Dating and college seem to go hand in hand. Whether you’re just dating casually or you’re looking for something serious, the fact is that dates in general can get expensive over time. It is possible to have a good time without spending a fortune. You just have to know how to get the most out of every cent you spend. Here are 10 cheap dating ideas for college students.

A Walk in the Park

A simple walk in the park can make for a cheap and romantic date. You can get a chance to have a nice conversation with your date and experience what’s going on in your local community. You never know what you might come across in the park – interesting animals, street performers, local artwork, etc. If you both have dogs, use this as an opportunity to take your dogs out for a walk together. There are plenty of options here and none of them cost any money at all.

Bargain Movies

Most movie theaters have bargain movie times throughout the day or week that have half price tickets and food. If you want to see a movie but don’t want to pay a lot for it, you can use these bargain movie times to save a ton of money at the theater. You may also want to see if there are any movie watching opportunities on campus as those will be much cheaper than what you’ll pay in theaters. If you’re lucky enough to have a drive-in theater in your town, check that out too. It’ll be a cheap date worth remembering.

Dinner at Home

Want to impress your date with your mad cooking skills? Schedule a dinner date at your place. This works well for dates early on in the relationship because it gives you a chance to have a long conversation with the other person and get to know him or her better. It can also work well for anniversaries or other special occasions if you make the dinner equally special. Just make sure you clean up the place ahead of time to set a good tone for the date.

Movie Rentals

If movie theaters aren’t your thing, you could opt for watching a movie at home. Either choose from the latest rentals at Hastings or Redbox, or dig through your DVD collection for something you haven’t seen in a while. You can tie this in with the option above to have a classic dinner-and-a-movie night. Best of all, you won’t have to pay $10 for a bag of popcorn in your microwave.

Hiking Adventures

If you and your date are both into fitness and outdoors, you could go for a hike together. This will give you a chance to see the beauty of nature and get some much-needed exercise at the same time. If you want to go all out, have a picnic prepared that you can eat at the top of a mountain, hill, etc. The romance will come out all on its own.

A Scenic Drive

If hiking isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy nature by going out for a scenic drive. You need to have a well-working car to do this to minimize the chances of breaking down. Assuming your car is in proper working order, you can go out on a back road that leads you out of town. Try to discover a small town close by that neither of you have ever seen. Visit the antique stores and ask some of the locals what the town is best known for. You never know what you might find!

Game Night

A simple night of board games at home may be just what you and your date need to have fun. This is also a great idea for double dates because a lot of games require four or more people to play. Cranium, Blokus, Name 5, and Skip-Bo are all great 4+ player board games that you could use on a double date. If you want to keep it between the two of you, try games like Connect 4, Battleship, and checkers that are built for two players only.


Why not help your community and your relationship at the same time? You could spend a night volunteering together and get to see a whole new side of your partner. The volunteer act could be something as simple as serving food at a soup kitchen or hanging out with seniors at a nearby nursing home. Exchange stories with each other and with other members of the community, and you’ll gain a bond like you never imagined.

A Trip to a Museum

A lot of small museums have cheap entry fees that give you a lot to do without spending a lot of money. Of course, you will spend a lot if you end up getting something at the gift shop or restaurant in the museum. Bring your own snacks and find an exit away from the gift shop, and you should be just fine. Visit an art gallery or a history museum that gives you something to talk about with your date. Once the conversations start flowing, you will have no choice but to have a good time.

On-Campus Events

Seminars, cookouts, and other events on your college campus aren’t always thought of as a dating ideas for college students, but they are often interesting and probably won’t cost much to go to. You can hang out with some of your mutual friends while spending time with your date, and you can be in an environment you are both comfortable with. Check the bulletin boards on campus or look at the calendar of events on your school’s website. You can find all kinds of cheap dating ideas there to keep your dates going strong.


This article was originally published on August 3, 2014, and can also be found at

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