It can be tough to come up with new ideas for your next date night, especially if you’re trying to save money. So, we came up with a list of some cheap date night (or day date) ideas around East Texas to not only get you out of the house but to give you an experience that won’t stress your wallet.
As you scroll down, you’ll find an estimated total cost per couple, and the most expensive date on this list is $32. But the majority of our recommendations are free or under $20.
[ Jump to ideas: a picnic & view | zoo animals | an active side | a historical twist | quality time | a view of the stage ]
Enjoy a picnic and a view
A picnic is a simple and easy to hang out together and not break the bank on food. You can pack however much, or little, you want and find a great spot to enjoy your feast. Here are some great places to enjoy a picnic:
Lake Nacogdoches East Side Park
Free | Nacogdoches
When planning a trip to Lake Nacogdoches, don’t forget about the picnic tables, swimming area, barbeque pits and restrooms. The lake is stocked with Largemouth bass, Crappie and Sunfish.
Lake Nacogdoches East Side Park is located at 127925 FM 225 in Nacogdoches. Click here for a Google map.
TOTAL COST: Free
Millard’s Crossing Historic Village
$4 or $10 | Nacogdoches
Millard’s Crossing Historic Village is a reconstructed historic village in Nacogdoches, filled with early buildings, antiques, tools and memorabilia that are part of the cultural heritage of Texas. The buildings range from log cabins to Victorian homes and they were all moved from their original location to their current place at Millard’s Crossing to preserve their history.
A self-guided walking tour is $4, and an adult guided tour is $10. The village is open from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Mondays – Saturdays and from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. on Sundays. It’s located at 6020 North Street in Nacogdoches. Click here for a Google map.
TOTAL COST: $8 or $10
Nacogdoches Statue Trail
Free | Nacogdoches
To commemorate important individuals and their roles in the development of the state, a series of seven statues were erected at various locations within the city. Each one is the work of an accomplished sculptor. The Nacogdoches Statue Trail provides visitors and townspeople alike with an understanding of some of the people and events that have played central roles in the Nacogdoches’ history.
TOTAL COST: Free
Old Mill Pond Museum
Free | Lindale
The Old Mill Pond Museum is filled with historical memorabilia dating from the 1850’s to the 1950’s and everywhere in between. It consists of 14 buildings on 30-acres and attractions include a model train exhibit, working mill, water wheel, blacksmith shop, a collection of automobile and tractors and more.
The Old Mill Pond Museum is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Thursdays – Saturdays. It’s located at 2900 South Main Street in Lindale. Click here for a Google nap.
TOTAL COST: Free
Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center
$5.50 | Athens
Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens is an interactive museum where you can tour a hatchery, check out exhibits and even go fishing! They offer both dive shows and hatchery tram tours. You can enjoy a picnic outside by the lake, and if you want to go fishing you can get poles and bait for free.
Their off-season hours (September – February) are 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wednesday – Saturday and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. on Sunday. Their regular season hours (March – September) are 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. on Sunday. Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is located at 5550 FM 2495 in Athens. Click here for a Google map.
TOTAL COST: $11
Tyler Rose Garden
Free | Tyler
The Tyler Municipal Rose Garden is a 14-acre park, which makes it the largest rose garden in the nation. There are over 35,000 rose bushes of more than 400 varieties ranging from tall rose trees to miniature roses. And though they may not be in bloom all year, the garden is open from dawn to dusk 7 days of the week. The garden has a meditation area with reflecting pools, flowing fountains and a rustic gazebo…all perfect to enjoy a picnic by.
It’s located at 420 Rose Park Drive in Tyler. Click here for a Google map.
TOTAL COST: Free
Tyler State Park
$6 | Tyler
Play at the lake, wet a hook, wander through the trails, or relax with your binoculars at Tyler State Park. You can boat, fish, swim in the lake, mountain bike, picnic, camp, bird watch, walk, hike and just enjoy nature. There’s plenty to do!
Admission is $6 for adults. The entrance to the park is located at 15007 FM 14 in Tyler. Click here for a Google map.
TOTAL COST: $12
Hang out with some furry creatures
Visiting a zoo isn’t just for kids! You can enjoy some exercise while you walk around and it’s a great, casual, laid-back atmosphere to not only spend some quality time with your date, but also learn about animals.
$14.50 | Tyler
Caldwell Zoo welcomes over 300,000 visitors every year to see their thousands of animals from all around the world. They have more than 3,400 animals in North American, South American and East African habitats. Caldwell Zoo is very nature-based and interactive, designed to connect people with animals in a way that will create memories.
Admission is $14.50 for adults. Caldwell Zoo is located at 2203 West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Tyler. Click here for a Google map.
TOTAL COST: $29
East Texas Zoo & Gator Park
$8 | Grand Saline
The East Texas Zoo & Gator Park is a one-of-a-kind destination in East Texas. It’s part zoo, part alligator park, part petting zoo and a whole lot of fun! It houses dozens of alligators, from hatchlings all the way up to 14 feet long monster reptiles. All of the enclosures put you close enough to the gators to get a feel for them, but safe enough to stay safe. During the warmer months, the staff have scheduled alligator feedings. Everyone who is at the park can gather around the alligator pond and watch the gators swarm together for their feeding.
Admission is $8 for adults and it’s located at 9515 FM 1255 in Grand Saline. Click here for a Google map.
TOTAL COST: $16
Ellen Trout Zoo
$7 | Lufkin
White Rhinos, Malayan Tapirs, Maasai Giraffes and free-roaming Peacocks are just a few of the animals you’ll see at The Ellen Trout Zoo. The zoo houses over 800 mammals, birds and reptiles from around the world.
Admission is $7 for adults.
The zoo is open every day starting at 9 a.m. and it’s located at 402 Zoo Circle in Lufkin. Click here for a Google map.
TOTAL COST: $14
Get your heart rate up
If you’re in the mood to do more than sit around, then these East Texas attractions may be perfect for you. They’re all activity-based and budget-friendly.
Aerial Yoga at Fly & Love
$15 | Flint
Don’t be afraid to test your boundaries and limits on a date. Aerial yoga is a great way to do that. (See our Aerial Yoga adventures here) Founded in yoga principles of alignment and effectiveness, you will stretch, tone, play, laugh and rest. Suitable for beginners and all levels. And if you’re an animal lover then their partnership with O’Malley Alley Cat Rescue of Tyler may be a great fit. They generally have anywhere between 10 and 20 studio cats who occasionally participate in classes. Click here for a class schedule.
Drop-in classes are $15 per person at Fly & Love yoga lounge in Flint. It’s located at 17968 FM 2493 in Flint. Click here for a Google map.
TOTAL COST: 30
REO Roller Rink
$8 – $13 | Longview
Skating around a rink is a great blast from the past for many, and it’s also a great cheap date. Roller skating is fun for people of all ages and there are many places to do it around the area, so if you’re not close to Longview just search for a rink close to you.
Admission into the REO roller rink depends on the date and time you want to go. Admission ranges from $8 per person to $13 per person. You can click here for the price and hour breakdown. It’s located at 4716 West Loop 281 in Longview. View a Google map here.
TOTAL COST: $16 – $26
Times Square Grand Slam
$6 – $32 | Tyler
If dinner and a movie isn’t quite your thing, don’t count out Time Square Grand Slam in Tyler. In additions to the big screen movies, they offer bowling, laser tag, ropes course, virtual reality and an arcade.
The price for laser tag, ropes course and virtual reality is $6 a game for 1-4 games, then $3.50 per game for 5 or more games.
The walk-in price for bowling varies depending on the time of day and which day you go. But you can get a lane for $15 an hour Sunday – Thursday, and $32 an hour on Friday and Saturday. Shoe rental is an additional $3 per person. (If you decide to go bowling on a Friday or Saturday then you will spend more than $30 total)
Times Square Grand Slam is open from 8 a.m. to midnight on Sunday, 9 a.m. to midnight Monday – Friday and 8 a.m. – 1 a.m. on Saturday. Hours for the ropes course are from 3 p.m. to midnight on Friday and all-day Saturday & Sunday. It’s located at 5201 South Broadway in Tyler. Click here for a Google map.
TOTAL COST: $12 – $38
Step back in time and soak up some history
Curate an evening of culture and memories by checking out some of the museums in East Texas. There are so many around, and many of them have free or low prices for admission. Here are just a few around the region:
East Texas Oil Museum
$8 | Kilgore
This fascinating museum houses the authentic re-creation of oil discovery and production in the early 1930s from the largest oil field inside U.S. boundaries. Here, visitors see the people, their towns, their personal habits, their tools and their pastimes – all colorfully depicted in dioramas, movies, sound presentations and actual antiques donated by East Texas citizens.
East Texas Oil Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday – Saturday. It’s located on the Kilgore College campus at 1301 South Henderson Boulevard. Click here for a Google map.
TOTAL COST: $16
Goodman LeGrand House & Museum
Free | Tyler
In 1859, the present-day Goodman LeGrand House & Museum was built, but it was a one-story, four-room house on 9 acres of land. It saw a few other owners over the next few decades until it eventually became the home for the Goodman family. The house & museum is a Texas Historic Landmark and was the first property in Smith County listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Admission into the museum is free, but a $2 donation is suggested. They’re open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday. It’s located at 624 North Broadway in Tyler. Click here for a Google map.
TOTAL COST: $0 – $4
Free | Jacksonville
The Vanishing Texana Museum, in Jacksonville, is made up of a collection of items which represent the history of the Jacksonville, and Cherokee County, community. The museum was founded in 1976, 4 years after the 100th year anniversary of the City of Jacksonville. The museum consists of almost 4,000 items from both the local community and across the globe.
The Vanishing Texana Museum offers free admission and free parking. They’re open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday – Saturday. They’re located at 302 South Bolton Street in Jacksonville. Click here for a Google map.
TOTAL COST: Free
Soak up some quality time
We live in a world where we’re always going. Sometimes a date should just be about you and the other person. Here are some ways to enjoy each other’s company and some quality time together.
Boards and Bites Cafe
$5 | Tyler
Boards and Bites Cafe in Tyler has a passion for games, and they want to share that love with you. For $5 you have access to their entire library of more than 600 games. Whether you want to relive childhood favorites or try out the latest releases, come share quality time with friends and family around our tables. Learn about the games they offer here. They also offer some coffee and food. See the menu here.
Boards and Bites is located at 1851 Troup Highway in Tyler. Click here for a Google map.
TOTAL COST: $10
ETX Brewing Co.
ETX Brewing Co. is a family owned Microbrewery which is located just “Off the Square,” in Downtown Tyler. In their downstairs taproom you can enjoy some beer and some of their free games.
ETX Brewing Company is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday & Tuesday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Wednesday & Thursday, 11 a.m. – 11ish on Friday and 11 a.m. to midnight-ish on Saturday. They’re located at 221 South Broadway in Tyler. Click here for a Google map.
TOTAL COST: Whatever you spend on beer
The Screen Door
The Screen Door Ice Cream & Coffee & Tea Club is the place you want to be! They specialize in old-fashioned floats, sundaes and they have some of the best ice cream. They also offer coffee, tea and antiques. Outside of their sweet treats, The Screen Door is also filled with games and activities.
The Screen Door is located at 106 East commerce Avenue in Gladewater. Click here for a Google map.
TOTAL COST: Whatever you choose to spend
Watch something on stage (or the screen)
Here are some theatres around East Texas. Click on one you’re interested and check out their upcoming shows.
Galaxy Drive-In Theatre
$7 | Ennis
Galaxy Drive-In Theatre is a family-friendly drive-in movie theatre. They have a total of 6 screens that show first-run double features. We know this technically isn’t in East Texas, but sometimes the experience of a drive-in theatre is worth a drive.
The drive-in is open Thursday – Sunday each week and they’re located at 5301 N Interstate Highway 45 in Ennis. Click here for a Google map.
TOTAL COST: $14
Lamp-Lite Theatre is located at 4210 Lamp-Lite Lane in Nacogdoches. Click here for a Google map.
Liberty Hall is located at 103 East Erwin Street in Tyler. Click here for a Google map.
Tyler Civic Theatre
Tyler Civic Theatre is located at 400 Rose Park Drive in Tyler. Click here for a Google map.
The Pines Theater
The Pines Theater is located at 113 South 1st Street in Lufkin. Click here for a Google map.
The Texas Theatre
The Texas Theatre is located at 213 West Crawford Street in Palestine. Click here for a Google map.
This piece was created in partnership with East Texas Professional Union. East Texas Professional Credit Union offers a variety of services at no-cost or at lower costs than other financial institutions, including more favorable rates on loans and investments.
Since they were established in 1953, they’ve expanded to serve 15 counties in East Texas. Click here for a list of their office locations.
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