10 Healthy (and Cheap!) Dates to Plan in Philly This Summer

Hit the refresh button on your dating life with these fun and affordable outdoor date ideas.

summer date ideas

Planning a fun date in the summer doesn’t need to be expensive. Here are 10 affordable summer date ideas in the city. / Photograph by Caroline Cunningham

Gone are the days when dinner and a movie was the benchmark for a decent night out. To help spruce of your repertoire of potential date ideas, we’ve compiled a list of local activities that are fun, health-conscious, and — most importantly — utterly romantic.

The best part is all the ideas listed below are budget-friendly and some are even free (with a little effort, of course). Grab your significant other and get ready for a summer of outdoor fun in Philly.

Water-side skating and cocktails on the pier

First: Go roller skating at the Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest (101 South Christopher Columbus Boulevard, Delaware Waterfront).
Then: 
Refuel at Morgan’s Pier with snacks and drinks (221 North Columbus Boulevard, Delaware Waterfront).

Nothing breaks the ice quite like face planting in front of the potential love of your life. Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest is an outdoor experience that is sure to impress any date — that is, if you can manage to keep both feet on the ground. Admission is only $5 (plus $10 if you need skates), but if you want to skip the rink and potential embarrassment, try your hand at one of the many carnival games or hop on the Ferris wheel. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, take a 10-minute stroll to Morgan’s Pier to enjoy some refreshments — like a fresh salad, hummus, flatbreads, and boozy ice pops — while enjoying views of the Delaware River.

A walk on the artistic side with a vegan-friendly twist

First: Take a self-guided mural tour and walk Mural Mile (starting points and routes for both the North and South lines can be found here).
Then: Indulge in plant-based dishes at Charlie Was a Sinner (131 South 13th Street, Midtown Village).

If your date had a paint brush and palette emojis on their online profile, this is sure to win you some extra points. Take a stroll through Center City via the Mural Mile, an outdoor mural walking tour created by Mural Arts Philadelphia. The self-guided tour has two routes, consisting of over a dozen diverse art pieces, and is over two miles long. After you’ve taken in the sights from the city’s beautiful murals, visit Midtown Village mainstay, Charlie Was a Sinner. This vegan spot has a slew of tasty menu items including zucchini “crab cake” sliders and roasted cauliflower steak. They also have delicious and beautiful cocktails and mocktails, so you can sip in style. For the best bang for your buck, go for happy hour, which happens 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. during the week.

 

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Stroll through an audio art exhibit, then hit an outdoor movie

First: Experience Soundwalk (throughout Fairmount Park).
Then: Enjoy a movie under the stars at Sunset Social (129 South 30th Street, University City).

Okay, okay, fine: This involves watching a movie — but outdoors! And, my friend, this date is completely free. (Miraculous, we know.) First, explore the new sound art installation, Soundwalk, which will guide you through Fairmount Park to the sounds of composer Ellen Reid. Then, follow-up your relaxing music walk with an outdoor movie screening at Cira Green’s rooftop bar, Sunset Social. The showings happen every Wednesday at 6 p.m. through September 29th, so you can opt for dinner, drinks, and dessert during the film!

Chill on the river, followed by craft beer

First: Go fishing at Bartram’s Garden (5400 Lindbergh Boulevard, Southwest Philly).
Then: Head to Dock Street Brewery for a bite and locally brewed beer (701 South 50th Street, West Philly).

This one is for couples who enjoy passing the time in tranquil ways. Every Wednesday from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Bartram’s Garden hosts free fishing on the river — bait, rod, and tackle included. If you’re a first-time angler, don’t fret, basic instructions will be provided upon arrival to help you hook your first catch. After casting your line a few times, pack up and head to Dock Street West for a meal and a brew. They have over 12 beers on tap and offer goodies like trio fries — a heavenly combination of potatoes, sweet potatoes, and leeks. Mmmmm.

 

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Juice at the end of a trail

First: Hike the Wissahickon (check out five different trails here).
Then: Chill out with a fresh fruit and vegetable smoothie from The Juice Room (7127 Germantown Avenue, Mt. Airy).

A hike in the Wissahickon is more than just a walk in the park. There are dozens of trails to explore and most of them trek along the Wissahickon Creek, providing the perfect backdrop for a romantic outdoor date. If you need a little motivation to get you through your journey, just remember there are refreshing fruit smoothies waiting for you at The Juice Room in Mt. Airy. Serving a variety of made-to-order fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies, a stop at this juice bar is the perfect way to end your health-conscious day out.

Sweat away the stress at a sauna

First: Relax in an infrared sauna at The Wellness Refinery (216 Church Street, first floor, Old City).   
Then: Head to Cherry Street Pier for an array of activities (121 North Christopher Columbus Boulevard, Delaware Waterfront).

This unique date experience is bound to cultivate positive vibes between you and that special someone. Saunas provide several benefits including reducing stress, anxiety, and tension, which means so long first date jitters. And yes, you will sweat profusely but that’s the point! (If you don’t want to sauna together, opt for the individual 30-minute experience for $40.) Once you’re done — and you’ve made sure to grab one of their signature smoothies on your way out — take a 10-minute walk to Cherry Street Pier. At the open-air riverfront space, you’ll find a range of events — like food fairs and artisan markets — depending on the day. Be sure to enjoy local fare at The Garden restaurant while there. (Pro tip: On Tuesdays, tacos are $1!)

 

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Bike ride into the sunset and end in the park

First: Rent an Indego electric or classic pedal bike (locator available on app).
Then: Drop that bike off at a station closest to a Parks on Tap location.

You may have seen those sparkly blue bike stations at various places in the city, but did you know that renting an electric bike to explore is surprisingly affordable? Indego offers 24 hours of access to classic and electric bikes for $12 per person, with unlimited 30-minute rides. To make the most of your new two-wheel ride throughout the city (in the safest way possible!), visit one of two Parks on Tap locations in the city — one at Water Works and the other at Trails End — to enjoy snacks, beer, and simply the company of another person.

Tour the Penitentiary at night

First: Explore Eastern State Penitentiary at twilight (2027 Fairmount Avenue, Fairmount).
Then: Stay for snacks and beer.

This summer, Eastern State Penitentiary is hosting Summer Twilight, which includes tours of the historic Fairmount cellblocks as the sun goes down. The series — which costs $19 to $32 depending on the day — runs Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings starting at 6 p.m. through September 4th, and includes an audio tour. Make an entire night of it by staying for snacks and drinks in the on-site beer garden, which features brews from Triple Bottom Brewing Company.

 

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Views from the Ben

First: Stroll or run along the Ben Franklin Bridge.
Then:
Cool off with a summer favorite at some of Philly’s best ice cream shops.

If you’ve ever taken a ride to New Jersey from Center City, chances are the journey took you over the Ben Franklin Bridge. But the bridge is more than a gateway to the shore. Its breathtaking view of the city also makes for an adorable Instagram moment, and you can capture it all with a stroll or run along the bridge’s south-side walkway. Since it’s summer and you’ve undoubtedly worked up a sweat in the heat, cap off your date at a local ice cream shop — from Scoop DeVille and Franklin Ice Cream Bar in Old City to 1-900-Ice-Cream in Fishtown.

Go for a swim, then have a picnic

First: Go for a swim in one of Philly’s public pools (various locations found here).
Then: Curate a park picnic for two.

Beat that sweltering city heat at one of the many free public pools throughout the region. Grab your partner, pack a tote bag to float, splash, and swim until you’re pruney and cold. Yes, you could get dressed and head to a boring dinner (not that we don’t love a fancy meal), but what’s more romantic than enjoying a quiet, DIY picnic in a nearby park?

Additional reporting by Laura Brzyski, Stephanie Haenn, and Bailey King.