The Recession-Friendly Guide to Going Out: Twenty-Three Fun and Free Date Ideas


The dating scene is not an easy one. There are the usual quandaries – dinner or just drinks; sleep over or the token kiss on the cheek? Add to those basic issues the meltdown of all things economy-related, and the idea of going on a date might send even the most romantic Romeo & Juliet running for the hills, or a monastery.

Never fear, your resident cupid is here. And it isn’t my first time playing the part, I might add. I’ve encouraged you to have more sex (safely, please), taught you tips for lassoing yourself a green goddess girlfriend and researched how to eco your “toys”.

But since everyone’s handbag is hurting of late and doling out more dough for a date isn’t easy, why not try some simple serenading? Indoors or out, it’s easier than you’d expect to find fun for free. Here are a few suggestions:

Play board games. Add “strip” to the name if you’re feeling frisky.

Pick up a free weekly (i.e. LA Weekly) and peruse it for outdoor concerts. Free music is good for the soul and your solvency.

Volunteer at a pet rescue. The best filter for a good guy or gal is whether they play well with animals.


Visit a gallery and immerse yourselves in art for an afternoon.

Walk without a destination. Just walk somewhere, anywhere; then turn around and walk back. Also a good excuse to hold hands.


Window shop. Tiffany & Co. is as good a place as any to get the juices flowing. Or maybe it’s just me that salivates at the sight of sparkly, shiny things.

Take a hike, but hike to the hike rather than drive, if possible. (Yes, hiking is somewhat similar to walking but give me a break, I’m making a long list here).


Skinny dip. What’s more freeing than a swim in your birthday suit?

People watch. There really isn’t an easier or more amusing activity, and it can happen anywhere at any time.


Stargaze. This one happens at night, in the dark, of course.

Go swinging. No, not that kind of swinging! I’m referring to the playground type of swing. Slides are fun too.


Read a book or magazine. Add cuddle and couch for the perfect recipe.

Play a sport. Any sport with a ball of some sort will do, like soccer, football, basketball or volleyball. A little healthy competition while working up a sweat is a good thing.


Spend Sunday morning cruising the neighborhood yard sales for free stuff.

Make a meal with what you find in the kitchen. No shopping allowed. Use your collective palettes to whip up something yummy out of nothing. Bon appetit.


Trade massages. Flip a coin to see who “gives” first because once you get rubbed it’s not as easy to summon up the strength to give.

Enjoy nature, which isn’t as easy as you might think. Whether you live in the mountains or by the beach, make a date to really experience your surroundings. Wiggle your toes in the sand or dirt. Dance with your bare feet in the water.


Take a bubble bath (note: suggested for a date other than the first).

Peruse a book store for an hour or two and make use of your hard-earned (unused) English B.A.


Go on a bike ride – short or long; rigorous or relaxing. Whatever works with your schedule and way of life.

House-hunt, even if you’re not in the market for a house. Walk through your neighborhood scoping homes and planning the design of your dream house.


Take turns telling each other stories – the imaginary kind, because creativity is a lovely way to lure you toward all sorts of fun activities.

Make out. Yes, I mean kissing. Try it in the car or living room; at the book store or while on a hike. But ignore the person who tells you to “get a room”, because…that’ll cost you.

Images: pospressure, Jacob Davies, Lee Coursey, POSITiv, wickenden, brewbooks, Sklathill, matticgn, Katie@!, joebeone, TheTruthAbout

23 thoughts on “The Recession-Friendly Guide to Going Out: Twenty-Three Fun and Free Date Ideas

  1. Great ideas. My problem is l like cool clothes to wear on some of these dates – except when making out. I don’t really care what I’m wearing if I’m making out.

  2. Kim, your witty banter and superb ideas just made my day. I love the last one….that’ll cost you…

  3. as for the cook what you have in your kitchen idea. cook by numbers is an awesome site. select what you have and it gives you recipes.

  4. I would love if I could convince my guy to swing around on a swing set. But some guys, they’re just too serious. Me, I’m always a kid. 🙂

  5. these are all vary normal things to do, regardless of the fake “recession” which is pretty much feeding all of OUR money to the BANKS… thanks obama.. just another puppet

  6. Great! I especially liked the meal from what you got in the kitchen. Hmmm, i guess it’ll be macaroni and cheese. (made with water, not milk)

  7. good list! i’ve seen others like this but this one takes the cake…well written, not too long, and some great ideas. thanks!

  8. I love these ideas! The board game suggestion is great, actually – I have so much fun doing that on a date. Also playgrounds can be fantastic if your date is a free spirit – or young spirit, I mean. Slides make you feel like a kid again!
    A+ thanks!

  9. Running around in an outdoor waterpark in streetcloths is great too. My husband and I love this… and the cloths just dry on the walk home in the hot summer sun.

  10. Excellent post. Having fun does not need to cost a lot of money or be a source of stress. A lot of the activities you mentioned are also great for making a connection with your partner and keeping a healthy relationship.

  11. These are such awesome ideas!! They are so much better for getting to know one another than sitting across a table forcing conversation!
    Well done!! 😀

  12. Spending a “nature day” is a great idea. Most couples I know usually just eat out or go to the spa , so it would be a refreshing change to actually go outdoors and commune with nature! We have beautiful beaches and parks — they’re definitely worth spending Vday at!

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