Tuesday, May 26, 2015

25 Cheap Date Ideas without Seeming Cheap

For us our favorite dates or best memories are often made on dates that are free or really cheap. When I think back to when we started dating I think of  the time we flew a kite in the field behind my parents’ house, sitting on a blanket while John played guitar for me, walks in the woods, riding the quads/ranger, looking at the stars while drinking hot chocolate, and reading a book together at a bookstore.



I don’t think of the gifts he bought me or the expensive things he did for me. But that is because what means the most to me is quality time and lucky for John quality time is usually free!


Remember the purpose of dating is to get to know the person you are dating to figure out if they are someone you would like to marry. So think of dates that will allow you to get to know them better and see them in different situations.


Group events and involving family is always a good idea because when you marry someone (whether you like it not) you are also marrying their family and friends because they will not magically disappear once you get are married. Yes, once you get married your main relationship and commitment will be your spouse but learning ahead of time if you can handle their “baggage” is a good idea!


Anyway, back to the point...


If you're struggle thinking of date ideas that don’t involve paying at least $20 for dinner and $20 for a movie keep reading for 25 cheap date ideas without looking cheap.


*Disclaimer: I am using her/she but please realize that it can be exchanged with him/he*


  1. Bike the White Pine trail: Park at the parking lot next to 5/3rd ballpark(4385 West River Rd NE Comstock Park, MI 49321) and bike North into Rockford for ice cream.
  2. Shop at Horrocks- try the free samples of beer, wine, or root beer in their tap room area. Then you can buy a pint and scroll through the store. If you want you could buy ingredients to take home and make a meal together. Then get some free coffee from their coffee shop area and sit down to talk, play games, or read a book together.
  3. Surprise her with a stay in movie night with her favorite movie or a movie of her choice (like the chick flick or documentary she has been dying to see but no one will watch it with her) and snacks. You can keep the price down by making your own popcorn and using large bags of candy instead of personal sizes. Make it extra special by drizzling your popcorn with chocolate, peanut butter, or caramel (I have been meaning to try this!).
  4. Go to Goodwill and each spend $5 to find a gift or something to use to make into a gift for her
  5. Take her to a movie matinee at a second showing theater for cheap! For those in the Grand Rapids area the Woodland Mall has showings for $5.
  6. Pack a picnic and take her to a beautiful setting such as a park, beach, or a place that is special to her.
  7. Go to free outdoor events such as parades, Tulip Time in Holland, Artprize in Grand Rapids, concerts or music in the park, festivals, etc.
  8. Volunteer to babysit your family/friend’s kids for them so they can go on a date. You can have fun building forts, dressing up dolls, and playing games while seeing how your potential future husband/wife interacts with kids.
  9. Surprise her with a fancy candle lit dinner instead of taking her out to a restaurant.
  10. Watch the Musical Fountain in Grand Haven. Bring camp chairs, a blanket, or plan to sit in the bleachers to watch the water fountains gush to the beat of music. Come early and get ice cream and walk the pier. The fountain is located at 515 Woodlawn Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417 and has performances daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
  11. Use a groupon deal to go wine tasting, Paint Nite for two, bowling, boat cruise, etc.
  12. Bake her her favorite dessert and customize it with a message.
  13. Go to the library or book store and each pick out a book then sit down and take turns reading. Make it extra special by choosing a couples’ devotional, spiritually themed, or relationship self help.
  14. Go to a Whitecaps Baseball Game: Keep it cheap by buying lawn seats for $7/person but keep it romantic by bringing a blanket to share (or bring camp chairs to be more comfortable). Also keep the price down by eating dinner before arriving and bring snacks and/or dessert to enjoy during the game (there may be rules against bringing outside food but I couldn’t find anything about it on their website so I would recommend keeping it discreet just in case. But if you want to have the true baseball game experience go ahead and buy some beer (the craft beers are actually reasonably priced), cracker jack's, hot dog, or popcorn! Or have some fun and try some of their famous unique food creations: Beer-a-Misu ( scoop of tiramisu gelato and top it off with local Michigan craft beers),  Cotton Candy Curveball (Twinkie covered in cotton candy),  Picnic On-A-Stick (fried chicken, tater tots, and pickles deep fried in cornbread batter) or click here to see more of their crazy unhealthy food creations! For more information here  is their schedule and list of ticket prices.
  15. Free Movies in the park:
Movies are shown at Ah-Nab-Awen Park
Pre-show activities begin at 7pm, and the films start at dusk.
Costumes are encouraged. Prizes will be awarded to the best dressed attendees. Alcohol is allowed if you bring your own drinks and picture ID.
Bring a picnic, popcorn, snacks, etc. ( If you forget food at home, vendors will have snacks for purchase)
Bring a blanket or chairs to sit on.
June 5th: E.T.
June 19th: Dazed and confused
July 10th: Dirty Dancing
July 24th: Hook
August 7th: the Matrix
Movies are shown at John Collins Park next to Reeds Lake.
Movies are shown on an inflatable screen at dusk.
Come early for the best seat and bring your lawn chair or blanket.
June 19
July 17
August 21
September 18
Rain Date:  August 28


  1. Stroll up and down a farmers market. Again it would be fun to pick out a recipe ahead of time and shop for the ingredients then make dinner together. Make it extra special by making dinner for your parents or grandparents and have it a double date.
Hours: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8 am- 3 pm (Open the first Saturday of May through the last Saturday before Christmas). Saturdays from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm (January through April).
100 E Main St
Middleville, MI 49333
Hours: Thursdays, 9 am-2 pm (Open May 7 – October 8)
5900 Byron Center Avenue SW
Wyoming, Michigan
Hours: Mondays,  2pm-6 pm (Open May 11 – October 12)
Alksnis Athletic & Recreation Building
Service Drive between Fulton and Mayfield Lots
1580 Fulton Street
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Hours: Saturdays, 9am-2pm (Starting May 23)
Click here for a comprehensive list of Farmers Markets in the Greater Grand Rapids, MI with hours of operation and addresses.


16. Look at the stars: Grab a  blanket or some camp chairs and find a clearing outside (backyard, park, etc) and look at the stars. Step it up a notch by bringing hot chocolate in a thermos.


17. Go to the Local Epicurean! We love this store/cafe! It has an amazing atmosphere, they have delicious handmade pasta and fresh cheese for sale, you can take a pasta, gelato, or truffle making class. If you want to take a class make sure to buy it on Groupon because otherwise it is quite expensive. We also love to buy their chocolate lunch on groupon for $20. You get a chocolate truffle espresso, a platter of chocolate themed items like covered strawberries, chocolate cheese,  etc and they finished you off with chocolate cheesecake or chocolate gelato. It is amazing and totally worth the $20 groupon deal!


18. Play board games! If this seems too simple and not enough like a date then pick a couple of games and meet her at a coffee shop, bakery, park, beach, campground, etc. The possibilities are endless.


19. Walk the beach...in the winter: This past winter I loved seeing the pictures of people walking the beach when the lighthouses were covered in ice and snow. It was gorgeous! So we mentally added this to our date ideas.


20. Search for weekly events in your city. For those in Grand Rapids go Grnow.com and search the dates you are needing ideas. (Thanks Courtney for the suggestion!)


21. Go to a local gym and workout together. Take turns spotting each other on the weights, run laps, shoot some hoops, play tennis OR take a fun class together like kickboxing, self defense, deep water aerobics, etc! Again, the possibilities are endless!


22. Volunteer at a charity event such as wrapping Christmas presents for donations at the mall for The American Red Cross (I used to do this when I was in middle school!). There are always organizations and events looking for volunteers. When John and I were dating we volunteered at our local state park with their winter snowshoeing carnival event running the little kid games.


23. Go to a drive in movie theater. The Getty Drive-In (920 E Summit Ave
Muskegon, MI 49444 (231) 798-2608) has Bargain Night every Tuesday for $6/person for two movies!


24. Go blueberry, strawberry, (any fruit really) picking and then bake a pie or dessert together. Step it up a notch and make homemade ice cream as well! Make it a charitable event and take the pie over to your grandma and elderly neighbor  and spend some time with them.


25. Go to a nursing home and ask the nurses what residents are lonely or who never get visits and sit down and talk to them. Ask them their life story or ask if they have any advice they would like to give.

Ok, so the ideas keep coming to me so I hope you don't mind a couple of extras!

26. Ice Skating, Swing Dancing, or concerts at Rosa Parks Circle (100 ​ Monroe Center
Grand Rapids, MI 49508). Outdoor ice skating is open December-March and only costs $2/person with skate rental! Every Tuesday in the summer (April- October) there is FREE swing dancing with live music from 7-9pm. Don't know how to swing dance? Don't worry they start with a free lesson from 7-7:30pm. Or attend free concerts like the GRandJazz Fest

27. Go for a walk in the woods and forage for food! Look for edible plants such as morel mushrooms, wild leeks,  burdock root, rhubarb, asparagus (yes, you can find the most delicious asparagus in road side ditches, proven to me by my awesome co worker, Barb, who brought me two bags full!), etc. 

28. Pretend to be kids again and play video games like Mario cart, Smashbrothers, or Pong. 

Coming soon Restaurants to Try...

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List of Farmers Markets in Greater Grand Rapids

Hours: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8 am- 3 pm (Open the first Saturday of May through the last Saturday before Christmas). Saturdays from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm (January through April).
100 E Main St
Middleville, MI 49333


Hours: Thursdays, 9 am-2 pm (Open May 7 – October 8)
5900 Byron Center Avenue SW
Wyoming, Michigan


Hours: Mondays,  2pm-6 pm (Open May 11 – October 12)
Alksnis Athletic & Recreation Building
Service Drive between Fulton and Mayfield Lots
1580 Fulton Street
Grand Rapids, Michigan


Hours: Saturdays, 9am-2pm (Starting May 23)


Hours: Thursdays, noon-6pm (June 4th-October 29) Held in front of the
Frontline Church
4411 Plainfield Avenue NE (corner of 5 Mile Road and Plainfield Avenue)


6. Southeast Area Farmers' Market - Ford

Hours: Saturdays 11am-3pm (June 20 through November 8). Held at G R Ford
Academic Center
851 Madison Ave SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49507


7. Southeast Area Farmers' Market - Garfield

Hours: Fridays, 3pm-7pm (June 20 through November 8). Held at Garfield Park.
334 Burton St. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506


8. Grandville Farmers Market

Hours: Tuesdays, 8am-1pm (June - mid October). Held in the heart of Downtown
Grandville, in the parking lot next to the library.
4055 Maple Street SW
Grandville, MI 49418


9. Ada Farmers' Market

Hours: Tuesdays, noon-6pm (June through September)
7239 Thornapple River Drive
Ada, MI 49331

10. Byron Farmers Market

Hours: Saturdays 8am-1pm (May-October) held at Pathway Church
8350 Byron Center Ave. SW
Byron Center, MI 49315


11. Hudsonville Farmers Market

Hours: Wednesdays, 8am-2pm (June - October) Located in front of the Farmers  Co-Op
Hudsonville store.
3302 Prospect Street
Hudsonville, MI 49426

12. Allendale Farmers Market

Hours: Tuesdays & Fridays, 11am-4pm. (The third Tuesday in June - October).
Held in the Heritage Towne Square Plaza Parking Lot.
6101 Lake Michigan Dr. (M-45)
Allendale, MI 49401


13. Sparta Farmers Market

Hours: Wednesday 3- 7 pm (June - September)
72 North Union
Sparta, MI 49345


14. Grand Valley State University Farmers' Market

Hours: Wednesdays, 10:00am-1:30pm (June-September). Held on Allendale
Campus
1 Campus Dr.
140 LMH
Allendale, MI 49401


15. Lowell Area Farmers' Market

Hours: Thursdays 11am-3pm (June 13 - September 12)
2111 W Main St
Lowell, MI 49331


16. Middleville's Farmers Market

Hours: Friday, 8am-1pm (May 1st-October 16th) and Wednesdays, 4pm-8pm
(June 4th-August 27th)
100 E Main St
Middleville, MI 49333