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55 Date Ideas For The Budget Minded

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Hot Cocoa Date

  • Roof top date- Dig out some Christmas lights, candles and dinner. Ask a neighbor or friend to borrow their deck or the top of their apartment roof top. Set up a picnic blanket or table and chairs. Have some great tunes playing on a stereo – or iPodspeakers and dance and talk the night away.
  • Make dinner together. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Grill some burgers, slice and dice a salad mix and have a beer, or wine, or water.
  • Day trip to the beach. Pack snacks and or lunch. Bring your camera!
  • Theme park! You can find deals for almost every theme park. Check cola cans for deals as well as the web or Groupon. Bring your own snacks and lunch to make it cheaper and carry water bottles.
  • Spend a day exploring town. I lived in Santa Cruz for a year before I heard that a restaurant called The Crepe Place hosts Monday movie nights. So go get lost in your town or spend a little more and explore your nearest city.
  • Take a hike. Pull out your map and find the nearest state park. Pack your backpack with water, snacks and sunscreen.
  • Show your fun side by turning a hot day into a fun day. My guy friend has little kiddie pools. Get some and fill them with water, make water balloons, purchase a slip n slide and tear free soap (you can use a tarp if you want to be frugal/crafty), bubbles and water guns.
  • Cosmic Beach Bowling. Grab 10 empty 2-liter bottles. Purchase some glow sticks from the dollar store, break them and pour them into the bottles. Fill them with water. Bring your volleyball, or any ball you can find. Shake them up, set them up and play your heart out. Make sure you check the curfew of the beach. Most beaches are closed by midnight.
  • Game night. Grab a few friends and have them bring a snack and game to your game night. Don’t forget about Spoons!
  • A date doesn’t have to mean dinner at a fancy restaurant, or any dinner at all. Why don’t you get straight to the sugar…whoa, whoa, I mean dessert. Find out his or hers favorite dessert and plan on making it together.
  • Go to a game. A baseball game, football game, hockey game… you get the idea. It doesn’t have to be major league (all though those are my favorite and I can normally score a pair of tickets for pretty cheap ($20 a pop for my Championship Giants so teams that don’t do so well are even cheaper!)
  • Find a concert and go. There are plenty of free concerts to. It doesn’t have to be top charter.
  • Have a kite flying date. Go to a park on a windy day after you’ve bought two $3 kites from Target or Wal-Mart. Have fun!
  • Aquarium- Look for deals on Groupon or web to see if the nearest aquarium has a special day of the week where the fee is less.
  • Tide pools- If you can’t afford the aquarium find some tide pools to explore! Be sure to touch starfish and sea anemones and photograph it all for keepsakes.
  • Bike ride- take a spin around town or dirt roads! Stop and watch the sunset.
  • Roller skate… don’t have a pair? The Rinks rent them for pretty cheap (not even $10). Of course it’s cheaper during daylight.
  • Coffee shop and People watch. Really, it can be so entertaining to talk about people you see at the coffee shop. It opens up all sorts of our own personal stories.
  • Go on Craigslist and check to see if your town or city has any events or activities. Choose one and Go! In Santa Cruz we have intramural sports like volleyball or tennis. (Volleyball is cheaper because someone else always has a ball).
  • Rent a kayak or canoe and spend the day out in the water. Make sure you know the limits of your partner! If you go white water rafting don’t assume they can handle anything greater than a 4. Bring water and sunblock and inform them in advance to bring swimwear.
  • Cosmic bowling at an actual bowling alley, not half as creative as cosmic beach bowling but it’s pretty cheap.
  • Nerd out together. Pick a book store and rummage through it ( you’ll hopefully end up in the humor section laughing hysterically ). It’s a bonus if you get ice cream or coffee after.
  • Laser tag. Don’t hold back!
  • Karaoke. This might take a few drinks (speaking from experience) but can be ridiculously fun and embarrassing. Watch out for Vine or Instagram capturing your performance!
  • Spend a date sharing or making your bucket lists. My guy and I did this right before New Year. It was a lot of fun, especially looking at what we had already seen/done…legal and illegal.
  • Go bar hopping but find a new bar, one that offers something unique. There is a bar in San Francisco that you have to enter by sliding into it. There’s a bar that has an  80’s night in Santa Cruz. They are both known for good vibes and great memories.
  • Head to a zoo. Again try to find a time or day that had a less expensive ticket and to make the day even more affordable.
  • Be a little adventurous or daring. Sneak in to hotel or resort and play in their pool or relax in their Jacuzzi, assuming you’re sneaky enough to make it in. The worst case scenario you get a lecture and asked to leave. I’ve done this a few times and have yet to get caught.  You could always pay for a night’s stay. I only recommend that if you’re at level of dating with the other person and it won’t be as fun you and your partner coming up with diversions.
  • Go to a waterpark. Check Groupon or soda cans for deals.
  • Have a video game night. Pull out the old Sega, Nintendo or heck, Atari and see who the champion is. The winner gets a massage or whatever you think up.
  • Stargazing. Grab some blankets and a bottle of wine (Grape juice if you’re under 21). Spend the night telling your favorite childhood stories or remembering all the times you’ve shared together.
  •  Ice Cream date! My town has dollar scoop Tuesdays, check and see if your local ice cream joint has a similar day. Grab some ice cream and head to a park. Or go to the store buy two different kinds of ice cream and some toppings and show your creative side. Maybe even put a spin on it and eat what the other person made.
  • Have a paintball war. It’s even more fun if you have another couple or two.
  • Make each others hearts race! Try skydiving. This one will take some saving up but keep a look out for deals.
  • Movie night… but make it a little less cliché. Try finding a Drive in, typically you get 2 movies for the price of one. Or if you can find someone who has a projector (try church people or teachers) grab a large white sheet, hang it on a wall then hook up the projector to your laptop and play the movie.
  • Pick a project. It can be really fun to make something together. So pick a project. Personally I find inspiration from Pinterest. Especially anything that has to do with pallets. You can get pallets for free from a lot of different places (including home depot).
  • Get a couples massage or give one to each other.   (Massage Envy has a first time deal that’s pretty inexpensive for a massage. They try to get you to sign up at the end though, beware).
  • BBQ. Find a nice park or beach and bring the grub. Pack a Frisbee or horseshoes, soccer ball or basketball. Maybe a few chairs and have fun.
  • Go wine tasting… on a yacht… The O’Neill Surf Shop’s yacht (The Sea Odyssey) has a few nights where people can pay $30 for a night of roaming the Pacific with a glass of wine that doesn’t stop flowing. Check you’re the nearest harbor for any such activities.
  • Pottery date. Google search where you can get your hands dirty with some clay. Who cares if you make a chunk of mess that looks like Yoda morphed with Chubaka.
  • Sign up and then really go on a run. Like Tough Mudder or The Color Run can be a great time. To look at marathons in your area I recommend going to www.marathonguide.com
  • Crash a wedding party. Get dressed up, and look for weddings happening in your area (the internet is filled with people talking about their weddings). Now go. Try to get the grooms or bride’s name within the first 5 minutes of crashing. Don’t eat their food, that’s not the fun part. The dancing and mingling with strangers is the fun part.
  • Sitting at the dock of the bay…wasting time. Do it. It’s an amazing way to relax. Grab a little cooler for refreshments.
  • Rent some quads and visit some sand dunes! (Save money for this).
  • Play disc golf (or Frisbee golf). Google a location if you don’t know of one.
  • Spend the day at a lake. Jump off a rock (if it’s safe).
  • Scour a ghost town.
  • Treasure hunt any one? Take a trip up to a gold mining town (Californians try Jamestown or Copperopolis in Northern Cali). Grab a pan and go hunting for treasure! There are lots of little stores to check out to.
  • Road trip! Just get in the car and drive. OR grab a bus, find a seat on a train and just go until you find something fun. Pack food and drinks!
  • Sunset to Sunrise. I once had a date where we went for Coffee and watched the sunset over mountains on a blanket. We had talked the night away and it felt amazing!
  • Have a date where you teach each other something. I learned to skateboard on a date and he learned to…well actually I haven’t taught any one anything…yet! I’ve been taught how to take pictures and how to play horseshoes. See if there’s something fun that you can learn or teach.
  • Find some rope, a tire or slab of wood and build a swing somewhere that only the two of you will know about.
  • Go to the beach and build sand castles together. Have people take your picture.
  • The 4th of July isn’t the only day you can use fireworks and sparklers. So stash up and bring some out! After a nice dinner have some fun and enjoy saying “ooohh” and “ahhhhhh” while watching/playing with fireworks.
  • Get creative! Find a busy city street (or town) and decorate it with chalk, or play guitar and sing together. Don’t bum around and do it just for the money.
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    Vagabond hearts are thick as thieves and wander freely

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