I love DC, but I really love dating in DC. Yes, dating can be expensive (especially if you’re a guy–sorry, but them’s the facts), but you really can find tons of fun, creative things to do on the cheap in and around DC.
Date idea #1: Go outside
Doing things outdoors is reliably one of my favorite ways to have a great time for very little money. You don’t have to be a star athlete to enjoy a good outdoor date, but it helps if your date is a little adventurous. There are a couple of weeks left to go ice skating in the National Gallery of Art’s sculpture garden, and then you can warm up with a hot chocolate in their pavilion cafe afterwards and still stay under $30 for the two of you.
Once the weather gets nicer, you can rent a kayak and paddle along the Potomac for about $10 an hour, or paddleboat in the Tidal Basin for $8 an hour. You can also head over to Great Falls Park ($5), Turkey Run (free), or any one of the other parks and trails around and take a little hike or just enjoy the scenery. A picnic also goes well with all of these activities, which can be as simple as peanut butter sandwiches or as fancy as a Dean & Deluca spread, depending on your budget.
Date idea #2: Act like you got some sense
DC is filled with all kinds of ways to nurture (and show off to your date) your intellectual side. You can always check out one of the many exhibitions you’ve been dying to see, but what about visiting after-hours for a lecture? Many are free, but even the ones that make you pay usually won’t set you back too much (especially if you still have your student ID!). It’s much more interesting than a movie, and afterward you can head over to a bar and discuss your reactions over a drink or dessert. Total cost for two: anywhere from $10-$30, depending on what you do.
Date idea #3: Music on the cheap
Even if you can’t quite afford the $300 price tag to take your schnookums to Britney Spears, you can still enjoy some great live music in DC. If jazz is your thing, check out the dark and fairly intimate HR-57. They sometimes have bigger names with corresponding price tags, but you can catch jam sessions on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays that are only $8. If you’re looking to impress an aspiring rockstar or a hipster girl (or boy), check out the schedule at Black Cat or Rock and Roll Hotel for concerts that can be as cheap as under $10. For a grab bag, the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage has free concerts every day of the week.
Date idea #4: Make like Lewis and Clark and explore
I don’t care how long you’ve been living here, there are parts of DC you’ve never seen before–or at least things have changed since the last time you were there. There’s no need to wait until your next out-of-town guests visit to do the tourist thing, so why not finally get over to Takoma Park/National Harbor/Alexandria? If you don’t have a specific place in mind you’ve been waiting to see, a scavenger hunt is a great way to get out and about. Trust me, your date will be delighted by your creativity, and you’ll have tons of fun along the way. Cost: free.
I realize that I have completely skipped over places to eat actual meals in this list, but that’s only because our own KatieT has already done such a good job. Anything else I missed? Post your creative date ideas in the comments!