30 Free Things to Do On a First Date

9. December 2010

Dating can be difficult, not only from an emotional, but also from a financial standpoint. Particularly for those who have a hard time finding “the one,” living on the dating scene can rack up some serious credit card points. For those whose dating life has put them into foreclosure, we proudly submit the following first date activities that can be done for nothing.

1. Watch the Sunset

Good things about sunset: it’s free, it’s beautiful, and it happens every day. The bad thing about the sunset is that it only takes like 120 seconds. If you are looking for a romantic way to start or end an evening, looking at the sunset is a great choice. However, be prepared to bookend it with something else.

2. Long walk on the beach anyone?

Long walks on the beach may sound cheesy, but in reality…they are very cheesy. Nevertheless, asking a date to spend a day at the beach could be a good time had by all. Just keep the “long walk” part out of the title.

3. Walk in a park

To say something is “a walk in the park” is to say it is easy. As it turns out, this phrase is accurate. Going for a walk in the park is an easy way to care about nature without worrying about the price of admission.

4. Make Out

Okay, so it may be hard to pitch this idea, but lots of people meet up under false pretenses and then just make out the whole time. Think of clever excuses, like “I’m in CPR class, wanna see?” or “Hey, do my teeth taste funny to you?” From there, let the magic ensue.

5. Go Biking

Exercise stimulates the body and mind, and being with someone who cares about physical fitness is an admitted turn-on for most people. Going for a bike ride is an easy way to incorporate walk-in-the-park with hour-on-the-treadmill. Plus, it is a seamless way to suggest a shower together afterwards. (You know… just for convenience and to save time.)

6. Cook A Homemade Dinner for Two

While this may not be entirely free, it is something that could likely be done using ingredients you already have in your pantry. Who doesn’t love pasta and wine? Fortunately, Kraft Mac & Cheese is in the pasta family, and wine in a box only costs three dollars.

7. Attend a Community Concert

You won’t be able to see Rihanna or Jay-Z, but lots of communities offer free concerts in the park on a weekly basis. There’s no shame in seeing a Jay and the Americans tribute band, or a solo concert by one of the original Pips. Music is music, and free music is awesome.

8. Go to the Museum

Many museums offer free days once a week or month. Even more museums only ask for “suggested donations.” Remember, a suggestion is just that. Sure, the museum may be incredibly expensive to run and filled with tons of awesome artifacts and exhibits, but that doesn’t matter when you’re broke and looking for love.

9. Watch a Movie from the Comfort of your Home

Who needs the hustle and bustle of going to a movie theatre when you can stream movies right to your TV? Throw in a bag of microwave popcorn, dump a gallon of Sprite on your living room floor, and you have the exact same experience at a fraction of the cost. Hint: don’t call them “old movies,” but rather refer to them as “classic movies.” There is nothing better than Classic Movie Night.

10. Play Video Games

Alright nerds, before you bust out Call of Duty or World of Warcraft, this suggestion is only meant for specific games. Wii Sports, Rock Band, and Guitar Hero are all games that even the most clueless gamer can handle, meaning they could be fun for everyone. Although you may be able to totally pwn your date in multiplayer Halo, it’s a good idea to start slow.

11. Get your friend to host a game night

Everyone loves game night, so bringing your date to a friend’s house for some board-game-fun-time is a great way to spend an evening for cheap. Plus, since your friend is hosting, you aren’t even responsible for minor costs, such as chips, dip, or wine.

12. Window Shopping

Especially around the holidays, lots of fancy stores in big cities decorate their windows accordingly. Why not spend a night showing your date what you plan to buy “one day.” It will show ambition, and be completely free.

13. Apply for Studio Audience Tickets

Few people know this, but all studio audience tickets are completely free. The downside is that they often require being put on a ten-year waiting list, but hope is not entirely lost; many shows will offer a small amount of rush tickets available to people willing to wait in line on the day of the show. While you may not be able to get in to see Conan or Saturday Night Live, you may have very good chances of seeing an episode of Judge Joe Brown or Divorce Court.

14. Go Dancing/Clubbing

So dancing is a cheap and easy way to have a good time. The only problem is that most people prefer to dance after drinking, which can be an expensive pastime. Problem SOLVED; be incredibly charming. Make conversation with as many people as you can. Get them to buy you a drink in exchange for you getting the next round. RUN AWAY BEFORE THE NEXT ROUND.

15. Admire Urban Architecture

This is pretty much a glorified way of saying “go look at tall buildings.” Still, looking at tall buildings can be fun, and their phallic nature can spark a subconscious fire for later.

16. Go to a Historical Attraction

If you live in big cities, this can be easy. Otherwise, it is challenging, but not impossible. While historical monuments like the Statue of Liberty, Gettysburg, and the Washington Monument usually steal the spotlight, smaller monuments like the birth home of Freddie Mercury, the tomb of Gary Coleman, and the world’s largest ball of twine are options worth considering, too.

17. Hit Up a Parade

Thanksgiving morning is the biggest date morning of the year (probably). What better way to celebrate than by taking a date to a parade? Whether it is for Thanksgiving, the 4th of July or a policeman’s funeral, free parades are everywhere and should be taken advantage of by everybody.

18. Attend a Trial Yoga Class

Put the body and mind at ease, AND get nice and limber just in case. Just don’t sign anything saying you’ll be back.

19. Play Cards

A competitive (but fun) game of cards can be a great way to get to know somebody. It allows you to see how they lie, see how they celebrate, and most of all, see how they like to bet.

20. Attend a Barbeque

Throwing a barbeque can be an expensive endeavor, but heading to your neighbors’ house can be done for next to nothing. Simply go into the pantry, take out a 6-pack, some buns, a packet of dressing mix or anything else that could have some practical value at a barbeque and then invite your date for good times and grilled meat.

21. Have a Picnic

An easy way to split the cost with your date is to suggest a picnic. You say “I’ll pick the place, and bring the blanket and utensils, you bring all the food and stuff from the store.” If they go along with it, it was meant to be.

22. Stargaze

Looking at the stars is like watching a million sunsets, if each sunset were one millionth as good. Nevertheless, looking up to the sky on a clear night can be peaceful, relaxing, and a good conversation starter. On a cloudy night, this activity is remarkably lame.

23. Volunteer for a Local Organization

Nothing is more attractive than someone who cares about their fellow man, which is why making the bold choice to build houses for the poor or give food to the homeless not only makes you an awesome person, it also makes your date feel like a terrible person. An easy way to get a leg up and assert dominance early on in the relationship, playing the volunteer card assures that you look like a model American without spending a dime.

24. Have Sex

We really don’t know how this got all the way down to number 24, but if you can pull it off, do it. It’s free, and better than anything that costs money, though it may do a number on your self esteem if there is no second date.

25. Watch a Television Show

Lots of couples that watch TV together, stay together. Common interests are important, and nothing is more interesting than TV. DVR your favorite shows and see if you laugh and cry at the same moments. If you do, then it’s meant to be.

26. Watch a Televised Sporting Event

The way this works is simple; say that your boss has extra tickets to the (whatever) game. Ask if the person would like to go. THEN, at the last minute, say your boss is a jerk who cancelled, but we can still watch the game at home. It will put you in a private place of sharing a common hatred of your boss early on, which is a good thing.

27. Engage in Gardening Activities

Girls with a green thumb need a guy with a shovel, and guys with a green thumb need a girl to make them look straight. Gardening is a win/win scenario no matter who suggests it.

28. Have a Jam Session

This works best for those who have musical skill, but it shouldn’t be reserved for only those individuals. Pick up an instrument and take turns playing music. Worst-case scenario, it is a fun time. Best-case scenario, you start a band.

29. Swap Personal Horror Stories

Inspired by Lethal Weapon, sometimes the best way to get to know someone is to compare scars. These scars can be physical or emotional, but getting it all out early helps to determine whether or not the relationship is worth pursuing. If it is, then you can have some crazy 1980’s cop sex. If not, then you haven’t spent a dime, and you can scratch one more candidate off the list.

30. Bake Cookies

Once again, this is a win/win scenario. Doing an activity together helps to determine whether or not you have compatible communication styles. Making cookies together ensures that you have cookies. Even if this ends poorly, it should still end pretty well.


Although the first date should probably be spent in a restaurant or movie theatre, many of these ideas are not bad for the second, third, or nineteenth date. The reality is that couples don’t have the time or money to treat every date like the first, but that shouldn’t stop them from staying creative and doing fun things throughout their relationship.


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