15 Cheap Dates Ideas in Minneapolis & St. Paul (that don’t suck)

It’s date night. 

You can go for one of the tried and true romantic restaurants in the Twin Cities, but as delicious as those are, they aren’t exactly easy on the wallet.

Never fear!

There’s plenty of cheap date spots around Minneapolis.

Not only are these dates mostly free (or darn near it!) but they’re also a fun and unusual change of pace from yet another expensive dinner date.

So grab a partner and check out these fun ideas. These are the best cheap date ideas in Minneapolis.

1. Zoom around on scooters

scooter rental cheap fun date

Admit it, you know whizzing around on those goofy scooters is tons of fun. Why not make a date out of it? 

At less than 40 cents per minute, it sure is cheap entertainment. And it’s basically that storybook bike ride updated for the modern era. Plus, you can easily combine this idea as your transportation to any of the other cheap date ideas on this list. 

2. Go timeless with a picnic

frugal dates - picnic in minneapolis

The picnic is a classic! All for the low cost of $0.00, plus a sandwich, blanket, and if you’re ambitious, maybe a cheap bottle of wine.

We’re such fans of the picnic that we’ve put together two entire guides, one about the best picnic spots in St. Paul and the best picnic spots in Minneapolis

3. Sniff flowers and watch animals at Como Zoo

Originally built in 1936, Como Zoo might be the oldest cheap date spot on the list. With admission that’s completely free, it doesn’t get any cheaper. (Although a voluntary donation is always appreciated!)  

By visiting the zoo, you can help support funding and research for many of our planet’s endangered, exotic animals, of which Como has plenty. Gorillas, orangutans, giraffes, and even polar bears… this little zoo packs a serious punch! 

And of course, there’s always the zoo’s Majorie McNeely Conservatory, where you can see beautiful plants and flowers in one of the most iconic architectural structures in the entire Twin Cities. 

4. Kick it old school at a Drive-In Theater

affordable drive in near minneapolis

Once upon a time, taking a date to the drive-in was basically of right of passage in this country. Why not turn back the clock with a visit to one of best drive in theaters around the Twin Cities?

(You can also check out our full review of Vali-Hi.)

5. Turn up the heat with cooking classes 

What better way to turn up the heat, literally, than taking it to the kitchen? While you can spend a fortune on some of the higher end cooking classes around the Twin Cities, there’s one frugal secret we think is totally underrated – community education classes. 

These low budget classes are offered by the city and usually housed in the home econ classes of local schools or rec centers. But what you sacrifice in atmosphere you make up for with a fun, interactive date that brings the same meat and potatoes (pun intended) as the more expensive options.

Plus, at the end of the class you always get to taste your creation! The original dinner and a date!

You can find Minneapolis’s Community Ed here and St. Paul’s Community Ed here.

6. Saint Paul Saints 

Professional sports are never very budget, but there’s one fun way to hack a similar experience without the big league ticket prices. The Saint Paul Saints, the minor league affiliate to the Minnesota Twins, play ball in a beautiful stadium in the heart of Lowertown St. Paul.

7. Scour Groupon for fun ideas 

Okay, this one is admittedly a little vague. But one of our favorite surefire ways to score a deal on local attractions is to scour Groupon.com for discounts.

Pro tip: if you really want to stack the savings, start your shopping experience through a cash back portal like Rakuten, (affiliate link*) whose currently offering an EXTRA 12% cash back on all Groupon deals. 

*an affiliate link means we may earn a commission, at no cost to you.

8. Go for a hike 

cheap dates twin cities - hike

One of the coolest parts about living in Minneapolis is our easy access to so much beautiful nature in an urban environment. Why not get outdoors at one of the many regional or state parks in the area? (One of our favorites is hiking the pike island loop.)

9. Free Music or Movies in the Park

Did you know that every Summer, the City of Minneapolis hosts free concerts and movies at various parks around the city? Ever wanted to see an orchestra perform at the Lake Harriet Bandshell? Or maybe you wanted to watch Star Wars at Lyndale Farmstead Park? Either way, you can find fun outdoor events anywhere from 6-7 nights a week.

And should we repeat that they’re 100% free to the public? Just pull up a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy the show!

10. Tune into Classical Music with a Free Chamber Orchestra Concert

Speaking of music, maybe the best value concert in the entire Twin Cities is the series of free events held by the Minnesota Sinfonia.

As a nonprofit, this award winning chamber orchestra travels the Twin Cities hosting free concerts all year long. In the summer, most events are organized through the Music in the Park series mentioned above, but don’t sleep on their winter schedule either, when the orchestra moves indoors to amazing venues like the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis.

So grab a fellow music fan, arrive early (seats are first-come, first-served), and enjoy one of the most romantic dates around, at an unbeatable price. (Free)

11. Free Fitness in the Park

St. Paul cheap date ideas - fitness in the park

Not to be outdone by its Twin City, St. Paul utilizes their public parks for free fitness classes all summer long. So if you and your date are the active type, then what better way to bond than with Yoga overlooking the St. Paul skyline at Summit Park, or a cardio bootcamp in the shade of Boyd Park’s mature trees?

You can find the full schedule at StPaul.gov.

12. Get a tour of the night sky at one of St. Paul’s planetariums

Ever look up at the night sky and wonder? Then why not get some answers with a guided tour of the night sky at one of St. Paul’s top-notch planetariums?

Both the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum and the Como Planetarium offer affordable “tours of the cosmos.” For less than $10, you can kick back in a theater seat and gaze up at amazing domed-ceiling projections in one of our city’s state-of-the-art planetariums. It’s like a more unique and creative version of a movie date! Not to mention, cheaper, too!

2021 Update: The Como Planetarium shows are currently paused. The Bell Museum remains open to the public.

13. Putt the day away with some affordable mini golf

It’s not free, but mini golf is definitely one of the more affordable dates around.

Minneapolis and St. Paul have tons of great places to go mini golfing, but the best value is definitely the Captain’s Course at Cascade Bay in Eagan, where you can play a nine hole course for $2 (TWO DOLLARS!) or unlimited all day golf for a whopping $4! For more info, check out our complete guide to the best mini golf courses in Minneapolis & St. Paul.

Plus, you can reenact every movie ever by showing your partner how to hold the club.

14. Pick your own harvest

cheap date ideas - berry picking

Here’s a date that’s equal parts affordable, practical, and romantic. Every Summer and Fall, a bunch of local farms and orchards open their doors for seasonal produce. For prices that put the grocery stores to shame, you and your date can have a casual day on the farm, all while knocking out your grocery list, too!

And who knows, maybe one thing will lead to another and you’ll find yourselves feeding strawberries to each other. Or at least stocking up on a ton of fresh fruit for the winter…

For more info on these fun activities check out:

15. Visit Rice Park during the Holiday Season

There might not be a more picturesque and romantic spot in the cities than St. Paul’s Rice Park during the Holiday months.

Every winter, the City of St. Paul drapes the park’s large evergreen trees with an impressive collection of sparkling Christmas lights. In the shadow of St. Paul’s historic downtown, you and your date can stroll through the park while taking in a winter wonderland. Don’t miss the ice sculptures or the ice skating rink where you can reenact your favorite rom-com!

Along those lines, most any of our picks for Christmas lights around the Twin Cities would be great options for a romantic, affordable date!

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