10 Cheap Summer Date Ideas in Metro Phoenix

It's summer, you're cheap, and you've got a date. Don't worry, we're here for you. Here are 10 low-cost summer date ideas so you don't look like a total stingy loser.

10. Watch a baseball game
Arizona’s one of the biggest baseball hotbeds in the world, and there’s almost always a game going on (if you know where to look). The Valley’s spring training stadiums are used for minor league games toward the end of the summer and well into the fall, and that’s not even counting the dirt cheap tickets available for D-backs games or even collegiate contests. Arizona League games are often free, and you can generally get tickets to almost any game in town for under $20 if you look hard enough.

9. Check out a museum
Want to look cultured for your date? Take them to a museum. Phoenix Art Museum is free every Wednesday from 3 to 9 p.m. and on First Fridays. If you have a slightly bigger budget and want to really impress them, head to the Musical Instrument Museum. It’s a pretty mind-blowing experience, and only costs $20 (or less) to get in. Check their websites to see when the next free or discounted day is.

8. Catch a cheap movie
Movie tickets are expensive, but most movie chains offer discounted matinee shows and/or cheaper student tickets (if you've still got your old college ID). There are also generally deals to be found at places like FilmBar and Tempe Pollack Cinemas, if you'd rather show your date how artsy you are.

7. Go to a street festival
Whether it’s centered around food, art (more on that later), music, or whatever else, it seems like there’s always one city or another blocking off a few streets to put on a festival each summer weekend. Sure, the biggest and best ones, like the Independence Day celebration at Tempe Beach Park will center around the summer holidays (Memorial Day, 4th of July, etc.), but the smaller ones tend to be free (or sometimes $5) to check out and generally still have plenty to see and do. Try the Cave Creek Balloon Festival if you're up north, it's $5 and a good place to start.

6. Window shop Old Town Scottsdale
You know all of those little shops that line the streets next to all of the bars and clubs you get drunk at in Scottsdale? The ones you look at and wonder who ever buys anything from any of those? Well, this is your excuse to spend one day (or evening) roaming around those shops and looking for things you might actually buy. It’s also a good way to see just how much turquoise jewelry one person can stand. 

5. Hike a trail
According to an infographic we’ve seen on social media far too many times, “hiking” is the top word in Arizona residents’ online dating profiles (at least on one of the major dating sites). Yeah, no one wants to go hiking at 3 p.m. during the summer, but this is your chance to try out one of the Valley’s dozens (or maybe hundreds) of hiking trails during the morning or evening. Just don’t pick anything that’s too strenuous and will end with you calling in a rescue helicopter for your date. Check out our easy hikes list for more info.

4. Take a free (or cheap) class
We know you haven’t been inside of a public library or community college in years, but this might be the time to change all of that. Libraries, community colleges, and other public places where people go to learn things generally host different events and classes during the summer (usually in the evenings) for people who don’t have anything better to do. Maybe you weren’t dying to learn how to waltz or paint the perfect watercolor saguaro, but the price on those types of classes usually makes them a good enough excuse for a cheap date. For instance, the Scottsdale Public Library has classes on knitting, networking, and writing children's stories coming up, among others). Check your local library and/or community college for more possibilities.

3. Spend an evening at First Friday (or another art walk)
Over the last few years, Metro Phoenix has gone the way of SoCal and put an art walk/celebration/festival in every town. Whether it’s First Friday or Third Thursday or Second Tuesday or Fourth Sunday (alright, we might’ve made some of those up), they’re a really good place to take a date, because anyone who’s been living in the Valley for more than a few months has heard someone mention them. If it’s the first time they’ve been, the misguided newbie might even be super excited for it. Of course, there's also Third Friday, Scottsdale Art Walk, Sunnyslope ArtWalk, and various other art walks in just about any town, neighborhood, or city in the Valley.

2. Walk around Tempe Town Lake
“You know what would make Phoenix really cool? A giant cement puddle right by where all of the college kids get drunk.” We’d like to think that’s how the pitch for Tempe Town Lake went, and we’re probably not that far off. Realistically, the lake is still one of the landmarks around town, and it’s a rather pleasant walk (since Phoenix isn’t so great at the whole “large parks” thing). Plus, when you’re done walking, you’re close enough to Mill Avenue that you can just head out there for dinner and drinks. If you're not in Tempe, the Scottsdale Waterfront is an awful good place for a date walk near water as well.

1. Take a day trip to Jerome
Flagstaff is a little far, but it’s still doable in a day. If you ask us, we’d rather save some of the gas money and go to Jerome. Aside from getting a change of scenery (and climate), the town is made for tourists, meaning there’s at least enough little galleries and shops to look at for a day. Really though, if you’re going to take a day trip from Phoenix, there’s not a whole lot to see going east or west, and south just takes you to Tucson. We guess you could go to Tucson if you really wanted to, but does anyone ever really want to go to Tucson?

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Josh Chesler
Contact: Josh Chesler