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10 Fun & Romantic Summer Date Ideas on the Cheap


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Turn on your radio during the summer, and you’ll find no shortage of songs dedicated to crazy, young, fledgling romance. There’s something about the long days, hot nights, and short skirts of summer that sends love into overdrive. But just because you want to confess your undying love to your new flame, it doesn’t mean you need to bust your budget to do it.

With that in mind, here are a number of ideas for summer love on a dime that are far more memorable than dinner and a movie.

Cheap Summer Date Ideas

1. Pack a Picnic

Going out to eat every week is expensive and uninspired. This summer, pack a picnic instead. Gather a blanket, a few pillows, and several citronella candles, and head to a secluded spot by the lake or in a park. If you want to forgo the hassle of dinner, buy a pre-made angel food cake, chopped strawberries, whipped cream, and two forks for an impromptu strawberry short cake dessert. Pack a bottle of champagne and two glasses for an extra special evening.

  • Estimated Cost: $8 to $20, depending on whether you splurge on champagne.

2. Warm Up With Racquetball

If you’ve never tried your hand at racquetball, you’re missing out on a hilarious and pulse-racing date idea. Racquetball is a great summer activity because courts are often air-conditioned, allowing you and your date to beat the heat while playing indoors. Not to mention, high-energy activities are better than watching reruns of “CSI” any day. In fact, research has shown that couples who engage in physical activities together experience heightened sexual excitement and feelings of connection.

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  • Estimated Cost: $5 to $10 for passes to your recreation center.

3. Rent a Jet Ski

A wild ride on a Jet Ski offers another heart-racing, bond-creating activity to share with your date. And by adding in bikinis and swim trunks, you’ve created a whole new level of skin-to-skin excitement. Jet Ski rentals are sometimes costly, so invite another couple to share the rental with you. If the cost is split two ways, your total out-of-pocket expense is reasonable.

  • Estimated Cost: Prices vary, but you can expect to pay less than $75 if you split the cost with another couple.

4. Visit a Farmers’ Market

Farmers’ markets are booming, so there’s a good chance you and your date have access to a market nearby. Spend your day walking through rows of fresh, local, organic produce prior to making your selections. Most vendors allow you to sample their goods, giving you a fun way to try new things.

Once you’ve made your selections, take the fresh food home and spend the evening making dinner together. Chop zucchini, summer squash, and red bell pepper for a sauté with olive oil and garlic. Top the vegetables with chopped rotisserie chicken and serve atop a bowl of fettuccine for a memorable meal.

  • Estimated Cost: $25 for dinner, plus produce to last you the rest of the week.

5. Rent a Cabin

When things start heating up between you and your date, it’s time for a weekend away. Unfortunately, hotels are expensive and they rarely offer anything you can’t get at home. Instead of heading to a hotel, look into renting a cabin at a local state park. They’re far less expensive and can afford you privacy and the opportunity to snuggle by a campfire at night. They also provide access to nature’s greatest hits, so you can take advantage of the hiking and swimming opportunities that abound.

  • Estimated Cost: $100 to $200 for two nights, depending on location.
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6. Walk for Ice Cream

Spend your evening window shopping at an outdoor mall while cooling down with an ice cream cone. Obviously, ice cream is delicious, so that part of the date is a no-brainer, but don’t underestimate the power of an evening stroll. Walking with your date has been shown to boost libido and sexual satisfaction, making it the perfect precursor to a sultry night at home.

  • Estimated Cost: $8 for the ice cream.

7. Drive a Golf Ball

Head to the driving range to engage in a little friendly competition. A driving range costs far less than the green fees at a golf course, and it still affords you and your date the opportunity to play, laugh, and tease one another. To round out the date, look for driving ranges that offer beverages and food you can share after hitting a bucket of balls.

  • Estimated Cost: $25 to $50 for golf balls and snacks.

8. Crash a Pool Party

Apartment pools are the hottest spots for summertime entertaining, and if you don’t have access to your own apartment pool, go ahead and crash a pool party with your date. Show up with a few friends and a few adult beverages, then while away the hours lounging poolside. Not only is the experience relaxing, but research has shown that dates including friends can work wonders for maintaining the energy and vitality in a relationship.

  • Estimated Cost: Depends on how much beer you bring, but the date could cost less than $10.

9. Make Breakfast in Bed

Breakfast is a fabulous alternative to a date-night dinner because the cost is much lower. A typical dinner out costs about $40 to $50, but a breakfast generally won’t set you back more than $20. Save even more by turning breakfast into breakfast in bed. The total cost of coffee, orange juice, pancake ingredients, and fresh fruit is less than $20, and who doesn’t enjoy a morning pajama party with a hot date?

  • Estimated Cost: $20 or less, depending on which ingredients you already have on hand.

10. Enjoy an Outdoor Concert

You don’t have to like music to appreciate the atmosphere of an outdoor concert. Look into free outdoor concerts offered in your area, and head to the park with your date and a blanket. You can pack a picnic too if you really want to wow the one you love.

  • Estimated Cost: Free, but approximately $25 if you pack food.

Final Word

There are lots of low-cost date ideas available during the summer, and most of them will do more for your love life than the typical dinner-and-a-movie. Try to think outside the box this summer – both your wallet and your date will thank you.

What do you like to do on summer date nights?

Mary McCoy, LMSW is a licensed social worker who works closely with individuals, families, and organizations in crisis. She knows first-hand how financial choices can prevent and mitigate crises, and she's therefore passionate about equipping people with the information they need to make solid financial decisions for themselves and their loved ones. When Mary isn't on her soap box, you can find her hiking, jogging, yoga-ing, or frolicking with her family.