When Ricky & I met, we were two broke kids living outside of Boston trying to figure out how to maximize this new thing called a salary from our full-time jobs, while having as much fun as possible with our friends. Then, we decided to pack up all of our belongings and move to New York City and become two broker kids living in the heart of Manhattan. Dating on a budget is not easy, especially in a city, but somehow Ricky always seemed to think of simple ideas to make our dates special. To all the guys out there, putting in the extra effort to think of something fun is better than buying us something useless. I'm going to give you a little insight on our first few dates and our tips to enjoying a FREE date night!
Our First date was at the mall... we were 23 years old, haha! From what I can remember we just walked around and chatted before dinner at TGI Friday's. And for those of you wondering, yes, I did split the bill with him. Guess what ladies, young guys who, like you, don't have that much money will appreciate you offering to split the bill. Just don't be annoyed about it when he takes you up on that offer; be genuine about it! After that, we drove around the area for a bit and found a playground. We sat on the swing set for hours talking. At the end of the night, Ricky leaned in to kiss me and (just like a movie) he fell off of the swing right onto his face! I'm not sure I had ever laughed so hard.
*Now this, is a simple & classic first date - dinner. But we made it special by extending the night and doing something different. Know the area where you're going to dinner and try to find something to do afterward if you want to prolong the date (a park, a lake, a walk around the neighborhood, etc.).
One of our next dates was in Boston, and I can't remember the area specifically, but it was a park that Ricky seemed to know. We parked by the water & were walking around the area when we stumbled upon a black & white film on a giant projector screen. There was a free movie night happening in the park and there were tons of people out on lawn chairs and blankets watching. This was the cutest thing. We sat down and enjoyed some of the movie before continuing our walk. And again, quite movie-like, at the end of our walk by the water there were fireworks. (This just happened to be a perfect/lucky coincidence)
*Keep an eye out for activities in the area. I know to some of us millennials, a newspaper may seem ancient, but they often have free things to do in the entertainment section of the paper. It's a great place to find out what's happening and what may be fun to do with your date. There's also the internet of course; just google things to do this weekend in your town.
Because Ricky & I like to be outside, most of our dates were focused around this. We took walks along the Somerville Mystic River, a nature walk near my home town, had picnics in local parks, walked around local college campuses, and we also watched the airplanes fly over our heads at the local airport at night. Anything that was free and outdoors, we were interested.
Alright, let's get to some of our favorite free date night ideas:
1. Check the local newspaper or the internet for happenings in your area. Maybe there is a street festival that would be fun to explore, a movie in the park, farmers market, or even walk a 5k together for a charity that you're interested in.
2. If you live in a city, or even if you live in a small town, and you both have a bike, rollerblades, or skateboard, explore your city. Check out the architecture, neighborhoods, art, parks, etc. Walk around if you don't have another mode of transportation but just enjoy each other's time while you explore the area where you live.
3. One of our favorite activities is hiking. We head out to Bear Mountain & Harriman State Park for the day almost every weekend (winter, too!). Not only do they have hiking out there but they have a number of areas where you can swim. This is a great way to spend a full day together and get to know the active side of the person that you're dating.
4. Wine Tasting or Brewery can be a fun activity if you have one in your area. There is usually a $5 cost to taste wines and a lot of breweries will do free tours. It's fun to walk around the vineyards, try some wines, and bring a picnic to enjoy the scenery!
5. Visit a free museum. If you aren't into the artsy museums, there are plenty of fun & interactive museums as well. Just take a look at what your city has to offer, you may be surprised!
6. Spend the night in and watch Netflix or do a movie marathon and make your own sundaes. You could also make dinner together at one of your places. Have fun with it; set out candles and flowers (they can be fake if that's what you have) and pretend you're out to a fancy restaurant.
7. If it's the winter, go sledding or snowshoeing. Try to enjoy the snow if it's something that you don't normally love. Build a snowman, go for a walk in a park and take photos, have a snowball fight, etc. End the day with some hot chocolate and a movie.
8. Go for a day trip to an area an hour or so out. Make the drive enjoyable and just explore the new location. If you're in New England, head to Vermont for a day trip in the fall or Maine for a walk on the beach in the winter. You could even drive out to NYC for a day of walking and exploring the city!
9. Don't have a pool or live near a lake/ocean/body of water? Try something a little risky. Look up hotels in the area or rooftop hotel pools in the area and pretend your hotel guest, head right up to the pool!
10. Groupon dates can be some of the best dates! Check out what Groupon has to offer. In NYC they have a lot of great deals at really nice restaurants for a bottle of wine, appetizers, and two entrees. Dress up and go out for a nice dinner, but do it on a budget!! You'll enjoy it much more if you buy the Groupon and don't spend money on the full price.
And a bonus if you guys are really adventurous :) After Ricky & I hike, bike, or swim (whatever our activity for the day is on a Saturday or Sunday), we love driving around the town and stopping in at Open Houses. We make up a story about how successful we are in the city but we're ready to start our family and move out to the burbs and we tour all the most beautiful homes in the area. It's fun touring the homes and we get a good laugh out of our stories when we get back in the car. It'll also give you an insight on what type of lifestlye your date likes ;)
Writing this blog made us remember all of the fun date nights we had in NYC and all of the secret places we explored. If y'all are interested in us creating a Date Nights Part Two: New York City edition, let us know! And send us some of your ideas for a free date night!