10 Adorable and Affordable Date Ideas

Are you a gushy romantic with an eye for aesthetics brought down by a tight college budget? Are you constantly yearning to deviate from dinners on the couch while binging Netflix? I was too. Thankfully, with the help of Pinterest and a good imagination, I found myself getting creative with date ideas so I too could get Instagram worthy photos of my S.O. and I, without breaking the bank. Here are some date ideas that I can say, with personal experience, they will not disappoint.

 

  1. 1. Go On A Picnic

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    It is a simple plan really. Grab a blanket, some snacks, maybe a little pink wine and head to your favorite park! Let me remind you that you do not need the $90 picnic basket with matching blankets and an included cheese board to execute this idea. Instead of buying food for this date, pack a lunch! Make your favorite sandwiches, some strawberries, a little dessert (even the last oreos in your pantry) and there you go. Even if you only have an hour to spare, go watch the sunset at the beach, surprise them on their lunch break, or even on the grass in between classes. It doesn’t need to be expensive to be romantic.

     

  2. 2. Drive In Movie 

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    I am sure all my die hard romantics out there have already figured out there is a drive-in movie theater in Goleta, only a short distance from campus. If you have not been before, then do yourself a favor and look up the West Wind Drive-In. It is only $8.50 for entry, which is already cheaper than a regular night at the movies. This way you can make popcorn at home, bring your own snacks and cuddle up in the privacy of your car while enjoying one the most classic date nights of all time.

     

  3. 3. Game Night

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    This one is for our competitive couples out there. Get a deck of cards, a board game or checkers board and let the games begin. I am speaking from experience when I say that once a couple finds their game, it is hard to quit. For myself, it was chess, a game I learned when I was young and was surprised to figure out my boyfriend was just as skilled as I was when we came home late one night and lost sleep over our epic chess battle. It sounds nerdy but it became something new we could bond over. Soon the chess board came with us to our picnics and days at the beach. Who knew my mate would repeatedly put me in check mate.

     

  4. 4. Go On A Hike

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    This is a big one for all our adventurous couples. Isla Vista is surrounded by beautiful landscapes waiting to be explored! Next Sunday, throw on your running shoes and go on a stroll through the hills. If you are tired of the same pictures at the classic Knapps Castle, try out the Gaviota wind tunnels, or La Cumbre Peak. If you are looking for a shorter hike, so you don’t break a serious sweat in front of your S.O., then try out Lizard’s Mouth for a breath taking view especially at sunset.

  5. 5. Take A Dance Class

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    Picture your friends faces when you are out, your song comes on, and you and your S.O. break out in simple yet classic dance moves. It sounds a little awkward, but I guarantee it will generate a shocked reaction followed by a great story filled with laughs. The Recreation Center at UCSB offers a number of dance classes, as well as a studio called Yes Dance! in downtown Santa Barbara. For only $15 you can learn the basics of salsa, tango, or whatever your heart's desire. Even if you and your partner have four left feet together, at least you are getting out there and trying something new. It is an opportunity to laugh and bond in your awkwardness while learning a few new moves.

     

  6. 6. Cook Dinner Together

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    This is a pretty simple one. Instead of picking up takeout or throwing left overs in the microwave, take it a step further and prepare a meal together.  Scavenge your favorite foodie Instagram pages, pick a recipe that looks delicious and you never thought you would try yourself, and go for it! An activity that seems so routine can be really enjoyable when you are trying something new together. Once your done you can even set the table, light a candle, maybe eat on plates that are not paper and make a romantic night in with your homecooked meal.

     

  7. 7. Beach Day!

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    This date seems a little obvious since UCSB is sitting on the ocean, but when is the last time you took advantage of our beautiful scenery? Take out that same blanket you used for the picnic and walk down to the shore to soak up some sun. My boyfriend and I try to test out a different spot every beach date we plan, and try to find which beaches we enjoyed the most. If it is a little windy outside, do not let that stop you. Maybe bring a kite! Act like children and buy a $4 kite from any store and play outside. Bring books and lay in each others arms as you fall into different stories. Leading to an eventual nap under the sun with the sound of the waves rocking you into slumber, to then wake up to a golden tan. It is the perfect way to spend a day together without spending much money at all!

     

  8. 8. Don't Be Afraid To Look For Deals

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    I am not exaggerating when I say Groupon is my favorite website. It is an ideal way to enjoy all those dates that you want to go on, but your wallet did not allow you to. Look out for deals on mini golf, the batting cages, the driving range, the zoo, or even deals on paddle boarding! If you still have little luck there are plenty of deals that go on every week like college bowling nights or a karaoke night. Even if you cannot sing, it is plenty entertaining to watch other people who also cannot sing.

     

  9. 9. Go Apple Picking!

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    This date idea probably surprised some of you, but if you learn one thing from this article, it should be to not be afraid to try new things. Go on pickyourown.org to find local farms that allow visitors to roam their gracious lands and pick produce for you to take home. It is both a unique and an adorable way to spend time together. Plus, this idea has some serious cute photo potential.

     

  10. 10. Get Creative!

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    I don’t mean get creative in your date ideas, but literally get creative together. This is a good one for a rainy day because you can stay inside and get artistic. All you need is some paper, pencils, paint, or colored pencils and doodle away! Have a drawing competition, hang your art up for your friends to admire, or start an arts and crafts project together. Maybe you are bored with your coffee table, paint it yellow! You do not need to be talented to paint a piece of furniture or even a plate or a coffee mug. Go to your local thrift store, buy two mugs and decorate a matching set. An easy activity that anyone can enjoy.