas: Get Cultured

Just because you’re not spending money doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy live music or movies on the big screen. Read local papers and “what’s on” websites for weekly free events. Outdoor movies projected on large screens, free classical concerts and open-mike nights all make for great date options.

For those who like to stay close to home, bring your movie-loaded laptop into the backyard for an intimate screening for two under the stars. Splurge (a little) on a bottle of wine.

Almost every city and town has festivals scattered throughout the summer. Keep your eye on the local calendar, being sure not to miss jazz street festivals, free seminars, international cuisine tastings and fun entertainment that don’t cost a thing.

Free Summer Date Ideas: Be a Chef

Dinners out can be pricey. Dinners in can be just as tasty and twice as fun. Whether you’re barbecuing in the backyard, packing a picnic for dinner in the park, or hosting a mini dinner party, there are plenty of ways to make cooking at home fun.

Take turns cooking for each other, or tackle a new recipe together. (Maybe start by scouring a local farmer’s market for fresh ingredients.)

A fun idea: make a list of all the restaurant foods you want to perfect at home, then slowly work your way through the list over the course of the summer. By making mealtime a fun challenge, you won’t feel like you’re missing out on the restaurant experience at all. You might discover that you’re a better chef than you thought.

Not-Quite-Free Date Ideas: Spend a Little

Keep things super-cost-effective by opting for low-cost dates. Rent a canoe and spend the day on the closest lake. Cook dinner at home, but grab a drink on a local patio. Soak in some culture at a pay-what-you-can performance of Shakespeare in the Park. Or take the old-school approach and play mini-golf, go bowling, or catch a flick at the drive-in.

When in doubt, ask friends for fun recommendations that won’t hurt your wallet. They might help you discover new activities, affordable eateries or up-and-coming artists. They might even have a cottage to lend you for the weekend.

What are your favorite date ideas for summer?