The I Love Memphis Guide to: Cheap Dates

Posted by Holly Whitfield | July 9th 2013 27570 0

Sometimes, you want to show that special guy or lady how much you care, but you can’t afford to take them to Restaurant Iris or hold their hand courtside seats to a Grizzlies game.

Here are nine Memphis date ideas for when your heart is more full than your wallet.

1. The Lamplighter

I know a dive bar doesn’t sound like the most ideal date spot, but hear me out: it’s cheap, it’s usually pretty quiet (unless there’s a band), there’s a secluded back patio, and you can pick out a soundtrack together on the incredible jukebox.

Cost: $1 for the Jukebox, beers are in the $2 – $5 range.

2. Gibson’s Donuts

It’s late, neither of you want to go home yet, but you’re not really up for another bar. What to do, what to do? Gibsons, my friends. The east Memphis donut shop is open 24 hours a day, and the people watching improves as the night goes on. If you need it to be super cheap, all donuts are half price between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Cost: Less than $5 for the both of you. With coffee.

3. Levitt Shell Concerts

The Levitt Shell concert series (and the mid-summer Concert Film Series) make for excellent cheap dates. It doesn’t matter who’s playing – the bands are great, but not the point. The point is lounging on a blanket, eating a picnic dinner and listening to free music.

Cost: free.

4. Downtown Hotel Rooftops

The views are incredible, they’re quiet, and there’s no cover (as long as it’s not rooftop party night). The Peabody Hotel roof has more space, but the Madison’s rooftop bar has a cooler, loungier vibe (and cocktails).

Cost: free.

5. The National Ornamental Metal Museum Grounds

The Metal Museum grounds are open when the museum is open, and admission is free. You can check out the outdoor sculptures, the working blacksmith shop, and the sweeping views of the Mississippi River. You’re welcome to bring in a picnic, and you can either eat it on the grounds or atop one of the earthen mounds across the street.

Cost: free.

6. Redbirds Game

If you’re looking for a casual, but classic place to take your date, take him to a ballgame. Tickets to Redbirds games aren’t crazy expensive, but they’re even cheaper (as in, less than $10) if you opt to sit on the grassy bluff in left field.

Cost: $6 if you buy in advance, or $9 at the gate.

7. Summer Drive-In

Clean your car out, pick your date up, grab some take out (bonus points if you already stocked the car with movie candy and drinks) and see a double feature at Memphis’ only drive-in movie theatre.

Cost: $7.50 per person for two movies

8. Upstairs at Earnestine & Hazel’s

I’ve tested this one out, and I can say with certainty that I’ve never had a bad date at Earnestine & Hazel’s. Buy your beers (and a $5 Soul Burger if you’re hungry), then head upstairs to the ex-brothel portion of the building. There are tiny, semi-private rooms with tables and chairs that are perfect for serious conversation. Also, if it’s a weekend, the bar upstairs at the end of the hallway is open, and Nate, the bartender, tells the best stories.

Cost: beers are in the $3 – $6 range, burgers are $5.

9. Pay-What-You-Can / Free Museum Days

Most of the museums in Memphis have a day when admission is free. The Brooks is pay-what-you-can on Wednesdays, and the Dixon’s pay-what-you-can day is Tuesday. The Memphis Zoo is free for Tennessee residents on Tuesday afternoons, and Mud Island River Park is always free (as long as you walk across the bridge / park on the Island and skip the museum).

What are your favorite cheap Memphis dates?

Show Comments


  1. Matt says:

    Splitting a BBQ tofu nacho at RP Tracks makes for a nice, sometimes sloppy, cheap date night.

  2. Deby says:

    Pink Palace Museum is also free on Tuesday afternoons.

  3. Jon Taylor says:

    The Civil Rights Museum used to be free on Mondays (even to non TN residents) but I've heard that's changed. 

  4. Gini Kirk says:

    Elmwood Cemetery – good for history buffs or lovers of ghost stories 🙂

  5. Trent from North Memphis says:

    Picnic in Tom Lee at 5:00pm

  6. chuck says:

    Yes, I agree the Lamplighter is a romantic spot.

  7. Robin says:

    Joanne beat me to it, though I thought perhaps you did that ironically.

    A picnic at the park (Mud Island is nice) is cheap, and a homemade sandwich shows you care.  

  8. Colin says:

    Robin, you spelled JoAnne's name wrong.

  9. Angela says:

    Playhouse on the Square has a Pay What You Can night for each performance at all three theaters. It takes a little more planning, but a great way to have an in expensive night of theater! 

  10. My husband and I had our first date at Summer Drive-In over twenty-two years ago. We saw Silence of the Lambs and Sleeping with the Enemy. I guess that should of been an indication of how things were to go with the marriage, huh. The divorce will be final in 6 weeks or so. Still it's a great venue and tons of fun!

  11. Jenelle says:

    I just heard that Mud Island Riverpark is charging $6 to park on the island.  Still a great place to go for a cheap date!!

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