BEST Phoenix Date Ideas (You've Probably Never Heard Of!!!)
Your local Phoenix Event Oracle is on track with fun, free, and cheap date ideas for you and that special someone to do right here in Phoenix. While Phoenix is known for its sprawling fancy suburbs, not everything in Phoenix has to come with a high price tag. Whether you're on a budget or want to try something that isn't a "typical" Phoenix tourist trap, the all-knowing Oracle has just what you're looking for. It can be difficult to find affordable date options. This hotter than a cat on a hot tin roof town truly has a lot to offer, from high-end dining and shopping, fun outdoor adventures, and even some hidden treasures that you'll only know if you're a local (or are fortunate enough to be favored by my crystal ball!) If you live in the area or are heading to town for a short visit, here are the best FREE Phoenix date ideas night or day that you should check out while here. Or, if you need to know what is going on today in Phoenix, visit the Best Events in Phoenix Today.
3110 N Central Ave #175, Phoenix
3110 N Central Ave #175
Phoenix, AZ 85013
Free, fun and certainly different, it's time for Naughty or Nice Drag Bingo! This is what you get when you mix drag queens, bingo and prizes by Off Chute Too, Arizona's largest men's underwear store. Be prepared for cheeky banter with host Olivia Gardens, laughs and a night out at a gay bar that is mostly known for it's karaoke nights. This may not be your cup of tea, but if you and your date are looking for just such a thing then this might be a fun place to break the ice and see who yells "bingo!" first.
2000 E Rio Salado Pkwy, Tempe
2000 E Rio Salado Pkwy
Tempe, AZ 85281
Every Friday and Saturday night at the Tempe Marketplace you can catch live music on their district stage. Music starts at 7pm and goes until 10pm, and a different band plays each night. Hear some of the valley's favorite local bands with a variety of genres like rock, funk, indie, r&b, blues, punk, soul, etc. And while you are there enjoying the free music you can also do a little late night shopping (and spend just a little something on your sweetie), or catch a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants at Tempe Marketplace. You might also find interesting art installations, holiday skating or other seasonal festivities all happening in this community/retail space.
333 E Roosevelt St
Phoenix, AZ 85004
The Artlink's First Friday Artwalk is a great way to spend an evening once a month on the. . .you guessed it. . .first Friday of the month. Galleries and cultural centers are open for free to the public, as well as areas such as Roosevelt Row where you'll find street vendors selling all manor of things. If you really want to get serious and find out about specific exhibitions and art happenings during the event, you can sign up for Artlink's newsletter on their website, which will keep you informed.
But downtown Phoenix is so big you say. Well the Oracle happens to have the answer to that dilemma. There's a free trolley that runs especially for First Friday Artwalk. Park your car at any of the three hubs, and take the free trolley. Or ride the cities light rail system (which unfortunately isn't free), which takes you through the heart of the city. It is all very easy really, and with Phoenix's famous good weather, it's sure to be a great evening that also doesn't break the bank.
OK, this isn't exactly free, but when you consider the alternative of a dinner out in a fancy restaurant, you'll find the bill at your favorite food truck to be considerably less. And you never know. . . the food might actually be better! There's actually a Phoenix Street Food Coalition whose website has a list of tons of Phoenix area trucks, along with website and facebook links for each truck. The Coalition also has a facebook page where they often list where certain trucks are on any give day. Got a favorite truck? This might be the place where you can track down where they are in case you have a hankering for that extra special Sonoran Dog or your favorite Asian Street Fusion fare.
It's fun to go through the list of trucks, pick out one you haven't tried and track 'em down for a special lunch or dinner treat. Or check out Food Truck Friday at the Phoenix Public Market. There you'll find seven or eight different trucks for your noshing pleasure.
1201 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix
1201 N Galvin Pkwy
Phoenix, AZ 85008
Before you start fussing over the fact that in fact the gardens has quite a hefty fee on most days, there is one day a month you can visit the gardens for free all day long. That day is the 2nd Tuesday of every month and is worth marking your calendar for, as the gardens is a world class destination with over 140 acres of desert landscape. Also, children under three and members are free, along with free general admission for active military personnel with valid government ID. No matter when you decide to go however, remember this is desert landscape so be smart when its hot out and bring a hat, water, sunscreen and sturdy walking shoes. Oh, and don't forget your camera as well!
The gardens is well known for its exhibits and events. Outdoor art exhibits often help bring the garden to life with things like sculpture and light. Or come for one of their special events, including musical, food and family related fun. If you do decide to visit on a free 2nd Tuesday you can choose to spend all the money you saved on the entrance fee at their patio cafe, fine dining restaurant or gift shop.
This amazing program of free ballet performances happens once a year in September. Catch one of several performances around the Valley at several unique outdoor settings and parks. They dance pieces from classical to contemporary and it is the perfect opportunity to expose your children or even yourself for the first time to this timeless dance form. There is no assigned seating, or any seats at all at these performances. Bring a blanket or lawn chair with you. The weather is generally perfect at this time of year, so there won't be any worry about rain (or snow for that matter).
The performances usually span a four day period with events happening at four different locations. That means if you just loved it and can't get enough, then you can potentially catch the show a 2nd or even 3rd time... all for free!
1625 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
1625 N Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85004
The Phoenix Art Museum has what they call "Voluntary-Donation Admission" times scattered throughout the month. This is a pay-what-you-can type of offer for general admission that is very much worth taking advantage of. The times are: Wednesdays from 3 pm–9 pm, First Fridays from 6 pm–10 pm and Second Sundays from noon–5 pm. This means that there is a time that works for almost everyone when they can go to the museum for a pittance. After all, art should be for everyone. Add to that a program offering military personnel and their families free general admission, including veterans and you have some great opportunities for everyone in the community to experience great art. Keep in mind that voluntary-donation dates do not include special exhibitions.
The museum has three floors of exhibits. It is always good to check online first to see if certain exhibits or galleries might be closed, as it is rather frustrating to look forward to seeing your favorite piece only to find out it is off limits at the time. Still there is always something inspiring or interesting to see at the Phoenix Art Museum.
300 W Camelback Rd, Phoenix
300 W Camelback Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85013
Did you meet your date while browsing the aisles of your local library or nearest bookstore? Then the Oracle has the perfect FREE events for you. Check out the calendar of events at the Changing Hands Bookstore, which has three locations, and you'll be pleased to see a plethora of weekly talks, lectures and book signings. And if you are an avid reader, you will know what plethora means! Be forewarned that some of the events require a ticket purchase for the more well-known authors and celebrities, but many of the author events are free. As an extra bonus, the Phoenix location has a book bar! Yes a real bar serving beer, wine and coffee drinks so as to complete your literary evening with your bookworm sweetheart.
525 S Central Ave, Phoenix
525 S Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Head on down to the Duce on Wednesday nights with your date and you will find yourself immersed in their urban cowboy country dance night. And just in case you've never done a lick of country dancing in your life, there's a dance class for free starting at 8pm. After that it is open dance night until midnight, so there's plenty of time to show off that nifty new pair of cowboy boots you just scored at your local thrift shop. To sweeten the deal, there are plenty of drink specials including a Kentucky mule and hillbilly tea. The Duce is housed in a good sized warehouse, so there's plenty of dance floor. If country dancing isn't your thing, then try Tuesdays for swing dancing or Thursdays for Latin dancing, although those nights do have a cover charge. Maybe country dancing is starting to sound pretty good after all.
203 W Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85003
203 W Adams St
Phoenix, AZ 85003
If you and your date are lucky enough to have free time on Tuesday afternoons, you can catch a free tour of the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix. There are two tour times on alternating Tuesdays. Tours are at 12pm and 1:30pm, both led by volunteer docents who are more than happy to share their knowledge of the theatre and its history. And what a history it has had considering it opened its doors in 1929 and has seen good days and bad days. It has now been returned to its days of glory thanks to renovations that cost in the millions. Grab your camera and spend an hour learning about this magnificent house of entertainment and its over-the-top architectural details. No reservations are required for parties of less than 8 persons.
4750 W Mohave St, Phoenix
4750 W Mohave St
Phoenix, AZ 85043
Although the Oracle agrees this is not the most romantic of date possibilities, it is free and unique! Have you ever wondered what happens after you click buy while shopping on the all powerful Amazon website? You've just bought the latest kitchen gadget or that book that's going to teach you how to knit. Visit one of Amazon's fulfillment center where your recent purchase magically gets plucked from the shelves, packed and shipped to you in seemingly no time at all. Tours are about 1 hour long and can be booked online. Arrive with flat closed-toed shoes, a minimum of personal items (no cameras allowed) and your curiosity. Tours are held seven days a week with several times to choose from.
Historic City Hall, 17 S 2nd Ave, Phoenix
Historic City Hall, 17 S 2nd Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85003
The Phoenix Police Museum is small but also very interesting. It is open weekdays from 9am to 3pm and is located in the Historic City Hall on the first floor. There you will find many exhibits, historical vehicles and interactive tours. The museum covers over 130 years of Phoenix police history including the story behind the Miranda case which resulted in the rights read to every person who is arrested. The case started in 1963 with an arrest in Phoenix of a suspected kidnapper and resulted in the rights we've all seen on cop shows that start with, "You have the right to remain silent". The Oracle realizes that this isn't up everyone's alley but if you and your date have a penchant for all things criminal then this just might be the perfect oddball date for you.
If you and your honey are into getting into shape and that takes the form of lacing up a pair of running shoes and hitting the trail, then this is a fun idea for the two of you. Each and every week on Wednesday evenings starting at 6pm there is a group run sponsored by Runner's Den. All levels are welcome and you can go only as far as you want. The run takes you out and back along the Arizona Canal and through the Biltmore. Or you can do an alternating Thursday trail run at Dreamy Draw Park, also starting at 6pm. There are 3 levels of skill to choose from, although all levels still run (not hike), and being a night run a headlamp or flashlight is required. Or lastly join a once a month 3-5 mile run that starts at the Shake Shack at the Uptown Plaza and the first drink is free! Added incentive for sure.
308 N 2nd Ave, Phoenix
308 N 2nd Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85003
If dark clothes, dark thoughts and dark music are your thing, then grab your date, don some dark eyeliner and head on over to the Crescent Ballroom on Friday nights. The Witching Hour starts at 11pm and the best part is there is no cover fee. The music is alternative new wave, synth, minimal, post-punk and goth with DJ Xam Renn. Music includes both past and present tunes, but probably a lot of stuff you've never hear of but will probably like if dark is your color. This event takes place in the lounge and goes until 2am and of course is for ages 21+.
Libraries are for everyone and they most certainly aren't just about books anymore. Sure you need a library card to take out items like books, music or videos, but there are so many different events, classes and art exhibits that you can attend even without a card. The Oracle does suggest however that you register in advance for those events where attendance is limited. With 17 different libraries spread across the Valley, you'll be certain to find one near you, so something fun and interesting is never far away. There are a lot of events and programs especially geared towards kids, teens and even babies! There are ever changing art exhibits, special events and book clubs, book discussions and lectures.
Need help with your career? Or computers and technology? Or maybe your internet is down and you just need to jump on a computer for free. They have all that too. There really is a wide range of classes, free events and services to be found all around the Valley at the Phoenix Public Libraries.
Everyone knows that Phoenix is one of those cities that gets so hot, that you really can fry an egg on the hood of a car. And it isn't really possible to keep kids inside all summer long, even if hanging out in the air conditioning is exactly what you want to do. That's where Phoenix's numerous Splashpads come in. There are several parks dotted around the city that have splashpads for your kids (or you) to play in. Nine to be exact. What exactly is a splashpad you ask? Imagine water squirting out of all kinds of fun and interactive spouts, that are safe for your kids to run through, get wet and get cool in. Bring along some towels, cool drinks, sunglasses and a hat, and plenty of chemical free sunscreen and you are all set for some wet and wild fun.
The Phoenix Parks and Recreation site lists the following parks as having splashpads: Altadena, Civic Space, Dust Devil, Edison, Francisco Highland, Mountain Vista, Nuestro, Pecos and Trailside Point parks. They operate from the last Saturday of May through October 1st. Here are some tips to remember when bringing your kids to a splashpad. First, let your kids know that even if they are thirsty, they shouldn't drink the water from the nozzles, which means you should also bring lots of water for them to drink. Make sure all the kids are playing nicely with each other by keeping an eye on them. As mentioned earlier, bring lots of chemical free sunscreen and reapply often. And if your little ones are still in nappies, then be sure to change them immediately if they are soiled. And last but not least, don't be afraid to get a little wet yourself. After all. . .five minutes in the Arizona sun and your clothes will be dry! For another kid friendly idea that includes water (the frozen kind), try cooling off at the Arcadia Ice Arena where they have public skates, lessons and more.
231 N 3rd St, Phoenix
231 N 3rd St
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Even if you aren't a Catholic, you might appreciate the history and beauty of the Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (or St. Mary's Basilica for short). We don't think twice about going to a beautiful church in Paris or Rome, but forget about the ones right here in our own cities. Sitting at the corner of Third St. and Monroe, it is a peaceful oasis of color and beauty found in the middle of a fast-paced modern city. Founded in 1881 and rebuilt starting in 1903, this is the 2nd oldest church in Phoenix. The rebuild took place in two phases starting with the basement in 1903, and finishing with the upper church in 1913. It was done in the mission revival style, with the interior being Romanesque. The church was declared a minor basilica in 1985 by His Holiness Pope Saint John Paul II, who visited in 1987
But what's so special about this church you say? Well for starters it has some really wonderful stained glass windows done in the German or Munich style, which involves detailed painting on larger plates of glass. Also while at the church you might be blessed to hear the 80 year old bells ring, as they were lovingly restored in 2006. You may be imagining something like the Hunchback of Notre Dame pulling like crazy on the ropes each day to make them ring, but today they are simply set to a timer. Maybe you will be blessed to hear the pipe organ or simply take a stroll in the garden. Even if you never go in the church itself, you will find four wonderful bronze statues in the garden along with a soothing fountain. Three of the statues are done by Michael Myers from Prescott. There is Mother Theresa, St. Francis of Assisi and Pope John Paul II. A fourth bronze statue by Gary Lee Price is called Circle of Peace. Children play and laugh in a circle, holding hands and sending us a message of hope, peace and joy. And one last reason to visit the church. . . a really sweet gift shop. The Southwest is no stranger to religious iconography, and this little shop has some really wonderful Catholic inspired artwork done by local Arizona artists.
Papago Park Hole-in-the-rock Trail
Phoenix, AZ 85004
This unique geological feature is located in Papago Park which is just minutes from downtown Phoenix. Papago park is host to two major Phoenix attractions, the Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Gardens. The park range contains several sandstone buttes rising and falling throughout the landscape. Hole-in-the-Rock butte is just one of the natural phenomenon in the area. Because it is sandstone, and sandstone is a relatively soft rock, this rock has. . .you guessed it. . . a huge hole in it. You might even say it is natures picture frame, as the view out from the hole itself is rather picturesque, showcasing the city of Phoenix. It is a super fun place to take some great photos or selfies.
You can get there by going to the Papago Park visitor's center parking lot. From there you will find the Hole-in-the-Rock trail. It is a relatively easy hike of maybe only 10 or 20 minutes, depending on how fast you walk. This is one of those fun, easy places to take kids too as it is not too strenuous or long. Just remember that the park has a ban on dogs on the trails once the temperature reaches triple digits. Once you arrive at the butte you will be met by an interesting chamber like space in the rock towards the top of the butte. But what is even better is on the back facing wall of this rather large chamber is a hole right through the rock. The path up to the chamber is a pretty easy climb. Of course it is a popular place, so expect there to usually be others there and at times it can even get crowded. Of course even a short walk in the heat can have you hankering for a cool drink with a seaside vibe, so the Oracle recommends the nearby Salt Cellar Restaurant for a late afternoon libation and some wonderful seafood appetizers.
Several Locations including Uptown Phoenix
5505 N. 7th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85014
This date night possibility won't let you escape totally scot-free, but you will certainly save a few dineros if you go during their various happy hours. Not only are there the usual types of drink specials, but they also have a long list of tapas (small plates) priced from $1.50 to about $5, many falling in the $2 price range. The food is mostly Mediterranean, so you'll find things such as hummus, pita pizzas, falafel, chicken sliders and baba ganoosh (try spelling that without looking it up!). The food is delicious, fresh and healthy. With restaurant prices endlessly rising, these tasty small plates of food for just a few bucks are a sweet deal. Just take note that although Pita Jungle is a chain with many locations in the valley, not all locations have the same happy hour times or specials. Check out the uptown Phoenix location for both early and reverse happy hour times. The downtown location however seems to only have an early happy hour. Best to check with the location you plan on visiting before getting your hopes up for their $2 dolmades.
700 W Rio Salado Pkwy, Tempe
700 W Rio Salado Pkwy
Tempe, AZ 85281
The Tempe Center for the Arts is a great place to catch some live entertainment with its picturesque location on Tempe Town Lake in a 17-acre lakeside art park. But if you are looking for something that doesn't involve shelling out big bucks for a ticket, you should still give TCA a visit because their art gallery is always free. They advertise as having thoughtful and engaging exhibits that rotate. Local, national and international artists are featured in a variety of mediums and cultural interests. The gallery is closed Sunday and Monday, open until 6pm on weekdays and until 7:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays. You may park in the nearby garage for free if visiting the Gallery at TCA.
Arizona Biltmore Resort, Phoenix
2400 E Missouri Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85016
Mesa Arts Center, Mesa
1 E Main St
Mesa, AZ 85201
Tempe Center for the Arts, Tempe
700 W Rio Salado Pkwy
Tempe, AZ 85281
We admit it, this last one isn't free. It is one of our favorite date spots though and if you haven't heard of it, you're in for an evening of magic that will leave you and your date looking at each other and saying, "how did they do that?" The Carnival of Illusion is a vaudeville style magic show that will keep you on the edge of your seat – and maybe holding your date's hand – for the duration. They will certainly have you mesmerized, laughing and even participating in the show, making this is a great evening for special nights out like birthdays, anniversaries, date nights, and celebrations.
Shows are on select Friday and Saturdays at three favorite Valley locations, the Arizona Biltmore Resort, the Tempe Center for the Arts, and the Mesa Arts Center. Each of these locations has something special (and FREE) to offer if you decide to arrive early for the show. Both the Mesa Arts Center and The Tempe Center for the Arts have art gallery spaces to wander through and admire. Or spend some time admiring the award winning architecture at the Mesa Arts Center. And for an architectural journey back in time, The Arizona Biltmore Resort is worth a walk around to admire the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired design. The Oracle knows that Carnival of Illusion is MUCH MORE than just a Great Magic Show. It's the only place to experience Magic, Mystery, and OOOH La La!
These are just a few of the many fantastic date night options you'll experience in Phoenix. It can be tough to find a cheap date idea that's fun, entertaining, and romantic, but free dates can very well be some of the most memorable ones. You don't have to spend a lot of money to have a great time in Phoenix, and as you can see, there's something that's fun (and free!) for everyone - the Oracle sees one of these exciting date ideas in your near future.
We'll look deep into our crystal ball for any additional date ideas for future posts - if you have any suggestions or recommendations for unique date ideas in Phoenix, be sure to let us know!