20 Ideas for Valentine’s Day on a Budget

Hi friends! We’re already well into January and Valentine’s Day is only a few weeks away.

Can I say how much I enjoy Valentine’s Day? I’m a sucker for everything romantic. Sappy movies and sweet love stories. I love them all. One of the most exciting things about planning for Valentine’s Day is deciding what to do with your special someone.

In 2018, the National Retail Federation found that people who celebrated Valentine’s Day planned to spend an average of $143.56 and that total spending was expected to reach $19.6 billion. That’s a lot of flowers, chocolates, and experiences.

If you’re hoping to keep your Valentine’s Day romantic and fun but within the budget, here are 20 ideas for Valentine’s Day dates that won’t break the bank.

Valentine’s Day falls on a weekday this year. For most people, that means work during the day and celebrating afterwards. With that in mind, the first part of this list contains date ideas meant for the evening hours.


1) Make dinner together

One of my favorite things to do is to cook a meal with a loved one. An easy but fun dinner is pizza. Buy or make the dough and dress it up with all your favorite toppings. I always picture this with four sections featuring artichoke hearts and other gourmet toppings.

For something a little fancier, a nice steak or fish cooked well can rival that of many restaurants. Pair your meal with a bottle of wine and you’ve got a beautiful dinner.

2) Make a special dessert

How about a chocolate fondue platter filled with fruits, cookies, and other sweets? If you’re a fan of ice cream, an ice cream sundae bar may be as tasty as a trip to your local dessert shop.

3) Go dancing

Many social dance studios and clubs offer beginner and advanced dance lessons on weeknights followed by a few hours of open dancing. A ballroom or salsa club in your area may be open and offering lessons on Valentine’s night.

4) Scavenger hunt

A scavenger hunt is a great option for the partner who loves to solve riddles and puzzles. The hunt can be centered around the house or around your city. As for the prize at the end, you get to decide what it is. Perhaps it will be a gift or even you!

5) Try a new restaurant

Valentine’s Day dinner at the most up-scale and trendy restaurants can be unattainable and out of the budget. I know because I looked into a reservation at one.

Dinner at a new restaurant or one your partner has been wanting to try, but not necessarily the fanciest or most expensive one, can provide a romantic and tasty experience as well.

6) Wine tasting

A simple yet romantic activity, many wine shops offer tastings at reasonable prices.

7) Ride a cable car

Ride a cable car down to the Embarcadero and take a stroll along the waterfront. This is one of those most inexpensive and romantic things do to in San Francisco, as long as it’s not too cold out.

8) Hike to a high point and take in the view

If your city has hills or other lookouts, a hike up to the top can offer a beautiful view. Try Twin Peaks or Corona Heights Park if in SF.

9) Take a class together

It seems like couples classes are all the rage these days. With cooking classes, terrarium making classes, pickling classes, mushroom foraging events, and even paint night, there’s no shortage of activity classes to do together.

10) Quiz night

Many bars have a scheduled quiz nights during the week. Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday, at least one bar is sure to have quiz night going on. Give your partner a chance to show off his or her smarts!

11)  Visit museums after hours

Many museums stay open late once a week or month. Check out if your local museums have a late opening or special event on Valentine’s Day.

12)   Do a photo shoot or photo scavenger hunt

Capture your favorite spots around the city as you visit them together. In San Francisco, there are large decorated hearts on display as part of an art installation. Try finding and taking pictures with them in a photo scavenger hunt.

13)   Scrapbook photos of your relationship together

You can reminisce about your time together while making a scrapbook with all your photos.

14)  Mini golf

Mini golf is so fun in good company that you can forget how terrible you are at it. If you’re really good at it, you’ll definitely impress your date.

15)  Game night

Does your partner love board games? How about playing a favorite together or trying out a new one? As a huge fan, I’d love nothing more than a night in which my boyfriend offers to play one with me.

If you’re lucky enough to have Valentine’s Day free, here are few more suggestions for events to do during the day:

16)  Breakfast in bed

Breakfast in bed is such a fun and rare treat. Relax and enjoy your morning meal together while staying cozy under the warm covers.

17)  Play tourist for a day

Although you may know your city well, when’s the last night you visited its points of attraction? Viewing places again with your partner may give you a different perspective on them. Here in SF, Coit Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge are great places to visit as tourists for a day.

18)  Take a ferry ride

A ferry ride to a nearby town or city makes for an enjoyable day trip. An easy trip from SF is the ferry to Sausalito and then lunch at a seafood restaurant. For something more outdoorsy, Angel Island is a short ride away and provides easy hiking trails.

19)  Go for a bike ride

A leisure bike ride can do wonders for relaxing and enjoying time together. Bikes are allowed on ferries so you can even combine the suggestion above with this one.

20)  Go for a hike and catch the sunset

Active and romantic, doesn’t get much better than that!

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What would you recommend for a budget-friendly Valentine’s Day?

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