More Cheap Dates in Washington

By: Sophie Gilbert

Who says the recession is killing romance? Just because you’re broke, it doesn’t mean your love life has to be. Here’s our second installment of how to date on the cheap in Washington. (See our first here.)

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Visit Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. If you can’t afford flowers, there are plenty on display here at the only national park dedicated to cultivating aquatic plants. May through September is the best time for optimum blooms including waterlilies, locus flowers, and water hyacinths, but the river trail provides a romantic backdrop any time of year. Free. Open daily from 7 to 4.

Watch a trial at the Supreme Court. If your love is a Law & Order fan, why not take him or her to hear an oral argument at the highest court in the land? On selected Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings, October through April, you can watch attorneys make presentations to the court and answer questions from the judges. On days when the court isn’t sitting, you can attend a free public lecture every hour and tour the exhibition of judges’ portraits.

Play ultimate Frisbee on the National Mall. The couple that plays together, stays together. As the weather improves, exercise your competitive spirit in a game of ultimate Frisbee, or if the action gets too much, seek solace among the kite flyers by the Washington Monument. The Washington Ultimate Frisbee Meetup Group plays every Saturday, barring bad weather (check Web site for times).

Attend a free performance at the Kennedy Center. Every day at 6 PM, the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center features performances from a diverse range of artists, and there’s even a free shuttle from the Foggy Bottom Metro. After the show, you can watch the sunset from the roof terrace and enjoy spectacular views of Washington.

Attend open-mike night at Busboys and Poets. Music might be the food of love, but poetry isn’t far off. Busboys and Poets’ three Washington locations offer “spoken word” open-mike nights on three days of the week, so if you’ve been mulling over a sonnet or two, this is your chance. Monday nights at the Shirlington location are free; wristbands for Tuesdays at 14th and V streets, Northwest, are $4, and tickets at the door at 5th and K streets, Northwest, every Wednesday are $3.

Go to church. If you’re really feeling the pinch, Grace Church in Georgetown offers jazz and poetry on occasional Tuesdays as part of its Poetry Coffeehouse. Attendance to the reading is free, and you can enjoy complimentary desserts from Café La Ruche and coffee from Starbucks.

Cheer on the Nats. Their chances of reaching the playoffs are poor, but you don’t have to be. Same-day grandstand tickets are a thrifty $5, leaving you a little extra for beer.

Float down the Potomac. You can do it separately in kayaks or together in a canoe. Either way, at $8 an hour, you should be able to keep your head above water. Thompson Boat Center, at the corner of Virginia Ave and Rock Creek Parkway in Georgetown, is open from 8 to 5 as long as the water is above 55 degrees.
Go to an art walk. The first Friday of every month, Dupont Circle galleries are open from 6 to 8 PM to showcase their latest exhibits. Take advantage of the free wine and snacks while you peruse the collections (there’s no obligation to buy, but watch your wallet after four Pinot Grigios). A number of galleries in Georgetown do the same thing every third Friday.

Feel the “ha ha” at Ri Ra. Tickle your funny bone every Wednesday night: Ri Ra in Arlington hosts free stand up from 12 local comics, along with an open-mike joke competition. If you’re the funniest noncom, you win $25 and a free beer (not to mention your date’s overwhelming admiration). Now who’s laughing?

Go to a free show at the National Theatre. Every Monday night, you can catch a free performance at the Helen Hayes Gallery at the National Theatre. Shows are at 6 and 7:30 and feature a range of performers from Irish dancers to Spanish flamenco.