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.
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.