10 Tips for Fun and Affordable Dates in Victoria

 Coming up with good date ideas can be tricky, especially if you have the added pressure of planning the date night. You want the date to be interesting, exciting, and different. It's also especially difficult if you’re a student who wants to keep things affordable. Don’t date nights cost a ton of money? They don’t have to!

I decided to compile a list of tips for fun and affordable dating in Victoria. The list includes some specific ideas I have personally tries as well as some research that will help you create your own ideas! Whether you are in a long-term relationship looking for some new places to go or just need an idea for a first date, I hope you can find inspiration here.

1. Explore your city!

Victoria is full of hidden gems! If you are serious about finding some fun and unique things to do, make a date of it to simply wander around your city with no plan or destination! Just enjoy yourself and be open to whatever shops and restaurants you find along the way. When you work together with someone else on the plan it’s not as much pressure. I definitely recommend this for couples because it will be a relaxing day out that will eventually lead to more date nights. I definitely spent first year wandering downtown with my boyfriend, finding cool, cheap restaurants to eat at and new activities we hadn’t tried before! 

Before university, I had never properly played pool. Naturally, when we planned a date night to Peacock Billiards, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Peacock Billiards has over thirty pool tables. You pay per hour of pool, and it depends on how many people you bring. If you are a group of two, however, it will only cost you about $6 each for a whole hour of pool. Peacock Billiards also has ping-pong, a bar, a bistro to order food from and is open until 1 am on weekdays and 2 am on the weekends! We had so much fun playing pool we started going regularly.

The Interactive Game Board Café is located downtown has over 500 games to play or buy! I think this is a great date spot if you want to get out but don’t want to spend a ton of money, as there are so many game options for you to try together. For only $5 each you can play as many games as you want! There is no time limit to your visit and the Café is open until midnight on weekdays and 1 am on weekends.

2. Be a Tourist

 If you are new to Victoria or you just simply haven’t explored Victoria enough make a date to check out all the local tourist attractions. Sure, its cheesy, but these locations are free to walk around and take in the sights, so why not? Some examples are the Parliament Building, Breakwater, the Victoria Public Market, and Beacon Hill Park all within walking distance of each other near the harbor in Downtown Victoria. Take your significant other out on a date to explore all the cheesy tourist destinations. The locations are beautiful, perfect for photo ops, and you never know what you’ll find in the process!

3. Do your research

Finding interesting date ideas is always easiest if you keep your eyes open. I only recently started paying attention to the bulletin boards around UVic and they are literally littered with community and university events, clubs, and performances.  Keep your eyes open for events like these and use websites such as Tourism Victoria to learn about festivals, concerts, and performers coming to Victoria soon. You’ll come up with unique date ideas by keeping your eyes open and staying connected to events going on in the community.  

4. Eat all the food!

 

 

 

Let’s face it, most dates and general get togethers center themselves around food. Constantly going out for food, however, adds up extremely fast. Last year, so many of our dates would consist of going out to restaurants to eat, just so that we could escape the cafeteria food.

Although that got expensive, it allowed us to find out what our favourite places were and know where to get the best deals next time we want to go out to eat. Here is my list of the best places to eat in Victoria (that I have been to, I am constantly looking for unique new spots). These restaurants have reasonable prices and excellent serving sizes.

If you’re in the mood for breakfastJam Café and Shine Café are extremely popular here in Victoria. I constantly heard people raving about these places when I first moved here. They offer traditional breakfasts but then spice things up with items like Red Velvet Pancakes and Pulled Pork Pancakes! The hours only differ slightly per restaurant so check out their websites, but you are guaranteed breakfast until at least 3 pm, so if you wake up late you can still make it to either restaurant to try out this amazing breakfast food for yourself. Who doesn’t love breakfast? It is also important, however, to keep in mind just how busy these places are and plan accordingly! Every time I pass these restaurants on weekends the lineups are insane.

If you’re in the mood for Sushi… then some great sit down options are Yoshi Sushi and Shiki Sushi. I absolutely love sushi and back home had all the best sushi restaurants figured out around where I lived, so when I moved to Victoria that was definitely a priority for me. I was on the hunt. Another place to buy amazing sushi is a store called Fujiya where you can buy prepackaged sushi as well as order miso soup from a chef by ringing a bell. I was surprised by the variety of the sushi as well as the prices! I bought an 8-piece California roll, with decent sized pieces for under 3 dollars. If you and your significant other like sushi and are looking for really good quality sushi to go, then Fujiya is perfect!

Lady Marmalade

This restaurant was one of those “lets wander around the city aimlessly” gems. They serve all day breakfast in their cute little restaurant that’s almost tucked away. The food was amazing and I had breakfast at 3 in the afternoon. I loved the atmosphere of the place, the variety in their menu, the service, and overall it was agreed that this restaurant was a winner. Lady Marmalade is open from 8 am to 4 pm every day and is located on Johnson Street in downtown Victoria.

Johns Place

If you watch Food Network’s “You Gotta Eat Here” you might have seen an episode with John’s Place as a featured restaurant. My logic was, if this show features a restaurant from little Victoria, British Columbia then it must be good. We took a date night down to John’s Place to find a restaurant with so much character and an amazing atmosphere. The prices were cheap and the food brought interesting twists on classic dishes and was absolutely delicious. However, the service is what will bring me back to this restaurant, I don’t think I have ever had such a pleasant and friendly server in my life.

West Coast Waffles

One of the first restaurants I ever went to in Victoria was West Coast Waffles. It is open until 10 pm on weekdays and 2:30 AM on weekends, making it the perfect spot for students. West Coast Waffles sells both sweet and savory waffles so there will be something for everyone! They top their waffles with everything from pepperoni, cheese, bacon, and artichoke, to Nutella, fresh fruit, frozen yogurt, and whip cream.

The Soda Shoppe

On the way to the downtown harbour there is a cute little shop called The Soda Shoppe. It is a fun little place to get some snacks and continue your walk downtown. They sell ice cream, floats, sundaes, milkshakes, baked goods, and the most amazing hot dogs you will ever have. There are so many options and toppings, it’s a cute little diner feel with a great view of the harbour and Empress Hotel.

Some other great places worth looking into: Rebar, Pho Ever, The Bubble Tea Place

Make food

Of course there is always the option to make your own food at home! Websites like foodgawker are extremely useful for recipe ideas. On foodgawker you can type in what food you want to cook with/ what is available to you and most importantly what you want to leave out. Once you hit search you will be presented with hundreds of recipes to try! You can also search by most popular.

Making something new together from a recipe can be a lot of fun, whether you are making a full dinner, snacking on homemade nachos, or whipping together a dessert. If you are looking for the best dessert you have ever tried in your life, then search up a basic recipe for Sex in A Pan. You won't be disappointed.

5. Stay In.

Building a fort is just as much fun when you’re an adult as it is when you are a kid. Build an amazing fort with blankets, pillows, lights, and food and watch a movie or play some video games.

6. Use apps!

Mobile Bandit will help you find deals in your area! Simply download the app, let it find your location, and it will show you the restaurants and stores that had mobile bandit deals available to you.

7. Celebrate the Seasons!

Keep track of what seasonal events are going on around you! Take your date to free firework celebrations, haunted houses, sand sculpting competitions, pumpkin patches, or pumpkin carvings! With Halloween coming up you can be sure to find some fun date night ideas! Galey Farms has its annual Festival of Fear with its Cornfield of Horror, The Crazy Train, and their 6000 square foot Haunted House ‘Carnevil’

8. Get out in nature

 We all know Victoria is absolutely beautiful. Here is a list of some ways to get yourself out into nature: Go for a walk, go to the beach, stay up for a meteor shower, watch the sunset, watch the sunrise, pack a picnic, go geocaching, go on a hike (Mt. Doug is a quick and easy hike so you don’t have to worry about getting gross and sweaty) or explore flea and farmers markets.

9. Use your student ID!

  As students, we are looking to have fun and save money at the same time, and there are lots of ways to do that! If you are a student, use those student deals to your advantage! If you and your date want to have a night out, research student deals at nightclubs. Victoria’s newest nightclub, Distrikt, is offering free cover every Friday and Saturday night all school year long when you present a Valid student ID. If you and your date are into tours and museums, Craigdarroch Castle is only $8.95 to tour if you have your valid Student ID.

There are plenty of other deals you can take advantage of with your student ID, if you aren’t into going out to nightclubs or museums. Studentsaver.ca shows you all the local student deals around your location so you’ll find a deal on something you’re interested in!

10 Have a Games/Movie Night

As I mentioned before, the Interactive Game Board Café is only $5 dollars and gives you a huge selection of games to choose from! But a games night at home is another perfect date night! If you have never played Cards Against Humanity before, then you’re missing out. You can download the PDF for free online, and then just pay to print it somewhere for cheap! There are also websites online to create your own cards or choose cards made by other fans!

Every time you have a date night you really enjoyed, or you try something new with your significant other, write it down on a piece of paper and start a ‘Date Night Jar’. All the best dates, places, restaurants, shops, and memories will go into this jar. Not only will it be fun to look back on in the future and remember the amazing dates you had, it will also be a really useful tool to help you choose a future date you already know you both enjoy! It’s all about working together to create memories, explore your city, and try new things. Date night should always be different, and doesn’t have to empty your bank account.