60 Cheap College Date Ideas (Besides Netflix & Chill)
Inexpensive single & double date ideas for college students
Ahhh college – a time where potential dates are plentiful, but money is not.
There are tons of college date ideas that can be done on the cheap. Or better yet, for free!
The life of a typical college student is filled with homework, late nights, and oftentimes a lot of dating. And sometimes, balancing a dating life and a budget can get difficult.
Stressing about how much a date is going to cost can take all the fun (and romance) out of it. 🙁 But it’s not about how much you spend, it’s about who you spend it with.
With that in mind:
I made this list of cheap date night ideas for college students that go beyond just Netflix & Chill. There’s tons of fun to be had, and all with minimal spending to be done.
“Cheap” and “Fun” can go together in the same sentence when it comes to dating!
Here’s a list of cheap college date ideas to use next time you ask out, or get asked out, by a special someone. Many of these would work as double date ideas, too.
60 Cheap Date Ideas for College Students
1. Go on a Scavenger hunt at Walmart or another store.
People watching is always entertaining, right? Well with a scavenger hunt you can look for certain items or you can look for certain types of people – like someone wearing pajama pants.
Come up with your own list of things/people to take pictures of or use an already made list.
2. Be the test subjects at a beauty school.
Pamper your sweetie on the cheap with this college date idea!
Beauty school students offer their services for rock bottom prices because they’re practicing. And if you’re worried about ruining your hair, skip the haircut!
Go for something else, like a manicure or an indulgent facial.
3. Try a recipe you’ve never made before.
Even mom’s famous spaghetti gets old after a while.
Expand your taste buds together by trying a recipe you’ve never made before. Who knows – it could become a new favorite (this one did for me!).
4. Volunteer at an animal shelter.
Often times you can’t have a pet when you’re a college student.
Your rental situation may not allow them or you simply don’t have enough time to give a pet the love and attention it needs. That’s why going to the animal shelter can be SUCH a rewarding college date night idea because you get to fill the pet-shaped hole in your heart.
Even if it is just a temporary dog and cat fix.
5. Build a blanket fort, make your phone into a projector and have a movie night.
Cozy cuddles with a big screen, perfect for a rainy or cold wintry night.
6. Fill a truck bed with pillows and blankets to go stargazing.
Get away from city light pollution and spend the night taking in all the awes of our galaxy.
For being a free date idea for college students, it can actually be pretty romantic. And if you have a telescope, that can make it even better!
7. Go geocaching with your phones.
Geocaching – it’s not just for nerds with GPS’ anymore!
Anyone can do it with just an app! It’s an activity that’s like a fun little mini adventure where the coordinates reveal an unknown treasure.
Don’t forget to leave a little something for the next geocachers, though!
8. Go to an open mic night.
Comedy – local comedy – you never know what you’ll get, and that’s the fun in it!
If you or your date are feeling brave, you could even try your hand at telling jokes to the crowd.
9. Put googly eyes around your city.
Cheap, silly, unadulterated college fun.
10. Go garage selling.
I love checking out what people have at garage sales.
You could just browse or give yourself a small budget of $10 to work with. This could even be made into a game of who can get the best find with their money.
11. Play ultimate Frisbee.
This is one of those double-date ideas for college students I was talking about.
The more the merrier! Plus you could team up which will encourage further bonding over friendly competition.
12. Attend a local sporting event.
Baseball, soccer, hockey – there’s bound to be a local team in your area that would be fun to watch.
Tickets are always uber inexpensive, too – and not just for nosebleeds!
13. Check out your local farmers or flea markets.
Fresh harvests and locally made crafts are a few reasons I love going to my city’s farmers market.
14. Play strip Yahtzee, Scrabble, Cards Against Humanity, Boggle, Sorry, Battleship, etc.
Board games, but with an adult twist. 😉
15. Have a picnic in a park you’ve never been to.
Outdoors in nature + food = the perfect recipe for a college date idea.
16. Go to a National Park on a free park day.
Yes – more nature!
National Parks are a treasure, capitalize on seeing them when you can. Time it right and your date will be F-R-E-E!
17. Go sledding at night.
Get in touch with your inner kid, but with a twist.
Sledding under the night sky with fresh powder and cool air, it’s sure to be a blast!
18. Go fishing and release what you catch.
Or keep your catches and cook ’em up for dinner!
Whatever floats your dating boat.
19. Rent a kayak for the day.
Make that two kayaks – one for you and one for your date.
Splashing around in a lake or a river can make for a fun-filled day.
20. Do the touristy things offered in your town.
Yes, it’s a cheesy date idea, but that’s the point!
21. Buy the biggest puzzle they have at Goodwill and see how much you can get done in 2 hours.
Set a timer and laugh when you both see how challenging a puzzle can really be.
22. Stop by all the open houses in your area.
Usually, there are refreshments offered which is a plus!
23. Go to Costco on sample day – lol!
24. Go for a hike.
Being a fan of hiking is getting to be pretty cliche these days, but hey there’s a reason everyone likes it!
25. Recreate your first date.
A cute and romantic way to celebrate an anniversary.
26. Try a community class: square dancing, pottery or ceramics, painting, boxing, etc.
Learn a new skill, have a few laughs – win/win.
27. Take bets on a basketball/ football /baseball game, the loser has to do all the chores that day.
A little friendly competition never hurts!
Plus, it’s a good way to get someone who’s not into sports to be interested in what’s going on. Be patient if you have to explain how the sport works a few times.
28. Go wine or beer tasting.
Some wineries offer complimentary tastings, but most are pretty cheap.
Just try to avoid the really uppity places and your wallet should be breathing easy.
29. Make t-shirts for each other.
Maybe even challenge your date to see who can make the ugliest one.
30. Give each other massages, and watch YouTube video tutorials.
There’s nothing like a good rub for aching shoulders.
You don’t even need to be a pro to give a good massage (and trust, me I’m a licensed massage therapist). Give it a go for a romantic college date night idea.
31. Go berry picking at a Pick-Your-Own Farm or scavenge your local area.
When the berries are in season this makes for a simple and fun date!
32. Take a romantic bubble bath together: light candles, throw in rose petals, put on some music, pour some wine, and really set the mood.
Doesn’t that sound sooo nice?
It’s a great way to unwind from college stress for a while, too.
33. Spend a day shopping only at thrift, consignment, or second-hand stores. Give yourselves a budget of $20 and see who can make the best outfit.
Thrift stores can be full of gems if you have the patience to look!
Also Read: 5 Places to Get Name Brand Clothing for Cheap
34. Make s’mores over an open fire (or over a gas stove).
Mmm oooey-googey marshmallows, chocolate, and crackers.
Yummy, fun, simplicity.
35. Go through the photos on your phone, print out your favorites, and make a scrapbook.
Or make a photo wall!
Or just share your favorite memories with each other.
36. Go ice skating.
This is a classic college date idea, embrace it!
37. Catch fireflies.
It’s summer fun at its finest that will bring back childhood memories.
38. Have a spa night: face masks, manis, pedis, etc.
Guys – don’t be afraid to enjoy yourself!
Being pampered is not an exclusively female activity.
39. Play laser tag.
When was the last time you played laser tag??
It’s probably been a while, which is why it would be a fun, silly college date idea.
40. Come up with a bucket list together.
Because YOLO, right?
Also Read: The Ultimate College Bucket List
41. Attend Trivia Night at a bar.
Test your trivia knowledge with the added fun of alcohol!
42. Read a book to each other, take turns reading chapters.
This could be fun or romantic, depending on what book you choose.
43. Go to a comedy show.
Rather see a pro tell jokes than an open miker?
A comedy show is the way to go!
44. Have a night where you watch the worst movies you can find.
There are endless B movies to choose from for an enjoyable night of playing movie critics.
45. Try tandem baking.
It’s probably about as hard as it looks!
46. Go skinny dipping.
Swimming with an adult twist, it’s definitely a way to get to know each other better. 😉
47. Attend a live, local concert.
Live music is the best!
48. Go to a dog park.
This college date idea could also be called a doggy date.
49. Play pool at a dive bar.
Dive bars = cheap drinks.
Play a game or two and let the conversation flow.
50. Fill out “How Well Do You Know Me” quizzes.
Just for fun, of course!
51. Have a Nerf fight.
52. Play a drinking game while watching a TV show, every time a character says a certain phrase take a drink!
Choose The Office and see how long it takes to get drunk when your drink word is “Dwight”.
53. Brew homemade Kombucha Tea.
It’s actually pretty easy!
The hard part is waiting for it to be done.
54. Take a trip to the beach and build sandcastles.
A visit to the beach is always rejuvenating.
Plus, I don’t know many people who would turn down a date on the beach!
55. Have fun with sidewalk chalk, outline each other’s bodies.
Silly fun, enough said!
56. Visit your local roller rink.
And participate in the line dances!
Don’t forget to eat some greasy food while you’re there.
57. Leave notes in your favorites book at bookstores.
This college date idea is just sweet and wholesome.
58. Prepare for a 5k together.
Are you and your date both into fitness?
Or even if you’re not particularly inclined to it, it could be an engaging challenge for both of you!
59. Learn a new language together (with a free app like Duolingo).
Expand your horizons and grow closer together.
60. Take a dip in a hot spring.
The perfect relaxing activity – no matter the season!
Final thoughts on inexpensive dates
So those are my 60 cheap date ideas for college students. With a little creativity, it’s easy to have fun without spending much.
What are some of your favorite college date ideas?
Free bonus: click here to get the printable version of this list
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Charlie is the co-founder of College Life Made Easy and author of the book 175+ Things to Do Before You Graduate College. She’s a 2015 graduate who teaches overwhelmed students and parents of students how to confidently navigate the whole college thing. As a former broke college kid, she’s passionate about helping students develop the skills they need in order to thrive (instead of just survive), stress less, and actually enjoy the full college experience.