TOP 10: Cheap Date Ideas


So, you’re almost out of money, but you still want to make that special effort for that special someone. Don’t believe those who tell you that there’s nothing to do here except hike, because there totally is. It just takes a little creativity and an open mind.

Here are the Top 10 best date ideas that are free or cheap in Tucson.

Photo courtesy of Paul Verdugo @adventuresandgalaxies

10. Watch a sunset

Nothing is more romantic than sunsets. And when the sun hits the canyon just right, it’s more than beautiful. You can watch it from the back of your car or from one of the trails.


9. Have a picnic at a park

What’s cuter than a wicker basket filled with food? Nothing. Nothing is cuter than that. Especially if your significant other is a crazy vegan who also doesn’t eat processed foods, so every restaurant is out. Aqua Caliente Park is the best park: Not only does it have a turtle pond, but it has a bunch of hiking trails so that the two of you can hold hands and wander.


8. See a local movie at the Loft

Tucson is full of creative people, and on Fridays, the Loft Cinema showcases that. Friday Shorts are every first Friday of the month. Not only is it a great way to gauge your date’s tolerance for weird or dark humor, but you feel a lot closer to the artsy community in Tucson.


Aztec Press

7. Visit Tucson Botanical Garden

Presently, the exhibit featured is Origami in the Garden, and there are giant origami swans. The Botanical Gardens are just a cool place to go in general. What’s more romantic than Tucson’s native plants? You also can dig for earthworms, and if they’re not down for that, they’re not worth your time.


photo courtesy of Fourth Ave. Merchants Association

6. Try open mic at Cafe Passe

Open Mic nights are a great way to bond over bad comedy or maybe really good comedy. And Cafe Passe is an adorable venue. If you don’t get anything to eat or drink, it’s completely free, but if you’re addicted to caffeine and you’re jonesing for another hit, this is the perfect date night.


5. See a play at U of A

The University of Arizona’s School of Theatre, Film and Television puts on contemporary or original pieces that are “stripped down.” Currently, “Three Sisters” is showing, which the website states is the “stagnation, existential dread and the destructive nature of addiction among the young women of the Prozorov family.” What kind of date is complete without existential dread?


Photo courtesy of Rooster Cogsburn

4. Pet some animals at a ranch

It’s a ways away, but off I-10 lies Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch. It’s that quirky place you pass on your way to Phoenix. This might be the best date you’ll ever go on. After all, how many people can say that their last date involved ostriches? You can feed them or any of the other animals – lorikeets, deer, etc. – at the farm. Or if you feel like it, you always can eat the ostrich pellets yourself.


3. Hike up a mountain

Near-death experiences bring couples closer together–almost dying on Mount Lemmon is a great way to bond. The scenic highway provides a lovely view of the city, and once you get to Summerhaven, the scenery changes from desert to forest. Not to mention, the Cookie Cabin is the best place possible to get a cookie and fall in love, whether it’s after a hike or a ride on the ski lift.


Aztec Press

2. Buy some local produce

Tucson is full of great places to buy local, whether produce or crafts. Consider wandering around and buying a pound of strawberries or a fresh bouquet of roses for your date. Pinnacle Peak has a farmer’s market every Friday morning, for example.


Photo courtesy of Rob Kaler
  1. Thrift down fourth ave.

For the final one, take your date around Tucson’s iconic Fourth Avenue. Instead of spending a bunch of money on things you absolutely don’t need, hit up every single thrift shop and find the most ridiculous thing. The person who finds the most gaudy piece wins; bonus points if you buy the piece and wear it later.

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