The Best Frugal First Date Ideas, According to Thrifty Redditors

Passionate couple talk at restaurant table.

Joyce Diva/istockphoto

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Passionate couple talk at restaurant table.
Joyce Diva/istockphoto

Date Night

First dates can get expensive fast. Dinner and movie? Factor in transportation and tip, and you'll quickly have spent a chunk of change. But exploring your love life doesn't have to be expensive, especially if you have a few romantic and thoughtful cheap first date ideas. Thrifty Redditors recently shared their favorite frugal first dates — some of which won't cost you a dime.

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Farmers' food market stall with variety of organic vegetable.

Farmers Market

Stroll alongside colorful produce, have fun people watching, simply enjoy the hustle and bustle at a farmers market for a fun and affordable first date. Two Redditors shared that their first encounters at farmers markets led to serious, long-term relationships. "My husband and I met at a farmers market for our first date. We got to talk, interact with the environment, and I only bought a few tomatoes and some garlic," one Redditor wrote. "Now every year he puts a head of garlic in my Christmas stocking, and we often return to that same farmers market on our anniversary."

Related: The Most Romantic Place in Every State

Khao Yai Art Museum

Art Museum

Whether you want to wax poetic about Van Gogh or debate the merits of Duchamp's urinal, art museums offer plenty of fodder for engrossing (and potentially divisive) conversations. "You will automatically have something to talk about, and you'll get to see how your date reacts to things they don't like, as well as to things they do like,"  a Redditor shares.

Related: Cool Under-the-Radar Destinations for Art Lovers

Books on display in the corner of a second hand bookstore

Used Bookstore

Like an art museum, a used bookstore is sure to spark lively conversation among the book worms. And if you don't find something that catches your eye, the date will have been free. "I had a date meet me at a used bookstore," one comment reads. "We had an amazing time talking about everything we had read and recommending books to one another."

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Ice cream parlor at café

Ice Cream

Since "everyone loves ice cream," as one Redditor points out, grabbing a cone makes for a fun, cheap, and tasty date for the warmer months.  "You can tell a lot about a person by the way they eat an ice cream," they add.

Related: 50 Ice Cream Shops With Unique Treats Across the Country

Interior of New York Public Library. Manhattan. New York City. Usa
Paola Giannoni/istockphoto


Bookish and on a budget? Marvel at rare books, explore old card catalogues, and share your hottest literary takes with your date at the library (in a whisper). It's one of the few public indoor spaces that remains completely free.

Related: 20 Beautiful Libraries Around the World

Happy young Asian couple having a coffee date in cafe, drinking coffee and chatting. Enjoying a relaxing moment together

Coffee Shop

While it's a bit overdone and generic, there's a reason why coffee shops are so popular for first dates. Grabbing coffee is cheaper and more casual than a candlelit dinner, and if you get bored, you can always take your java and go for a stroll.

Related: The Coolest Coffee Shops in America

Live well on less than you think


Since the dark days of the pandemic, it seems like everyone has a newfound appreciation for a stroll through the park or along the beach. Taking your date somewhere scenic can also be a great conversation starter.

Multi ethnic couple waiting for the drink in the bar


Like cafes, bars and pubs make great first date locales because they're affordable (stick with beer) and flexible. If the date goes well, stick around for a few more drinks or hop to another bar. By the same token, you can bail after one drink if your date is putting you to sleep.