Things to Do

Dating on the Cheap in Washington

Dating is never easy, and the economy isn’t helping romantic matters much, either. How can you impress your true love when you can barely afford a box of macaroni and cheese for dinner?

But never fear! We’ve come up with suggestions for free (or super-cheap) date ideas that won’t wear out your wallet. Got more cheap-date suggestions? Leave them in the comments below.

Related Links:

Listen to live jazz: Who doesn’t enjoy live music and cool drinks? Every third Thursday of the month, Washington bands serenade audiences with swing and jazz tunes at the Smithsonian American Art Museum from 5 to 8 PM. The museum will also host other live jazz events this spring, and admission is free. Bonus: You can take your date to see all of the free art exhibits at the museum.

Take a stroll down Lovers Lane: Georgetown’s Montrose Park is a tucked-away neighborhood treasure. Surprise your date with a homemade picnic lunch before wandering the grounds. A walk down the cobblestone Lovers Lane, on the west side of the park, is a must, as is a walk through the boxwood maze. If you’re still wondering what to do, bring your rackets and challenge your date to a game of tennis on the park’s courts, or explore the neighboring Dumbarton Oaks estate ($8 admission).

Catch a free movie: Is your date a film buff? Impress him or her with one of the National Gallery of Art’s free screenings. Independent, documentary, and foreign films are usually shown here; check the gallery’s calendar for details on specific movies. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis, so get there early.

Take a hike under the full moon: While other events hosted by the National Arboretum are free, its popular two-hour full-moon hike costs $19. Dress warmly for the five-mile guided walk, which is held for three days around the time of every full moon. Registration is required. Check out the Arboretum’s Web site for other events.

Ride a 1920s carousel: Admission to Glen Echo Park is free, and a ride on the historic 1921 carousel will set you back only $1.25 per ride. Take a ranger-led tour of the former amusement park, or watch a documentary on its history before setting up a picnic on the grounds. Other events include puppet shows and dance classes, which have fees.

Drift along the C&O Canal: For a small fee ($3 per person if you’re on foot or bike, $5 per vehicle for a three-day pass), visit the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Park to ride your bikes, hike the trails, canoe, or kayak along the Potomac River, or take a mule-drawn public boat ride ($5 per person) or ranger-led tour.


Dirt Cheap Eats

Cheap Eats

117 Ideas for Takeout

30 Great Value Dishes

Frugal Foodie Menus

Going Out

Dating on the Cheap in Washington

Cheap Food at Happy Hours

Drink Cheap at Dive Bars


Our Favorite Consignment Shops

Secondhand Stores in Bethesda

Best Bargains Guide