Deck of Cards Dates: 52 Free or Cheap Date Ideas in DC!


Several years ago, I saw an idea on Pinterest for creating a deck of cards dates. This is a way to catalog 52 different date ideas from which a couple could choose date night (or day!) activities. I put one together for my husband for Valentine’s Day and it has been a constant reference guide for us when we need to switch things up beyond a meal at a favorite restaurant. Because childcare already costs an arm and a leg, I wanted to focus on free or cheap date ideas (excluding the Smithsonian museums since those are always a given!). Some skew traditional, some are rather unconventional, but they all make for a great outing in DC with your sweetheart!

My deck of card dates I made for my husband.

My Deck of Cards Dates

  1. Make a picnic to can enjoy at the National Arboretum
  2. Get a strike at The Eleanor‘s bowling lounge in NoMa. 
  3. Channel your inner real-estate mogul and visit random open houses in different neighborhoods.
  4. Mini-golf at East Potomac Park. It’s only $7 for adults!
  5. Catch some live music at a coffee shop. Songbyrd Music House and Record Cafe has lots of free or low-cost concerts. Or visit Tryst for live music to accompany your lattes on Monday – Thursdays from 7:30 – 10 pm. 
  6. Triple lutz for love! Visit a local ice skating rink during the winter months. While the one at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden is the most iconic, there are plenty to choose from in the city. 
  7. Think you know your DC history? Join a pay-what-you-wish DC By Foot tour for a low-cost, highly engaging time. Be sure to check out the haunted DC ghost tours for an extra spooky date. 
  8. On a chilly evening, indulge in s’mores over an open fire pit at The Wharf. 
  9. Can you spot a shooting star? Grab a blanket and sit out under the starry sky. Join the stargazers in Rock Creek Park on select Saturdays April through November! 
  10. Visit a vintage wonderland like Miss Pixie’s and see what treasures you can find. Give each other a budget and see who scores the sweetest deal. 
  11. Matinee movies are only $6.50 at Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market, where you can find some of the best current (and classic!) movies playing. 
  12. Paint some pottery at All Fired Up in Cleveland Park. Bonus: Tuesday evenings are date nights with 15% off! 
  13. Visit a bookstore and cuddle up together with a new find. At Kramerbooks and Afterwords, The Potter’s House, Sankofa Video Books & Cafe, or Solid State Books, you can combine book hunting with a great cup of coffee or sweet treat. 
  14. Act like a tourist! Viewing the monuments at moonlight (sans kids) is a very special experience. 
  15. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to see a show at the Kennedy Center! Catch a free performance every day at 6 pm on the Millennium Stage.
  16. Join the “world’s largest treasure hunt” with a geocaching adventure. 
  17. Listen to authors discuss their works at events at Politics and Prose. Most of these events are free. 
  18. Have a Top Gun moment and watch the planes soar overhead at Gravelly Point
  19. There are so many options for a nearby scenic hike. For a daytime date, check out the trails in Rock Creek Park or Great Falls.
  20. Channel your inner Marie Kondo together. Blast some motivating music and clear out your clothes closet and donate to a local charity such as Martha’s Table or Suited for Change.  
  21. Kite flying isn’t limited to the cherry blossom festival! Dust yours off on a windy day at let it soar. 
  22. Vino, vino, vino. Check out City Winery for a wine tasting for just $10!
  23. Wine not your drink of choice? Woman-owned Republic Restoratives also offers tours and tastings of their distillery for just $12. 
  24. Prefer hops? Try DC Brau for a free tour of their brewery and take home some of their goodness in a growler (or two!). 
  25. Hit up H Street Country Club for all-night happy hour on Tuesdays, and play a game of skeeball or shuffleboard while you’re at it. 
  26. More into Clue, Scrabble, or Battleship? The Board Room DC has you covered with tons of new and classic games and great drink prices. 
  27. Volunteer together! There are countless organizations and causes to support with your time throughout DC. 
  28. Admission to one of the most beautiful places in DC, Dumbarton Oaks Gardens, is free from November 1 through March 14 each year. 
  29. You don’t have to have your kids with you to enjoy the zoo!
  30. On late spring and summer evenings, enjoy an outdoor film at any number of DC locations (most of them are free!). From Union Market to Canal Park to Georgetown, you and your honey can snuggle up together under the stars with a favorite flick. 
  31. Get out of your comfort zone (and your quadrant) and explore a new-to-you neighborhood.
  32. Take a trip to a local farmer’s market and pick up some goodies from local vendors. If you can swing it, the USDA Farmer’s Market (running May through October on Fridays) is an absolute delight, with live music to boot. 
  33. Wake up super early and catch the sunrise over the water (of course this is dependent on a super early bird childcare provider!).
  34. Take a goofy photoshoot around town. With so many amazing new murals to choose from, you will have no shortage of Insta-worthy backgrounds
  35. Visit an animal shelter and give love to a furry friend. The Human Rescue Alliance even has fun activities like yoga with kittens!
  36. ArtJamz will encourage both of you to “unleash your inner artist” with their classes or freestyle painting sessions. 
  37. Have a swim and a soak in the pool and hot tubs at a DPR aquatic facility (we love Turkey Thicket!). 
  38. Cheer on the home team at a sports game. If tickets are too much, watch the Nats for free at The Bullpen, or catch a Caps game at a local bar. 
  39. Attend Philips After 5 at the Phillips Collection on the first Thursday of each month. For just $12, you get art, entertainment, and live music. Members are free! 
  40. Make it a group date: grab some friends and test your collective knowledge at trivia night at any number of local bars.
  41. Combine a leisurely stroll around Georgetown with coffee and cupcakes from Baked and Wired
  42. Want an incredible view of the city? Head up to the Old Post Office Tower for 360-degree views. This is run by the National Parks Service, so admission is free! 
  43. Another stunning view of the city can be seen across the Anacostia from Frederick Douglass’ home on Cedar Hill. Get a free tour, too.
  44. Brush up on your DC history by visiting the DC History Center inside of the stunning newly renovated Carnegie Library in Mount Vernon Square. 
  45. In warmer weather, get out and on the water at any number of boating spots. Rent a kayak, paddleboard, sailboat, or more. 
  46. Grab your bikes and explore the Metropolitan Branch Trail!
  47. The Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are a truly hidden gem that is a must-see in the summer peak bloom. But it is also a lovely spot for a romantic stroll anytime throughout the year.
  48. Want to learn a new hobby together? Check out free offerings from your local public library. From film showings and book clubs to yoga and meditation classes to craft activities, you’ll find something you and your better half will love together!
  49. You don’t need to pay big bucks to get in some laughs. There are free comedy acts throughout the city! Our favorite neighborhood spot for cider, Capitol Cider House, has free comedy shows each month. 
  50. Get a caffeine buzz for free! Local coffee roaster Small Planes Coffee has free coffee tastings each month where you can discover your next favorite brew. 
  51. The largest (and one of the most beautiful) libraries in the world is right here in DC! Stroll through the truly gorgeous Library of Congress and discover history through their ongoing exhibits. 
  52. Is your honey a European football fiend like mine? Watch a FIFA game at Lucky Bar

Feel free to comment where YOU like to go in the city for an inexpensive date!

*This post has not been sponsored by any of the linked businesses! These are just places my husband and I truly love. 

Previous article50 Tiny Resolutions For Busy Moms
Next articleCelebrate with Bright Horizons at Courthouse and Ballston
It took Juliet a while to fall in love with DC but, a dozen years later, she wouldn't want to live anywhere else! Juliet and her fellow native New England husband have 2 school-aged girls and a toddler boy, and love raising them in this vibrant city. A former middle school teacher and marketing assistant, Juliet is currently a SAHM in NW DC, on a block happily filled with many other young families. She loves laundry day, visiting ALL the museums, reading historical fiction, eating sweets, theatre, and planning overseas adventures.