Spend Time, Not Cash: 12 of DC’s Best Cheap Date Spots

Planning a date can be stressful. Between class, homework, and your bank account it’s hard to find the time, or the funds, to make something memorable happen. Stop the overthinking in 2018 and grab date night by the horns. This is your year to put it all out there, make the first move, and wow the cutie of your dreams. We at Student IDeals have put together a list of date ideas that let you ball on a budget. With the date itself taken care of, now all you have to worry about is actually finding someone to take out. We’re pretty sure you can handle that.


Visit The Butterfly Pavilion

The Butterfly Pavilion is a greenhouse filled with butterflies from all over the world. This perfect date spot accompanies the Natural History Museum’s “Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution” and is free on Tuesdays. Although you’re not allowed to ‘touch’ the butterflies, there’s nothing stopping them from landing on you. So bring a camera because your stomach won’t be the only place filled with butterflies.

Enjoy The Botanical Gardens

Fulfill your wanderlust without leaving DC thanks to the Botanical Gardens. Varying rooms are dedicated to plants from all over the world. Currently the featured exhibit is  “Wall Flowers: Botanical Murals”, but this changes throughout the year. The best part is the whole experience is inside and totally free. Escape the outdoors and explore DC’s most beloved greenhouse.

Hang at Gravelly Point

Weather permitting, this is the most unique date in DC. Stashed along the Potomac, you can sit here and watch planes takeoff from Reagan, have a picnic, or watch boats cruise by. Due to the location getting there can be part of the adventure. While easily accessed by car that’s taking some of the fun out of it. We recommend packing a couple blankets and snacks before hitting the metro. Hop off at Reagan, find the Mt. Vernon Trail, and after a 10 min stroll say hello to Gravelly Point.

Visit the Renwick

It’d be easy to just say, “Need a cheap date? Go to the Smithsonians!” but that’s not our style. Although we do feature a couple a Smithsonian or two (we’d be crazy not to), we like to give you more. That’s why we chose The Renwick. It’s free, closer than most museums (located in Farragut) and visually stunning. Although on the smaller side, The Renwick is an easy way to kill more than a couple hours.

Take a FREE Salsa and Bachata Lessons at Cafe Citron21+

Dancing is hard. It’s the fastest way to look dumb, and no matter what there’s someone better than you. Don’t fear. Every Wednesday, Cafe Citron helps all of us non-dancing schmucks by offering free salsa and bachata lessons. Take a date, loosen up with a margarita, and get ready for some spicy Latin dancing. The lessons are for all levels, and operate with rotating partners. Take a couple hours this week and kick up some sparks on the dancefloor.

Go for a Stroll

DC is super walkable, so why not use that to your advantage? Covertly save some cash and get to know that special someone on a romantic walk through the city. With so many gems hidden around, there’s almost no bad decisions on where to head. Be spontaneous and let fate guide you, or head to a classic such as the National Mall, Dupont Circle’s Fountain, or The Enid A Haupt Garden.

Catch a Free Show at the Kennedy Center’s Millenium Stage

Woo your boo with a bit of deception. Get all the glory of a fancy night out without the pricetag. The Millenium Stage at The Kennedy Center offers free shows almost nightly. As Barney Stinston would say, suit up and get ready for a night on the town. Weather permitting, end your night at the nearby Lincoln Memorial for an extra bit of romance.

Explore Roosevelt Island

Get out and love Mother Nature together. Roosevelt Island has many different trails and alcoves to explore. Depending on which path you take you’ll  see beautiful views of the city, unique artwork graffitied around, or both. Like Gravelly Point, getting here is the hardest part, but don’t let that stop you from doing something memorable together.

See a Free Underground Comedy Show

Stand Up comedy is always a date-night winner. Free stand up only makes the good better. Sometimes It can be hard to get your date to laugh, so let the professionals do it for you. DC Underground Comedy offers free shows from DC’s best up-and-coming comedians 7 nights a week. Figure out which venue works for you and get ready to win date night.

Play Pinball at Lyman’s Tavern

Nothing beats feeling like a kid again. A bit more on the divey side,  this Columbia Heights watering hole is what you come to expect from this part of town. With over 10 pinball machines to choose from you’re never short on playing options. Couple that with cheap drinks and you got a fun little date without much planning.

People watch at Union Market

Union Market itself is not the cheapest place in DC (be prepared to spend $15 on food), but the people watching comes free of charge. During the summer, or on one of those beautiful winter day this place will be packed. Grab a cup of coffee or BYOB and park yourself on one of the outdoor benches. Let the conversations begin from there. Be warned, you might be getting watched as well!

Picnic in the Park

This old favorite never goes out of style. With so many parks scattered throughout The District we don’t know why you wouldn’t take advantage. Pack some snacks, a bottle of wine (don’t forget the red cups for public!), and you’ve got a perfect date. This is a “don’t overthink it” situation. There’s a reason it’s been in the playbook for so long.

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