53 Fun Nights Out for $10 or Less

by Julie Rains on 22 April 2013 12 comments

You can have a fun, entertaining, and relaxing night out without spending much — or anything. The secret is to do what you truly enjoy and take advantage of what your area has to offer. (See also: Classy Dating on a Budget)

Here are 53 ideas to get you started.

Enjoy Arts and Entertainment

Your city's local arts and entertainment scene can offer a variety of experiences. Whether you are interested in sophisticated, popular, or down-home culture, you should be able to find something fun to do.

  1. Listen to a live band at a local bar or restaurant
  2. Laugh at a comedy show featuring amateur or aspiring professional comedians
  3. Enjoy an outdoor concert sponsored by a local arts group
  4. Absorb goings-on at a street festival
  5. Dance at a local club
  6. View an art exhibit at a gallery or community venue
  7. Watch a movie screening at an independently owned cinema or film festival
  8. See a theatrical production staged by a local college or community arts organization
  9. Visit an art museum during one of its free nights

Get Back to Nature

Early evenings, full-moon nights, and more can be excellent occasions to get back to nature for a fun yet frugal night out. Bring a friend (and a flashlight) to a familiar place or accompany a group on an outdoor adventure.

  1. Hike in the early evening before darkness falls
  2. Walk or cycle on trails when the moon is full
  3. Canoe at twilight with a group on a familiar route (such trips may be offered at state parks)
  4. View nocturnal wildlife during events hosted by park rangers
  5. Gaze at stars during astronomy sessions sponsored by planetariums or find a secluded place and make your own observations
  6. Stroll at sunset
  7. Fish on a pier or quiet lake
  8. Listen to campfire presentations led by park rangers on topics you find fascinating
  9. Wander through a corn maze (farms tend to offer these in autumn)

Do Something With Friends

Mixing with large crowds can be exhilarating. But sometimes you crave a more intimate evening with a small group of friends. Join an event or plan your own gathering.

  1. Discuss a favorite book at an informal get-together or book club meeting at a coffee shop or restaurant
  2. Talk at a small party hosted by a friend
  3. View and discuss an independent film or classic favorite
  4. Listen to a community lecture in a subject that truly interests you
  5. Participate in an evening volunteer activity
  6. Taste samples at a local winery or brewery
  7. Develop conversational skills in Spanish, French, etc. at a language meetup
  8. Take a cooking class or art lesson offered through a deals site or the community college

Watch or Participate in Sports

Sports lovers can find plenty to keep them busy without spending a bundle. Catch a game that is likely to feature rising stars, unpredictable finishes, and interesting entertainment. Or, participate in an activity that gets you moving.

  1. Attend a minor league baseball game or hockey game
  2. Catch a college game
  3. Watch a high school game, which often includes band or dance performances
  4. Join friends to watch a game at a sports bar
  5. See action at the auto races
  6. Participate in an evening run with a local running club
  7. Go bowling
  8. Go skating
  9. Play tennis under the lights
  10. Play a round of golf on an illuminated par three course (or miniature golf course)
  11. Drive golf balls on a driving range

Eat Out

Locate cheap eateries or partake of just one course (like dessert!) to control expenses.

  1. Eat at an inexpensive restaurant with great food
  2. Grab a bite at your favorite burger place
  3. Go to a fundraising dinner at a civic club or church
  4. Take part in a potluck dinner at a friend’s house
  5. Fill up with pasta at a community dinner on the evening before a big running race
  6. Have a picnic with homemade food or takeout
  7. Visit an ice cream parlor or yogurt shop
  8. Enjoy a delicacy from a bakery
  9. Dine on a meal provided by a culinary school

Be With Family

Find family- and wallet-friendly activities. Community events are a great way to have a fun evening outside of your home.

  1. Watch a free movie sponsored by a library or community group
  2. See a high school play, dance performance, or marching band competition
  3. Observe (or participate in) a holiday parade
  4. Celebrate with members of your community on days like the 4th of July
  5. Wander around the county fair (watch for discount tickets and promotions)
  6. Let your kids interact with exhibits during one of the free nights at the children’s museum
  7. Participate in activities at a festival hosted by the school or community center

Enjoy the nightlife or wildlife, get together with friends, or meet new people with mutual interests. Check on prices before you head out and find the frugal alternative to the pricey one, choosing the free concert rather than the ticketed one, for example. Just know that you can have loads of fun without spending tons on evenings away from home.

How do you have a fun evening for $10 or less?

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Guest's picture

Ahh to be 20-something again.

Sadly, NONE of your suggested options can be done from where I live for under $10. Transit and/or car, parking, and babysitting make any evening out a $75+ night just to get out the door.

Also, I suspect your pricing may have something to do with where you live... As many of the options that you list in my home town cost $20-50.

fav burger joint (not a gourmet shop!) $35-40 for dinner.
flights of samples at the local brew-pubs = $2.95 per 2oz glass. Served in groups of 6.
band at a bar = $10-20 cover + drink minimums @ $8.95 each.
Local culinary schools do not have "visitor" plates. The students eat it all as they pay for the ingredients.

Julie Rains's picture

My almost 20-something son definitely has an advantage in finding cheap stuff to do in the evening! He lives in a college town where free and cheap abounds. Last weekend, he attended an event with free food and entertainment (to raise money and awareness for the homeless in his community). On the other hand, my husband and I will need to bring food as a contribution for a meal with children and their families in the inner city -- but still, it looks like our cost will be under $10. These are not traditional night outs, but still fun if you enjoy service type activities, getting together with friends, and meeting people who may not be in your typical social circle.

I definitely researched costs in other areas -- just to make sure that such opportunities existed not just in my area. I did find that though costs varied among towns, free museum nights, free concerts, free park ranger talks, or some type of free or cheap activities were commonly available throughout the country -- though certainly offerings vary depending on whether you are in a rural, suburban, or urban area.

So, hopefully, if you can't find a great cheap nightclub or restaurant, you may be able to get together with friends in your neighborhood, see a play at the local school, or go star gazing near home.

Guest's picture

I'm 21 and this list pretty much describes my lifestyle. Finding cheap fun activities is really useful for being a broke college student and always ends up being a good time! My favorite place to look for cheap events and traveling festivals in the area is eventful.com you can type in your area and voila instant inspiration!

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks for the tip on eventful.com -- I was just wondering if there was an online source of activities (besides what my Facebook friends my mention).

Guest's picture

Nowadays, it is very hard to find something to do at night for 10 dollars or less. Some of the activities on your list are great ideas and can be 10 dollars or less, but I feel as though it depends on where you are. In Tampa, there are many things to do on the 10 dollar budget but back in Washington D.C., it is hard to do anything at night for 10 dollars or less. There are some concerts in the area that are featured in a nightclub that are found for 10 dollars. There are also some outdoor festivals that are free and can be fun if you go with a group! Thanks for the post!

Julie Rains's picture

I definitely like the outdoor festivals with free concerts and many large cities have these as well as some arts-oriented smaller towns. As a tourist to DC, I think of all the free museums (a few of these are open in the early evening) plus the nighttime walks around town. But the cheapness activities available definitely depend on the city. Thanks for reading!

Guest's picture
Guest

After 30 years together, my hubby and I go to Lowe's for fun.....

Julie Rains's picture

Planning projects and looking at the outdoor garden area sounds fun, and cheap if you just look and don't buy. Thanks for sharing!

Guest's picture
Rose

I hear you!! And then we go to Menard's to see what they charge for the same thing....

Guest's picture

For me, a fun night means exploring the artist in you. I enjoy watching movies organized by a local film festival. Another is that it gives me the opportunity to meet other people as well.

Guest's picture

A great list, thank you, Julie. I'm 28 and (as with many Uni graduates my age) money is tight. I do many of these already (such as going to bars for live bands/comedians). I live in England - Manchester, so $10 is about £7. You can do a lot with that here - cinema tickets at the independent cinema the Cornerhouse, live bands, the food markets which are often on, the Studio section of the Lowry Theatre. Plus, you know, just hanging around with my friends at their house or my flat! People forget you don't have to pay anything to have a fun night out.

Guest's picture

I love these. I would love to do something with friends or my family but don't have to spend much. Thanks.