Wallet a little thin this Valentine season? That shouldn’t mean you cancel all dates until things begin to look up in the finance department. The solution is to get creative, to find reasonable and fun alternatives that require only pocket change and the right attitude—or with any luck, some that are absolutely free.

Here are nine ideas to get your creativity going:

VOLUNTEER TOGETHER. Find a local charity that meets the needs of some area of life you are passionate about, such as a soup kitchen or pet shelter. Volunteer for the day—together!

FREE DAY. Most art galleries and museums have a free day or hours each month or have gone to a “pay as you wish” policy. Here’s an example: Los Angeles County Museum of Art is free after 3pm Monday-Friday for L.A. County residents; also free on the second Tuesday of each month. Also in Los Angeles, The Getty Center is always free. Check those in your area.

KARAOKE. Just hear me out. Karaoke is guaranteed to be a fun night, even if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Let your hair down, spring for a few drinks and have a ball.

STAR GAZE. When is the last time you lay down on a blanket and stared at the stars? Grab some hot chocolate, warm blankets and your best gal or guy, then try to find your favorite constellations. If you need some guidance, you can download apps like Star Tracker (Google/Apple).

WINE OR BEER TOUR. Most local breweries and winery tours are free, or only a few bucks—and so much fun. You’ll learn some stuff you didn’t know, get to taste a variety of drinks and have a great time.

WALK. Seriously. Whether it’s in a park, downtown or along a water front, walking is such a good way to open up and just have a great talk. Actually, you won’t find a better activity to get to know one another. And you’ll get a little exercise to boot.

HIKE. If you live in Colorado as I do, you already know the meaning of hiking! There is no end to the numbers of hikes available—all for free. All you really have to pay for is gas to get there and a few snacks and bottles of water for the journey. Don’t know of any hiking trails near you? Do this: Google the name of your city and state plus the word “tourist.” You’ll be amazed how many things there are to do, some of which you may not even be aware.

PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR. Grab your digital cameras or camera phones and take off. Just wander around and take pictures—of each other, surroundings and so on. Open you eyes to really see and record all of the beauty that surrounds you.

HIT THE BOOKS. Whether a glorious central library downtown, a cozy regional branch or bookstore, spend a few hours browsing. Talk about your favorite books. Browse the art and photography books and point out what each of you like. You can be as corny or intellectual as you like. Grab a coffee then sit to chat.

Got other ideas for super cheap dates? Please share in the comments below.


MORE INFO

2017 Valentine Gift Guide—24 Fabulous Gift Ideas for Him and Her

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