It’s easy to date on the cheap once you’ve already been seeing someone for a while (because you can just Netflix and chill all night long, clearly). But first dates require meeting up in public and having some sort of activity to do. Dinner, drinks or seeing a movie are all classic date scenarios, but they can also be expensive. Even a Starbucks rendez-vous can add up, once you throw in a panini and a muffin.
So for the times when you’re broke AF but don’t want to let your lack of funds hamper your Bumble game, try one of these cute first date ideas.
1Play with some puppies like Selena Gomez and The Weekend
Take a cue from Selena and The Weekend, and hit up a local animal shelter to love on some cute pups or kittens during your first date. Some cities now have dog and cat cafes, too!
2Have a picnic
Picnics are both romantic and cheap as hell, making them a perfect first date activity. If you want to save even more money, make your own sandwiches instead of purchasing ready-made ones. Add in a bottle of wine, and you’ve got a lovely (and cheap) date!
3Go for a bike ride
If the weather is nice, a bike ride date could be a lot of fun. Keep an eye out for organized group bike rides in your community. (For instance, Critical Mass organizes Friday night community bike rides in most major cities.) Or plan a bike ride around your area for just the two of you.
4Walk around a local market
Plan a meetup around a local flea market or farmer’s market for a low-key experience that allows you to get to know the other person as you stroll past vendor tables. The date doesn’t need to last long, but if it goes well, you can make it the first stop on a longer date.
5Go to an art gallery opening
What’s great about art gallery openings is that they are typically open to the public and often have free champagne or light appetizers. Plus, going around looking at all the art makes for great conversation starters.
Recreate the date scene in La La Land by visiting an observatory or planetarium and looking up at the stars on your first date. Bonus points if you can convince your date to waltz around with you.
7Hit up the local beach or swimming pool
Every person on Tinder claims to love walks on the beach, so why not take them on one? Likewise, sitting by the pool on a warm day with your feet dangling in the water can set a fun, flirty mood for a first date.
8Visit the local zoo
It would be impossible to run out of things to talk about while on a first date at a zoo. Animals like chimpanzees and penguins provide great fodder for small talk. And while zoos typically have entrance fees, they’re cheaper than, say, a concert or a wine tasting.
9Attend an open house
Is there a better, more inexpensive weekend date idea than open house-hopping in a wealthy neighborhood? Not only is there a good likelihood of free cookies, but you and your date can debate over whether you’d prefer a wrapping paper room versus a wine cellar in your own imaginary zillion dollar home.
10Go to a museum on a free day
Many museums offer free days, when admission is complimentary or pay what you wish. Even if you’re not art or science buffs, touring a date around a museum gallery is a great way to get to know them without breaking the bank.