Valentine's Day Date Ideas
nd3000/istockphoto

16 Valentine's Date Ideas That Won't Break the Bank

View Slideshow
Valentine's Day Date Ideas
nd3000/istockphoto

TAKE OUT YOUR HONEY FOR LESS MONEY

With Valentine's Day looming, many couples are making extravagant plans. But Valentine's Day can present a serious financial challenge, especially to a bank account recovering from the holidays. If you don't have the cash (or patience) for dinner at a fancy, crowded restaurant, alternatives abound. These romantic date ideas will have you sipping fine wine, sharing an elegant dessert, or holding your sweetheart close for very little money. And remember, it's all about the experience of taking time to honor and enjoy your love for each other.

Skate the Day Away
valentinrussanov/istockphoto

SKATE THE DAY AWAY

Ice skating is a perfect activity for new couples -- what better way to encourage hand-holding and a few laughs, and maybe get closer as the date goes on? Don't be discouraged by cold temperatures. Public skating is often free or inexpensive at rinks around the country, with skate rental available for a small fee. After you've worn yourselves out, curl up with a cup of hot cocoa and let the warmth and chocolate indulgence set the mood for a relaxing and intimate evening.

Massages & Home Spa Day
jacoblund/istockphoto

MASSAGES & HOME SPA DAY

Couples who don't want to go to a pricey and crowded spa for the 14th can exchange massages at home. But don't just do a quick rub of the shoulders and be done. Create a peaceful refuge with candles and soft music to make the experience more spa-like and relaxing. Take the extra effort to make it an all day event by setting up a foot soaking station with epsom salt and clean fluffy towels. Infusing your own spa water and preparing delicious snacks seals the deal.

Cook a Gourmet Meal
Peopleimages/istockphoto

COOK A GOURMET MEAL

Good food doesn't require a fancy restaurant or exclusive reservation. With some research and coupon clipping, you can grocery shop your way to fine dining at home. Look for delicious but simple recipes such as mushroom risotto, roast chicken, or spaghetti carbonara and impress a date with your cooking skills -- or laugh about your mistakes. Better yet, cook the meal together to make the experience more intimate. Fixing a simple dessert, like strawberries and whipped cream, will make a meal feel like a complete event.

Theatre & Drinks
andresr/istockphoto

THEATRE & DRINKS

Take advantage of inexpensive tickets to a play at a local theater. Even in big cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, tickets can often be found for less than $20. Look for shows in previews -- performances preceding opening night -- on Valentine's weekend, as tickets typically sell for a reduced rate. Grab a happy hour drink before or after the show to extend the romance and create a meaningful adventure together.

Dinner & Dancing
Wavebreakmedia/istockphoto

DINNER & DANCING

Dancing doesn't need to cost more than a drink or two at a favorite dance-friendly bar. Find out which bars or clubs have cover-free events on Valentine's Day weekend, then get out and show off your moves. A simple pasta dish prepared at home is elegant, made with love, and the right balance of inexpensive and carb heavy to give you plenty of energy for the evening.

Lazy Lovers Bubble Bath & Take Out
monkeybusinessimages/istockphoto

LAZY LOVERS BUBBLE BATH & TAKE OUT

If you really want to lay low and stay inside where it's warm, go with a Valentine's favorite: a romantic bubble bath. Light some candles, put on some music, and enjoy some relaxing time together. Couple this with some inexpensive take out and bask in the glory of being lazy together, a simple pleasure that we often forget to indulge in.

Movie Marathon
ljubaphoto/istockphoto

MOVIE MARATHON

Love the idea of a Valentine's Day movie? Skip the overpriced tickets and concessions and have a movie marathon in the comfort of your living room. Take turns choosing movies and create your own movie snack spread complete with inventive popcorn flavors, drinks, and candy, and get comfy for a long day of cuddling. Frozen pizzas are an easy and cheap way to keep the festivities going through meal time.

Take a Drive
Georgijevic/istockphoto

TAKE A DRIVE

Create a playlist of all the songs that make you think of your partner or mark a milestone in your relationship, then hop in the car to listen and reminisce. No need for a specific destination. Act like teenagers and just cruise around and enjoy each other's company -- or head to a scenic spot and park for a while. Pack a small picnic or a few treats like cupcakes, to have a special activity to cap it off.

Make Dessert Together
Dean Mitchell/istockphoto

MAKE DESSERT TOGETHER

Valentine's Day is certainly a favorite day for anyone with a sweet tooth. To indulge in a decadent treat without dining out, roll up your sleeves and try making an easy dessert such as banana whipped cream pie or cinnamon sugar bites. Cooking together is a proven way to create a bond and enjoy a meaningful shared experience, bonus points if your dish requires long periods of waiting so you can snuggle up together.

Create a Romantic Morning
kupicoo/istockphoto

CREATE A ROMANTIC MORNING

If you and your bae are working later in the day, then create quality time in the morning that will leave you both walking on clouds all day long. Make breakfast for or with your partner, followed by a garden stroll and exchanging of cards or gifts. Stretch the morning out as long as you can to start the day off with plenty of intimacy... no checking emails or glancing at text messages while you're focused on each other.

DIY Wine & Cheese Spread
chameleonseye/istockphoto

DIY WINE & CHEESE SPREAD

A generous spread of cheese, chocolate and a bottle of wine is an indulgent experience to be savored, and easy to inexpensively create at home. Choose three cheeses, a bottle of wine, two different kinds of chocolate, plus nuts, dried fruits and crackers to complete the spread. Set some low lights and soft music and graze as you get lost in conversation with your love. As a stand alone event or before/after a bubbly bath, it's a delicious way to connect.

Have a Taco Fiesta
andresr/istockphoto

HAVE A TACO FIESTA

The best couples can indulge in what they love best, expensive or not. Create a taco bar and make your own pitcher of margaritas as a more relaxed way of dining on a night that is typically reserved for fussy French food. Complete the atmosphere with some salsa music that you can get up and dance to after a few drinks. The theme makes it easy to cultivate a fiery passion.

Face Off in a Chocolate Cook Off
adamkaz/istockphoto

FACE OFF IN A CHOCOLATE COOK OFF

For the cooking competition obsessed, create your own cooking show at home with the challenge of using chocolate in three courses: appetizer, entree, and dessert. There are so many ways to get creative using chocolate in savory capacities like spice rubs, marinades and sauces, nibs in a salad, etc. Face off as you make your own dishes, or work on the same dish together, for a unique chocolate themed feast.

Bask in Nature
criene/istockphoto

BASK IN NATURE

A short day hike is a romantic way to stay active and get a natural boost of endorphins without spending a dime. Bring along a few snacks or a thermos of hot chocolate to enjoy when you reach an area with a nice view. If you are in an urban area, you could still take a nice long walk to a high point that offers a charming view of the city.

Create an Aphrodisiac Spread
ahirao_photo/istockphoto

CREATE AN APHRODISIAC SPREAD

Co-create your own aphrodisiac spread, each picking a few items that are supposed aphrodisiacs like oysters and avocados. Create a menu around the specialty ingredients and see which ones work the best, if you can distinguish, or just enjoy all the feels. Make it an all day affair by going to pick out the items together at different stores and thoughtfully preparing a beautiful spread.

Get Dressed Up & Go Out
SolStock/istockphoto

GET DRESSED UP & GO OUT

For couples who don't get to go out often, it might be important to splurge a little. Having dessert or drinks at a fancy restaurant or bar satisfies the urge to get dressed up and go out without all the hassle, expense and pressure of an entire dinner. A well made cocktail or rich chocolate cake after a homemade meal adds a touch of elegance that sets the day apart as something romantic.