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.
1. Act like a tourist
When you’ve lived in one place for a while, it’s easy to forget all the attractions that lure people there in the first place. Dedicate an afternoon to checking out landmarks, parks, and other attractions you’ve never seen. You’ll gain a fresh perspective and new appreciation for what makes your hometown great.
Cost: $ – $$$
2. Visit a farmers’ market
Scout out seasonal produce, take advantage of the freshest ingredients, support local businesses, and get to know exactly where your food is coming from. Arrive early for dibs on the biggest selection, or come by an hour before close to get the best deals. When you get home, whip up some healthy snacks or a romantic meal for two.
Cost: $ – $$$
3. 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 surveyfound couples that run together get it on more too.
4. Hold a healthier cookie bakeoff
Fresh out of the oven, dipped in milk, or crumbled on top of ice cream, cookies are the ultimate comfort dessert. Challenge each other to whip up healthier versions of this treat—try making ‘emvegan or throwing in a superfood like avocado (we promise, they’re delish!).
5. Volunteer together
Dedicate a day to helping others, whether it’s serving meals at the local food pantry, hanging out with senior citizens, or cleaning up a nearby park. Getting involved for a cause not only benefits the community; it’s a scientifically proven way to score a majorhappiness boost .
6. Attend a book reading
Local bars and coffee shops host readings that showcase novels, short stories, biographies, and poetry. Upcoming works may even feature the author in a lecture or Q&A afterwards. Bonus points if you stumble upon a work of literary fiction—research shows that reading them can actually help improve social skills.
7. 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: $$ – $$$