Summertime is the perfect time to try new things, to get outside, and to go adventuring! It’s also the perfect time to save money on dating. There are so many fun things you can do without having to spend a penny!
My husband and I began married life on the last day of spring, so we affectionately called the following season our summer of love. It felt incredible to be together every day after being separated by 2,500 miles over an 18-month, long-distance romance!
We had so much fun that summer simply furnishing our first apartment and exploring nearby. Everything we did together felt like a date.
The cool thing is, dates don’t have to cost a lot of money to be fun. In fact, the ones that are free or inexpensive are often the most enjoyable, in our experience.
That’s why Benj and I brainstormed a bunch of free, fun summer date ideas we want to do together. Some of these dates we’ve done in past summers, and some we’ve never tried before.
To be honest, we sometimes need to bring our baby, Jack, with us on dates. Even so, we try to be intentional about our time together when he’s with us or when we have at-home date nights. Simply setting aside the time to do fun things together helps to keep our relationship strong.
Plus, by going on mostly free dates, we’re saving a lot of money. All of those extra funds can be put toward bigger savings goals, like our first home. And we’re still having lots of fun!
25 Free and Fun Summer Date Ideas
1. Travel Dreaming
Spend time together flipping through travel books at your local library or bookstore. Start a list of destinations in a journal, or create a Pinterest dream board with locations you’d love to visit together. There are so many incredible places in this world, and my husband and I would love to travel to many of them someday. (We’re planning on doing this date next!)
2. Be a Tourist in Your Own Town
Imagine you’re visiting a new area. You have a whole day to explore, but you don’t have a clue where to spend your time. Go online together and research activities on sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, and your own city’s website. If your town is especially small, you might have to drive to a nearby city that’s larger.
3. Enjoy the Journey
How often do you drive down scenic roads with no destination in mind? Probably not very often. Roll your windows down, turn on your favorite music, and enjoy the ride. (Just make sure to have your maps app handy so you can find your way home again!)
This is something Benj and I love doing together. We’ve gone geocaching around town, at local parks, while traveling, and even on Christmas Day. It requires sharp eyes and teamwork, and can take you to amazing places you never knew existed- right in your own backyard!
5. Bird Watching
My husband used to be an avid bird watcher, so he has some great tips to share.
Birds are most active in the mornings and evenings, so those are the best times of day to go. For an especially great bird watching experience, visit local wildlife refuges or any body of water, such as streams, rivers, and lakes.
You’ll also find more birds when there are two habitats next to each other (e.g. the edge of a woodland area near a meadow). Don’t forget to bring along a pair of binoculars and a field guide!
6. Go Hiking
Put on your comfy shoes, fill up your water bottles, and hit the trail. If you’re looking for options near you, Trails.com is a great place to start. We’re spoiled with breathtaking hikes here near the Columbia River Gorge, but you might be surprised by the hidden beauty near you!
7. Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Search Pinterest for scavenger hunt lists and get going! You can find lots of lists for places like the mall, your neighborhood, and out in nature. Photo scavenger hunts are a fun variation. Complete your list together, or split up and have a competitive race!
8. Blueberry Picking
We love doing this every year together. Store-bought blueberries just can’t compete with freshly picked ones. The flavor is amazing!
Technically, this isn’t free, but since we count berries as groceries, it’s more the experience that I’m thinking of as free (along with the berries that never make it to your bucket).
Pump up your tires, grab your water bottles, and hit the road. When deciding where to ride, remember that flat, designated bike paths and greenways will make for a more enjoyable experience. Think dating, not exercise.
10. Plant a Summer Garden
Choose any kind of garden- even a potted patio garden if your working with a small space. Vegetable, flower, and herb gardens are all great options! You can even theme your garden (e.g. an Italian-themed vegetable and herb garden with tomatoes, fava beans, basil, oregano, and rosemary).
Instead of choosing the obvious choice of a swimming pool, find a local spring, river, or lake to enjoy. Being surrounded by nature is an amazing way to enjoy the water!
Keep it simple by staying close to home. You could even set up a tent in your backyard! If you don’t own any camping gear, try borrowing some from family or friends. If that’s not an option, set up a fort and some twinkle lights in your living room and use your imagination.
13. Go Fishing
If you don’t personally own any fishing gear, you probably know someone who does. Ask if you can borrow it for a day.
14. Visit Your Local Farmer’s Market
My favorite farmer’s markets are ones where much of the food is locally grown, and where farmers are selling their own produce. You usually find very high quality food. Besides fruits and vegetables, many markets also have vendors selling freshly baked bread, honey, plants, flowers, ice cream, and more!
15. Make a Giant Salad Together
This would be a fun activity after a morning spent at the farmer’s market. Make it gourmet and unlike what you would normally fix.
16. Cloud Watching
My favorite time of day to cloud watch is at sunset, but you can really do it at any time. Cloud watching is a great excuse to put your technology away, grab a blanket, and lay around talking. Just let yourselves be still for a while, connecting and soaking up the beauty around you.
This is similar to cloud watching. The biggest difference? Your date is at night. (duh) Make sure to pick a stargazing location away from too many lights!
18. Picnic in the Park
Get outside and enjoy the fresh summer air. Pack a yummy picnic lunch or dinner, complete with a big blanket, fizzy drinks, and dessert! You can even bring something fun along, like a kite or frisbee.
19. Visit a State or National Park
Look out for their free entrance days! These parks have so much to offer.
20. Visit Your Local Botanical Garden
Many botanical gardens are free to visit, though some do have entrance fees. These gardens cultivate numerous varieties of trees, flowers, and other various plants. There is so much beauty to explore in one place!
21. Rainy Afternoon Relaxation
Rainy weekends are perfect for unplugging and relaxing. Hide your devices in a drawer or somewhere else out of sight. Spend the day playing board games, putting together a big puzzle, reading, and cuddling up on the couch.
22. Window Shopping
On an especially hot day, head indoors for some window shopping. Wander around IKEA, your local mall, or an indoor market, enjoying the sights and sounds and each other’s company.
This may seem like an unlikely date idea, but it can be a great way to bond! You can pick anywhere from your church or local library, to an animal rescue shelter or soup kitchen. Helping others is a very worthwhile way to spend a day.
24. Acts of Kindness
This date is similar volunteering, except you’re going out of your way to show kindness to those you know personally. Maybe it’s grocery shopping for an elderly grandparent or neighbor. Maybe it’s bringing a hot meal to a family who’s sick or has just had a baby. You don’t have to look far to find people who could use a helping hand!
25. Yard Sale Shopping
Spend a Saturday morning hitting up as many sales as you can, and enjoy the thrill of the hunt! Start early for the best selection, or go later for better deals and markdowns.
Benj and I probably won’t get to all of these this year, but we’ll be using it as our summer bucket list. If you have any free summer date ideas to add to our list, be sure to leave them down in the comments below!