You can have a great, romantic time with your significant other without spending a fortune. Whether you're planning a Valentine's Day outing or quality time any other day of the year, here are at least eight cheap date ideas that won't make you look cheap.
8. Take a Hike
If the weather's nice, head to the great outdoors. Depending on your partner, hitting the trails could be fun or you could just have a nice picnic in the park. Price of admission: $0. Bonus points if you can feed the ducks at the park, rent a canoe, or watch a free movie at night in the park.
7. Check Out Local Comedy Nights And Gigs
Tickets to stand-up shows can be expensive, but if you're willing to endure the luck of the draw, you can look up regular comedy nights in your town or city. For example, the Local Taphouse in St Kilda has shows featuring an assortment of comedians every Monday, with a reasonable $15 entry fee.
Alternatively, if you're willing to wait, the Melbourne Comedy Festival is coming up -- scope out the acts and grab some tickets for a future night out.
6. Go Back to School
Universities and TAFEs often hold open-to-the-public events and classes. You might attend a free poetry or book reading, student music recitals, or an interesting lecture. You might even sign up for both of you to take continuing education class, such as photography classes -- an ongoing dates option that's usually pretty inexpensive on a per-class basis. Check the special events pages for locations near you.
5. Go on a Guided Tour
Go stargazing at night with your partner. Some observatories, parks and universites offer these tours for free. If you have a nearby nature centre, check to see if they birdwatching or other edifying tours. You'll likely find a free historical tour in just about every major city. For a DIY tour, check out WunderWalk for iOS and Android, which can plan out a walking tour based on your (and your SO's) interests.
4. Go to a Free Movie Screening
Free advanced movie screenings > paying to see a movie in the theatre. Frequent a few sites or check publications that share RSVP codes to screenings or try other tactics, such as joining a pre-screening program or following advanced movie screenings Twitter accounts and you and your significant other score a movie date for free -- seeing a movie before everyone else does.
3. Go Out to Brunch
Dining out is the classic date experience, but it can be really expensive depending on when and where you go. Weekend brunch FTW! It's cheaper than going out to dinner at the same restaurant, and many places offer unlimited mimosas or other alcoholic beverages. Plus, you get to choose between breakfast and lunch options.
Brunch is the best meal of the day. If going out to eat seems too ordinary to you, perhaps take a cooking class together or go to a food festival (there are beer and bacon festivals, coffee and tea festivals, food truck festivals, and all sorts of food-driven events you can attend). Those don't all tend to be cheap, but perhaps worth the experience and excuse to go out and eat. Again, you can find some of these events discounted on daily deals sites.
2. Cook a New Dinner Together
As an alternative to dining out: Cook something together. Cooking is fun! We're fans of making homemade pizzas together, but any kind of meal would suffice (sushi?). You could also use a meal kit delivery service to send you the meal ideas and date night ingredients already prepped for you.
1. Stay in for Dinner and a Movie
We'd be remiss if we didn't include this classic "dinner + Netflix" option. Apparently, it's the second favourite activity for Valentine's Day, after having a fancy dinner at a restaurant. "Netflix and Chill" might have a different connotation these days, but it's hard to go wrong with a date night movie at home -- unless you both can't agree on a movie.