Just in time for Valentine's Day, we've put together our 20 best cheap date ideas for winter. Money can be especially tight this time of year thanks to all the holiday spending we did back in December. So if you want to celebrate love without going into debt, check out this list of simple date ideas.
Winters in Canada can be brutal, and while the calendar will show that the season is supposed to last just four months, for us it’s often closer to six! That can put a damper on things if you’re looking to go out on a date, whether it’s a first date with someone you just met on Match or with your spouse of 30 years. To help make things easier for you, here are 20 winter date ideas that won't break your budget.
20 Best Cheap Date Ideas for Winter
Everyone has their own idea about what they’re willing to spend on a date, so what is a cheap date? On our list of inexpensive date ideas, most of the suggestions you’ll find cost little to no money (two can actually earn you some money). Hopefully, you’ll find something that suits your taste and your frugal lifestyle!
1. Go to a coffee shop
Coffee talk is a great way to get to know someone new or to reminisce with someone you’ve known forever. Even better? You don’t need to wait for the second course to arrive if the date goes south and you need to bail! Want to make it more fun? Many coffee shops have board games on hand that you can play at no cost, or find a coffee shop that has poetry readings or musicians playing for some free entertainment.
2. Go ice skating
With the only expense being the skate rental and maybe a cup of cocoa, ice skating is a great date option for winter. Plus, ice skating can be a real ice-breaker, with some genuine laughs to be had if one, or both of you, fall on your backside. And, if your date doesn’t know how to skate and you’re a seasoned pro, ice skating gives you an excuse to get close and hold hands. How romantic!
3. Go to a museum or gallery
Get cultured! Most museums have free days or reduced pricing on certain days of the week, so you and your date can get inspired by impressionist art or learn about prehistoric animals without hurting your wallet. This is also a good way to find some common ground and interests with your new partner if you’re on a first date.
4. Catch a play
We’re not talking Broadway here, but a show at a local theater can be a great alternative. Many put on winter productions that cost next to nothing, and they can be just as entertaining as those found in the big city. Plus, you would be supporting your community and local artists!
5. Take winter photos
The winter landscape can be beautiful, with buildings and trees glistening like crystal in the sun. Taking a walk and taking photos is a great way to get to know your date and capture memories. Best of all, you don’t need an expensive $5000 camera, you can simply use your smartphones. There are a number of smartphone photography apps that can help you and your partner up your photo game (and make all your friends on Instagram jealous). And the best part is if you get some really great shots, you can even earn some money by selling them on Shutterstock.
6. Go dog sledding
Back in the day, dog sledding was how people got around in Northern Canada during the winter months. Nowadays it’s a great recreational activity that you can do in one afternoon. Dog sledding excursions are available in most areas that get a lot of snow, and you can check out some of the best dog sledding adventures at Culture Trip.
7. Offer to volunteer
Do you and your partner like to give back? If so, lend a helping hand to those less fortunate. There are plenty of opportunities, so pick one that interests both of you. For example, did you know that animal shelters often invite people in to play with their dogs and cats? It’s fun, free, and you're bringing a little joy to animals (what's not to love?). FYI National Volunteer Week takes place April 23-29, so check out volunteer opportunities available on their site.
8. Catch a matinee
Going to the movies these days can cost you an arm and a leg, but not if you go to a matinee show! Matinee tickets can be as cheap as $5. Even better, once the movie’s over, you still have the whole day ahead of you! (You might want to incorporate #2 and #5 on this list to your date.) A matinee is also a great double date idea, as you can split the concessions and their cost.
9. Check out the library
When was the last time you visited your local library? They’re nothing like the libraries of yesteryear, and you’ll be surprised at how much they offer. You can borrow books, magazines, e-books, music, movies and more. Many libraries also offer free classes and events such as book readings.
10. Go to a pond hockey game
Us Canadians do love our hockey, but going to professional sporting events can be pretty expensive. Instead, check out a community hockey game or catch some pond hockey games, and pack a thermos of coffee, cocoa, or soup. Pond hockey has become so popular that Plaster Rock, Brunswick even hosts a World Pond Hockey Championship every year!
11. Do yoga together
A moonlight stroll is the ultimate cheap romantic date idea, but during this time of year it can get a little frosty. Warm up by doing your stretching on a yoga mat instead! Yoga is a great activity you can do on your own or with a partner, and most cities offer free classes. Doing a quick search on sites like Evenbrite can give you a few different options.
12. Paint together
No good “date night ideas” list is complete without mentioning a Paint & Sip event. Available in most cities, this is an event where you and your date are provided a canvas, paint, paintbrushes, and some adult beverages to boot. These are usually led by an artist/teacher, who’ll bring out your inner Van Gogh. And if Paint & Sips are beyond your budget you could always pick up some supplies from an art shop or dollar store, grab an inexpensive bottle of wine and hold your own private Paint & Sip at home!
13. Go to the zoo
We tend to associate going to the zoo with the summer months, but many animals are actually more active during the cold months! Plus, many zoos have awesome indoor pavilions that might be uncomfortably hot in the summertime, but in the wintertime they can be the perfect 15-minute tropical getaway. Some zoos might even offer free zoo days during the winter because business is slower.
14. Take a brewery tour
Craft beers and microbrews are all the rage these days, so book a brewery tour and sample the many seasonal beers on tap. Many brewery tours are free, so research them online to find one near you.
15. Go ice fishing
Ice fishing is a great way to enjoy this gorgeous country of ours and be one with nature. It also gives you plenty of time to get to know your date better when the fish aren’t biting! If you're looking for an alternative date idea that won't break the bank, and you're willing to spend a little money on amenities, luxury ice fishing shacks are a growing trend. These comfy quarters offer TVs, toilets, and more. Check out this CBC story for more info.
17. Try indoor rock climbing
You can engage in some healthy competition with your date by going indoor rock climbing at a local gym. Some also offer bouldering, a type of rock climbing that doesn't require a harness. Instead, if you lose your grip and fall you'll just land on massive spongy mats. Some rock climbing gyms and bouldering facilities have free special events and competitions you can watch.
18. Have a cook-off
Need an at-home date idea? Have a cook-off in the comfort of your own home! Pick a winter dish, such as chili, and make it together. All you need to purchase are the ingredients, or you can challenge yourself to create a delicious meal only using the ingredients you already have. If you're not comfortable inviting your date to your home (just yet) there are couples’ cooking classes you can find online. It’ll cost a little bit more, but you’ll be creating a delicious dish together, not just ordering one. Try checking Groupon for local deals.
19. Go sledding, tubing, or tobogganing
Skiing can get costly, but hitting the slopes to go sledding, tubing, or tobogganing is a lot cheaper and easy for anyone to enjoy. Plus, you can make a whole day of it, as retailer Airhead explains. Wondering where the best sledding, tubing, and tobogganing destinations are in Canada? Well, then look no further! Check out this article from the Toronto Sun.
20. Earn money
Wait, what? Dates are supposed to cost money! Well, not anymore. You and your partner could sign up for some activities that actually pay money, such as mystery shopping (you could get your meal for free, on top of some bonus cash) or dog walking. Check out our blog 10 Ways to Earn Some Extra Cash for more on these.
Save Up for Dates with Our Budget Planner + Expense Tracker
There you have it, our list of the best cheap date ideas for winter. But if you want to spend some money on a night out on the town, one way to save up for this is by using our online Budget Planner + Expense Tracker.
With this free tool, you just plug in some numbers, do some tracking, and the tool does the rest for you, telling you how much money you have left over for entertainment, and yes, more dates. In time, you’ll see where you can begin making some budget cuts in order to be able to afford the occasional big night out. You can learn more about the Budget Planner + Expense Tracker here, and if you have any great easy date ideas or fun indoor date ideas of your own, let us know in the comments below!