15 memorable Valentine's Day dates that won't cost a fortune

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Valentine’s Day can be expensive.

According to a recent Bankrate study, a nice dinner for two and a bottle of champagne costs an average of $130 — tack on a dozen roses and box of chocolates and you’re racking up quite the bill.

The good news is, February 14 doesn’t have to break the bank. There are plenty of memorable ways to spend the day with your partner that won’t cost a fortune. Try one of these 15 ideas:

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Hit up a food truck and explore your city.

Find cheap, tasty eats on the street before seeing all that your city has to offer. Look up museums to visit and parks to explore, or simply start walking with no fixed itinerary. If you need a mission, try a photo scavenger hunt. There are plenty of ideas online, or you can create your own. Who knows? At the end, you might have the perfect Instagram.

If you're feeling more adventuresome, check to see if your city offers a bike share program and spend the day discovering the ins and outs of your city on wheels.

Visit that tourist attraction you've never managed to see.

Did you know the Empire State Building ($32) in New York City is open until 2 a.m?

Pick a classic childhood birthday party activity.

When was the last time you went bowling, putt-putting, go carting, roller skating, or played laser tag? Plus, these kid-friendly activities tend to be affordable. Top your day off with ice cream (or hot chocolate, depending on the weather) and you can't go wrong.

Post up at a dive bar for affordable drinks and old school arcade games.

Not only will you save money on drinks, you can square off in darts, pool, or skee-ball. Plus, there's bound to be an old-timey jukebox with a plethora of classic hits to choose from.

Head to a board game cafe for the afternoon.

If Monopoly or Risk rouse you more than arcade games, spend the day sipping coffee or an IPA at a board game cafe. Can't find one in your city? Crack open Bananagrams, Clue, or Twister at home.

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Channel your inner Van Gogh at a paint and sip studio.

Even if you have no previous painting experience, these paint and sip classes offered in many cities will help you create a painting you can be proud of. Experienced artists help you paint your own version of a famous artwork, step by step.

Expect to spend $30 to $45 a person, plus a bottle of wine if you fancy one. Most of the studios are BYOB, which may help calm the nerves and let the creative juices flow. Check Groupon for deals and coupons in your area, which could cut the price up to 50%.

Or make a keepsake at a ceramic painting cafe.

Commemorate the day by painting a keepsake at a paint-your-own-pottery spot. Choose a mug, plate, or teacup, that will make you smile every time you use it. The price will vary -- from $5 to $60 -- depending on the size of the piece you choose to paint.


Pick up your favourite bottle of wine and dine at a BYOB restaurant.

Drinks are a surefire way to bump up your dinner bill. Rather than ordering cocktails or wine with your meal, find a BYOB restaurant in your area (search 'BYOB restaurants' on Yelp) and bring your favourite affordable beer, wine, or liquor. Note that some places have a corkage fee.

Or forego restaurants all together and cook your own meal.

Not sure what to make? Pinterest never fails on the recipe front and allows you to narrow your search by cuisine, meal, price, and level of difficulty. There are also plenty of food blogs out there with an abundance of recipe ideas. Or, ask your partner about their favourite childhood meal or any treasured family recipes.

If you're antsy to get out of the house afterwards, use the money you saved on dinner to splurge on cocktails or dessert at a festive spot.


Pack a picnic and spend the day hiking.

Weather permitting, stop by a lake, venture into a forest, or hike your way up a mountain to earn your picnic lunch. If an outdoor picnic is out of the question, there's nothing wrong with moving it indoors -- lay out a blanket and eat out of a picnic basket on the floor.

Tour a local brewery or winery.

Skip out on high bar prices and go on a tour of a brewery or winery instead. Check out the options in, or near, your area -- oftentimes, you can find free tours (which usually end with free samples).

If you're looking for a brewery, start here. If you're looking for a winery, start here. If you strike out, Yelp will provide recommendations.

Learn how to salsa, swing, or tango.

Find a local dance studio and check out the group class schedule. Many studios will let you drop in for a one or two hour long class, rather than paying for a package of classes. Check Groupon for deals and coupons in your area.


Spend a light-hearted night at a comedy club.

Many cities offer cheap -- or free -- stand up comedy. Find a comedy club in your area for an evening of free (or highly affordable) laughs.

Hop in the car and set out on a mini road trip.

You don't need a week-long vacation for a quick retreat. Load the car with road trip snacks, turn on the tunes, and drive a few hours to get away, whether it's to visit a family member, the ocean, a small town, or a landmark you've been meaning to visit.

What did you do on your first date? Do it again.

It worked the first time.

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