As leaves start to turn autumnal colors, couples watching expenses need to adjust their thinking about how to spend the time. Warm weather makes frugality easy, but no longer can every weekend day be a beach day, and not every night will be right for a cookout. The season brings its own possibilities, though, some of which are good for first dates as well as longer-term couples building or nurturing a relationship. Here are 25 things you can do with a sweetie that barely cost a thing.
25 Ideas for Inexpensive Fall Dates
Fall is a choice time to visit a winery. Crush, the time of year for harvesting and processing grapes, is wrapping up and summer crowds have waned. Take a walk in a vineyard, then sip and sample wine to serve over the holidays.
There's a slew of seasonal fall and winter beers arriving -- think pumpkin, ginger, and cardamon flavored. Visit a local brewery and see what they have for sampling.
Take your date pumpkin picking. It's tons of fun to search for the perfect pumpkin, then take it home and carve.
Tap your inner kid with a trip to the local apple orchard. Gather a basket of apples, then bake a pie together. Go later in the day -- think closer to sundown -- to avoid peak family time.
Get your date's heart thumping on a haunted hayride. Cuddle up close and when you get scared, hold each other tight. It's the perfect excuse to steal a kiss.
Sports tickets can be expensive. Opt for the next best thing: Attend a tailgating party. Bring an inexpensive snack and a six-pack of beer or beverage of choice and enjoy game-day festivities without spending a fortune.
At the beach or in your backyard, a bonfire can take the chill off a crisp fall night. Gather around a fire with the fixings for s'mores and settle in for an evening of storytelling.
A train ride through the mountains or woods, available in many states, can be a good date if it's kept to a one- to three-hour range round trip, says Rosalind Sedacca, author of "99 Things Women Wish They Knew Before Dating After 40, 50 and Yes, 60!" Daytime travel shows off fall landscapes and vistas while offering comfortable seats for uninterrupted conversation, and there are often dining cars for drinks, snacks, or meals. Travelers should be able to get in a short stroll through their destination's shops and sights.
Sure, it's nice to get dressed up and go out for dinner. But sometimes it's even nicer to stay in and attempt restaurant menu favorites at home. Restaurants such as Olive Garden and Panera Bread have recipes for menu items online, so it's possible to stock the refrigerator for the price of just one meal out, says Taylor Gordon, a freelance blogger at TrendyCheapo. By whipping meals up at home, you can also make them healthier and substitute in cheaper ingredients.
Fall is a favored time for small-town festivals. Starting at the end of August, small towns across America start kicking annual festivals into gear, says Paul Moyer of SavingFreak. While you may have to spend some money on food or activities, they are usually very affordable. Enjoy the uniqueness of American small towns and experience generations-old traditions.
Netflix and similar services always offer plenty of scary movies to stream, and libraries these days stock plenty of DVDs. Add popcorn, drinks, and theater candy for a cheap and fun evening.
It's a wee bit corny, but a trip to a pumpkin patch is, well, kind of sweet. What's not to like about crisp fall air, crackling autumn leaves, and an arm-in-arm walk through nature's bounty?
Before it gets too cold, go camping one last time. Either pack a tent or kit out your car for a cozy night's sleep in nature and under the stars.
Pack a picnic and hit the road to take in the fall foliage while temperatures are cooling but not chill-inducing.
Pack blankets and a thermos of hot cocoa and head for the nearest spot with the least amount of light pollution. Bring a map of the stars or download an app to help decipher the night skies for a date that won't cost a dime.
Many towns celebrate Oktoberfest, but if there isn't a community event, find a bar hosting a themed event of beer-drinking and merrymaking. Prost!
You don't have to be super-skilled in the kitchen to whip up a hearty soup. Pick a recipe that appeals and prep the ingredients together. Bring the soup to a simmer and slurp away.
Some people fire up the grill 365 days a year. Others indulge seasonally. Celebrate the last gasps of summer weather with a final cookout on the deck.
Who doesn't like a little friendly competition? Have couples bring a pot of their favorite homemade chili and hold a blind tasting (with chilis labeled by numbers instead of names) so people can pick their favorite.
Pick up some secondhand board games for cheap at Goodwill or a neighborhood thrift store. Build a fire, pop some popcorn and put on your favorite tunes to have the makings for a fun, intimate night in.
Some local organizations, such as Elks Lodges, host monthly bingo tournaments. It's cheap to play, and a whole lot of fun.
Put your noodle to good use over a night of trivia at your local bar. It's usually cheap or free for a group to participate, and many bars offer food and drink deals during the battle of the brains. Prizes are generally awarded to the highest-scoring teams, so it pays to put your minds together.
Most communities host some kind of haunted house. Cozy up to your date and scream in fright. So creepy and fun!