Fun and Frugal Date Ideas in Philadelphia

Love Park in Philadelphia at sunset
Driendl Group / Getty Images

Sure, the classic dinner-and-a-movie is fun, but once you throw in a couple of appetizers, a few drinks, and increasingly expensive movie tickets, the total adds up fast and it can get kind of boring. Next time you're planning a night or afternoon out, try one of these ideas instead. Whether you're looking to save some cash or just try something new, these free and cheap dates in Philadelphia will provide a great time for less.

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    If you subscribe to Philly Fun Guide's Funsavers newsletter, you'll receive a weekly email offering half-price tickets for everything from performances at the Wilma to historical walking tours.

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    Instead of paying high markups for a beer flight at a restaurant or professional tasting event, head to the Foodery in Northern Liberties and design your own. The Foodery features hundreds of different beers sold by the bottle, allowing you to try everything from Belgian lambics to mega-hopped IPAs and much more.

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    As urban areas go, Greater Philadelphia may have won the outdoor-space lottery. The Fairmount Park system offers 9,200 acres of public parks with opportunities to hike, bike, walk, play Frisbee, picnic and barbecue all for free. If that's not enough outdoors options for you, try one of the area's other gardens and arboretums ranging from the Brandywine Valley's Winterthur Estate to the Philadelphia Zoo to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, which is open all year long.

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    On the first Friday of every month, art galleries across Greater Philadelphia open their doors in the early evening, offering patrons free food and drink while they browse the new shows. Old City is the biggest hub of First Friday activity, but there are also First Friday celebrations in Mt. Airy, Doylestown, Lancaster, the Main Line and at galleries all across Philadelphia.

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  • 05 of 11

    Going on a date that centers around food doesn't necessarily mean oodles of pricey tapas and overpriced wine. Get gourmet grub from a much-loved food truck like Magic Carpet, visit an inexpensive BYOB like Pura Vida or if you've had your eye on dinner at a fancy romantic restaurant, try it for lunch or brunch instead.

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    Volunteering is a staple of cheap-date lists, but it's worth repeating. Helping out at a hunger-relief organization, cleaning up a park or doing another volunteer activity are great ways to spend time with someone for free—and you get to give back.

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    Get to know a neighborhood and explore the bounty of Philadelphia's massive Mural Arts Program. Alternatively, you can just wander around searching for fun.

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    Several groups, including The N Crowd, ComedySportz, and the Philly Improv Theatre offer regular improv and sketch comedy shows for less than you'd pay at a typical comedy club. Or, if you want to see stand up, attend an open mic night like Tuesdays at Helium, Wednesdays at the Laff House or Thursdays at the Raven Lounge. These events don't charge a cover and allow audience members to see comedians ranging from first-timers to some of Philly's best.

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  • 09 of 11

    Several Philadelphia museums offer free admission, including the Institute of Contemporary Art, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Fireman's Hall Museum and Polish American Cultural Center Museum. The Philadelphia Museum of Art also offers pay-what-you-can days on the first Sunday of every month.

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    There are so many places in Philadelphia to buy interesting, fresh, and delicious ingredients like the Italian Market, Reading Terminal Market, and farmer's markets all across Philadelphia and South Jersey. Go shopping together and cook up something wonderful. Not sure what to make? Check out a Philadelphia-centric cookbook like the Reading Terminal Market Cookbook or the Philadelphia Homestyle Cookbook.

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    Spend a day (or morning, or afternoon) exploring Philadelphia by bicycle. Take a look at these expert recommendations for Philadelphia bike trips or chart a path of your own.