Family Life Things to Do

11 Inexpensive Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

In case you haven’t already spotted those red, heart-shaped boxes all over the place: Valentine’s Day is less than a month away.

If you’re like a lot of folks in a committed relationship, Valentine’s Day can easily have you tied in knots. You don’t want to ignore the holiday altogether, but spending a fortune just to remind your significant other or spouse that you love them seems like it’s less than practical and somewhat unnecessary (especially given the current rate of inflation).

Fortunately, you can create a fun and romantic Valentine’s Day adventure without breaking the bank. We’ve got plenty of ideas, and we’re willing to share! Here are 11 of our favorites:

1. Spend the Afternoon at an Arcade

Is your significant other a big kid at heart? Are you? Do you both share some fond memories of your youth at the arcades? Well, grab your partner’s hand and head over to someplace like Boss Battle Games or Tappers Arcade Bar and play retro-style games and pinball machines until you both are laughing like kids again.

2. Recreate That First Date

If you’re looking to score major points on the sentimental-meter, recreating as much as you can from your first date is probably the best way to do it. After all, when you cherish a relationship, you cherish the memories, right? It’s wonderfully romantic, and it shows your significant other that you haven’t forgotten those heady first days of your relationship. 

3. Make Some Art Together

You and your partner have a great vibe, and you’re both full of ideas – so why not see what you can make together? The Indianapolis Art Center has “Make it-Take it” classes throughout the year, and Studio Alchemy Gallery offers regular workshops that can help you and your beloved explore your creative sides. You can even have an impromptu “paint night” at the kitchen table after a quick trip to the craft store.

4. Go Dancing in the Living Room

You don’t need a stylish outfit or new shoes to go dancing in your living room. Put together a playlist of your favorite romantic songs, open up a bottle of wine and lower the lights – and you and your significant other can pretend you’re at a ball together. (Dressing up is optional but encouraged.)

5. Try Pizza and a Movie at Home

Yes, dinner and a movie are very traditional ideas for any date night, but you don’t even have to get dressed if you get a little creative. There’s something terribly sweet and romantic about having a pizza delivered and curling up on the couch in your pajamas with your best guy or gal and re-watching a favorite movie on streaming.

6. Do Something Decidedly Weird Together

If you love all things curious and creepy, there’s plenty of things to explore in Indy. Grab your loved one and head over to the Indiana Medical History Museum for a tour that is equal parts macabre and enlightening. Or, go for a quick bite to eat and a drink at the Slippery Noodle Inn, which is Indiana’s oldest and (reputedly) most-haunted bar.

7. Buy Each Other a Book or a Record

There’s something wonderfully intimate about sharing a favorite book or album with someone – you get a real glimpse into what speaks to their soul. Take each other to a bookstore or record shop and carefully choose one item to buy for the other. Then, while the afternoon away in quiet companionship. (If you’re introverted and you know it, you might as well embrace your style!)

8. Drag Out the Board Games 

Sometimes, you just need to tap into your inner child for a while – and what better way to do that than by dragging out those old board games? Nothing is truly off-limits here, because you can have a blast whether you play Monopoly or Candy Land. (If you really want to raise the stakes, set a romance-approved prize, like a backrub for the winner.)

9. Go Thrifting for Each Other’s Gifts

Where can you find something absolutely wonderful or wild and outlandish for $5-$10? Thrift stores are gold mines for the thrifty – and they’re a lot of fun when you’re broke but you still want to find a gift for your partner. Set a limit, hit the thrift stores and split up, with the goal to find either the coolest or the craziest gift you can in your price range.

10. Create a Shared Bucket List

Maybe money is short because you’re saving up for a home, or maybe inflation just really has you squeezed. Either way, you don’t need a dollar in your pocket to dream – so don’t be afraid to dream big! A bottle of wine, a couple of pens and a notebook are all you need to cozy up with your spouse or partner and create a “Bucket List” of everything you want to do together in the future.

11. Hang Out at the Zoo All Day

Dolphins? Penguins? Chimpanzees? What’s not to love about the Indianapolis Zoo? It’s open year-round, and there are numerous special events held all the time, so keep checking back closer to Valentine’s Day to see if there’s a program that interests you.

Above all, remember this: Your time is the most valuable gift you have to offer. If nothing else seems to fit the bill, grab your significant other by the hand, put your cellphones away and go for a walk. It costs nothing to simply hold hands, chat about your day or your dreams and simply spend the day together.