No Money, No Problem: Kickass First Date Ideas Under $50

Picking the location of a first date can be a stressful decision: there are so many things to consider! You don’t want to do something boring, awkward, or predictable, like dinner and movie. You also have to make sure the place is not too loud, and not too quiet (in case you find the two of you have little to nothing to talk about). You want to have a memorable experience, but you don’t want to break the bank – especially since it’s just the first date.

Not to worry – while we can’t help you with conversation (better practice in front of the mirror!), we’ve compiled some out-of-the-ordinary date places that make for a great time AND cost less than fifty bucks.

Austin's Blue Starlite Drive-In

Take Dinner and a Movie to the Next Level

Choose the retro route and head to a drive-in movie. You get two flicks for the price of one, since most theaters (like Blue Starlite in Austin, Texas and West Wind, with locations in the Bay Area, Sacramento, Arizona, Reno, and Las Vegas) have back-to-back movies which you can enjoy from the privacy of your car. It’s pretty simple – B.Y.O. snacks, drinks, and blankets; arrive early; and make yourselves comfortable. Some theaters even provide pre-show entertainment, like Atlanta’s Starlight Drive-In, which is known for tailgating fans before (and between!) movies. Others, like Ford Drive-In, will keep you out far past curfew, with show times at 2 AM.

Blading on the Venice Beach Boardwalk

Roller Blade Like It’s the 90’s

We’re not sure if rollerblading ever really went away, but bringing it back could be a very fun first date. Rent a pair of skates for the whole day to see your city in a new light. You can assess your date’s athleticism just as much as their sense of humor as you roll over potholes and through throngs of tourists, and fall on your butts…because that will more than likely happen. The best part about this idea is its flexibility – if things are going well, turn it into a blading bar crawl from Venice Beach to Santa Monica. If the chemistry isn’t there, you can always feign an injury and turn back at any time.

First Friday in Oakland

Treat Yourselves to a Five-Course Dinner

Only here’s the twist – each course is from a different food truck! Food Truck Friday (or Thursday, or Saturday, etc.) events have become popular in cities across the country, drawing hoards of hungry hipsters to locations like the Oakland Museum of California, Abbott Kinney Boulevard in Venice Beach, or to Tower Grove Park in St. Louis. Food Truck Fridays are the perfect way to please even the pickiest of dates, since you’ll have to compromise when ordering shared plates. By taking advantage of “tapas style” meals, you can afford to try dishes from around the globe – even super outlandish ones! If you’re in St. Louis, you may hop from Korea (Seoul Taco) to the Philippines (Guerrilla Street Food), and then fly to Europe to visit Italy (Russo’s Trucktoria and Zia’s Italian) and Greece (Go Gyro Go) without leaving Tower Park! Between all the people-watching and globetrotting, you’ll have more than enough to chat about. This date will keep going for as long as you can keep eating! Check out where food trucks are near you at

Charleston's Haunted Jail Tour

Go Down to Spookytown

Get scared, get close! Studies show that participating in any kind of intense or thrilling activity releases dopamine, a chemical that creates a mutual feeling of vulnerability, boosts arousal, and forms emotional bonds. Try going on a spooky tour, like Charleston’s Haunted Jail Tour or Seattle’s Ghost Tours, led by real ghost hunters! This is a huge upgrade from watching a scary movie in your parents’ basement, and tickets are generally under 20 bucks.

Mazed and confused

Mazed and Confused

Get lost together…literally lost. A first date like this means you’ll have to work together to problem solve and escape the maze. And once you hopefully escape, it’s up to you to decide how you should celebrate! While mazes are typically easier to come by in autumn, this handy labyrinth locator helps you find them all year long. If you’re lucky enough to go on a date in Hawaii, check out this epic pineapple maze at the Dole Plantation. Combine this with dinner, and you’ve had a full night (or day) of laughs (and possibly a little confusion).

Brennan's Pub

Go to the (Turtle) Races

Horse races are stuffy and expensive, so opt for a turtle race instead! Make a friendly wager at Big Joe’s in Chicago, with turtle races every Friday at 9 PM. If you’re not in the Windy City, catch turtle races every Thursday night at Brennan’s Pub in Los Angeles, or at Midtown Bar in Houston. No matter where you go, these bars give a whole new meaning to the term “pub crawl.” You’ll bond with the turtles just as much as each other–winner picks the next date spot!

Square dancing

Get Tied Up With a Little Bit of Tango

Actions speak louder than words, especially on the dance floor. Anyone can try this date, no matter your skill level – the worse you dance, the more conversation starters you’ll have! If you’re in Jacksonville, maybe take classic ballroom or swing lessons at The Dance Shack. Or think outside the box – studios like The Dance Complex in Boston offer drop-in classes for breakdancing, African dance, tango, pointe ballet, Iranian dance, funk, belly dancing, and more. Dance lessons are a fantastic way to gain insight into a partner’s sense of humor, music taste, and bedroom skills.

Flash mob!

Get Famous or Die Trying in a Flash Mob!

Spontaneity at its finest, a flash mob will make you feel young and free. Bond and become a part of something bigger on a date you’re sure to remember forever. Check out this site to find out when the next flash mob is happening near you–we promise the mob’s adrenaline will eliminate any awkwardness, and maybe you’ll pick up a new dance routine.


Now keep your cool and have fun!

– Roaming Hunger