Financial website calculated the average date in America today ­­ – consisting of a dinner and movie for two – costs $123.

We can’t speak for the rest of the country, but in Grand Rapids, you can have a great time for considerably less. We’ve compiled this list of date-night (and day) spots that won’t break the bank – in fact, they range from $0-$30. Whether you’re embarking on a first date or looking for a fun activity to do with your long-term partner, if you’re on a budget or not, these ideas will make for a memorable occasion.

Festival of the Arts in Downtown Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids is known for hosting free music events at public spaces, like Rosa Parks Circle in the summer.

Photo by Nick Irwin for Experience GR

Free Live Music

Check our Free Music Events page for no-admission concerts all year ‘round. They range from no-cover charge performances at bars and restaurants to summertime entertainment series in parks (like Ada Music on the Lawn), public spaces (such as the Relax at Rosa lunchtime entertainment series) and cultural institutions (including GRAM on the Green concerts at the Grand Rapids Art Museum).

Free Festivals

Grand Rapids hosts a wide variety of cultural festivals throughout the year that are free and open to the public. Food and drink is generally available for purchase, but it costs nothing to appreciate the music, dancing, costumes and more that celebrate regional and global heritages. The city’s two biggest free festivals are good for multiple dates: ArtPrize (Sept. 13-28, 2024) is an international art competition that brings hundreds of works of art to the streets, sidewalks, parks, bridges and buildings of downtown Grand Rapids. World of Winter (Jan. 10-March 2, 2025) offers outdoor art installations, entertainment, games and special Valentine’s Day programming.

Family and friends visiting the Grand Rapids Art Museum and their Creative Learning Center.

The Grand Rapids Art Museum offers free admission all day on Tuesdays and on Thursday evenings!

Photo by Leigh Ann Cobb for Experience GR

Free & Low-Cost Museums

Enjoy free admission to the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) all day Tuesday (noon-5pm) and Thursday evening (5pm-8pm). The Bruce Dice Mineralogical Museum at Calvin University and is always free. So is the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve and Native Gardens, a sort of open-air museum. There’s no admission charge for the Grand Rapids African American Museum & Archives (GRAAMA), though a donation is much appreciated.

Get the digital Culture Pass GR voucher to visit GRAM, GRAAMA, the Grand Rapids Public Museum, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and John Ball Zoo for one low price of $28. You’ll also enjoy discounts on opera, ballet, theatre and comedy shows. The price is good for three days from the first time you use it, so you can plan a string of culture-filled dates.

Free Fitness

Take advantage of our Grand Outdoors to have an active date. Hike or bike on 100+ miles of paved and natural trails. Canoe or kayak down the Grand River. Climb the boulder walls at Highland Park. Play a round of disc golf. Take a romantic stroll along the downtown riverwalk or a self-guided walking tour of downtown murals. Visit 20+ social districts around the area to enjoy an adult beverage while you walk outdoors and see the sights.

Lookout Park, 2023

Lookout Park is the perfect destination to catch a sunset or bird's-eye view of Grand Rapids.

Photo by Paul Jendrasiak for Experience GR

Picnics in the Park

Most Grand Rapids city and Kent county parks – there are more than 100 of them – are free to use and feature a wide range of scenery and terrain, from forested trails to riverside lookouts. Virtually all of them offer perfect picnic spots – including the hilltop Lookout Park, which delivers sweeping bird’s-eye views of downtown GR and the Grand River valley. Pack your own picnic or take advantage of summer food truck gatherings at Lookout Park (Thursdays) and Riverside Park (Fridays).

Dancing in the Dark

The Grand Rapids Original Swing Society hosts public swing dancing every Tuesday evening in various downtown locations – including outdoors in Rosa Parks Circle during the summer. A $5 donation is requested but lessons are free.

Ice Skating at Rosa Parks Circle in Downtown Grand Rapids

For just four dollars, you can rent a pair of ice skates and spend the evening skating around Rosa Parks Circle in the winter.

Photo by Brian Kelly for Experience GR

Skating Under the Stars

Ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle is a great affordable activity. Adult admission to the outdoor rink is $4 and it include skate rental. It’s only available during the winter, of course. Numerous nearby bars and restaurants offer a place to warm up with a hot cocoa or spiced drink after your session.

Discount Movies

Monday and Tuesday night movies at the historic Wealthy Theatre in Uptown cost $8 if you buy them in advance online and $10 at the door. The theatre shows a mix of classic, foreign and arthouse films. Movies at Roger B. Chafee Planetarium in downtown GR are immersive experiences exploring the wonders of the universe and for just $5. ($4 if you also purchase a Grand Rapids Public Museum ticket.) Evening tickets for first-run movies at the GQT Ada-Lowell 5 theater range from $5.50 on weekdays to $9.75 on weekends.

Broad Leaf Brewery and Spirits

There are plenty of places to play pickleball around Grand Rapids, but the courts at Broad Leaf Brewery are one of a kind!

Photo by Courtesy of Broad Leaf Brewery & Spirits

Game Nights

Play a huge variety of board games at downtown GR’s House Rules Board Game Lounge for just $5 per person. Snacks, beer, wine and cocktails are available, and a new kitchen opening May 2024 will expand the menu. Play pickleball at free courts around town or at Broad Leaf Brewery + Spirits, where you can also enjoy a meal and a brew. Broad Leaf court time starts at $30 an hour and paddle rentals are $3 each. Play all the arcade and pinball games you want at Lowell’s Retro Electric Play for $9/hour, $12 for two hours and $15 all day long. Pinball Land in Rockford features seven themed rooms full of games, for $9/hour, $15 for two hours and $20 all day.

If you prefer to watch other people play, tickets to West Michigan Whitecaps baseball games at LMCU Ballpark (April-October) start at $11. There are awesome food & drink specials to make your dollar stretch further – like Thrifty Thursdays, when you can get $3 beers, $3 hot dogs and $3 sodas. 

Animal Adventures

Bond over your love of animals at the Happy Cat Café, where you can spend an hour cuddling friendly felines for $13 per person on weekdays. Order a specialty coffee, tea or mocktail to sip during your visit. Follow the Wildlife Trail at Blandford Nature Center to view several of Blandford’s wildlife ambassadors – admission is just $3 per person (and includes access to 264 acres of additional trails, historic buildings and more). See if your pets get along as well as you do at a dog park or dog-friendly beach.

The Clique Bowling Alley sign in Grand Rapids, MI

Bowling is a classic activity that never seems to get old, and Grand Rapids has a variety of alleys to check out!

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

Pin Dropping

Bowling is certainly an affordable way to spend an evening. Rates at Clique Lanes, the bowling alley closest to downtown GR, range from $4.50 to $5 per game, depending on the night, and $9 will get you three games and shoe rental from 9pm-closing Monday-Thursday. Wenger’s Bowl, a mile or so from the Clique, offers weekday rates of $3 per game/$3 shoe rental and weekend rates of $5.50 per game/$4 shoe rental. If you’d rather knock down pins with a football, head to Fowling Warehouse – unlimited open play is $14 per person, and there are two fully stocked bars to keep your thirst quenched.

Rib Ticklers

Comedy Outlet Monday at The Comedy Project is a weekly, always one-of-a-kind comedy variety show featuring new improv, sketch, standup music and experimental comedic acts. Tickets are $5. Tickets to weekend shows at The Comedy Project range from $10-$12. Admission to Sunday Night Funnies at Woody’s Press Box – featuring comedians from across the Midwest – is free and guests can take advantage of an extensive drink and food menu.

Millennium Park

Spend all day relaxing or swimming at Millennium Park's beach.

Photo by Nick Irwin for Experience GR

Fun in the Sun

You can spend all day at the Millennium Park beach, five minutes from downtown, for $4 per person. Lake Michigan beaches are just 30-45 minutes away, and while you’ll have to pay to park on site, you can find close-by free parking for a number of them, and just walk to the lakefront. It’s always free to stroll the Grand Haven Boardwalk leading to the pier and lighthouse, which is especially romantic in the glow of a glorious sunset.

A Taste of GR

Taste the wines at Rockford’s Kayla Rae Cellars for just $1 per sample (and $6 per glass). Wine tasting at Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery is $8 per person. Get the Flights of Flavor pass to savor drinks and dishes meant to be shared, including a $9 gluten-free beer flight at Brewery Nyx, $9 taco flight at the Beltline Bar, $7.95 ice cream flight at Love’s Ice Cream & Chocolate, $12 wine & cheese flight at the 707 Winery & Brewery, and much more. You’ll earn points toward cool merchandise with every order!

Cheap Eats

The Cooking Channel’s Cheap Eats series once profiled Anna’s House, Donkey Taqueria, Stella’s Lounge and The Winchester as local exemplars of affordable dining. But they’re not the only inexpensive eateries in town, nor are they even the cheapest. One of our favorite contenders for the latter honor is Yesterdog – named the Most Legendary Restaurant in Michigan by LoveFood – where you can still get the namesake Yesterdog hot dog for $3.40.

You can find more cheap eats by browsing our Restaurant Listings. Many individual pages display dollar signs to categorize the approximate cost per person for a meal. One dollar sign ($) indicates that meals are generally $10 and under, and two dollar signs ($) indicates $10-25.


Whether it’s dinner and a movie or some other combination of food and activity, we guarantee you can do it for a lot less than the $123 national average here in Grand Rapids. Have a great, inexpensive time!