Wednesday, May 29, 2013

20 Inexpensive Summer Date Ideas

For me, summer is all about reconnecting with friends and family. Fall is structure, winter is hibernating, spring is projects, and summer is people. The rigid schedule of the school year has been traded for the busyness of summer days and evenings. Whether reunions or just small get togethers, summer is the time to be with people.

This reconnection philosophy holds no less true for the (2nd) most important relationship of my life. That of me and Mr. Hippie. Summertime is the time for dates.

But, unless you have hit the jack pot (we haven't), regularly scheduled dates tend to bite quite deeply into the budget. After paying a sitter to babysit the not angelic offspring, the date night coffers tend to be rather empty.

I have compiled a list of 20 cheap(er) date ideas. I focused on ideas that are particularly suited for the summer. Some require planning and some can be spur of the moment.

1. Miniature Golf. I don't know whose idea miniature golf was, but it really isn't suited for the miniature set. (cue whining) It is a fun date night activity though. Semi competitive, low key, and usually well under $10 a head. Great for conversation and laughter.

2. Outdoor Concerts. Our area has free summer concerts at various outdoor venues almost every night of the week. There is jazz at the zoo, blues on the river, and blues on the mall. All are free, and most are chock full of good music. Google your area.

3. Movies. This can be a cheap or not so cheap option. Tickets at one of our theaters sets us back almost $10 a head. The other theatre charges about $7. And we also have a "dollar" theatre. So, depending on whether we want to see the weekend's blockbuster in really comfortable seats, or see something a bit older, this date idea ranges from cheap to a bit more pricey.

4. Library or book store. The Barefoot Hippies love perusing books at our local bookstore or library. It is fun to have the opportunity to see what is out there without freaking out about the offspring pulling books off the shelf or talking too loud. I love finding weird stuff and reading clips to Mr. Hippie. I just try not to snort or laugh too loud.

5. Get active-walks, bike rides, hikes, tennis, roller blading, ice skating, rock climbing. I love being outside in the summer, doing something. Walks and bike rides are great for talking. I threw in rock climbing-not that I have ever done it, but because it might be fun to be challenged a bit. We invested in bikes this year, and a lot of our dates our going to revolve around them. It gives us time together, helps us train for our tri, and uses what we already own.

6. Ball games-college, minor league. This is truly a fun and inexpensive idea. Root for your home farm team and enjoy dollar beers and dogs (if that is your thing).

7. Picnic. Nothing ties together summer, romance, and cost efficiency quite like a picnic. The sky is the limit as far as location and food. You can make it as laid back or swanky as you please. All you need is a large blanket, paired with some food, and maybe a book of poetry to create your own version of wonderful.

8. Shooting. I've got a gun, and I love to shoot it. Generally at targets. All I can say is, don't knock it until you try it. You know that power trip that comes from driving a stick-same thing for shooting a gun. At least, it is for me. Anyway... It would be helpful to actually own a gun for this date. But often shooting ranges also have guns to rent.

9. Take a class. Gun safety, painting, pottery, dancing. It is always great fun to learn a new skill together.

10. Museums, historic landmark, walking tour. Get out and explore your town! How often do we go on vacation and explore what other cities have to offer, but never dig into our own city's treasures. We have a Frank Loyd Wright house in our city that I have yet to see, plus a river walk, and several museums.

11. Play a board game. This is great for a stay at home date, or a Starbucks coffee date, or a picnic date.  Games are fun and can be spiced up (that is all I'm saying about that-use your own imagination). And games lend to conversation often too. If I can get Mr. Hippie talking, there is a good chance I can beat him.

12. Put together a puzzle. Personally, I'd start with a 300 piece deal, but, that's because I am not a huge puzzle fan. 300 pieces shouldn't take forever.

13. Canoeing. Canoeing is great for building team work skills. (as is tandem bike riding). And it gets you out in nature. And is fun.

14. Wine tasting. Wineries seem to have popped up all over the place. (even Duck Command bought their own) Most tastings range from free to $5. I would not pair this activity with say...biking.=) Wine tasting is sophisticated (or not) and allows you to open your palate to new things.

15. Rent a movie and watch on  your laptop at a park by yourselves. Fairly self explanatory. Takes the usual and ups the ante'.

16. Beach. I love going to the beach. I love sitting in the sun,  playing in the surf and walking the shore. Since our home is within a fairly short drive of one of the Great Lakes, we generally make it out to the beach a few times each summer. We pick quieter beaches without tons of people. Inappropriate dress and behavior isn't generally quite as blatant.

17. Cook together. If you like fancy-schmancy food, you can rack up quite the bill at a restaurant. Cooking a fancy meal together is fun-especially when you haul out the wine and your favorite oldies.

18. Attend a poetry or book reading. Poetry or book reading are often held at bookstores or libraries, and are generally free in order to promote the author/work. Who knows, you may discover something you never would have tried on your own.

19. Parade of homes. Our area has a spring and fall parade of homes. These are brand new or remodeled homes that the public can meander through for a small fee. This is the perfect date for dreaming. If you are looking to buy or build or just dream, wandering through these homes gives you a good idea of house features that you like or not. It gets those wheels turning.

20. Progressive dinner. Get your appetizers at one place, salads somewhere else, entree' at another joint, and dessert and coffee some place else again. You can do this at restaurants, or not. Pack a picnic and walk, drive or bike between destinations. Combine picnic, grocery store and restaurants. Really your imagination and budget are your only limits.

What are your favorite summer date ideas? Share with me in the comments. And then go and get your date on! I'm going to!