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25+ cute and cheap date ideas for queer couples on a budget

Robyn Exton

Jul 01, 2023

25+ cute and cheap date ideas for queer couples on a budget

Many people want romance in their lives, some queer folks included! When it comes to getting to know someone you just started dating or rekindling a connection with a partner you’ve been with for years, you deserve to do so without breaking the bank. 

These cute cheap date ideas will help you rekindle your romance, celebrate an anniversary, or simply make the most of your time together at home. 

Sometimes, low-key budget-friendly dates are exactly what you need to remove the pressure of extravagance and get down to what really matters: your relationship! 

So after you’ve gotten matched up on HER and want to start thinking outside of the box when it comes to date ideas, we’ve got you covered.


Cheap summer date ideas

Don’t limit celebrating your love to just Pride season. After all, being proud is a year-long commitment! Try out these cheap fun date ideas in the summer months and beyond.


Get a library card together

The character DW from the kid’s TV show Arthur shows her library card to the audience.

Source: Fandom

It’s just like the hit children’s show Arthur said: “Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card!” 

Public libraries are where it’s at, especially in the summer when they’re often designated as cooling centers during extreme heat waves. It’s one of my favorite places to work, browse, and bring my dates when we want to have a relaxing time. 

A library card opens a world of possibilities to you and your partner. In many cities in the United States, getting a library card is free of charge and even grants you privileges that a lot of folks overlook.

For example, did you know that you can access the media library of cinema and TV shows from the Kapony app through your public library? And in New York City, having a library card gives you access to the Culture Pass, which hands out free admissions to dozens of museums, zoos, and institutions across the city! 

So set a date to go to the library and fill out a form at the reception desk, and afterward, you can spend time browsing the library together in comfortable silence.


Browse the public library or local bookstore

Bookshelves full of books. Libraries and bookstores are great places for a quiet, low-key, free date idea.

Source: Rawpixel

Once you’ve got your free library card, you can now borrow books for free! Listen, libraries have been around for millennia, but they’re still super underrated. Make a day out of going to your local public library or researching historical libraries in your city. If you’re an architecture and history buff, you might find something awe-inspiring by just going to a historical library.

Depending on the library branch, you may not even need a public library card to get access. Either way, you could always go to a local bookstore and browse their LGBTQIA+ section. 

This is also an opportunity to get to know each other’s interests. Maybe you used to love young adult romance, but now you love non-fiction. You and your partner might be surprised to learn new things about each other!


Have a two-person book club session

A couple sit at-ease on a couch in their home. One of them holds a cup and smiles at the other person who reads a book out loud. 

Source: Rawpixel

So you’ve browsed the inventories at your public library or bookstore and chosen a book to take out with your partner. For bookworms out there, a fun, cheap date idea could be to schedule a mini-book club session with your partner to discuss the book you’ve chosen. 

You don’t necessarily have to both finish the book to come together and share the experience. Sometimes people come to book club meetings without reading the book. Make a game out of it, draft discussion questions, and don’t forget to bring snacks to hold you over the nice conversations you’ll be having.

Having trouble getting started choosing a book? Here are our recommendations for books with trans characters and lesbian books for the hopeless romantics.  


Take a ferry ride

The Staten Island Ferry is free to ride between Manhattan and Staten Island. It provides a free view of the Statue of Liberty.

Source: Pexels

If you like the water but don’t want to get wet, a ferry ride is a nice option to sightsee or simply feel the breeze on your skin. In many cities, ferries are a free mode of transportation. For example, the Staten Island Ferry runs between Manhattan and Staten Island and is free of charge. An extra bonus is that you get a closer look at the Statue of Liberty without paying for anything. 

See your local municipality website to see if public ferries are available to you, and plan a breezy date with your partner next! 


Watch the sunrise and sunset

A couple hold hands while watching the sunset

Source: Rawpixel

In the dog days of summer, it’s best to stay indoors during the hottest times of the day. Luckily one of the most beautiful activities you can do can be during the coolest times of day: watching the sunrise or sunset.

This one works excellently coupled with other activities: reading together, picnicking, or listening to music.


Go fruit picking

A person holds a basket full of fresh ripe apples produced from a farm

Source: Rawpixel

You can plan an apple-picking date with your partner in September, an end-of-summer activity that will surely excite you for the fall season. 

Some apple farms only charge for the apples you pick, and sometimes entry is free, so you’ll probably end up paying less for the bushel than you would at the grocery store.


(Free) museum days

A couple admire a piece of art hanging on a wall in a museum

Source: Rawpixel
Check out your local museum’s website to see if they offer free entry on specific times and days. You could also see if your student or public library card holder status can grant you free admission for you and a partner.


Go to a drive-in movie theater

A drive-in movie theater with cars parks and the sun setting in the background.

Source:  Wikimedia Commons

If one or more of you in the relationship can break the stereotype and happen to have a driver’s license, you should definitely head to a drive-in movie theater.


Watch movies in the park with a view

An outdoor film screen in a park with a crowd of people

Source: Wikipedia Commons

We won’t judge you if you don’t drive, and you could still enjoy an outdoor movie. In the summer, a lot of public parks will organize what they may call “Movies in the Park,” “Movies with a View,” or even “Movies Under the Stars.” Free of charge, and good vibes all around.


Go on a hike

Two hikers raise their arms in celebration on top of boulders.

Source: Rawpixels

For the active couple out there, hiking is a great way to get in tune with nature and each other. Make sure to prepare sufficiently, and you could even make a date out of planning the hiking trails before you take off. 


Bike together

A biker watches oncoming traffic in New York City

Source: Rawpixels

In the summer, there’s really no shortage of sporting activities you can do with your partner. If you don’t already have bikes, you could rent some and travel to a nearby park or neighborhood you’ve never been to. 


Sit in nature and draw in situ

Young person artist admiring river and city and drawing in a sketchbook.

Source: Pexels

If you ever go to the Louvre or the Luxembourg Gardens of Paris, you’ll often see art students scattered and drawing peacefully while observing their surroundings. 

This is the act of drawing in situ or drawing or painting while you are observing the subject. This is a fun summertime budget-friendly date idea for the crafty types. And even if you don’t consider yourself artsy, who says you still can’t try it out?  


Cheap winter date ideas

Keep yourself warm and cozy with these cultural activities you can do outside or at home! 


Go gallery crawling

Two couples visit an art gallery where there are a number of artworks hanging on the wall.

Source: Pexels

Gallery crawling is one of the best-kept secrets of metropolitan art communities. 

If you and your partner love art but can’t afford the increasing museum ticket prices nowadays, you should look up local galleries in your town or city and see when an upcoming exhibition is opening. 

Galleries are typically clustered in one neighborhood in your town or city, allowing you to explore the area, too. For example, New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood is swarming with galleries, and every Thursday, locals crawl the new exhibitions with friends and dates. You should join them! 

These are usually free and have (again, free) wine and sometimes even snacks. Best of all – there’s the art you’ll see before anyone else! 


Build a fort

A cozy blanket fort with several blankets and pillows of different shapes and colors inside. The fort is decorated with fairy lights.

Source: Secret Chicago

During quarantine, my partner and I set up Netflix and spent an hour or two getting a pillow fort to work before we even got to watch, but that’s all the fun. 

Make an activity out of figuring out how to build a pillow fort in your home. Problem-solve together as you figure out how to keep the blanket best up, and choose your pillows for decoration wisely. Then, kick back and relax and watch your favorite series together.


Nap time

A lesbian couple nap together on a bed 

Source: Pexels

You can literally make a date out of anything if you set your mind to it. Seriously, remember how peaceful nap time was when we were kids? And the adults put in some real effort to make it comfortable and cozy. Who says you can’t do that now for you and your partner? 

Instead of napping on your own bed – borrrrrring! – put on some chill music, set up the living room with fairy lights and pillow forts, read each other bedtime stories or poetry, and doze off into the cozy dreaminess of each other’s company.


Complete a puzzle or board game together 

A couple solve a puzzle together

Source: Pexels

Puzzles are proven to give your mind a workout, and when you do it with other people, there’s no better team-building activity. 

If you’ve never done puzzles before, you might want to start easy because puzzles can become entire days and weeks-long projects if you’re not careful! 

Make it fun by choosing a queer theme or a theme both of you enjoy. Perhaps your favorite book series has puzzle merch out there, or there’s a puzzle of your favorite artist’s magnum opus out there. This one can be done at home or at a bar, given that it’s small enough to fit on a table.


Bar with karaoke

A woman sings on stage

Source: Pexels

Some bars have free karaoke; all you have to do is show up. Keep the budget to a minimum with one or two drinks, sign up, and sing your heart out to Haylee Kiyoko or other iconic lesbian musical acts.


Go to poetry readings

A teen reads their poetry in front of other students. Going to poetry readings at local cafes can be a good cheap date idea for teens.

Source: iStock

Coffee shops are well known for hosting cozy, laid-back, and free open mic nights for poetry readings. If you’re a poet yourself, this could be an opportunity to impress your partner by showing them an intimate and artistic part of your personality.

If you can’t find any cafes nearby with poetry nights, you could always email local businesses and even your local LGBT center and organize one yourself! 


Cheap date night ideas at home

If you’re homebodies, you might need a little more inspiration to make time at home even more special than your day-to-day. Here are some more ideas for budget-friendly dates at home.


Find a fancy recipe for a fancy dinner date at home

A queer couple cook dinner at home together while drinking.

Source: Pexels

You can never go wrong with a dinner date at home, but you could even take it a step further and bring some fanciness to it. 

Find a yummy recipe and head to the local farmers market or bougie grocery store with the best ingredients. Think of it this way: you may be paying more for the best quality ingredients, but you’re paying less for the same dinner than at the most popular Italian restaurant.


Walk down memory road with old photo albums

Family looking at old photos

Source: Pexels

This one is an oldie but a goodie. Pouring over old photo albums can be a heartfelt experience, especially if you want to connect with your partner about your lives before you met each other. 

Nothing beats a good old physical photo album, but you can also make a digital version of this with your phone’s photos application. Just be sure to stay focused, turn off your notifications for an hour, and perhaps take the time before the date to organize the pictures so you don’t get distracted by irrelevant memories. 


Curate a physical photo album together

Take it a step further by choosing together what photos from your digital photo album you could have printed and making another date out of making and decorating your couple’s photo album. This one might need a little more of a budget, but plan enough ahead of time to save up for the materials, and you’ll still find yourself working on a budget.


Go through your first HER messages

Smiling young girlfriends using smartphone while resting on bed near window in light apartment

Source: Pexels

If you met on HER, open up the app and revisit your first messages to each other. If you’ve been together for years, you may be brought back to the excitement you felt when you first met each other. Share with each other what was going through your minds as you got to know each other. 


Listen to a new album drop together

When your partner’s favorite musical artist finally drops an album, surprise your partner with a listening party! Build a pillow fort, buy their favorite snacks, and set up speakers and sit down with them for 45-60 minutes to listen to the highly-anticipated album.

Camilla from TikTok did it wonderfully by surprising her partner Julie when Taylor Swift dropped Midnights. This is how it’s done! 

@julieevlorentzen

the woman of my dreams ❤️👩🏻‍🤝‍👩🏼 -c

♬ Midnight Rain – Taylor Swift


Fill out a couple’s journal together

A dried flower taped to a blank journal. Journaling could be a fun crafty experience for you and your partner.

Source: Rawpixel

The Virgos might particularly like this one, but anyone can enjoy it too! 

The beauty of journaling is that you can journal about anything. There’s a journal for just about anything out there. From financial planning to wedding planning. You don’t even need to buy one pre-made. You can break out your stationery, highlighters, and journal together based on certain themes. 


Create a fun jar

Another crafty date night idea is to create a fun jar. This means you take a jar and a bunch of Post-its and write down even more ideas for date night. You could color code it where blue Post-its means staying indoors, and pink Post-its means you go out. It brings novelty and excitement into the equation every time you and your partner decide to use it. 

Plus, this is a lot more personalized to your relationship. 


Make a bucket list together

A colorful bucket list written in a journal

Source: Rawpixel

Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t dream big and make a whole date out of dreaming, either. What are your deepest wishes as a couple? To go to Puerto Vallarta together, or visit the Netherlands, or even visit your parent’s homeland if they are immigrants? Put it all down on a shared list!


Organize an at-home spa day

A person lays on a bed with rosé and a book in hand. They have a face mask and a bath robe on.

Source: Pexels

Couple up puzzle-solving and your book club session with an at-home spa day. Get some massage oil and face masks, and put on some relaxing music while you enjoy each other’s company. 

If you’re feeling up to it, you could also massage each other. If you don’t know how to massage, plenty of YouTube tutorials exist. Find a relaxing playlist on Spotify, and go to town.


Do a mini-renovation at home

A happy couple renovate a house together

Source: Rawpixel

Have you had equipment you bought months ago collecting dust meant for a home improvement project you just never got around to? Recruit your partner to execute the perfect new balcony or living room space. 

If you don’t have the equipment, you could simply do a rearrangement of furniture. That way, you can both get an idea of how you like to keep your spaces and learn more about each other’s problem-solving skills together.


Workout together

A couple practice yoga together in a living room

Source: Rawpixel

Open your laptop, put on a YouTube workout, roll out your yoga mats, and work out! Be sure to find a type of workout that will be accessible to both of you. You want to make it fun, not dangerous! 


Meditate together

A couple practice yoga together in a living room

Source: Pexels

After getting your heart rate up from working out, you can both listen to a guided meditation. It may sound corny, but meditation really has proven benefits. Give it a shot, maybe you’ll end up liking it and making a habit of it! 


Play video games together

A couple play video games together

Source: iStock

If board games aren’t your speed but video games are, invite your partner to play with you. Get nostalgic with it, even, and play some classics like Mario Kart or Zelda.


(Actually) Netflix and chill

A couple watch something on a laptop while eating pizza and drinking wine on a couch.

Source: Pexels

If you’re anything like me and my partner, we always take forever to find something we both enjoy, so actually finding a show or movie to watch before our food gets cold is a challenge. Perhaps you want to think ahead for this one and actually decide beforehand what you want to watch. Either way, actually chilling and watching series is always a good choice.


Breakfast in bed

Two people sit on a bed and kiss. There is a food tray with breakfast as well.

Source:  ​​Pexels

Surprise your partner with breakfast in bed. Make them their favorite coffee and breakfast, and they’ll surely appreciate the effort! 


Plan a vacation together

A happy couple hug at the beach.

Source: Pexels

When the weather outside is frightful, you want to find a delightful activity together. Planning a vacation allows you to escape the frigid cold and think ahead to the hot summer months, where you’ll likely want to be poolside. So daydream together and put it on paper: where do you want to go next together? How can you budget accordingly?  


Cheap anniversary date ideas

Congratulations on your anniversary! Honestly, anything we’ve already listed could be the perfect idea for a celebration, but we’ve got even more for you to choose from.


U-haul it to an open house

Source: rwmloans

If you’re serious about taking another step in your relationship and happen to be celebrating an anniversary, consider attending an open house for a property on sale. You don’t need to be ready to buy a house just yet, but it could put you and your partner in the headspace of thinking about what it could be like.


Check out Groupon

Groupon and other similar discount sites have a plethora of activities you can get a deal with. From kayaking to bus tours, why not check out what’s in store in your local area? 


Have a staycation

A cozy couple hug on a couch with mugs in their hands.

Source: Rawpixel

Staycationing is a cheap alternative to going out of town and spending all your money on tourist traps. Instead, opt for a local hotel during the off-season, where the tickets are the cheapest, and plan at-home or outside activities that you and your partner will love. 

Staycations can also be had at home. Take a weekend to plan out your ideal summertime or wintertime activities in your hometown, and commit to quality time with you and your partner(s) for this staycation. Remember to turn off your notifications and let work know that you’ll be unplugged! 

As we’ve said, anything can be a date if you set your mind to it. The key is communicating with your partner, “Let’s make a date out of this activity!” And voilà, you’ve got yourself a bonding activity full of quality time. 

What do you say? Will you meet your match on HER and use one of these ideas for your next date on a budget? We hope so – Happy dating! 

Robyn Exton

Robyn is the CEO & Founder of HER. Find her on Twitter.

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