10 Free Date Activities in the Great Outdoors

Head outside for tons of romantic date ideas that won't cost a penny.
Head outside for tons of romantic date ideas that won't cost a penny.
Digital Vision/Valueline/Thinkstock

Say you want to spend a little time with your girlfriend or someone you'd like to get to know a little bit better. It's a beautiful day outside, so it'd be great to hit the outdoors, right?

You're exactly right. Outdoor dates are a lot of fun because you can be active together and focus on having a good time. They're also great because they don't have to cost a lot of money. In fact, some of the best times you can have outside are free. If you're wallet's feeling a little thin, thinking up some free outdoor fun can keep the sparks in your relationship--and it helps you save some cash for when you want a fancier night out.

Don't believe it? Read on for some fun, free outdoor date ideas.



Hiking is a great way to get to know your date.
Hiking is a great way to get to know your date.
Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock

Hit the trail. Going for a walk in the woods can be a totally relaxing activity. It's just the two of you and Mother Nature, so it's the perfect opportunity to be candid with each other. Since you probably won't come across many other people, you can open up and be yourself and not have to worry about impressing anyone. She'll find it romantic and will appreciate the real you.

Hiking also doesn't have to be that involved. Take a couple of water bottles and go to your local forest preserve. Find a state park that has an extensive number of trails. Be sure to pick a trail that's at a level of difficultly you both can manage, and follow the map. While being in the woods is fun and romantic, being lost in the woods is not.


Outdoor Sports

Do you both like sports? Grab your pair of rollerskates and go for a spin.
Do you both like sports? Grab your pair of rollerskates and go for a spin.

If your girl's the athletic type, try a little one-on-one action on the court. Grab a basketball or some tennis rackets, and work up a sweat playing against each other.

Not into competitive sports? Try running, rollerblading, or skateboarding. If your town or city has a running path, it gives you the opportunity to see some scenery too, which makes the date a little more exciting. If you've got access to a skate park, you could teach each other some skateboarding tricks and work out new moves together.

Exercise may not sound like the most romantic date in the world, but it possibly is one of the best ways to build a stronger relationship. Working out is a natural mood booster because it pumps up your endorphins and makes you feel happier. When you exercise with someone, you associate that exercise high with that person, making your emotional bond stronger.


Walking the Dog

For a date, bringing along man's best friend is a no brainer.
For a date, bringing along man's best friend is a no brainer.

Let's face it: Chicks dig dogs. They love petting them, they love playing with them and they love doting on them. Showing that you're a responsible dog owner sends a woman the signal that you know how to take care of people. A woman. Her. Puppies are even better. An adorable, fluffy ball of fur is attached to an adorable owner (you). Show her how much you love your dog, and you're showing her the real you.

Put a leash on your pooch, and ask your girl to go on a nice, long walk. Because you'll have to pay some attention to your dog, that will give you something to talk about and make conversation easier between the two of you. Another benefit of walking your dog is that both of you get exercise too. Remember date idea #9? Endorphins!

To make it a little more special, take your dog to a dog park, where it can run around off-leash and play on obstacles. While the two of you play fetch with your dog, you can spend time talking with each other, which increases your intimacy levels.


Winter Activities

If you live near the beach, a cool walk near the water is just as romantic during the winter.
If you live near the beach, a cool walk near the water is just as romantic during the winter.
John Foxx/Stockbyte/Thinkstock

Just because it's cold outside doesn't mean you can't have a great outdoor date. Winter weather brings on a whole different set of fun activities that you can't do during the three other seasons of the year. This fact alone makes an outdoor winter date a little more unique and memorable, and this will mask the fact that you're not paying anything to have fun together. Besides, if she gets cold, she'll need a hug to warm up.

Right after you get a heavy snowfall, suggest building a snowman. Try to make one as big as possible--and if it escalates into a little snowball fight, that's fun too.

If there's enough snow on the ground, hit the hills for sledding or tubing. Sharing the same sled will give you an excuse to be close.

Snowshoeing is another great outdoor activity. It's a lot like hiking, which means you'll be able to enjoy the beauty of the woods without worrying about trudging through a lot of snow.

Need another winter idea? Go ice-skating. Even if neither of you is a strong skater, ice-skating is still a fun date activity because you can develop a bond by supporting each other as you try not to fall on the ice.


Hanging Out at the Park

Visiting the park is a classic date activity.
Visiting the park is a classic date activity.

Think hanging out at the park doesn't sound like a real date? Nonsense! Parks have infinite possibilities when it comes for things to do.

Walking around a park is a simple activity, but for a date you might want to be a little more creative. Act like kids and hit the playground. Swings are great for dates early in a relationship because you can be next to each other, but the swing gives you a little breathing space. Sit and talk, or have a swinging contest.

Because a lot of parks have open space, they're great for lawn games. Throw a Frisbee back and forth or play bocce ball. Set up the world's largest croquet course. You'll get that little competitive spirit and energy flowing.

Kite flying is another ideal park activity. Getting a kite to fly really high can be a challenge, and it's fun when you can conquer that challenge together.

Looking to be a little more romantic? Raid your fridge and pack a picnic. Food tastes better when you're eating outside, and a picnic creates a truly intimate atmosphere.



If one of you has a GPS, geocaching can give you some high tech fun.
If one of you has a GPS, geocaching can give you some high tech fun.

Maybe you think that a walk or hike is a little too boring because you're just wandering aimlessly. Geocaching can give your walk a sense of purpose. This high-tech scavenger hunt is perfect for couples that have a GPS device. In geocaching, you're looking for a hidden cache that's located somewhere outdoors. Look online for a list of geocaches. Once you pick one, you'll find out its latitude and longitude coordinates. Enter those into your GPS, and then your GPS will guide you to where the geocache is located. Once you get to the right location, you'll look for some sort of container that's full of mystery. Sign the logbook and let everyone know the two of you were there.

You'll never know what you'll find in a geocache, which makes it an exciting activity. If a geocache is full of random objects, you can swap out something you own for something in the cache, and you'll have a little memento of your date. Geocaching is great for both urban and rural settings, because the geocache containers can be hidden just about anywhere. It's also one of those activities that's more fun to do with someone. You're both looking for this treasure together, and frankly, chicks get into that kind of thing.


Attend a Free Outdoor Concert

Check your local arts publications for free music events.
Check your local arts publications for free music events.
Hiroyuki Matsumoto/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Music is a great date idea because it helps draw people together. A single song can help define a moment, or even an entire summer. Incorporating a concert into a date is a way to help set the date apart and make it special. Free concerts are also a way to learn about new music. Maybe you wouldn't pay for a classical concert, but when it's free, it's a pretty good way to spend a couple of hours. You might even discover that you really do like a band or music style you never really paid attention to before. And you never know--the concert you go to could provide the two of you with "your song."

A lot of cities and towns offer ways to listen to free concerts in the summer. Local festivals usually have bands to keep the action lively. Spend some time wandering around the festival, then hit the stage area to listen to the band. Be open to the possibility of dancing with your date. Women go gaga for a guy who will dance, so take this opportunity to score some points with her.

Sometimes concerts are held in a venue that allows you to picnic on a lawn. As we mentioned before, picnics are a fun way to relax and enjoy time together. Adding in music provides some special atmosphere.


Go for a Bike Ride

Keep a fun destination in mind, like the park or a nearby lake.
Keep a fun destination in mind, like the park or a nearby lake.
Lori Adamski Peek/Riser/Getty Images

Grab your wheels, and hit the road! Just as dating is a journey, biking makes for a fun date because you can accomplish a journey. Plan a 10-, 20-, or 30-mile trip with your date and explore your little corner of the world. You can have a certain destination in mind--perhaps a famed ice cream shack--or you can see how long it takes you to go the distance.

Although biking can be a little nerve racking if you're maneuvering through traffic, you can alleviate that tension by using a bike path. All over the country, old railroad tracks have been converted to bike and running trails. These provide a safe place to ride--and you can even ride two abreast to talk while you pedal.

Want a more challenging bike experience? Try riding a tandem bike together, and you'll become a better team in no time. Mountain biking along rougher trails is also a great way for more adventurous types to explore the out of doors.


Hang Out by the Water

Sitting peacefully by the water will make the conversation flow.
Sitting peacefully by the water will make the conversation flow.

For a lot of people, summertime means fun by the water. Whether you're hanging out at the beach or participating in water sports, water provides an excellent environment for a free date.

At the beach, you can play Frisbee, catch or paddle sports with each other. Team up and become an unstoppable force in beach volleyball. It's clichéd, but most girls will admit that a long walk along the beach is about as romantic as it gets. When you get hot, the two of you can cool off in the waves. Bring your towel, sunscreen, snacks and some beverages, and you're set for a fun afternoon.

Even if you don't live by a beach, you can still have fun on the water. Go swimming in a lake. If you own a canoe or kayak, take your date for a paddle on the river. The only way you'll move forward on the river is if you're working together, so it's the perfect way to get in sync with a person.


Nighttime Fun

The glow of bright city lights can provide a romantic background for your date.
The glow of bright city lights can provide a romantic background for your date.
Hitoshi Nishimura/Taxi Japan/Getty Images

Outdoor dates don't always have to take place during the day. Nighttime provides plenty of free date opportunities. Start by taking a blanket to a park, field or overlook and watch the sunset together. Once the sun slips over the horizon, lie down on your blanket and watch the stars come out. You can help each other spot different constellations and planets, and wish on shooting stars. Special astronomical events like meteor showers can create a special feel to the date and make it memorable.

Nighttime walks can also be extremely romantic because the darkness acts like a security blanket, allowing you to share a lot with each other. Just take a flashlight with you, and don't go anyplace where you might get easily lost.

For more great free date ideas, check out the links on the next page.


Not Getting Online Dates? Your Bar Is Probably Too High

Not Getting Online Dates? Your Bar Is Probably Too High

HowStuffWorks looks a study which showed 'aspirational online dating' didn't pan out for most people.

Related Articles

More Great Links


  • Forsman, Matt. "Top 10: Cheap Date Ideas." AskMen.com. (Oct. 1, 2010) http://www.askmen.com/top_10/dating_100/123_dating_list.html
  • Geocaching.com. "Getting Started with Geocaching." Geocaching.com. (Oct. 1, 2010) http://www.geocaching.com/about/default.aspx
  • Punjabi, Rajul. "The Joy of Flex: Exercise Better Together." YourTango.com. (Oct. 1, 2010) http://www.yourtango.com/2007293/the-joy-of-flex-2.html
  • Seventeen.com. "Cheap 'n' fun summer date ideas!" May 24, 2010 (Oct. 1, 2010) http://www.seventeen.com/cosmogirl/cheap-summer-date-ideas
  • Seventeen.com? "Great Date Ideas!" (Oct. 1, 2010) http://www.seventeen.com/love/advice/date-ideas-for-teens#/category1
  • Wong, Kristina. "Recession Dating 101: Cheap Date Ideas." ABC News. April 27, 2009 (Oct. 1, 2010) http://abcnews.go.com/WN/story?id=7439539&page=1