Anyone who says date nights need to be extravagant to be enjoyable has been watching too many The Bachelor episodes. You actually don’t need to have a helicopter standing by to plan a memorable evening for you and your boo. Here are some ideas for fun and romantic dates that won’t cost a fortune.

1. Picnic under the stars

A picnic is a classic and affordable date idea—the simplicity of it is also what makes it romantic. Pack your favorite snacks or sandwiches, and a cozy blanket, then head to a nearby park or a quiet spot with minimal light pollution. Lay back, enjoy the night sky, and have a deep conversation. Or just revel in the quiet. Don’t forget to bring a stargazing app to identify constellations–if you’re into that!

2. Cook dinner together

Skip the expensive restaurant meal and cook a special dinner together at home. Choose a new recipe you both want to try and work as a team in the kitchen. Set the mood with some music, candlelight, and your favorite beverage. It’s a fun way to bond and enjoy a delicious meal without a big price tag. (Just be sure to cook something that’s a good match for your abilities—the last thing you want is to be stressed or frustrated in your kitchen collab!)

3. Scenic hike or nature walk

If you both enjoy the outdoors, plan a scenic hike or nature walk. (This might be more of a date afternoon than a date night!) Many trails and parks are free or have just a small entrance fee. It’s an opportunity to connect with nature and each other, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Remember to bring water, snacks, and comfortable footwear.

4. At-home movie night

Transform your living room into a cozy home theater with dimmed lights and choose a movie you both want to see. Make some popcorn, share a warm blanket, and enjoy a movie marathon. You can also choose a theme for the night, like classic romance, action, or comedy. (And if it’s holiday time, remember that Die Hard is the ultimate Christmas movie!)

5. Visit a museum or art gallery

A lot of museums and art galleries offer discounted or even free admission on specific days or during certain hours. Check out some culture and/or history and share your thoughts and impressions with each other. It’s an engaging and affordable way to spend quality time together, and you can both feel very intellectual when you spend an evening discussing art!

6. Volunteer together

Consider spending your date night making a difference in your community. Find a local volunteer opportunity, like serving at a food bank, cleaning up a park, or helping out at a shelter. It’s a fulfilling experience that allows you to bond over shared values while giving back.

7. Board game night

Dust off your board games or card decks and have a game night at home. Whether it’s a competitive round of Scrabble, a strategic game of chess, or a friendly card game, it’s a fun way to engage with each other and share some laughter. You can even keep a running tally of wins and losses for an added layer of excitement.

8. Visit a farmer’s market

Farmer’s markets are not just about fresh produce; they’re also great places for affordable date nights. Explore the stalls, sample local products, and maybe even pick out fresh ingredients for your next home-cooked meal. The lively atmosphere and delicious aromas make it a delightful outing.

9. Bike ride adventure

If you both have bicycles, embark on a bike ride adventure. Discover new routes or revisit favorite spots. Cycling together is not only a fantastic way to stay active but also allows you to enjoy the scenery and each other’s company. Remember to wear helmets for safety.

10. DIY spa night

Pamper yourselves with a DIY spa night. Set the mood with scented candles, soothing music, and a luxurious bath. Give each other massages, apply face masks, or simply relax. It’s a rejuvenating experience that fosters intimacy and relaxation without the need for an expensive spa visit.

The bottom line: affordable date nights

Affordable date nights can be just as romantic and memorable as expensive outings. With a little imagination and effort, you can create moments that strengthen your bond and build lasting memories together. Whether you prefer the simplicity of a picnic under the stars, a quiet night at home, or an outdoor adventure, the key to a successful date night is the quality time you spend with your partner. So, pick one of these affordable date ideas, or mix and match to create your own perfect date night, and enjoy the meaningful moments you share without stressing over your budget.