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20 Affordable, Unforgettable Date Night Ideas

By Hannah Brzozowski

Ever since Nick and I have been married, we have made date night a priority. *Almost* every week for the past ten years, we have had a one night for just the two of us to reconnect and focus on each other.

I used to think that date night meant eating out - which meant spending at least $30 every week, sometimes it was more like $60. Which to me, is a lot of money over time. But I thought, this is an investment in our marriage. It's worth it - right?

Well, I've come to the conclusion that date nights don't have to mean you spend a lot of money. The point of date nights is to connect!

To help you, I've been researching some fun ways to have a date night.

We like to see date nights as being one of two ways to share an experience together. Some are face to face (more talking) and others are side to side (more doing).

1. Fill up the air mattress in your living room (or outside) and have a movie night.

Or if you don't have an air mattress, just bring all of your pillows and blankets in the living room. Light a candle and watch a movie. If you can't decide on which movie, check this site out. It helps you pick a movie you'll both like.

2. Go to the library and pick out a book for each other.

We did this the other and it was actually really fun. I'll be honest 🤫 we didn't actually read the books BUT we had a lot of fun seeing what the other person picked out for us.

3. Cook dinner together.

I'm the main chef in our house so it's fun to be the expert in something as Nick learns different recipes and techniques from me.

4. Take a hike.

One of my favorite things to do is going for hikes, and I especially like it when Nick comes with me. It's an amazing time to relax and talk. Now, I live in central Illinois so you might think - what hiking are you doing in the flattest state? I'm very surprised by the number of hikes I've found around C-U and I've found them all through an app called All Trails. Don't worry this isn't an ad. I just really like the app. Guess what!? The app is free.

5. Paint something together.

Nick and I aren't super artsy types but it's just fun to sit and let the paintbrush guide you. We hung up our paintings in our kitchen for a few months and every time I saw them, it reminded me of that time we spent together.

6. Play board games or video games.

There's just something about competition. I love to win. So with this one, I have to make sure I don't get too upset losing on a date night. Some of our favorite two player games are: Spot It, Ticket to Ride (New York), and Mario Party on the Switch.

7. Go roller skating or ice skating.

The first time I went ice skating with Nick, it was very funny. I wasn't great, but I wasn't as bad as Nick, who clung to the side of the rink the entire time. Even though it was seven whole years ago, I still remember laughing and having fun.

8. Grab a pizza and eat it at a local park.

We originally did this because indoor dining was closed during the Safer at Home Order but it also saved us money. We didn't get drinks or have to tip. Plus, pizza is cheap anyways.

9. Find the best _________ in town.

The other day, we went to Chicago and went on the hunt for the best hot chocolate in the city. We did our research and picked four places to go to. We got one small drink at each place and then rated them. All in the all, it cost about $20. So, pick a favorite whatever (fries, coffee, fast food burger, or soup) and go find the best in your city.

10. Hang out in your own backyard.

We are lucky enough to have Bago (or as some of you call it, Corn Hole). One time, we even brought it into our living room to play. A lot of times, we'll sit out on our patio and enjoy the sunset together too.

11. Learn to dance via YouTube.

Dancing lessons can get pricy so a few months ago, we looked up youtube videos of how to dance. We weren't perfect by any means, but there were lots of laughs.

12. Bike ride around your city.

Either use your own, borrow some from friends or rent some. In Champaign, there are bikes all around campus town that you can rent by using an app. This is a great way to see your city in a new way.

13. Go rock climbing.

I didn't even know that you could do this just for fun. I always assumed it was super humans who did this sort of thing. So, when Nick mentioned he wanted to go to Urbana Boulders for date night - I was nervous! It turned out to be pretty challenging but I could totally see my self going back! Keep in mind, this was a little pricier.

14. Explore a new town together.

Nick surprised me with a date day last summer to Casey, IL and I don't think I'll ever forget it. It's a quirky town filled with the World's Largest Rocky Chair, Wind Chimes and Mail Box. It was spontaneous and random and we loved it.

15. Cheer on the home team at a local football game.

Find a high school game or college game happening near you and go cheer for your home team. The first Illini game we went to, Nick finally explained football to me.

16. Work out together.

In the past couple of years, I developed a passion for working out. So, every so often, Nick and I will work out together. What's fun about working out? I'm the inspirational coach. I'll come up with the work out plan and then I'll spout out random encouraging nonsense. It makes us both laugh and it's healthy. It's a win win! We've also worked out with other couples, which is a blast!

17. Read to each other.

Pick a book and take turns reading out loud to each other. Books can be a great way to spark conversation!

18. Have a water balloon fight.

We did this on an especially hot day last summer and it was so memorable. Our neighbors probably thought we were crazy - I screamed a lot. But hey, it was SO much fun!

19. Play tennis or basketball at a local court.

I'll be the first to say, we're not great at either but it's good to cheer each other on or make fun of each other (just a little bit). We miss the ball more times than we can count. We don't keep score. But most of all we laugh, a lot.

20. Finally, explore a new place every month.

It is so easy to find your places that you eat at or hike that you go to. Why not challenge yourself to find a new place to explore every month? Since we're pretty new to Champaign-Urbana, this is easier for us. It gets us out of the mundane.

Whatever you do, don't let your date nights turn into zoning out in front of the TV or worse yet, none at all. Your relationship is worth investing effort into!

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