15 Hot Summer Dates for $5 or Less

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COOL TIMES TOGETHER

Summer is the perfect time for low-cost dating. With long sunny days, warm nights, and plenty of outdoor activities, the possibilities are many. So don't fret if you're constrained by a tight budget this season -- you and your sweetie can still enjoy romantic activities together. Cheapism.com pulled together 15 date ideas, most free and others costing $5 or less.

WALK IN THE PARK + ICE CREAM: $4

A long leisurely walk in the park can be one of the most romantic activities for both new and long-standing couples. It's an opportunity for quiet conversation, for getting to know one another better, or for reconnecting. Sweeten the moments with ice cream bars or popsicles for two.

BASKETBALL: FREE

Getting the blood pumping is an excellent way to fire up the chemistry between two halves of a couple. A few rounds of one-on-one basketball releases competitive energy and/or sets up a teachable moment for learning a new skill from your partner. The best part: it's free at any public park with a set of hoops.

FARMER'S MARKET: FREE

Take in the sights, sounds, and smells while roaming the local farmer's market. Most markets are filled with free music and even if you don't buy anything, there is always plenty of ripe local produce to sample. The experience can catalyze discussions about food and cooking preferences.

PICNIC: $5

Packing up a picnic and lazing around under a shady tree make for a relaxing afternoon. Choose low-cost edibles such as popcorn ($1), oranges (50 cents each), and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches ($1.50 each). Bring along some (free) water from home to wash it all down.

GRAFFITI TOUR: FREE

This is a perfect date for city dwellers looking to save money. Do a little research to identify the locations known for colorful and artistic graffiti and plan a walking tour. All cities have at least one neighborhood adorned with particularly creative street art. Consider the scene a free exhibit at an urban art museum.

PHOTOGRAPHY: FREE

In the age of smartphones and Instagram, a date specifically designed to capture the perfect shot holds wide appeal. Pick a few spots that offer exceptionally panoramic or goofy backgrounds and make a date out of photographing each other and yourselves (selfie sticks welcome) in each location. Use the photos for homemade holiday cards later in the year.

BIKING: FREE

Biking is relaxing and a form of exercise that's good for you. Strap on helmets and take a leisurely bike ride with your honey along a beautiful path. Even in cities where bike ownership is limited, two-wheelers can be rented for just a few dollars an hour. Pack a piece of fruit and drinks to enjoy when break time rolls around.

OUTDOOR MOVIES AND CONCERTS: FREE

Many towns and cities across the country offer free outdoor movie and/or concert series during the summer. Check local media and community websites for information about show times and locations. Go early to secure your spot and bring a light picnic packed at home. Enjoy the alfresco date night for free.

HIKING + GRANOLA BARS: $2

Rev up your body with an outdoor hike. Enjoying the beauty of nature is a time-honored way to appreciate the simplicity of life and the joy of being together. Bring alone granola bars ($1 each) as a snack when stopping to rest and admire the views.

VOLUNTEERING: FREE

Spending the day working in the service of others will make you feel good and also proud to be with a kind-hearted partner. There are plenty of animal shelters that welcome volunteers to help care for and play with the animals. There are also opportunities for environmental cleanup and landscaping volunteers. Check local websites.

STARGAZING: FREE

On a warm night there's nothing better than curling up with your sweetie under the stars. This is a surefire romantic date that requires little more than a blanket and plenty of energy for smooching.

MOVIE + POPCORN AT HOME: $5

These days you can rent nearly any movie on demand. Amazon alone offers tens of thousands of movies in HD for just $3.99. Pop a big bowl of corn ($1) and curl up on the couch for a cheap and low-key movie night.

BEACH OR LAKE: FREE

Chances are you live near some body of water, be it an ocean, a lake, a pond, or even a man-made swimming hole. An afternoon spent by the water offers tranquility, people-watching, and quiet time in each other's company. Bring a few pieces of stale bread to feed the birds.

FLEA MARKET: FREE

Browsing and picking your way through a flea market can reveal a lot about someone's character and tastes. It's easy to have fun scoping out oddities, antiques, and household goods even if you don't buy anything. You can usually find a trinket for a dollar or two to take home as a souvenir, especially if you're good at haggling.

GAME NIGHT: FREE

If you're really low on cash and still hankering for a night of fun, pull out the board games and cards. Checkers, chess, and poker provide hours of free entertainment. Turn up the heat by adding the "strip" component to the games.