You don't have to drop $100 on dinner and a movie. Some of the most memorable dates can be had for nada -- or at least the price of a nonfat mocha latte. It just takes a little planning.
Here are 10 wallet-friendly suggestions to get you and your honey up off the couch.
Pack a picnic, see a playSummer is the best time to find big-time entertainment -- concerts, dance performances and plays -- for free. Just spread a picnic blanket, open a bottle of wine and enjoy.
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You can find evening shows at amphitheaters, city parks, colleges, public gardens and museums. Search online for your city name and terms such as "summer concert series," "free performances" or "Shakespeare in the park." Or try MSN City Guides.
Watch the rehearsalThat big concert or show coming up takes a lot of practice to perfect. Lucky for you, many music, dance and theater venues will let you watch the final dress rehearsal for free.
You might have to sit through interruptions for sound and lighting issues, but that's worth getting a $30-to-$100 seat for free.Call your favorite local theater to find out whether dress rehearsals are open to the public.
You can also try getting to know the manager.
Look beyond booksSure, you've lounged in your local bookstore's overstuffed chairs on Saturday afternoons, browsing through books and magazines. But have you thought about this venue as theater?
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Most Borders and Barnes & Noble stores, as well as some savvy independents, schedule musicians, readings or lectures a few evenings a week. Grab an iced coffee from the bookstore barista and you've got an actual date.
A point with a viewBlogger Vanessa Van Petten and her boyfriend park their car at the end of the local airport runway for a little picnic."We try to guess which (airline) is coming in" before we can see it, says Van Petten, 23. The cost is little more than a jug of coffee or dessert (with two forks).
For other great views, head to your local marina bar, a restaurant overlooking a golf course or a hilltop patio restaurant. Go after dinner and share a dessert. With a little research, you might be able to find a place with a jazz trio or an acoustic guitarist.
Ugliest-item contestHit garage sales or antiques malls and see who can find the craziest or ugliest item for a buck. Laugh over the toys and knickknacks you remember from your childhood.
Or go to the other extreme: Stroll along your area's most expensive shopping area and take pictures of the things you would buy your sweetie if you had all the money in the world.
Get sweatyGrab your sporting gear and head for your local park. Borrow bicycles or in-line skates and race on a trail. Raise the stakes by having the loser buy the Gatorade or cold beers afterward.
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Or, if your honey is a fitness buff, get a day pass to a local gym and take a kickboxing or yoga class together.
WanderWe can't all take long walks on the beach at sunset, but how about a twilight hike in the woods or a stroll around a local lake? It's too easy to forget about Mother Nature.
If you're in the middle of an urban jungle, take in the sights and sounds of a new neighborhood. Read about its history before you walk.
See whether your local library or architecture guild offers free guided walking tours.
Show you're thrifty and smartExpand your horizons with a trip to an art, history or science museum. Most have free days or evenings, though they're not always advertised. Most are monthly; some are weekly.
Art can be a great conversation starter, even if you know nothing about it or don't like the exhibit. It's also not a bad way to get to know the person you're dating.