22 Budget Date Night Ideas with Your Sweetie

Living in Portland is expensive at baseline, and living in Portland with kids leaves almost no cash left over for date night. Here are plenty of wallet-friendly ways to invest in your relationship, almost all under $12 per person.

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Budget Dates for Couples Who Like to Relax

Cash in on live theater deals. Yes, you can go to the theater on a budget! Portland Center Stage offers pay-what-you-will nights for all of their live performances. Or use your free cultural passes from the library to get free admission at many venues around town.

See fine art for free. There are few things more romantic than slowly meandering through the quiet halls of the Portland Art Museum, looking at beautiful pieces of art. Every quarter, Portland Art Museum hosts a free admission day, and nothing says budget-friendly date like free entry.


Get dinner and a show at Mississippi Pizza. Mississippi frequently hosts trivia nights, comedy shows, and even concerts that cost only $5/person to attend.

See free outdoor performances. Take advantage of Portland Park’s & Recreation’s Summer Free for All Program, which includes movies in the park, outdoor concerts, comedy shows, and more — all completely free.

Stargaze. Cliché dates are cliché for a reason — snuggling under the night sky has always been a date night winner. Check out one of OMSI’s free star parties in the summer if you’re interested in astronomy, or just head to Rooster Rock State Park or L.L. Stub Stewart State Park on a clear night for some DIY stargazing. For an even better night, plan your dates around this meteor shower calendar.

Drive to the drive-in. The classic drive-in is having a moment. Kiss your sweetie in the car like you’re sixteen again, or just enjoy watching the latest Marvel movie on an extra-large screen, for only $10 per person. (Open seasonally.)

Go to a (discount) movie theater. Ready to elevate your Netflix and chill experience? Check out one of these local cinemas that won’t break the bank.


Go for a soak at the Kennedy Pool. For only $10 per person, you and your partner can relax and unwind in the saltwater soaking pool at McMenamins Kennedy School. This ceramic work of art is nestled in a private, outdoor courtyard, and the pool is heated. Reservations are required.

Browse independent bookshops. This is a great add-on to an ice cream or cocktail date! Whether you visit iconic Powell’s City of Books or one of the city’s other amazing independent bookstores, you’ll love strolling through the stacks with your significant other.

Budget Dates for Couples Who Like to Compete

Play fantasy mini-golf at Wonderwood. Have a whimsical date for only $10 a person at beloved local artist Mike Bennett’s latest adventure: Wonderwood Springs Mini-Golf. Play nine holes of mini-golf, fully immersed in Bennett’s iconic original art.

Game at Ground Kontrol. The beloved local arcade Ground Kontrol is a perfect night out for gamer couples. From 5 p.m. to midnight it’s adults 21 and over only, so you can order your favorite junk food, drink a cocktail, and try to beat each other’s high scores. Plus get unlimited play on 120 classic arcade games and pinball machines for only $10 on select nights.

Go bowling. Engage in classic date-night fun at Grand Central Bowl. For $10 per game (and $5 shoe rentals), it makes for an affordable night of friendly competition.

Budget Dates for Couples Who Like to Move

Go roller skating at Oaks Park. Tuesdays from 7 to 9:30 p.m. are just for the adults. Enjoy the live DJ and a romantic skate with your partner, without worrying about running over any young skaters. $12 per person, including skate rental.

Take a hike. Whether you hike 10 miles through the Trail of Ten Falls, or stroll comfortably through Hoyt Arboretum, you’ve got lots of options in the Portland-area.

Go for a bike ride. Bike along the waterfront for great views and options for a quick bite to eat. If you’re new to cycling, these other kid-friendly paths will make it less likely that injury will disrupt your date.

Seek out flowers. Instead of buying a dozen roses, go see some living blooms instead. Portland is full of gorgeous gardens, but Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden (loveliest in April) costs only $5 to visit, and the incredible rose gardens (with peak bloom in June) at Washington Park and Peninsula Park are free to the public.

Have a daytime date at a waterfall. This Instaworthy excursion will cost, at most, $5 to park. Pack a picnic, and you’ve got a date with an unbeatable view. For waterfalls with plenty of space to stay awhile, try Dry Creek Falls, Wahclellah Falls, or Eagle Creek. Find eight date-worthy waterfalls here.

Budget Dates for Foodies

Choose your own adventure dinner. Food carts make amazing food affordable, and Portland has the best. We recommend these fabulous food cart pods for a date night: Portland Mercado, Cartlandia, and The French Quarter.

Treat yourself with a scoop at one of Portland’s ice cream shops. Portland has outstanding ice cream shops, and enough flavors for a year’s worth of affordable date nights.

Get drinks at your favorite bar. Who says date night has to include drinks, dinner and dessert, plus an event? That gets expensive fast. Linger over your cocktail or mocktail and enjoy a night out for a fraction of the cost. Don’t have a favorite? Check out this list from Eater PDX for inspo.

Picnic at a Portland park or local farm. Enjoy one of the city’s beautiful green spaces during a sunny daytime date or at sunset with a blanket and a tasty takeout spread. If you’re on a strict budget, pack the picnic full of your favorite grocery store finds. If you head out to Topaz Farm, they have everything you need for your picnic in the farm store.

Shop the farmers market. Check out one of Portland’s many incredible farmer’s markets and buy ingredients to make an incredible dinner or dessert together. For even fresher produce, check out these u-pick berry farms and apple orchards.

It’s hard to make date night happen.

Even with all of the ideas listed here, is the cost of a sitter still a barrier? Consider swapping date night childcare with a friend. Or ask a friend without kids if they would mind coming over after kid bedtime so you can have a night out. It’s an easy ask (the kids will be sleeping!), and if you throw in a home cooked meal, it’s win-win for you both.

And remember, if Netflix in bed with chocolate chip cookies is your perfect date night, you do you. That’s an even more budget-friendly way to spend time with your partner, and it’s no less special than these out-of-the-house ideas.

Meg Asby
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