23 Cheap Summer Date Ideas

It's summertime, and the options for a romantic date are endless. They also don't have to cost you very much. Take advantage of the gorgeous weather and spend some quality time with your boo, using these ideas on how to keep your summer love life active and exciting.

1. Fish a lake or river

Even if fish isn't in your diet, you can still enjoy throwing back a few cold ones by a river or a lake with your date as you cast your rods into the water. If you don't have fishing tools handy, pick up inexpensive rods at Walmart or Target and a container of worms at your local bait shop.

2. Crab off a pier

I grew up around the water in Baltimore, so crabbing is in my DNA. While I'm not a fan of pulling up crab pots from the side of a boat — you never know when you'll snag a jellyfish — I love crabbing from the side of a pier. All you need is a ball of long string, a bag of chicken necks (which you can find at your grocery store for cheap), and a crab net to scoop the little buggers up.

3. Hop in a kayak or canoe

If you have a kayak or canoe at your disposal, strap it to the roof of your vehicle and head for the water. If you're without a vessel, look into free rentals in your area. New York City, for instance, offers free kayaking at certain times during the summer; many other areas likely have similar programs.

4. Hike nearby trails

You can find a decent trail to hike no matter where you live. Just make sure you plan appropriately before embarking on your adventure. Don't choose a hike that's too difficult for you or your date, and make sure you take plenty of food, water, sunscreen, and your phone in case of emergencies. (See also: 6 Outdoor Adventures That Don't Cost a Dime)

5. Attend a DIY workshop at Home Depot

I recently learned about free workshops that Home Depot offers that teach you how to make specific home items. Last month, there was a workshop on how to make a concrete serving tray, and in July, participants can learn to build a crate end table. Check out your local store and see what they have to offer.

6. Build a backyard fire or find a beach bonfire

I have a fire pit in my backyard that I picked up for around $80. It's more than paid for itself with all the good times I've had around it, including wine and cuddle time with my guy. If you don't have access to a fire pit, look into bonfires in your area, which are probably a sure bet if you live anywhere near a shoreline.

7. Find outdoor movies in your area

Outdoor movies are everywhere these days, and I happen to think they're one of the best date-night activities available. It's hard to beat a relaxing evening under the stars, holding hands and eating candy while watching a flick you both enjoy. And some of them are free.

8. Step back in time at a drive-in theater

Another one of my all-time favorite date options is pulling into a drive-in and putting the car in park for a double- or triple-feature. Admission is usually $10 per person, and some drive-ins let you bring your own snacks. There are 338 drive-in theaters left in the United States, and you can find the drive-in closest to you with this handy locator.

9. Lie under the stars and gaze

If you live in an area too lit to see many stars, take a quick drive outside the city limits, lay out a blanket, get snugly, and let nature treat you to a twinkling space show.

10. Pack a picnic with board games

Pack a lunch in a picnic basket along with a couple of board games, and head to your favorite park for food and a little friendly competition.

11. Pop into an art gallery

Most art galleries are free to visit, and if you can catch a gallery on opening night of an exhibit, you can probably score free wine and cheese, too.

12. Spend the day at the beach

The beach provides plenty of built-in fun. Stuff your backpack with the essentials to keep you satisfied, hydrated, and protected from the UV rays.

13. Unchain the bikes and go for a ride

You and your bae can hop on your bikes for a little exercise, or you can cruise to a new café or restaurant you haven't tried yet.

14. Root for the home team at a baseball game

If your MLB home team isn't doing so hot this season, tickets are likely more affordable than normal. If that's not the case, look into a game at your local minor league stadium. They could always use the extra community support.

15. Take the dogs to "Yappy Hour"

More and more establishments are allowing pups onto their premises — because who doesn't like hanging out with adorable dogs? — and you can find the spots nearest you with a quick search of "dog-friendly bars" in your area. As long as your date is an animal lover, pets and dates are usually a home run.

16. Make homemade pizza

Homemade pizza is not only healthier than delivery (depending on what you're putting on it), but it's a ton of fun to make. Pick up a pre-made crust (it's easier than fresh dough if you don't have a pizza stone), build your pizza, pop it in for 10 minutes or so, and enjoy. (See also: This Is How You Make Restaurant-Quality Pizza at Home)

17. Prepare for a water battle

Fill leftover balloons or your high-powered toy guns with water and aim for each other to cool off on a blistering afternoon. (See also: 10 Clever Ways to Keep Cool When It's Stupid Hot Out)

18. Show off your vocal talents at karaoke

Impress your date with your vocal stylings by choosing your favorite song and belting it out with confidence. If you aren't running up a huge bar tab, karaoke itself won't cost you a dime.

19. Enjoy a local trivia or bingo night

Put on your thinking caps to show off how smart you are at a local trivia night, or get your competitive juices flowing at bingo. Bingo isn't just for grandmas anymore, BTW. Several bars in my area offer bingo at night or at brunch time with fun prizes, and if you're able to find a bingo night hosted by a drag queen, you've already hit the jackpot.

20. Check out a carnival

Save money by choosing just one or two rides at your local carnival to get your respective thrills on, and share a slice of that delectable funnel cake.

21. Get in some exercise at a trampoline park

An hour of jump time at a trampoline park is around $10 at most places, but I've seen discounted days and times — sort of like happy hour — that you might be able to take advantage of.

22. Lace up your skates at the roller rink

I went roller skating with my guy a few months ago and the place was unbelievable. I legit thought we would be the only two people there, but it was packed — on a Tuesday night, no less. Many rinks have adults-only nights, if the preteen crowd puts a damper on your romance. If you haven't taken any laps around a rink lately, don't sweat it; you'll learn how to bop again in no time.

23. Interact with the animals at a preserve or sanctuary

A lot of animal shelters won't let you come in just to pet and play with their tenants, but there are dedicated sanctuaries in certain areas — like the wolf-dog preserve in New Jersey and exotic animal sanctuaries in Florida — that let you pet and interact with the animals in their forever homes.

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23 Cheap Summer Date Ideas

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