By Stacey DuFord

By: Stacey Duford

Do you find yourself not going on dates because they are too expensive? When you add up the cost of dinner, parking, a movie, etc. (and don’t forget about the money for clothes and grooming!) the cost of dating can become astronomical. No matter how attractive you are, “cheap” is not the best look on a first date.

Here are some ideas for creative dates that are affordable and fun. Most of them require more effort than money and have the added bonus of helping you get to know each other better.

1. A trip to the Farmer’s Market

This is a great first date for foodies! Pick up some fresh flowers, chat with the vendors, try a few samples, and (if things are going well), grab the ingredients for a simple picnic (cheese, fresh fruit, bread). Eastern Market and Royal Oak Farmer’s Market are great weekend choices; and lots of other cities have Farmer’s Markets in the summer months.

2. Volunteering Your Time

This has the added bonus of making you look like a really good person! A volunteering date can be a great way to get to know someone. And rather than spending a lot of money, you’re giving back to the community.

For this to work well, the activity should be something that allows you to work together (thinking packing up food at Gleaners or serving a meal at Grace Centers of Hope). Also, be sure to suggest volunteering for an organization that you are both really passionate about.

3. Movies In The Park

Many cities host free outdoor screenings of movies in local parks during the summer months. Pack a blanket, maybe a couple of those portable lawn chairs with the cup holders, dinner, and a bottle of wine, and enjoy a film under the stars. Or if music is more your thing, check out the schedule of free outdoor concerts in your area.

4. Miniature Golf

Mini golf is the perfect daytime date. You are doing an activity, which keeps things moving and gives you something to talk about. Even if neither of you is a good putter, most people can have fun and laugh at themselves while trying to hit a ball through the windmill or a clown’s mouth.

A round of mini golf is usually pretty inexpensive. If you’re having fun, follow things up with an impromptu movie in the park (see #3)!

5. Trivia Night

If you’re a trivia buff, spend your first date at quiz night at a local bar. Participating in a trivia challenge forces you to work as a team and lets you get to know each other without having to rely on boring questions.  All it costs is a round or two of beers, and if you win you may get a gift certificate or prize money that you can use for your second date. It’s win-win (if you win, that is!).

6. Hiking

Are you both athletic? Don’t overlook outdoor activities like hiking for a first date. While you’ll have to be willing to get a little sweaty, exploring local trails is not only fun, but it’s also free or very cheap – at most you’ll have to pay a parking or entrance fee at a local park. Plus, you may both feel more at ease; though you may want to choose a popular trail (like at one of the many MetroParks) where lots of people will be around if you don’t know your date well.

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