Fun Date Night Ideas for Parents on a Budget
1. Use Daily Deal Sites
Deal sites like Groupon or LivingSocial allow you to pre-purchase tickets for a variety of activities at discounted rates. You can often save as much as 50% or more on restaurants, concerts, theater tickets, couples massages, and even fun activities like escape rooms, mystery dinner theater, or paint-your-own ceramics sessions.
Besides saving money, another great reason to use deals sites is to discover new activities you might not have considered otherwise. My local Groupon site, for example, has Groupons-for-two that include potential date night activities like archery, paintball, winery tours, brewery tours, indoor rock climbing, comedy club tickets, and even ax throwing.
Just be sure to read any fine print so you know what you’re buying and there aren’t any surprises when you go to redeem your voucher.
2. Try Restaurant.com
Before you head out, check out Restaurant.com to see if they’re offering any deals for your chosen dining location — or discover a new one. You can usually find deals for over 50% off, and they post reviews so you can check out others’ comments before you decide to buy a voucher. Just be sure, as with Groupon, that you read the fine print so there aren’t any surprises.
3. Download an App
Another way to save on restaurants is to use a coupon app like RetailMeNot. In addition to coupons for retail stores, RetailMeNot provides a roundup of the latest coupons available for restaurants in your area.
Many restaurants also offer apps of their own, which are usually tied to their loyalty programs. You typically receive a freebie for signing up and then have the possibility of earning future free stuff, such as a free appetizer or dessert, the more you visit that restaurant.
4. Clip Coupons
These days, I rarely head out to a restaurant without a coupon in hand. Whether they come by Valpak or flier, there always seems to be an amazing amount of coupons arriving for free in my mailbox for all kinds of local restaurants. Between good, old-fashioned paper coupons and those from apps like RetailMeNot, it’s been a very long time since I’ve paid full price for a meal at a restaurant.
5. Sign Up for Email & Social Media Updates
Although it might clutter up your inbox, signing up for establishments’ email lists will result in a variety of discounts and perks coming your way. Make sure you include your birthday on all those sign-up forms; every year around my birthday, my email inbox is filled with coupons for free stuff, from free appetizers to free desserts to free entrees.
You can also score a bunch of discounts and freebies by following establishments’ social media accounts, which often share promos like free admission days. You’ll also stay current on any special events happening at your favorite spots.
6. Plan a Date on a Weeknight
Many restaurants, movie theaters, and other establishments offer reduced prices on weeknights as a way of attracting customers on slow days. For example, our local movie theater sells tickets for all its screens, including 3D and IMAX, for $5 on Tuesdays (normal prices range from $8.75 to $15.25). Members of their free rewards program also get free popcorn. As a double bonus, it’s generally easier to find a babysitter on a weeknight.
7. Go Out at an Earlier Hour
Seeing a matinée will always score you the lowest price on a movie ticket. Likewise, getting lunch instead of dinner is less expensive, as is getting drinks or appetizers during happy hour.
8. Take Advantage of Free or Low-Cost Admission Days
Many museums, zoos, and other prominent attractions have free or reduced-price admissions days. Our local art museum, for example, always offers free admission on Sundays, and our zoo has several free admissions days throughout the year.
9. Take Advantage of Memberships & Season Passes
Additionally, take advantage of any memberships and season passes you may have already bought for your family. Though you may have purchased them with your children in mind, it can sometimes be fun to visit these places without the kids in tow.
For example, we maintain an annual membership to our local science museum specifically because our son loves it. But sometimes, it’s nice to have the time to linger over an exhibit without having to worry about our 3-year-old jumping into the dinosaur diorama. Our science museum hosts after-hours, themed, adults-only nights for just this purpose.