#Love & Sex
50 Fun First Date Ideas On A Budget
by Rachel Weeks and Caroline Harris
The key to a great first date is picking a fun, inexpensive, casual activity that allows you to talk but also keeps you busy. You’ll also want to dress to impress. We came up with 50 fun first date outfits that are sure to turn heads.
So, you’ve finally worked up the nerve to ask out that cutie you’ve been eyeing in the coffee shop every morning. Or you’ve matched with a Bumble babe and finally set a date. Now what do you do with them? If you’re in need of a little creative kickstart when it comes to the perfect first date ideas, we’ve got the list for you! Make sure you’ve got the right first date outfit to match your outing.
Meet your date in public to get to know each other better and see if there’s chemistry in a safe space. Here’s a list of fun activities for you and your boo.
1. Go to a used bookstore or library.
Books are a great conversation piece! And if it goes well, pick a book for your date to read and have your date pick one for you. Show off your studious side in a floral dress ($29; asos.com) and glasses ($95; warbyparker.com) that don’t require a prescription.
2. Go to a flea market.
Besides all the browsing, antique shopping comes with many opportunities for chatting. Find an affordable souvenir for each other to remember the date. These vintage corduroys fit the occasion ($169; 7forallmankind.com).
3. Thrift ridiculous outfits to wear together.
Go to a thrift store and pick outfits to wear out for a drink. Even if you don’t follow through on drinks, you’ll still have a new ’80s windbreaker or pair of mom jeans. Team a boho dress ($24.99; amazon.com) with a denim jacket ($69.99; amazon.com) for a laid-back look.
4. Hike or walk through an arboretum.
5. Visit an observatory or planetarium.
You could gaze at the stars from a field, or you could go to an observatory to do serious stargazing. Metallics are trending so now’s your moment to shimmer and shine! Be bold in an oversized sequin blazer ($275; shopbop.com) styled with stilettos ($39.99; amazon.com).
6. Go to a zoo or aquarium.
Check zoos and aquariums for deals; many have discounts weekly or at the end of the season. Wear a striped sweater ($24.99; amazon.com), light-wash jeans ($98; amazon.com) and sneakers ($138.28; amazon.com).
7. Sing karaoke.
You’ll have to be outgoing to pull this off, but karaoke is an inexpensive way to have fun and show off. If you don’t want to get on stage, just critique the other singers. Wear a flirty dress ($495; shopbop.com) that’s sure to capture your date’s attention.
8. Eat your way through a food festival.
Unleash your inner foodie as you enjoy all sorts of delicious snacks. You and your date can talk all things food, which is perfect for planning potential dinner dates to come! Channel effortless elegance in a ruched blouse ($59.90; express.com) and dark-wash jeans ($88; express.com).
9. See live music at a bar.
Find out what venues bring in local acts, and give them a chance. They may become your new go-to music to stream on Spotify. Try to find a rooftop or park afterwards to keep the good vibes flowing. A great denim jacket ($40.99; amazon.com) and bungee mini dress ($49; urbanoutfitters.com) will impress your date.
10. Go to an arcade
Play classics like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong but definitely play two-player games, too. There’s no better way to bond than shooting your way through House of the Living Dead. A graphic tee ($34; urbanoutfitters.com) and mom jeans ($98; urbanoutfitters.com) match the vibe.
11. Take a cooking class.
Put your cooking skills — and taste buds — to the test by going to a cooking class. You’ll have fun cooking; and if it tastes bad, order takeout later and laugh about it. A striped tee ($22.13; nordstrom.com) tucked into boyfriend jeans ($46.99; amazon.com) work well for this date.
12. Take a complimentary class.
Some companies offer free classes in stores. Lululemon offers complimentary yoga classes, Home Depot gives DIY home improvement courses and Williams-Sonoma teaches cooking. A boho thermal top ($68; freepeople.com) and pearl hoops ($95; mignonnegavigan.com) will showcase your unique style.
13. Play basketball.
A pickup game is a fun way to get to know someone if you don’t mind getting sweaty. You can play one-on-one, against another couple, or stick to playing Horse. This matching set ($210; sweatybetty.com) will keep your cutie coming back for more.
14. Go for a boozy brunch.
Instead of dinner or lunch, try brunch. It’s a nice way to start your day, and you’ll have a partner to help with those bottomless mimosas. Slide on a sweater dress ($626; cashmereinlove.com) for cozy comfort.
15. Browse through a record store.
Even if you don’t collect vinyl, record stores are full of conversation starters. Talk music, family and nostalgia while flipping through rows of classics. Wear a band tee ($68; freepeople.com) with boots ($139.95; zappos.com) for an instant conversation starter.
16. Take a turn on a carousel.
17. Visit a winery.
18. Play mini golf.
Mini golf is a classic and for a good reason. Simple sports are fun ways to get competitive without getting too sweaty. Go during the week to save money. We’re obsessed with this layered-look dress ($128; bloomingdales.com) for a memorable first impression.
19. Walk around at a farmer’s market.
20. Take the scenic route; go on a hike.
Appreciate the great outdoors with your sweetheart by your side. Hikes lends themselves to real conversations, so you can go beyond small talk to really get to know someone. Printed leggings ($12.99; amazon.com) and a fitted tank ($40; freepeople.com) are exactly what you need.
21. Check out a museum.
Find a museum with cheap admission and learn about art. Or just wander; museums are great places to talk because there’s so much to comment on if conversation falters. Prove your artistic sensibilities in a mustard shirt ($30; asos.com) and crossbody purse ($14.95; amazon.com).
22. Attend a community theater play.
Whether it’s a high school or community production, tickets are often inexpensive, the shows are fun and the experience will spark conversation afterward. Wear a flowy dress ($78; freepeople.com) as you throw it back to your high school days.
Not sure how to spend your time? Give it to others. Soup kitchens, food pantries and animal shelters are all great places to give back and get to know your date. A colorful sweater ($39.97; nordstromrack.com) and platform sneakers ($35; amazon.com) should do the trick.
24. Watch a college or high school sports game.
Take your date to a ball game! Professional sports tickets may be out of your price range, but smaller games are affordable, if not free. Throw on a classic Varsity jacket ($795; coach.com), and you’re ready to go.
25. Attend a comedy open-mic.
Going to a comedy club isn’t that expensive, but if you want to save cash, some clubs, bars and coffee shops have free open-mic nights so you can catch up-and-coming performers. A band tee ($16; nastygal.com), Western belt ($6; nastygal.com) and cropped jeans ($21; nastygal.com) fit the mood.
26. Find a free concert.
Even if you’ve never heard of the artists, free concerts can be super fun. Whatever you find, you’ll have plenty to talk about. Plus, it’s the perfect opportunity to break out your new romper ($39.95; freepeople.com).
27. Craft together.
If your date is the artistic type, go to a crafts store and make something! It can be as simple as coloring pictures or as complicated as making something for your apartment. A watercolor dress ($27; asos.com) sets the tone.
Head to a busy place — a mall, train station or downtown area — and enjoy the sights. Give people backstories, discuss interesting characters and get to know each other. This color-block skirt ($93.50; bando.com) and this tee ($38; bando.com) make a splashy impression.
29. Go dancing.
Slip on shiny shoes ($184.46; amazon.com) and dance the night away with your crush! If you’re feeling extra fun, spring for a salsa dancing class. Pair a faux leather skirt ($78; bloomingdales.com) with a black bodysuit ($250; bloomingdales.com) then get twirling.
30. Go to a poetry reading.
If you’re seeing someone cerebral, exchange witty banter with your date at a bookstore. You can bond over books and your love of the written word. Poetry readings are a fun, lowkey setting for getting to know your date. We love this tweed miniskirt ($225; nordstrom.com) and this sweater ($63.98; nordstrom.com) for waxing poetic.
31. Watch a movie matinee.
Matinee shows have it all: cheaper movie tickets, emptier theaters and cleaner floors. Instead of dinner and a movie, do a movie then dinner or coffee then a movie. Grey jeans ($24; nastygal.com) and a fun tee ($78; freepeople.com) are the way to go.
Sure, bowling is cliché. But whether you’re skilled or terrible, it’s fun. Go during the week for deals on drinks, shoes or games. Reach for a flouncy patterned skirt ($98; nordstrom.com) that moves with you.
33. Indulge your sweet tooth at a cupcake store.
Cupcake stores are cute, colorful and the perfect venue for getting to know someone new. After enjoying delicious desserts, go for a walk by the water. A wrap dress ($275; 7forallmankind.com) and nude pumps ($129.95; zappos.com) are sure to flatter.
34. Go for a run.
35. Go to an aura reading.
Move beyond small talk by learning all about each other’s energy. For the cost of dinner, you can get cool polaroids and a glimpse of your future together. If you’ve been wanting to try out the zodiac print trend ($40.50; asos.com), now is your moment.
36. Make a snowman.
Take advantage of the next snow day by making snowmen and snow angels with your date. Go for hot chocolate afterwards, and share a chocolate chip cookie. A puffer coat ($300; macys.com), snow boots ($39.99; amazon.com) and a pom-pom beanie ($25; nordstrom.com) will keep you toasty.
37. Play a board game at a bar.
Seek out a bar with board games available. Instead of just sipping cocktails, you can play Scrabble or Battleship. Wear a burgundy mini ($198; rebeccaminkoff.com) and a timeless tote ($305; dagnedover.com).
38. Rent kayaks or canoes.
Many places have boats to rent for cheap. You’ll quickly bond in a two-person canoe. Cute swimwear is a must, so rock a dotted one-piece ($54.99; khongboonswimwear.com), then cover up with a black kimono ($19.99; amazon.com).
39. Bike around town.
Rent city bikes or take your own bikes around town. Bonus points if you take a break at a coffee shop for green smoothies and oat milk lattes. Colorblock shorts ($59; athleta.com) and a crew tee ($44; athleta.com) are great for sweating it out with your sweetheart.
40. Get nostalgic on a playground.
When was the last time you played on the swings? Or the slide? Or the monkey bars? Going to a playground with your date will have you feeling like you’re in an early 2000s rom-com (13 Going on Thirty, anyone?) A lilac sweater ($99; shopbop.com) paired with black jeans ($60.21; amazon.com) and disco earrings ($150; mignonnegavigan.com) are practically made for your cinematic moment.
41. Go apple picking.
Get in some fall fun at a local orchard. Eat apple cider donuts, wander through the orchards and pluck yummy apple varieties. If everything goes well with you and your date, you can snap some cute pics! Dress for success in a sweater dress ($42; asos.com) styled with gold jewelry ($75; revolve.com).
42. Have a picnic.
You pack the main course and your date packs the sides, or vice versa. A picnic is an adorable and money-saving option. Sport your cutest button-up skirt ($165; saksfifthavenue.com) and blouse ($185; saksfifthavenue.com).
43. Take your dog(s) to the park.
Your pooch will love the fresh air and exercise, and you’ll love having a go-to topic for conversation. Comfort is key, so opt for cute kicks ($95; allbirds.com) and bum-sculpting leggings ($100; sweatybetty.com).
44. Go swimming.
Show off your favorite bikini. Depending on the season, this could be either inside or outside. If the pool isn’t your thing, hop in the hot tub. We love this adorable swimwear option ($27.99; khongboonswimwear.com).
45. Go to a cocktail class.
Ice skate, roller skate, Rollerblade — whatever gets you moving and is weather-appropriate. Besides being fun and nostalgic, skating will allow you to talk on the go. Sport this delicate pink jumper ($297; cashmereinlove.com) with white jeans ($67.87; amazon.com).
47. Go to trivia night.
Put your date’s pop culture knowledge to the test! A trivia night with friends is always a fun time, especially if a group setting is more your style. A pretty mini ($99.95; freepeople.com) and white booties ($149; zappos.com) will win over your date.
48. Have a drink at your favorite place; have another at theirs.
The places where people spend time say a lot about them. Share your favorite bar, and let your date share theirs. A sleek bomber ($78; revolve.com) and liquid leggings ($84; revolve.com) are ideal for happy hour.
49. Enjoy a beach bonfire.
50. Go to the county fair.
County fairs are packed with romantic clichés and for good reason. Who hasn’t dreamed about their date winning them an oversized stuffed bear? If sparks fly, you may end up kissing your cutie at the top of the ferris wheel. We love a metallic leotard ($68; freepeople.com), suede mini skirt ($98; nordstrom.com) and black boots ($297.95; zappos.com) to bring some edge and flair to the fair.
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