There’s something dreamy about the sweet summertime. Those August nights are longer; the mood is lighter. The sun shines brighter, and the twinkly lights (and stars!) ooze romance. You’re in better spirits and perhaps even ready to rekindle a lil romance with your partner… but unfortunately, your budget doesn’t allow endless date nights. Dinners, drinks, event tickets and weekend getaways add up fast, so how can you cut back on spending without sacrificing memory-making? By getting a little creative.
Luckily, relationship and finance gurus have amazing recommendations for totally (or almost) free summer date activities. Here are seven, super-fun ideas that help you reconnect with your one-and-only during these last few weeks of August before school nights yet again call us off the playground…
Check out street concerts
Music may get you in the mood to dance, sway or simply hold hands as you enjoy the vibe, making one of the myriad free summer concerts in your neighborhood the perfect inexpensive date idea, says Susan Trombetti, CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking. Check local calendars, Meetup.com, Facebook events, or Eventbrite for ideas. “Bring a lawn chair and take advantage of the great, live music while breathing in the fresh outdoors,” Trombetti recommends.
Try a free first class
For active couples, getting your heart racing is an easy — and free! — way to tackle a challenge together. If you’re near a mountain, go for a morning hike before the sun is too hot, and celebrate your summit victory with coffee and breakfast with a view. Or if you’re not so outdoorsy, look for a local fitness studio that offers a free first class, recommends Liz Miersch, a financial expert and the head of marketing for Paceline. Some examples include SoulCycle, CorePower Yoga and Orangetheory.
Not only do endorphins help you feel better, but you could end up finding a new workout that you enjoy as a team, creating a new weekend date ritual.
Go for a long stroll
While it might sound a little cheesy, there’s a reason seeing elderly couples holding hands makes us all swoon. Strolling with your partner is not only free, but it forces you to put your phone downs, disconnect, and enjoy the scenery together. “Whether you live by a river, lake, or the ocean, a walk alongside the promenade or better yet in the sand at the ocean is perfect,” Trombetti says. “It’s a nice way to relax and get to know someone while enjoying the great outdoors.”
Consider grabbing a cocktail and an appetizer at a neighborhood favorite if your budget allows. And if you don’t live near a body of water or any other majesty, that’s okay — look for a park that can remove you from the hustle-and-bustle of the city.
Although the midday sun may be scorching, when the temperature cools and the fireflies come out, it can actually be pleasant to sit outside (particularly if you have some bug spray on hand.) Use this sunset and twilight time to simply sit outside with your partner, recommends psychologist Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D. Try to find a spot with a view — or make your backyard into a dreamy oasis. A little lemonade and some music may be all it takes.
“Especially after the sun goes down, it can be very intimate to look at the city lights or be under a starry sky snuggling together,” she says. “As always, don’t look at your phones or devices during this one-on-one bonding time so that you achieve a deeper connection with each other.”
Climb to the roof
City dwellers know the true beauty of scaling to the roof and enjoying the sweeping architecture below you. The lights dazzle, the sounds buzz around you, and it’s romantic. Make it a date night by grabbing an inexpensive bottle of wine, turning on your favorite jams, and talking to one another, Trombetti says. While it might seem simple, these impromptu moments can make an ordinary weeknight magical.
“Don’t miss these impromptu moments: They are the fabric of any relationship and make for a perfect date that’s on its way to a great relationship,” she explains. “Maybe toss in a deck of cards and play some strip poker under the stars — or just regular rummy.”
Pack a picnic
Rather than going to a restaurant where you’ll need to tip your server and order an (overpriced!) bottle of wine, consider making a picnic instead. Ideally, Dr. Thomas says this evening date will be during or after sunset when you’re hungry and ready to dine.
In addition to the joy of sitting outside in great weather, it can also be a collaborative experience that improves your teamwork skills. Or, if you’re the couple who takes turns planning date nights, let your one-and-only take the lead one week, and then you return the favor the next. “Having candles and periodically feeding each other during the picnic can help to add even more romance and passion to this experience,” she adds.
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