Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. While social media and ad campaigns make you think it should be an occasion for flowers, gifts, fancy dinners and trips to cozy bed and breakfasts, for the modern college couple—on a budget—that’s not very realistic.
So we’ve compiled seven unique date ideas, that’ll still offer a fun way to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your significant other, but won’t break the bank!
1. Themed Dinner
Going to dinner on Valentine’s Day not only requires advanced reservations but there are often special—a.k.a. more expensive—Prix-fixed menus. To save money, but still have a nice evening, plan a themed dinner at you or your S.O.’s place. The key here is to avoid a standard meal, spice it up (pun intended).
Go all out for your theme. For example, for an Italian dinner—make pasta, throw on a Frank Sinatra playlist, pick up Italian pastries for deserts. You could also opt for a Mexican night, and do a make your own taco dinner, with margaritas (for the 21+), and churros. For those in long-term relationships, where cooking is a regular occurrence, pick out a new theme or recipe that you’ve never made before.
2. Movie Marathon
We’re not talking Netflix and chill—plan a choreographed movie marathon complete with plenty of fancy snacks (not stale chips), a set roster of classic movies (or new movies). You can even make up a schedule with a meal break in between. You’ll benefit from a theme here too, maybe you and your boo are horror movie nuts or plan to indulge in the classic rom coms.
Pro Tip: if you’re the person hosting, make sure to check out if the movies are available to stream or download ahead of time!
3. Art Museum
To get out of the house and have a more sophisticated date, head to a local or on-campus museum. Soak up local art and culture. Instead of just wandering through, you and your date should pick a favorite piece in each gallery or room and spend a few minutes discussing why you enjoy it. You don’t need to be an art history major, your discussions can be silly or simple. A few options to visit:
- Lee Gallery on Campus: Open Mon-Thurs 9am-4:30pm, currently showing an Andy Warhol Portraits Exhibit.
- Public Art on Campus: Bundle up and take a walk around campus, using this map to find the public sculptures and pieces.
- Bob Campbell Geology Museum: Open Mon-Sun 10am-5pm, showcases minerals, rocks, and fossils.
- Pickens County Museum of Art and History: For a quick day trip, head over to this free museum, it’s open to the public Wed and Fri 9am-5pm, Thurs 9am-7:30pm, and Sat 9am-4pm.
- Check out more Greenville based museums on this list.
4. Retro Skate Date
Channel the 80s and have a retro-style date at Skateland USA in Anderson. This classic skating rink is close to campus, and open Mon-Fri 7-10pm, closed on Wednesdays, Saturday 10am-11pm, and Sunday 2-5pm. This outing will definitely be what you make it, so think of getting other couples involved, or be prepared to be silly and carefree. If nothing else, you’ll get points for originality!
5. Massage on the Cheap
Massages, while relaxing, are generally on the pricier side. But massage schools offer discounted massages from students that are studying to get licensed. The masseuse-in-training is overseen by a licensed professional, and just as good as a regular session. Plus you’re helping a fellow student get on-the-job training! You can check out Carolina School of Massage, which has more affordable packages when you book with a student.
6. Palmetto Distillery
For of-age lovebirds looking for an inexpensive outing, check out the Palmetto Distillery in Anderson. You can do a tasting and a tour of the distillery, where you learn about the history of whiskey and moonshine. The tours are free of cost, and tastings are less expensive than your traditional ‘going out for drinks’ date.
7. Visit the Botanical Gardens
Can’t afford to send or buy flowers? (Who can these days?) then go see some flowers in person at the Botanical Gardens. It’s open every day, free of charge from sunrise to sunset. Even though it’s winter, you can still experience all the beautiful landscape that nature has to offer!
Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a Unique and Affordable Date
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a showy event, spending time and connecting with your loved one is the most important part. But if you can have a fun and different date, all the better!