If your last series of date nights featured sweatpants and powering through the DVR queue, it’s probably time to switch things up (though we’re all for lazy evenings in once in a while). While shared rituals—such as splitting the penne at your favorite Italian joint every Friday—can be a fun tradition, research shows relationships need novelty too.
Keeping things fresh can increase relationship satisfaction and bring back those “butterflies” that we’ve all had on the first few dates, at the same time flooding the brain with feel-good dopamine
The best part is you don’t have to look too far (or dig too deep in the wallet) to find fun and affordable date ideas. We’ve put together a list of 30 suggestions under $30 that are guaranteed to pump up the fun and romance in your life.
2. Go apple picking.
When the season’s right, hit up a local apple orchard to pick a bundle of the antioxidant-rich fall superfood. There’s something refreshing about spending time outdoors and picking your own locally-sourced produce. Plus, the loot is perfect for snacking, adding to a parfait, or whipping up healthy treats together (gluten-free apple crisp, anyone?).
3. Plan a disposable camera day.
Instead of Instagramming, give the smartphone a break and purchase a disposable camera. It’s the perfect way to unplug while still capturing fun and memorable moments. The ambitious and craft-savvy among us can even turn the pics into a scrapbook to give as a holiday or anniversary present.
4. Visit a farmers’ market.
Scout out seasonal produce, take advantage of the freshest ingredients, support local businesses, and get to know exactly where your food is coming from. Arrive early for dibs on the biggest selection, or come by an hour before close to get the best deals. When you get home, whip up some healthy snacks or a romantic meal for two.
Cost: $ – $$$
5. Head to a flea market.
Scoping out the various for-sale goods can be the perfect way to score super cheap (and needed) clothes and home décor. If anything, it’s a surefire way to get some endorphin-boosting laughs at the sight of what others are trying to pawn off… anyone need a mannequin?
Cost: 0 – $$$
Break a Sweat
6. Go kayaking.
Spend the day paddling away on the nearest river or lake. Many parks offer cheap day rentals, so it’s easy to relax on the water, enjoy beautiful sights, and burn some calories.
Cost: $$ – $$$
7. Train for a race together.
Hitting the pavement to train for a race, whether it’s a fun 5K Color Run or a challenging marathon, can bring the two of you closer and help you both hold yourselves accountable for training days. Plus, a shared sweat sesh can help you get lucky in the sheets: One survey found couples that run together get it on more too.
8. Use a bike share program.
The idea started in—where else?—Portland, Oregon. But now many cities have rolled out similar programs that allow folks to cruise around on rented two-wheelers on the cheap. Grab some cruisers and explore the local scene for a few hours.
9. Take a hike.
A day trip to the trails is a great way to enjoy beautiful landscapes, chat, and sneak in some exercise while you’re at it. Plus, a couple hours in nature can boost creativity and reduce cortisol levels. And there’s no need to seek out mountains—just a walk in the park, surrounded by greenery, has been shown to have similar health perks.