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17 Free Summer Date Ideas (for Sizzlin’ Summer Nights!)

What can you do for a date with no money? Get things sizzlin’ with these free summer date ideas for you and your special someone.

Cue the music, “summer lovin’, had me a blast…”

couple smiling on park picnic in the evening, text overlay "free summer date ideas for couples"

It’s summer, and I want all couples to come out of this season with some awesome memories to grow from.

Despite if you have little kids like we do, and you’re starved for time.

Despite if you don’t have a sitter.

Despite being broke.

Let’s get those “summer days drifting away to, oh, oh, the summer nights” with these fun, fabulous, and FREE, summer date ideas.

Free Summer Date Ideas – At Home

After our son was born, we had quite the date-night drought. We weren’t ready to find a sitter, and we felt too exhausted to make the effort, anyway.

We finally decided – exhausted or not – to do something about it by committing to taking turns planning a weekly date night at home.

These at-home date nights lasted about 1.5 years.

SO, you could say I’m a bit of an at-home date night in expert at this point!

And one of the most important things I learned about dating your spouse or partner at home?

The key to making date nights at home feel special and like a “real” date night is setting your intention. 

If you set the intention that you’re going on a real date with your spouse or partner, then things will feel differently. Like, by a lot.

With that in mind, pick out a free summer date idea below, put your heart and energy into prepping for it, and you’ll be amazed at how much closer the two of you will feel during and after it.

Then, rinse and repeat!

1. Cupcake Fondue Dessert on the Back Porch

I recently learned about cupcake fondue and could not wait to try it out with my own husband.

You likely already have the ingredients you need. Just fire up your fondue pot outside, or finagle a fondue pot by heating up a pot on the stovetop with your ingredients, then setting it outside on a trivet (and reheat as necessary).

Gather some small bowls and something to skewer your mini cupcakes.

What a wonderful way to watch the sun go down after dinner (when the kiddos are in bed!).

Pssst: if you don’t want to use a fondue pot or the stovetop, just use ready-made frosting in small bowls.

2. Fantasy Post-It Notes Game

Got some Post-it notes?

Play a fun round of what I like to call Fantasy Post-It Notes. Each of you writes down several fantasies you’ve had for your relationship, your partner, etc., without showing the other person.

Give your pile to each other, facedown. For each round of play, both of you stick one of the notes on your head and ask your partner a question to try and guess what their fantasy is. Take turns asking questions until you guess what their fantasy is!

This is quite revealing! You’ll likely learn things about each other that you didn’t know, and you’ll almost certainly set yourselves up for a unique night together.

3. Glow Stick Dinner Date in the Dark

Did you know that eating dinner in the dark is a newish restaurant trend?

You can recreate your own version of this at home with some glow sticks!

Heat things up (and keep them interesting) by cooking a late dinner, then eating it in the dark using only glow sticks (like glow stick bracelets and necklaces – you can score these at the dollar store if you can’t snatch some away from your 5-year-old).

4. “You Remind Me of”…Couple’s Google Image Game

One of the most revealing date nights my husband and I had at home was picking out things that reminded us of each other, and then attempting to explain why.

Like, we went from snort-laughing to borderline tearing up with these explanations.

Each take turns searching for the one thing from each category below that reminds you of your spouse or partner (and then explain why):

  • Crazy Jungle Fish Species
  • Wildflowers
  • Nail designs
  • Birds of paradise mating display
  • Gemstone

Hint: a google search result will default to “all”, so click on “images” at the top to head to the image-only results.

Usually, I’m ALL about putting the phones away during date night. But this date night is just soooooo fun, it’s totally worth keeping them out.

5. Reset with a Couple’s Word of the Year

Have you ever heard of coming up with one word for your entire year, sort of as a theme and guiding light?

I do this in my business, and I think it’s a wonderful way to focus my energies.

I challenge the two of you to do this for your couplehood! Reset your year (there’s still half of it left!) by discussing what your couple’s word of the rest-of-the year should be.

6. Laundry Line Mural Painting Session

Do you have a laundry line in your backyard?

Throw an old sheet over it to use as a canvas to create a mural.

You can:

  • Use Kool-Aid mix in a water gun to create it
  • Use regular paints you already have
  • Make a splatter mural with paintbrushes and regular paint
  • Anchor the bottom part of the sheet into the ground (you can use something like tent spikes to do this), put on some garbage bags, and spray paint around the outside of each other to make a cool outline painting
  • Etc.

7. DIY Mini S’Mores Fire Pit

You likely have the materials you need to make a mini fire pit out of a terracotta flower pot (you know, the one that’s been sitting in your garage for several years – at least there were several in ours!).

Use this to create a cute, little area out back. Even if your area is only a few feet on a balcony!

8. Roast Corn on the Cob Over an Open Fire, with a Seasonings Station

Elote is a Mexican corn-on-the-cob dish that takes regular ol’ corn up a notch.

In fact, you can create a whole date night around this by roasting corn on the cob together over a fire and then setting up a seasonings/fixin’s station on a table where you guys can make your own version.

Hint: don’t have a grill plate to put over an open fire? Then you can just put the corn on roasting sticks and be the roaster.

Psst: got a little money to spend on date night? Here's 15 fun summer activities for couples.

9. Plastic Bottle Bowling Alley Play

Got some pool noodles? DIY a bowling alley in your backyard with a beach ball (or, really, whatever ball you’ve got), some plastic bottles, and pool noodles (skip if you don’t have one).

Challenge your partner to a game of bowling, al fresco.

10. Play a Round of Outdoor Twister

Do you have some spray paint (four different colors)? Then you can make an outdoor version of the fun game, Twister.

This also uses color and body-part cards instead of a spinner – so it’s very easy to set up. 

Psst: you might think this idea is super-silly and you’re too old for these things. But you know what? My husband and I also learned that sometimes being really silly together brings us really close. If nothing else, then it certainly shakes up the same ol’ routine!

Next up – free summer date ideas out on the town. They do exist!

Free Summer Date Ideas – Out on the Town

Did you know that no-money date night ideas don’t have to take place at your house?

Picture you and your loved one out and about together on one of these free summer date ideas out on the town.

Hint: you'll also want to check out these Dollar Store date ideas, bookstore date ideas, and cheap picnic date ideas.

1. Volunteer at the Local Fair Together

Seriously – this can be so. much. fun.

Not only that but having to help each other through things and naturally create inside jokes from dealing with situations and people together? Is kinda a really great way to get closer. 

Think about volunteering in:

  • The food stand
  • The ice-cream truck
  • Sit on the judging panel for a competition
  • The sign-up area
  • Selling tickets for rides
  • Etc.

2. Hike to Watch a Beautiful Sunset

Time a hike up a hill, mountain, or trail, where you’ll end up in the perfect location to watch the sunset unfold.

Good for the soul…and for the kisses.

3. Walk Around an Outdoor Flea Market

In PA, my husband and I have roamed several free flea markets outdoors (like Root’s Old Mill Flea Market). And here in Texas? We found a cool Tex-Mex outdoor market to satisfy our curiosity about a different culture.

What outdoor flea markets are in your area?

4. Go Fishing on Free Fishing Day

Did you know that most states have at least one free fishing day a year (where you don’t need a license)?

Check out your state’s free fishing day, and either borrow some equipment, use the ones you’ve got…or play Go Fish near a pond and watch everyone else.

5. Dollar Store Date Night Spree

I know I said free…but do you have $6? That’s all this fun date takes.

Use the free printables and the two of you can beat the summer sun by heading into your nearest Dollar Store and spending $3.00 on each other (in very specific ways).

Psst: I am seriously curious about what my husband would pick out for me, so I’m adding this one to our summer date ideas list! Here are 8 more Dollar Store date ideas.

6. Make Ice Cream in a Bag While Waiting for the Fireworks to Start

Find a free firework display in your area, and get there early to grab your seats (foldable chairs are a great idea or a blanket).

Then, while waiting, catch up with one another and each makes ice cream in a bag.

Bring ice-cream toppings you can sprinkle on top when it’s all done (only takes about 7-10 minutes of vigorous shaking!).

7. Walk into Your Nearest Visitor’s Center

Every time I walk into a visitor’s center – whether it’s while on a trip, or the next town over – I learn something.

Head into your local visitor’s center, and ask them for ideas and suggestions for free things to do together. You’ll be surprised by what you might learn.

Not only that but most of them are plastered with pamphlets geared towards tourists – you could find that next coolest thing to do together that you never knew about before.

8. Free Museum Day Scavenger Hunt

Most museums have a free museum day sometime during the year. Plus, they have air conditioning – which can be very nice on a hot summer day.

Sit down and make a list of things to look for. Then, compete against each other to complete the list (meet back at a certain time, at “x” location, to see who won).

For each thing found, take a picture of it (if photos are allowed!).

For example, go to the art museum on free museum day, and make a list including things like:

  • A painting with sadness
  • A painting that reminds me of you
  • A painting that has a crack in it
  • A painting from the 1500s
  • A painting with an angel in it
  • Etc.

It’ll be fun to see what each of you picked out on your travels through the gallery!

I hope the two of you have as much fun on your free summer date night with these ideas as I had putting this all together! Do tell in the comments below…

Psst: check out tons more date night ideas!

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Amanda L Grossman

Personal Finance Writer and CEO at Frugal Confessions, LLC
Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 13 years, her money work has helped people with how to save money and how to manage money. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Real Simple Magazine, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here or on LinkedIn.