So you want to take that special girl, or boy, out for a date, but you also like to keep your wallet full of as many dollars as possible. That has you in a pickle, right? There is an easy solution to this: Take them on a one-of-a-kind date that won’t bust the bank. Because really, love shouldn’t cost a thing!
1) The CD Exchange
Take your date to one of the many used CD stores – where you can pick up a disc for mere dollars or even cents – with the goal of picking each other a CD you think they will enjoy and then surprise each other with your choice. One of two things will happen: Either they will love the CD you chose for them and the fact that you do really “get” them, or they will cringe at the idea you think they would actually like that Hanson album from 1997. But you can joke about that at your wedding! Take the CDs back to your place and have a listen while you cook a homemade dinner together.
2) Go Birding
When you think about birding you probably think some nerdy, socially awkward, binoculars-around-the-neck, silly-hat-and-pant-wearing, latin-bird-name-spouting person. And you would be pretty accurate. But it’s actually a cool sport. You and your date get to trounce around in nature with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair, spotting birds and trying to identify them.
There are excellent books to identify birds, such as the “Sibley Guide To Birds” or the “National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America,” which are available at the local library (free!). Additionally, there are inexpensive phone apps for bird identification as well. Think about how much fun you’ll have arguing if what you just spotted was a Western Tanager or an Oriole!
3) Get Wet
With the record heat waves we have experienced in the U.S. this summer, what better way to cool off than to take a dip in the water! The public pool is a great place to do this. The local one where I live has an evening swim time during the week that is ridiculously inexpensive. You can have a contest between you and your date to see who can perform the better swan dive or make a bigger splash with the cannonball. Some of us may even be fortunate to have either a lake or ocean to take a dip in, which is absolutely free!
4) Get Dry
Many local parks have fire pits, and sometimes these are even reservable. Plan ahead and in addition to bringing some firewood, make sure to pack some hot dogs and s’more ingredients too. Have fun telling each other ghost stories, feeding each other s’mores, and before you know it, the fire won’t be the only thing heating up! :)
Find a local soup kitchen, food pantry or nonprofit organisation where you can volunteer. Besides showing your date that you are caring and like giving back to your community, it will be a great way to display the fact that you can interact well with the other volunteers and general population as well. You both can feel good about this date and hopefully have fun standing side-by-side helping out people in need.
6) The Picnic
I have my favourite local parks and within those parks, my favourite spots for picnics. What is more romantic than you and your date hopping on your bicycles and riding to a park to spend a lazy afternoon on a blanket, soaking up the sun and each other’s company? Be sure to bring a bottle of wine, a baguette, some cheeses, olives, and berries. Chocolate-covered strawberries get total bonus points.
7) The House Hunter
Sundays work best for this. Pick out three open houses and become prospective buyers! You can poke fun at the decorating sense of the different owners while mulling over if you can live without the ensuite bathroom with sunken whirlpool. Keep it a secret which house you’re leaning towards and at the end of the tour you can reveal to each other which house you chose and why. This is a great way to get to know someone and their financial sensibility!
8) Check The City Event Calendar
Stuck thinking up a date idea? One of my go-to places to find out what cheap and interesting events are happening is to check the local city event calendar. A sampling of what I found just for this upcoming weekend is a farmer’s market, multiple free county fairs, a free opera in the park, free music galore, free art festivals, a free belly dancing show, a $9 local theatre play, free or $2+ comedy shows, $6 tango lessons, a $5 minor league baseball game and a plethora of free museums and art shows.