12 Fun and Cheap Date Ideas for College Students

couple with boots standing by each other
January 2, 2020

Going on dates as a college student doesn't have to be expensive. Check out these 12 great date ideas for college students that won't break the bank!

When you think about date ideas, one of the first things that probably pops into your head is an expensive dinner and a movie. Dinner and a movie can easily cost $40 or more for you and your date.

That’s pretty expensive, especially if you’re eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches the rest of the month!

Let's face it, college students are poor.  As a college student myself, I know firsthand that going to a movie theater or going out to eat should be a rare event. I just don't have that kind of money. And neither do most of my friends.

But the good news is that you don’t need to spend a fortune to take someone on a date and have a good time.

Instead, here are 12 fun and cheap date ideas perfect for a college student's budget.

1) Go for a Hike

Who says the best dates can't be free? Going for a hike is a fantastic date idea. You get to enjoy the great outdoors while getting to know your date better.

Not sure if there are any good hiking spots around where you live? Find a local hiking spot near you at All Trails. Most importantly, don’t forget snacks and the sunscreen.

2) Go for a Walk Around Campus or Town

After a long day of classes and studying, chances are you don't want to prep a lot of stuff for a date. No big deal, because you can just head for an evening stroll around town or your college campus.

Going on walks is one of my favorite dates and you get to actually know the person a lot better. If you take a blanket and find a nice patch of grass, then you can sit and watch the sunset.

3) Board Game Night

Everyone loves board games. There are tons of different types of board games depending on what you like. Get a few friends together and play some games and have popcorn or ice cream (or popcorn flavored ice cream :)).

Not sure what board games to play? Jenga, Machi Koro, and Apples to Apples are my all-time favorite board games.

4) Go to a Garage Sale

You never know what to expect at a garage sale. One man's trash is another man's treasure (sometimes). Take $5 and make it a game to see how much cool stuff you can buy. You never know what you might find.

Look for signs around your neighborhood or go to Craig's List and look for listed garage sales.

5) Go on a Picnic

Packing a lunch and going on a picnic is a classic date idea. For less than $10 you can buy ingredients for sandwiches and make a great picnic for the two of you. Combine your picnic with a hike and you’ll have an awesome date planned out.

6) Watch a Movie at Home

Movie theaters are outrageously expensive. 2 movie tickets, popcorn, and sodas can easily run $25 or more! Forget that.

Spend a couple dollars on microwave popcorn and a 2-liter of pop and watch a movie at home instead. As long as you have a tv or computer you can watch almost anything. Not sure what to watch? You've Got Mail and 10 Things I Hate About You are classics.

7) Thrift Store Photo Shoot

Is there a thrift store in your town? If so head on over and have a sweet photo shoot. Find the most ridiculous things you can and see who can get the best pic. It's a great date idea and you'll have the pictures (whether you want them or not) for some great memories.

8) Go Stargazing

Stargazing is free and another of my favorite dates. Take a blanket or two in case it gets cold and watch the stars pass by.

If the moon is out it might be a bit difficult to see the stars but the moon has feelings too, right? Sometimes having binoculars or hot cocoa can be quite handy (and tasty).

There are also some awesome stargazing apps that you can download on your phone. You can use the app to see the names of the stars and planets that you’re looking at in real-time.

9) Go to a Football or Basketball Game

If you are in college chances are there are sports teams at your college. If your college doesn’t have any sports teams, then I’m sure a high school nearby does!

And chances are that as a student, you can get into those sporting events for free (or very cheaply). Have the best of both worlds and take your date to a sporting event. Don't forget the face paint!

10) Make Dinner

Everybody loves food. However, it is pretty darn expensive to go out to eat when you work a minimum wage job and are in college (unless you prefer McDonald's). Take your date to the grocery store instead on a small budget.

Pick out what you will make for dinner and then head home and cook it. Have a themed dinner or make anything that suits your fancy. Home-made pizza is never a letdown and it’s super fun to make.

11) Study Together

Studying together can be very productive or not at all depending on the couple. If you believe that it could be distracting to study with a certain someone then maybe this isn't such a great idea. Try it out and see how it works out for you.

12) Go Shooting

Going shooting with your date has a couple of strings attached. If you don't already have a gun I would suggest asking a buddy if they have one you can borrow. Keep in mind that ammo can be around $10 to $20 depending, but aside from that, shooting is a fantastic date that is not too terribly expensive. Be sure to be safe and have the right ear protection.

Feel free to combine any of the above date ideas to suit your fancy. I’ve found that the best dates are usually the cheapest dates. You can just talk with your date without any social pressure or anxiety involved instead of being somewhere fancy.

What’s your favorite date you’ve ever been on? Share in the comments below!

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