Sure, impressing a date is easy when you have an unlimited budget. But what if you’re feeling less than flush? Don’t resort to half-price food night just yet: Summer offers tons of opportunities for affordable romance.
Shoestring Date #1: Share some puppy love
What better way to show off your warm and cuddly side than by hitting the park with a pooch? If you don’t have a dog of your own, contact a pet shelter about walking one of their friendly strays. Bonus: “You can tell a lot about a person by how nurturing he or she is toward animals,” says relationship expert Carolyn Bushong
, author of The Seven Dumbest Relationship Mistakes Smart People Make.
For a list of shelters near you, visit www.animalsheltering.org
Shoestring Date #2: Root for the home team
General admission tickets to minor league baseball games are as low as $6 a pop. (Check out www.milb.com
for schedules.) And since the stakes are pretty low — seriously, is anyone really
stressing about how the Carolina Mudcats are faring this season? — you can chit-chat between drinks and dogs. Don’t assume that your date has to be a sports nut to appreciate a day at the ballpark, either: “I love a relaxed activity that’s not just two people staring at each other over a dinner table,” says attorney Katie Quitter of Nashville, TN.
Shoestring Date #3: Get tubular on a nearby body of water
Beat the heat by renting inner tubes; most cost just $10 to $15 per day. (Call a nearby campground or outdoor supplies store for locations.) You can opt for an easy route down the river or one with safe rapids for a shot of adventure. And hey, “It’s always an advantage when you’re together in bathing suits,” says Mack Cole-Edelsack, an architect living in New York City.
Shoestring Date #4: Say “salud!” over a glass (or two)
Glasses of vino at a restaurant or bar can add up fast — so why not take your crush for stress-free sipping at a wine shop’s tasting night? “It can be a very impressive evening without costing anything,” says romance advisor Michelle McKinney Hammond
, author of How to Make Love Work
. The store usually throws in free appetizers, too — just make sure to call it a night before you get the hard sell on that $100-a-pop Pinot Noir.
Shoestring Date #5: Climb the walls at an indoor gym
Can’t swing plane tickets to Mt. McKinley? For around $25 each, athletic types can show off their skills on a climbing wall at a gym or camping supplies store. “I’d respect a date putting the thought into planning something like that for me,” says Dionne Cross, a personal trainer from Weehawken, NJ. Chill out in the free A/C, build trust and get a romance-boosting adrenaline rush — just make sure that your date is up for the challenge before
the harnesses go on.
Shoestring Date #6: Add some sizzle to your evening by grilling dinner
Summer is ideal for grilling outside, and it sure beats picking up the tab at Chez Overrated. (Not a master chef? Food magazines are filled with great BBQ recipes this time of year, or visit www.epicurious.com
for inspiration.) “Cooking gives you an opportunity to interact as a team,” says Hammond. “So what if you burn something? It’s fun!”
Shoestring Date #7: Play all day outside together
During the summer, parks and communal spaces transform into grown-up playgrounds with concert series, theater performances and other outdoor events. “There are literally hundreds of ideas if you scour the newspapers,” says Chicago-based operational analyst Brian Zambie. (Listings are also available on the publications’ websites.) “I’ll tailor the activity to my date’s interest to show her that I care.”
Shoestring Date #8: Enjoy an urban hike
Lace up your sneakers and pick a path in your city or town — compact areas with a high concentration of shops, food vendors and points of interest work best. Just steer clear of making ultra-personal stops down memory lane. (Visiting where you learned to hopscotch? Cute. Pointing out the spot where you first kissed your ex? Not so much.) If your downtown is one block long, visit the nearest big city instead — or visit www.fodors.com
for nearby options and itineraries.
Shoestring Date #9: Start with the soufflé
Let’s be honest: The molten chocolate cake is the high point of dinner out, anyway. So fast-forward past the expensive shrimp cocktail appetizer and steak entrée and focus on the part that counts: dessert and cappuccino. For less than the price of one meal, you can enjoy a high-end night out in a romantic environment. And you’ll both want to pick up the check!
Ingela Ratledge lives in New York City. Her work has appeared in
Real Simple, Us Weekly, Life & Style and
Quick & Simple.
Article courtesy of Match.com