Looking to plan the perfect date? Whether it’s your first date or your 500th, there are tons of fun things to do in Houston and the surrounding area for couples. The best part? You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a great time. With these free and cheap date ideas in Houston, you can have a night to remember while staying safe during these uncertain times and without breaking the bank.
Editor’s note: This was a guest post by Dana DuTerroil and Joni Fincham, founders of Trip Chandler, a two-woman team who creates guides to Houston and give tours of the city to visitors and locals looking for something new to do. We have updated the post in April 2021 to reflect current date ideas that are feasible during the pandemic.
Note: Prices shown are per person.
Trip Chandler Tip: Always bring cash for the tip jar! It’s a move that never fails to impress.
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1. Take a bike ride around the city
Rent Bicycles (check out this Groupon deal!) or take your own bikes along the city’s expansive network of trails. Check out our guide to the best biking trails in Houston and the surrounding area and see the city from a whole new perspective.
2. Get a CityPASS and see the city’s best attractions
Explore 5 of Houston’s top attractions, including the Houston Zoo, Space Center Houston, Downtown Aquarium, Kemah Boardwalk, and more, over the course of a weekend for nearly half off the regular price with Houston CityPASS.
3. See the bats fly at sunset
Meet at dusk for the evening emergence of Mexican free-tailed bats at the Waugh Drive Bat Colony Bridge along Buffalo Bayou. It’s a classic way to start a date night in Houston.
4. Go berry picking
Visit a local farm to pick strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and/or vegetables of all types depending on the season. Prices vary, but it’s normally very affordable and a great way to enjoy some fun outdoors. Great idea for a first date, especially if your date is into outdoor stuff.
5. Take advantage of free museum days at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Head to the Museum of Fine Arts on Thursday for free admission plus happy hour. Advance timed tickets are recommended right now. Trip Chandler Tip: Take in the view from the top of the newly opened BBVA Compass Roof Garden across the street.
6. Romantic Date Idea in Houston – Stop and smell the roses at this public garden
Take time to smell the roses with a stroll through the McGovern Centennial Gardens in Hermann Park.
7. Head underground for a tour – Unique date idea in Houston
Go underground with a tour of the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern featuring an immersive art installation by Carlos Cruz-Diez. Please note that face masks are currently required and additional safety measures are in place. (Starting at $7 per person)
8. Date Idea For Active Couples – Hit the trails in and around Houston
Hike the trails of the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center or any of the other great spots hiking in Houston. This is a great choice if you and your partner enjoy the outdoors. Houston has plenty of options.
9. Date Night Houston Idea from the comfort of your car – Catch a drive-in movie
Enjoy a drive-in movie at the Showboat Drive In or any of Houston’s new drive-in theaters that have recently opened. One of the fun things for couples to do in Houston.
10. Houston Date Idea For Couples That Love To Work Out
There are always free workout sessions being offered at various parks in and around Houston. Check out these great upcoming events at Discovery Green. There are also free online workouts currently offered by local parks like Levy Park, Discovery Green, and more for a safe and healthy at-home date idea!
11. Enjoy free art at the Menil
Meander the Menil Collection’s art-filled campus paired with a picnic on the lawn. Note: The Menil’s buildings are open Wednesday-Sunday. This is a great daytime date idea for Houston.
12. Date Night Idea for Couples Wanting to Stay In – Have a movie night at home
Do a movie night at home with a free one-month trial of Hulu. Choose from thousands of movies, from current hits to classics to cult favorites and more. Always a timeless idea for a date night in Houston!
13. Quirky but fun date idea in Houston – Story time for adults!
Check out the popular Grown-up Storytime series. You’ll laugh, think, and maybe even cry at the various stories. The event is being held virtually right now, but once the pandemic ends, it will once again be held at a local venue on a recurring basis.
14. Fun Date Night Idea – Have a laugh at a comedy show
Laugh until your sides hurt at one of the great free or cheap comedy nights in Houston. Many of these comedy nights have recently resumed after being postponed for a few months.
15. Rock out with this epic Beatles cover band
Hear the Fab Four cover band, Beetle, play their longstanding Thursday happy hour gig at the Continental Club from 7-10 pm. The event is being held virtually during this time due to the pandemic.
16. Romantic Date Idea in Houston – Head down to the beach
Head down to Galveston and enjoy some coastal distancing from the rest of the crowd. A Galveston beach walk at the sunset is one of the top romantic date ideas for a date in Houston! Galveston is a fun place for your next date and for more reasons than the great beaches.
17. Go on a mural tour around town
Houston has a ton of great murals all across the city, from Montrose to the Heights to Eado. Take a drive around town and enjoy free public art. Another great thing for couples to do in Houston.
18. Visit this purr-fect coffee shop right meow
Hang with the cool cats of El Gato Coffeehouse for an hour of feline therapy in their Cat Cottage. Reservations are currently required. Trip Chandler Tip: Set the mood with a look at Emily Ding’s mural, Onenessdepicting two elephants with intertwining trunks on the side of the nearby Nia Moves building.
19. Watch a movie in an old church
Take a seat in 14 Pews for interesting films screened in a former church (returning in September). ($10) Trip Chandler Tip: Discuss your movie reviews over Mai Tais at nearby tiki bar, Lei Low.
20. Take in the best architecture – Among our top picks for date night ideas for Houston
Take a self-guided architecture walk and discover Houston’s history led virtually by docents from Preservation Houston.
21. Immerse yourself in this breathtaking laser light show
Mellow out at the laser light show set to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon at the Planetarium in the Houston Museum of Natural Science. ($9)
22. Unique Date Idea in Houston – Boat tour through Downtown
Go with the flow on Buffalo Bayou during their 30-minute Boat Ride. Even though the Public Pontoon Boat Tours still stand canceled, Private Boat Tours are available for booking.
23. Show off your roller skating skills
Couple skate on Thursdays during adult skate night at the Dairy Ashford Roller Rink. ($7 entry; $3 skate rental)
24. Go on a group bike ride and make new friends
We are lucky that Houston has some fantastic biking trail options. Check out a social group bike ride, like Karbach’s Brews Cruise, Critical Mass, SW HTX Bike Club, and others. Visit BikeHouston.org for info about weekly and monthly rides in the area.
25. Discover your new favorite mystery novel
Hear true crime tales, thrillers, and mysteries at Murder by the Book’s author signings and readings, and browse their excellent collection of books while you’re there.
26. Free your mind at the Rothko
Meditate and relax at the Rothko Chapel. Trip Chandler Tip: Plan your visit when the Rothko Chapel offers concerts on the plaza with complimentary beverages from St. Paul’s. Arnold’s Brewing Company. (Donations welcome)
27. Shop local at a farmers market
Browse Houston’s excellent weekly farmers markets to shop locally made goods. You can then spend the afternoon cooking for the next meal. That can make for a unique and fun date!
28. Date Idea For Active Couples – Kayaking in the heart of Houston
Kayak on Discovery Green’s Kinder Lake. ($5) This is another one of those fun things to do in Houston that’s perfect for active couples! Trip Chandler Tip: Whisper sweet nothings with the help of the Listening Vessels in the Wortham Foundation Gardens.
29. Drive around town and see some remarkable roadside attractions
Houston has a number of impressive attractions you can see from the comfort of your car or get out and see up close. Highlights include the President Heads sculptures, Beer Can House, We Heart Houston sculpture, and more. Check out our full guide to the best Houston roadside attractions for more info.
30. Walk the loop at Memorial Park
Walk (or jog if you want to work up a sweat!) the trail at the best parks in Houston. One lap around the Memorial park trail is just under 3 miles, and you’ll enjoy some great trees and plants along the way.
31. Head to The Woodlands for some outdoor fun
Cruise down The Woodlands Waterway on a water bike, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard for a relaxing date, and then enjoy some dining and shopping after.
32. Taste the city’s best local craft beers
Sip some local craft beers at any of our great Houston breweries, like Saint Arnold Brewing, Karbach, New Magnolia, 8th Wonder, and more. Most local breweries have an outdoor beer garden area that’s perfect for social distancing. Check out the best sushi deals and happy hours in Houston.
33. Cruise around the Ship Channel for free
Note: This is temporarily suspended at this time due to the pandemic but will hopefully return soon.
Set a course for adventure aboard the Sam Houston for a free cruise around the Houston Ship Channel. Advance reservations required. This is one of the most unique and fun things to do in Houston for couples.
34. Houston Date Idea For Competitive Couples – Friendly (?) game of paintball
Let your competitive streak shine with some outdoor paintball at Paintball USA. You can have lots of fun on your date without spending a ton of money. Don’t miss out on the big 90% discount (while tickets last).
35. Bring your four-legged friend out for a day at the park
Take your pups along on the date for some fun at any of the great Houston dog parks around the city.
What are some of your favorite date ideas in Houston? Let us know by commenting below!