15 Creative (And Cheap!) Date Ideas For College Students

It’s so important to intentionally spend quality time with your boyfriend in college. Often, however, time together tends to fall into two extremes: simply studying together at the library, or once in a while going out to eat at an upscale restaurant.

By Madison May3 min read
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While these are both great ways to spend time together, it's also important to change things up and strengthen your connection in new ways. 

Fortunately, there are many possibilities for spending one-on-one time with your boyfriend while in college. If you’re looking for engaging date ideas to get away from your routine, look no further than this list. College is a once-in-a-lifetime experience with so many opportunities at our fingertips, often in a brand new city away from home. So, go out and make the most of the college experience by spending some of it creating lasting memories with your boyfriend. 

From casual and low effort to dates that require a bit more planning, these are some creative date ideas for every situation, schedule, and relationship stage in college. And even if you’re not in college anymore, these ideas are still applicable. 

1. Go for a Hike 

It's always a good idea to get outside and be in nature, and a hike also presents a great opportunity to get to know each other as you talk while looking at scenic sights. Research city and state parks nearby to visit and go hiking together while experiencing the natural landscape of the region.

2. Go Dancing

Depending on the part of the country you’re in, this may look like ballroom dance, Western two-stepping at a dance hall, swing dancing, or even dancing at a club. Nothing compares to dancing with the love of your life. It’s also the perfect occasion to get dressed up. If you don’t know how to dance already, look into on-campus dance lessons as a free way to learn how. Learning how to dance together is a good way to test your chemistry and vulnerability, and to bond.

3. Plan a Day Trip to a Small Town

Find a weekend when you’re both free and research small towns not too far away. Drive out and spend the day trying local foods, browsing boutiques, and just exploring a new location. You’ll be sure to come back with incredible memories and photos of your adventure.

4. Go Kayaking, Tubing, or Paddleboarding

Spending time at a river, lake, or beach is an amazing way to get outdoors and change up your routine. Rent a kayak, innertube, or stand-up paddleboards and spend the afternoon out on the water under the sun. 

5. Visit the Botanical Garden

Walk hand in hand admiring the beautiful flowers and plants of a botanic garden. The atmosphere of a botanical garden is perfect for a classically romantic date.

6. Listen to Live Music 

A lot of cities will host live music events in parks and other venues. Look up what concerts your town has to offer and go check it out. Often, these events are free! You can also look into the events put on by your college’s music or theater department for free entertainment.

7. Go to Brunch off Campus

Often, we think of dining dates as just for dinner. For something new, on a Saturday morning, put on a pretty dress and go out to brunch with your date at a cute cafe or diner. Another good thing about breakfast places is that there's something for everyone on the menu, whether you like something light or hearty.

8. Take a Walk in a Historic Neighborhood

Find the historic neighborhoods in your city and stroll through them to admire the classic style and upscale homes. Discuss the architecture and landscaping, and pick out your favorite houses. What would it be like to live there?

9. Visit a Farmers’ Market

Visit a farmers’ market and see what local crops, baked goods, and other offerings your city has. Visiting a farmers’ market is a great way to support local business while also enjoying quality produce and goods.

10. Go Stargazing

Go stargazing with your boyfriend. Drive out past the city limits one evening, where the sky is clear and unpolluted from city lights. Pull over into a field or park to admire the stars. It's a great time to ask each other thought-provoking questions, admire the constellations, and be amazed by the infinity of the universe.

11. Plan a Picnic

Picnics are a timelessly romantic date idea. You get to share a meal outdoors, in nature, with someone you love. Plan and put together a meal that’s transportable, locate a picnic blanket, and find a pretty park to enjoy your picnic in. 

12. Movie Night

Movie night is always a relaxing way to unwind together. Go to an empty study room or one of your dorms and bring your favorite snacks or make popcorn for a full movie theater experience. Checkout this list for some of the best movies to watch as a couple, or start a new series together. 

13. Attend a Fair

This is an iconic Americana date. Look into local festivals and fairs, and research whether there are any in your vicinity throughout the school year. Spend an unforgettable evening playing carnival games, sampling unusual foods from vendors, and holding hands as you admire the view from the peak of the Ferris wheel.

14. Go Thrifting 

Whether you need new clothes for an event or just in general, visit a thrift store and see if you can make any finds. Create crazy or serious outfit ideas for each other just for fun. 

15. Get Dinner or Dessert at a Food Truck

This is a perfect way to grab a meal after a busy day and get off campus without the commitment and expense of a sit-down restaurant. At the same time, an authentic food truck is of far better quality than fast-food. You can bring the food back to eat in a study room or find a picnic table outdoors on campus if the weather is nice.

Closing Thoughts

Dating in college is the perfect remedy to the busy school year. However, it's all too easy to overlook creative ideas and opportunities. It’s crucial to take time off and put in the effort to spend one-on-one with your boyfriend. If all goes well, you’ll cherish memories from these first four years together for years to come. 

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