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Cheap and Fun Date Ideas Near GMU

A: “What do you wanna do this weekend?”

B: “Ahh… I don’t know….. Go to the mall again?”

A: “Again? Nah…”

B: “What do you suggest then?”

A: “I don’t know….”

*End up doing nothing all weekend but Netflix*

Have you ever find yourself tired of being stuck in the same old routine with your S.O? Wanting to spice things up but don’t know where to start? Here are some places near the GMU area you and your loved one can go to bring some excitement into both of your lives in college!

(Don’t worry, these aren’t fancy dates, they’re very affordable. After all, we’re college students — very broke college students.)

For the musical and the artistic:

1. Free concerts at the CFA

If you both love art and music, going to a concert together would be wonderful way to bond! One of the many perks of being a Mason student is the easy access to live performances. There are constantly shows going on at the Center for the Arts (CFA) in George Mason University (Right beside Mason Pond). Many of the shows provide free student tickets if you present your student ID, sometimes one, sometimes two. So even if your partner doesn’t study at Mason, this is still a possibility! As for the shows that aren’t free for Mason students, they are still very good options since they are very affordable compared to off-campus concerts. Voila! You got an artistic, cultural and romantic date!

Via Center for the Arts

2. Movie Date at University Mall Theater!

Watching movies in movie theaters might be a little pricey, usually around $10. Don’t let that deter you from going to the movies though! The University Mall Theater right next to campus have really cheap movie tickets! $5 for adults and $4 if you show your Mason ID! That’s not even it! Sometimes you’ll be able to get free movie tickets for the University Mall Theater at the HUB’s Student Involvement office! Just show them your ID card and you’ll get your free ticket for any movie in the Umall theater. In college, we often just watch movies in the dorms on our laptop, maybe sometimes, on the TV in the common room if we’re lucky. Now time for a change and go to the movie theater for a special date!

Via Date Night Guide

3. DC area, museums!

One of the many great opportunities of going to GMU is how easy it is for us to casually go to the U.S. capital! There are countless museums in D.C., so you are guaranteed to find something that both you and your S.O. are interested in! There’s the National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Gallery of Arts, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum…. And so many more! The best part of this is…. they’re free! Some museums might include an entrance fee, such as the International Spy Museum, but most of the museums in the D.C. area are free, so you have plenty of options! A really great date idea would be visiting museums in the daytime and taking a walk around the city and enjoy the gorgeous city view at night! If you don’t feel like driving to D.C. and don’t want to worry about parking in the city, you can take the shuttle from campus to the Vienna metro station nearby and take the orange line to Smithsonian station or other nearby stations!

Via Unsplash

4. Book panels for book nerds!

Nothing is better than being able to celebrate a passion you both share! If both of you are book lovers, this would definitely be a wonderful and effortless way to bond with one another! Fall for the Book Festival is an annual book festival that takes place in George Mason University in the fall season. They have various book panels, author readings, author signings, and other book-related activities every day for you to take part in!

Via Fall for the Book

5. Social dances at Glen Echo

Feeling groove-y and up for some classy dancing? Glen Echo Park is the place to go! They always numberless dance classes and social dance events going on year round. Swing, waltz, tango, you name it! They often have great live bands playing during the social dances, radiating the great ambiance! Definitely going to be an unforgettable and romantic evening! The tickets range from $5-20, and they usually have student discounts so make sure to bring your Mason ID along!

Via soitsfun.com

6. Disney On Ice!

Being an adult doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a little Disney magic! If you are a fan of Disney or skating, definitely go check out Disney On Ice shows! You will for sure be transported to another realm, sucked into their music and graceful ice skating while you’re gathered with hundreds and thousands of other Disney and ice skating fanatics! Something you don’t want to miss out! They come to the Eagle Bank Arena at Mason and the Capital One Arena in D.C. once or twice a year! The tickets are quite affordable, only $15 for students! *There are shows in D.C. next week around Valentine’s Day, wink wink.*



7. Go for a stroll or a hike

It can get a little overwhelming staying in the urban/suburban setting for too long. Go outdoors and escape from the everyday campus setting! Want to escape from the everyday campus and urban setting? Go for a hike in nature! There’s plenty of options around GMU. There’s the Walney park (Ellanor C. Lawrence Park) in Chantilly, Burke Lake Park, and also Great Falls Park. They are all less than 30 minutes away, so more the reason why you should definitely go breathe in some fresh air, destress, and appreciate nature! To make the hike even better, pack some good food and have a little picnic there!

Related: 9 Romantic Activities to Do at GMU this Valentine’s Day

Via Find your Chesapeake

8. Ice skating!!

If you two are feeling restless and active, ice skating is a fun idea! There are a few popular ice skating rinks close by Mason, such as the one at Tysons Corner Center (accessible via metro), and the Reston Ice Skating Rink. The tickets are around $10, which is totally worth the romantic bonding experience!

Via Cafe Mom

9. Go roller skating!

Think ice skating is too cold for you? Go roller skating! Equally as fun, if not, more fun! This is a great way to feel like a kid again and embrace your innocence and carefree spirit! Skate and Fun Zone (less than 30 minutes away) is a great location! Tickets are around five dollars!

Via Community Impact Newspaper

Animal lovers:

10. Visit cute animals at the zoo!

Tired of seeing humans all the time around campus? No worries! Just hop on the metro and head to the Smithsonian National Zoo to visit some adorable animals! (Yes, there will still be humans there.) The zoo is free of charge, but that doesn’t undermine the quality and your experience at the zoo!

Transportation: Take the shuttle from campus to Vienna metro station and head to Woodley Park Zoo or the Cleveland Park metro station and walk to the zoo. (I’ve walked around the neighborhood once and it is ABSOLUTELY stunning!! It was during the fall/winter season so the ground was covered with colored leaves, gorgeous!)

Pro Tip: Avoid going there during colder seasons as a lot of the outdoor animals will be transported to inaccessible indoor areas, there won’t be a lot of animals to see.

Via Flickr

11. Baltimore Aquarium

Been to the zoo a few times already and want something new? Visit an aquarium! The National aquarium in Baltimore is perfect for you! It does require a fee that ranges from $24 to $40. While it is more on the pricey side for college students, it will be worth your money to be surrounded by gorgeous sea creatures that you don’t usually have the chance to see! They have more than 20,000 fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and marine animals as the nation’s top three aquaria.

Via Haymarket Transportation

12. Have a puppy or love puppies? Santa Paws at Fair Oaks Mall! (Around Christmas time)

Fair Oaks Mall hosts Santa Paws event every year around Christmas time to let puppies take their photos with Santa! How cute! Not a problem if you don’t have a puppy! Just head over to the mall and casually look at (or even pet, if you have the owner’s permission) adorable doggies! Imagine being surrounded by a sea of enthusiastic adorable doggos who are excited to take a photo with Santa!

Via Instastalker


13. Walk around the Georgetown neighborhood!

Craving some historical and cultural atmosphere? Go wander around the Georgetown neighborhood! The neighborhood is a charming historical location with delicious food and stunning views! Definitely a romantic time to be able to discover new places with your loved one and have new experiences together. (Don’t forget to grab some Georgetown cupcakes)

Via Trip Savvy

14. Ikea

Furniture window shopping might sound a little weird, but trust me when I say Ikea has this magical charm that will make time freeze. The two of you can spend hours looking at interior designs and cute furniture, sitting on billions of couches and have fun! Their food at Ikea is also delicious!

Via The Citizen

Now that you know all these places and activities to do, go embark on an adventure with your loved one, collegiettes!

Marina Li

George Mason University '21

Marina is a junior at George Mason University studying Communication with a concentration in Public Relations with a minor in Marketing and Tourism & Events Management. She is a social media coordinator, content creator and event planner. She is the kind of person who would burst out singing Disney, musicals, and Christmas songs out of nowhere. In her free time, she likes to watch corgi compilations, read, watch Netflix, think about life and experience repeated existential and identity crisis. Her dream job is to work with Pixar or Disney Studios.
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