The 2014 I Love Memphis Guide To Cheap Dates

Posted by Holly Whitfield | June 18th 2014 13010 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. Don’t worry, though, because there are plenty of creative, ahem, cheap date ideas in Memphis.

You can listen to the June 2014 I Love Memphs Podcast BONUS Clip below, where I share my tips with the gentleman of MemphiSport Live Radio, then keep reading for more tips and details.

1. Elmwood Cemetery

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 9.18.21 AM

Elmwood Cemetery is more park than graveyard. There are hills and winding roads and plenty of trees that lean dramatically over ornate monuments of angels, flowers, and stranger things, and lots of famous dead Memphians.

Cost: Free, $5 for a map, and $10 for an audio tour.

2. Gibson’s Donuts

Gibson's Donuts, Memphis, Tenn.

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. Black Lodge Video Movie Night

Black Lodge Video, Memphis, Tenn.

This is a variation on the affordable stay in and “watch a movie” date. There’s nothing romantic or really fun about standing in front of a Walgreens picking out a Redbox DVD while a family of four in line behind you argues over which “Ice Age” they’re getting that night. Same for watching your computer/TV screen say “buffering” for who-knows-how-long. Instead, take a trip to Black Lodge Video and peruse all manner of flicks and TV shows, from cult classics to horror to family-friendly films to blockbusters.

Cost: Less than $5 per DVD.

4. Free Concerts and Shows

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Especially in the summer, you can find plenty of free music in Memphis. The Levitt Shell concerts are just one of the series’ where you can bring chairs, snacks, drinks, and hear tons of great local and national (even international) acts. Other concerts: Jams on Beale (Friday nights in Handy Park), Sunset on the Square in Collierville (Thursday nights), and Red Hot Summer Music (Wednesday nights at the gazebo in Cooper Young).

Cost: free.

5. The National Ornamental Metal Museum Grounds


The Metal Museum grounds are open when the museum is open, and it’s free to walk around outside. You can check out the outdoor sculptures and the sweeping views of the Mississippi River, but note that there are admission fees to get inside the buildings. If you do pay for admission (just $6 for adults and $4 for students, well worth it!) pack a lunch, see historic and modern metalworking exhibits, then enjoy a picnic on the grounds. Be sure to clean up after your picnic; the Metal Museum is a unique Memphis venue and we should respect it.

Cost: free – $6 per person

6. Redbirds Game


If you’re looking for a casual, but classic place to take your date, take them 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

summer drive in

Clean your car out, pick your date up, grab some take out and BYOB, and see a double feature at Memphis’ only drive-in movie theatre.

Cost: $7.50 per person for two movies, plus cost of snacks and drinks you bring yourself.

8. Upstairs at Earnestine & Hazel’s

earnestine and hazels

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 the bartender tells the best stories.

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

9. Pay-What-You-Can / Free Days

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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 is free on Saturday mornings and PWYC on Tuesdays. 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). Many performing arts groups have PWYC nights for different performances, including Playhouse on the Square. All of Threepenny Theatre Company’s performances are PWYC. Do a little digging and a little planning and you can access a lot of the arts and fine arts for cheap/free.

Cost: free/pay-what-you-can

10. Dog Watching at Shelby Farms or Overton Bark

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If you’re both dog lovers, or better – if you both have dogs – a dog park is a good, casual spot. It’s also nice, safe public place to meet someone for the first time if you plan to go during a busy time. I’ve tested this one out, and it was fun.

Cost: free.

11. Just Order Dessert


There are a couple of ways to take this. For a casual day date, get frozen yogurt at YoLo, ice cream at La Michoacana, milkshakes at A. Schwab, snow cones at Jerry’s if you have the patience/heat resistance, or pick out something sweet at Sweet Noshings. Or you can get the fancy restaurant experience without buying all the courses (or committing to a full-length dinner with someone you’re just meeting). Some of my favorite places for desserts are: Beauty Shop for crepes, gelatos, and the best darn strawberry and coconut cake on the planet; Hog & Hominy for gelato and whatever insane pie concoction they have they day (picture above is the peanut butter pie), Cheesecake Corner downtown for cheesecake, or try one of chef Felicia Willet’s Southern desserts on the gorgeous new patio at Felicia Suzanne’s.

Cost: Under $10 per person, at most places.

What are your favorite cheap Memphis date ideas? Leave ’em in the comments.

Ed. Note: This is an updated version of last year’s post.

Show Comments


  1. Amanda Hill says:

    Great post! The Summer Drive In is one of my favorite things in the city.

  2. We like going to the batting cages at's usually just a few bucks and you can play arcade games too!

  3. Jenna says:

    Fun post! Now I wish I'd been able to go to some of those places while I was in Memphis – like A Schwab, and Felciia Suzanne's (both which I walked by, but didn't have the chance to go in) 🙂

  4. Lindsey says:

    I’ve done all of those and have had fun! Great ideas, Holly!

  5. Mack Oates says:

    Forest Hill Wine Merchants. I know we're in Germantown (Poplar & Forest Hill). But we have lots of couples come in on a Date Night and just walk around and look at wine bottles. I never thought we would be a good cheap date place, but it seems we are. 

  6. iAmBaronVonTito says:

    Putt-Putt, yes! They have a special on Saturdays: $8.50 gets you unlimited putt-putting, a twirl on the go-kart track, or the bumper boats, and arcade credit.  It makes for a brief, casual date that puts the two of you against the world while you're elbow deep in aliens and killer robots. 

  7. iAmBaronVonTito says:

    PS- you get popcorn and a drink too.

  8. Liz Auguste says:

    The Dance on Broad dance parties have been extremely fun and the are completely free!

  9. Dawn says:

    Music plus downtown Memphis

  10. Shivam Patel says:

    Who the F goes to an effing cemetery for a date?

    And secondly why is that number 1 on this ultimate hipster list?

    I am sorry to say, but I am truly embarrased and significantly more dumb after reading this article."I award you no points and may God have mercy on your soul"

  11. Leah Roberts says:

    Just now seeing this and personally feel like Shivam Patel couldn't be more wrong – there's no way he could get any dumber!  Clearly no imagination, romance or fun in him.  Thanks for the article.  Keep 'em coming.


    The Native Memphian who actually LOVES MEMPHIS – man, we have tons to do here!

  12. […] a few for how to celebrate with your sweetheart. If you’re looking for inexpensive date ideas, click here. If you’re looking for some local sweet treats, click […]

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