Date night is an excellent opportunity to explore our amazing city, indulge in delicious food and drinks, and most importantly, spend time with the person you love the most. These affordable date ideas in Ann Arbor offer all of the above — with significantly lower price tags than your typical date night experience. Many activities are under $10 per person and most (if not all!) are under $15. Our list includes everything from laid-back activities like tea time and cocktail sipping to action-packed adventures like laser tag and bowling.
Whether you’re taking someone out on a first date or you’ve been married for decades, there’s something on this list for you and your significant other!
If you are starting your date early, consider a laid-back coffee shop hang — ideally at Stovetop Roasters. From the charming doodles that adorn both their bags and their shops to their award-winning (and locally famous) baristas, you can always tell just how much love goes into the coffee and the atmosphere at Stovetop Roasters. You can taste their expertly roasted and brewed coffee in the Stovetop Coffee Roasters Lab & Roastery in Ann Arbor. And for more coffee roasters in the Ann Arbor area, click here.
Play Laser Tag at Zap Zone
The Ypsilanti Zap Zone is one of our favorite places for laser tag, but that’s not all they have! Enjoy an entire day of fun with bumper cars, an arcade and a virtual reality experience, all providing an opportunity to act like kids again. Choose one of these activities for just $8 per person!
The University of Michigan’s art collection is among the oldest in the nation. Years before the great art museums of Detroit, Toledo or Chicago were founded, UM students and the general public had free access to the on-campus gallery. Today, you can explore more than 20,000 works of art, special exhibits and educational experiences. Admission is still free, but a $10 suggested donation is always appreciated.
Domino’s Farms began back in 1925 and The Petting Farm, located on what is now a 20-acre farm in Northeast Ann Arbor, opened its doors in 1984. When you stop by, you can visit with alpacas, cattle, chickens, ducks, goats, llamas, peacocks, pigs, ponies, sheep, rabbits and Badger the cat! General admission is just $6 — and $5.50 for seniors and free for children 23 months and under.
This educational facility on the north side of Ann Arbor encourages sustainability, understanding and regular nature encounters. Join the fun and visit the grounds, trails and raptor enclosures outside any day from sunrise to sunset. The Critter House is open most Sundays from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and allows you to observe frogs, turtles, snakes and more. And better yet, admission to the Leslie Science & Nature Center is always free!
Save a few bucks by eating at home, then splurge on a fancy cocktail or a local beer at Mash or The Last Word. Both offer excellent environments and extensive drink lists to make it a truly special occasion. Plus, Mash offers live music nearly every day of the week! Check out more live music destinations in Ann Arbor (including venues, restaurants and bars) here.
We know, we know. Movie night isn’t always the cheapest date option, once you add up popcorn, candy and the movie tickets themselves. But if you opt for a matinee at Michigan Theater or State Theater, you’ll only pay $7.50 per person — leaving you with a few extra dollars to stock up on snacks! Founded in 1928 and 1942, respectively, Michigan Theater and State Theatre are beautiful historic theaters hosting a variety of movies, plays, concerts and other events throughout the year.
Leave your big bills behind and pack your quarters for an evening at Pinball Pete’s! This nostalgic pinball arcade opened its doors more than 30 years ago and has since become the A2 destination for old school fun. Spend your quarters along the entire wall of pinball machines, play video games, and challenge your date to a game of pool or air hockey!
Photo Courtesy of Eric Branson via Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum are two educational and environmental gardens on the UM campus. The botanical gardens include 11 outdoor spaces full of bonsai, native and medicinal plants, perennials, and more, which bloom seasonally from spring to first frost. During the colder months, enjoy their year-round indoor conservatory filled with plants from around the world. Stretch your legs at Nichols Arboretum, one of the richest landscapes in the region. It spans miles of trails and land with collections of native and exotic trees and shrubs crafted into a landscape that was begun by O. C. Simonds in 1907. While admission to both Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum is free, parking is $1.80 per hour with a $5 daily maximum charge.
Originally opened in 1984, this comedy favorite offers a lineup of up-and-coming stand-up stars as well as nationally touring acts. The 18+ venue has hosted Tim Allen, Drew Carey and Ellen DeGeneres in the past, and has a calendar full of events every single weekend! Tickets for shows at the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase typically range between $5 and $15.
Book lovers will love a laid-back date night exploring the miles of bookshelves at Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tearoom. Plus, enjoy free live music on Friday and Saturday nights from 8 to 10 p.m.! Pick up a new book, sip on tea, and hear live music — all in one setting.
The Creature Conservancy began back in 2005 when Al the alligator was left abandoned at the door of a local veterinary hospital. He was soon joined by a sloth rescued from a trailer park, a macaw left at a pet boarding facility, ball pythons found in a dumpster, and iguanas wandering loose on the UM campus. Now, you can meet Al, Poco the sloth, Tulip and Maybelline the red kangaroos, as well as all their friends at this nonprofit on Saturdays and Sundays between 1 and 5 p.m. Admission to the Creature Conservancy is $10 for adults and $8 for children ages 2–12.
The Grotto aims to be “everyone’s watering hole” — and they have certainly achieved this. This lively hotspot features 36 constantly rotating craft beer taps from all across the country and the world, plus shelves of world-class bourbon scotch and other spirits, an excellent wine list, and a variety of creative cocktails. Plus, they are a hotspot for live music during the summer! Keep an eye on their Facebook event page to see what artist is playing on their patio next.
Ann Arbor’s favorite tea spot, TeaHaus, offers options suited for a quick stop or an entire afternoon — from single mugs to full English tea! Peruse their lengthy tea catalog to plan which flavor you want before you get to their teahaus in the Kerrytown district. Pair your tea with a scone plate, which features two scones served with clotted cream, lemon curd and jams.
Revel and Roll offers 27 lanes of bowling as well as billiards tables, interactive and virtual video games and chef-inspired dining options in case you work up a hunger. Save a few bucks by scheduling your date night around their specials, including $3.59 bowling games and discounted arcades on Sunday nights, $12.89 for unlimited bowling (including shoes) on Monday and Wednesday nights, $2.88 bowling games, $2.88 food and drink specials, and discounted arcade games on Tuesday nights, and more.
Paddleboat Down the River
Ann Arbor Parks & Recreation offers a variety of boat rental options, including a 1.5-hour and 2.5-hour river trip, 2-hour stillwater paddling, tubing down the Argo Cascades, and more. For just $12, you can rent a paddleboat at the Gallup Livery for an hour. See all the details about all boat rental options here.
During the winter, the University of Michigan ice arena, Yost Ice Arena, offers programs like Public Skate, Noon Skate and Sticks-n-Pucks. All three allow you to skate at one of the most recognized and iconic rinks in college hockey! Public Skate admission is $6 for adults and $4 for students, kids and U-M faculty. For $3 more dollars, you can rent skates, too. And Noon Skate prices are even lower. Get all the pricing details here and be sure to check the arena schedule before you go.
Love is in the air!
What affordable date ideas in Ann Arbor would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!