It’s summer, which means your brain has officially shut down, causing your list of date ideas to be in danger of becoming thoughtless and boring. Add to that the fact that your summer job has yet to start or your unpaid internship isn’t exactly bringing home the big bucks, leaving you with no money to have any extravagant date nights with your boyfriend. Where’s a romantic collegiette™ to take her boyfriend out? Bowling and miniature golf? Been there, done that. Long, aimless drives? Not until gas prices go down or you win the lottery. Read on for a list of HC’s fun and unique summertime date ideas under $20.
Celebrate a Random Holiday
Who says you need to wait until the 4th of July to celebrate a summer holiday? Choose one (or five!) from this list of nonsensical celebrations, and throw a private party for just you and your beau. On July 17th, visit your favorite ice cream shop in honor of National Ice Cream Day, or take part in National Kool-Aid day on August 12th by making a few jugs of Kool-Aid and surprising all of your friends with a glass.
Cost: $5 to $10
Get to see your boyfriend’s softer side by bringing him along to do a good deed. Plenty of organizations offer perfect-for-summer opportunities to volunteer. Sign up to clean a nearby beach, lead a class at the local rec center, or plant some trees for a newly built house. Together, check out volunteermatch.org to find an option in your area that fits both of your interests.
Throw a Game Day
Channel your inner 5-year-old, and gather a handful of other couples to participate in a fun-filled day of old-school games. Grab the Super Soakers (or water balloons) and a white t-shirt (but with bikini top underneath) to drive your guy absolutely wild for an all-out water fight. End the day by challenging the gang to a game of truth or dare. Everyone will forget about all the stress from summer jobs and internships while appreciating the simple and silly games from childhood.
Cost: $10 to $20 for one or two Super Soakers, or $3 for balloons
Go Garage Sale Hopping
Spend a lazy Saturday morning treating each other to little gifts for no reason at all. Hop onto Craigslist to look for listings, and drive to the nearest residential area, park the car, and start looking for signs. Allow for a budget of $10 each, and make it a competition to find the best hidden treasures for each other. At the end of the day, set up a gift-exchange and present each other with your great finds.
Listen to Music in the Park
A short set of soft, summertime tunes will put you and your guy in the mood for a perfect, romantic evening. Visit the websites of large parks in your surrounding area, and you’re bound to find the dates for a slew of free performances this summer. Make sandwiches ahead of time, pack a blanket, and lay out for a relaxing afternoon.
Play Video Games
Even if you’re not into video games, your boyfriend may be a huge gamer. Let him teach you! Grab a controller one evening, and ask him to show you how to play his favorite game. Chances are, he will be impressed. Once you’ve gotten really good, challenge him to a competition. He’ll love that you are trying to learn about what he loves, and you may even learn to actually love gaming as much as he does!
Camp Out in the Backyard
Nothing screams summer like a camping trip. Instead of driving miles to a different location and spending the night with screaming children, pitch a tent in your backyard and enjoy a night of silence with your guy. Don’t have a yard? Your living room will work just fine! Since you’re saving on the cost of staying at a campsite, splurge on some goodies: marshmallows, candy bars, bottled soda and a deck of cards.
Visit a Museum for Free
Grab your guy and your nerdy-chic, black-rimmed glasses, and take some time to appreciate art. As a student, your school ID can often score you a free or majorly discounted entrance. Some museums don’t charge any visiting fees year-round whereas others offer free days once a month. Google the phrase “free museum days in [your city]” to discover the ones near you.
Bonus: Are you a Bank of America cardholder? Take part in the bank’s Museums on Us® program and get free access to a wide range of museums across the country on the first full weekend of every month.
Check out the Library
Sure, you’ve just ended the school year during which you spent countless hours in the library, but hear us out. Take your guy to the library and head straight to the dating and love section. Peruse the books for some new bedroom material, and go ahead and make out against the stacks while you’re there — just be careful not to get caught! On your way out, grab a CD of mood music, and head home to test out your research.
Go to a Food Festival
Now that food trucks are popping up in cities across the nation, it’s easy to find a festival to attend. Search Google for some summertime food events in your area. You and your guy will be able to sample plenty of different dishes and desserts (most range between $3 and $5) without breaking the bank. Scan through the list of festival participants before you arrive, and create your plan of attack. That way, you can maximize the money you spend and not miss out on anything.
Cost: $15 to $20
Make a Dinner for Two
Kneading dough, spoon-feeding him a taste of your spaghetti sauce — cooking together can be endlessly sexy. Spend the entire evening prepping and preparing a meal together from shopping for the ingredients to eating outside under the stars. Even if it turns out terribly, you’ll share plenty of laughs along the way.
Cost: $10 to $20
Get Your Palms Read
Indulge in a guilty pleasure by finding out what the summer has in store for you and your guy. Many psychics offer a first time rate of $20 for two people — it’s as if the date was written in the stars! For a little bit of extra fun (and to stretch your dollar even more,) chat up the psychic, and find out some fun tricks to try out on your friends at home.
Explore Your City
You may think you’ve seen it all in your own city, but taking a couple of new turns with a fresh set of eyes will allow you to discover plenty of new sites. Go old-school and grab a map of the town (your parents or a neighbor are sure to have one laying around) and explore. Be sure to take along a pen and paper to jot down all of the new places you and your sweetie come across.
Let your guy get in touch with his creative side, and he just might surprise you with his artistic abilities! Check out your local ceramic painting stores for fun events or discounts. Some host “bring your own wine” nights, while others knock off the sitting fee once a week. Whether there’s a special offered during the time you attend, you and your boyfriend should have no trouble finding a fun trinket to paint for under $10 each.
Cost: $15 to $20
Have a Movie Marathon
With movie tickets running upward of $10 per person, your bank account will become depleted within one month of summer. You’ll have no leftover money for treats to munch on in the over-air conditioned theater. Instead, run over to Redbox and rent two movies — one of his choice and one of yours. Then, stop by a 7-Eleven for some Slurpees and popcorn for a cozy night in with your guy.
Attend a Minor League Baseball Game
Though the scoreboard might not get as much action, minor league games still hold the same excitement as those of the big league. General admission ranges between $5 to $10, traffic and parking are usually no problem at all, and you can often stretch your stuff out among a whole section of seats. Check out the official site of minor league baseball to find teams and game dates in your city.
Cost: $10 to $20
Every girl is guilty of showering their rooms and apartments with an abundance of pictures in cutesy frames. Bring your guy to a pretty, secluded spot, and take some fun snapshots of each other. You will get to capture the things you love most about each other and share them as you print out the pictures. Don’t rush to put the entire album up on Facebook, though. Savor alone the private memories you and your sweetie made.
The sexual tension between you and your guy as you watch each other work up a sweat will be as hot as the summer weather. Get free day passes to try out a local gym, and have him show you how to use some of the “big boy” machines. Or if you know how to use them, you can be the teacher! Or take a hike outside, and ask him to give you a piggyback ride when you get tired. However you decide to burn those calories, make sure to work up a sweat together.
Go Out Dancing
Frat parties can be fun, but now that the summer has begun and those parties have slowed down, it’s the perfect time to branch out to, shall we say, slightly more grown-up venues. Instead of grinding up against your man in a dark, smelly, dirty house all night long, find a nice bar with a low cover charge, and spend the evening dancing there. Forget about the alcohol for a night (goodbye, ridiculously expensive tab,) and let yourself enjoy a fun and sophisticated night out without suffering a headache the next morning.
Talk to Each Other
It seems, collegiettes™, that our generation is always on the go, trying to fill every minute with a fun activity. In a relaxing change of events, try to do absolutely nothing on a date but talk. Cuddle up on the couch, sit on the swings at the park, or lie in bed and get to know one another better. Ask him questions about his passions or his childhood, and let him ask the same of you. If you’re having trouble opening up, begin with fun games like 20 questions to break the ice. By the end of your date, you might find that hours have passed, and you’ve formed an even deeper connection with your guy than you already had.
Do you have other ideas for cheap and fun summer dates? Leave a comment!