16 Summer Date Ideas That Won't Crimp Your Budget

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LOVE IS IN THE AIR


Summer is just around the corner and with it comes plenty of opportunities to spend time with that special someone. But you don't need to spend a lot of money to impress your favorite gal or guy. These low-cost summer date ideas are equal parts fun and romance -- the perfect combo for a day spent in the sun or an evening under the stars.

Related: Free Summer Events in All 50 States
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PLAY IN THE PARK

Playing in the park was fun as a kid -- and it's still fun for a carefree and cheap summer date. Go prepared with a kite, a Frisbee, a football, baseball mitts and a ball, a blanket for lounging, snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, and plenty of water.
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ATTEND A FAIR OR FESTIVAL

Forget the local pub -- it can wait till the weather turns chilly. Instead, head out to the fair or a festival for a merry summer date. Take a spin on cheap rides, play games, sample food and drinks, and enjoy being out and about holding hands.
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VOLUNTEER

Want to attend a summer festival but can't afford the admission? Volunteer at the event. Helping set up or sell merchandise can be rewarding and fun. When the shift is over, you can catch the headliner or get in the next day for free.
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BROWSE THE FARMERS MARKET

A farmers market is a healthy and cheap place to spend a few hours on a summer date. Treat your eyes and stomachs to fresh local produce and homemade goodies, and people watch for entertainment. Buy what you need for a romantic dinner, then head home and whip up something delicious to share.
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GO TO AN OUTDOOR MOVIE

Many communities host summer movies in parks and on lawns, which can make for particularly romantic summer date when the right movie is playing. A local drive-in is a fine alternative and can provide more privacy. It may be a blast from the past, but it's a nice change from the run-of-the-mill megaplex.
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GET MOVING

Athletic types can rent bicycles and take a ride. Some communities have rent-a-bike programs and others, such as Denver, offer biking tours of the city. If no such program is available in the area, improvise. Use your own bikes or borrow from friends to explore the city on wheels. Or, head to a state park and take a hike instead.
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GO GEOCACHING

Geocaching is the ultimate scavenger hunt. Using a smartphone and GPS coordinates, participants search for hidden objects. Just sign up for a free Geocaching account and download the app. Then pick a geocache near you and go for it.
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ENJOY LOCAL ENTERTAINMENT

In addition to fairs and festivals, many communities host summer concert series -- often for free. Pack some snacks, maybe a bottle of wine, and a blanket to cuddle up for a delightful and romantic summer date.
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CATCH SOME TUNES

If a summer concert isn't happening, hit up a local bar with a patio. Chances are there will be a band, a solo act, or open mic night if you go at the right time. Take in the scene and enjoy a cold one.
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GRAB DESSERT

Instead of the typical dinner out, go cheaper and opt for dessert out. What better way to celebrate summer than with an ice cream treat? Or, stop by the local pastry shop and snack on sweet delicacies. As the capstone to this summer date, choose a place with a patio and linger as the sun sets.
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GO FISHING

Pack a cooler, grab some poles, and head to the nearest fishing hole. In today's fast-paced world, a slow day of fishing is a chance to catch up and relax in each other's company.
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STARGAZE

Find a spot with a view and watch the sunset together. Once the stars come out, search for constellations and identify them using an app or book. Make a game of it: Whoever finds a specific star, planet, or constellation -- or the most of all three -- wins.
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HIT UP THE ZOO

Many zoos are free and most offer free or discount days, making this an affordable outing even without a membership. Spend the day visiting the animals together and share experiences such as feeding a giraffe.
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TAKE A DRIVE

Turn up the volume on a favorite playlist, roll down the windows, and hit the road. Find some scenic back roads to explore and see where the day takes you.
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TAKE IN A FIREWORKS DISPLAY

Fourth of July isn't the only summer occasion with fireworks displays. Check the calendar, find a good spot (hint: the top level of a parking garage is a good bet), and gaze at the spectacle. Take along some sparklers and chilled beverages in a cooler to make it more fun.
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GO FAUX HOUSE HUNTING

Even if you aren't really ready to take the next step and move in together, it can still be fun to hit up some open houses. It's free and you can get to know each other better by comparing likes and dislikes.