Courtship Without the Cost: Budget-Friendly Date Ideas, Part 1

After all, not all of us can date like movie stars...

By , Columnist

Dating is expensive. I mean, think about Justin and Selena jetting away to Hawaii at a moment's notice, or Chord Overstreet and Emma Roberts heading to exotic locales three times in the last couple of months - or the fact that in some theaters it now costs $25 for two movie tickets....

Once in a while, it’s fun to see a guy who likes me fork over some cash to treat me to a great night. But even though I’m not footing the bill, I feel bad asking a guy to consistently plunk down serious bucks to take me out.

The solution? Instead of always suggesting the typical pricey options, toss a few inexpensive date ideas into the mix! There are more ways to take advantage of your location and your area’s heritage than you might think, and many of them don’t come with a heavy-duty price tag. In this three part series, I’ve compiled 15 great, inexpensive date ideas for any budget. The first five are below.

In addition, the best thing about most of these ideas is that they’re not just date-oriented - you can take a girlfriend or your cousin with you and still have a blast without breaking the bank.

Take a daytrip to whatever “exotic” setting is closest. Whether it’s the beach, mountains, or a lake, as long as you’re not in the midst of a crushing heatwave, this can be a great way to spend part of your weekend.

If you live in a historical area, take advantage! In central Virginia, I’ve toured a 14th century abbey and a 16th century British manor house (both shipped overseas and reconstructed here), a turn-of-the-century mansion with beautifully prolific gardens, a governor’s home in which many of our nation’s earliest heroes frequently stayed, Thomas Jefferson’s estate, and more. Some landmarks have raised prices for tours since the economy tanked, but compared with other activities these are still some of the cheapest, and are very entertaining.

Find local public gardens and have a photo day. Take a tour… and pictures of the scenery, flowers, and each other. This is a creative and completely free way to have a fantastic date - bring a picnic lunch for an added touch.

Make a game of finding new, obscure bars and restaurants. Even in Richmond, which isn’t the biggest city, we’ve got a great central urban area where you can always find a little unknown establishment tucked back in a corner somewhere.

Film festivals are fantastic. Films in the park, film collections at a local establishment, film exhibits at a local museum - attending a film festival can be fascinating. Some are a little pricey, but for others admission is surprisingly cheap. Foreign film fests are my personal favorite - often, expats will find a way to attend, so you can get a native take on the films you’re seeing (even if they do have subtitles).

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Emmie Scott is an English major-turned-marketing exec, with a passion for writing, humor, sharing knowledge, and "pink drinks." After hours, she started Are Toe Rings Professional Attire?, a blog for college grads and twenty-somethings looking to find their way through that daunting labyrinth called…

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