You know all the traditional cheap date ideas: picnics, museums, strolls, blah blah blah. Anyone can come up with those, and if you are here looking for creative cheap dates then you have probably already thought of them. Here are 5 great ideas that are not only unusual but really take advantage of New York City’s unique offerings. These dates range anywhere from $30 to absolutely free:
1) First Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum: There’ll be loads of people here, but that’s because this place is happenin’. The first Saturday of every month, the Brooklyn Museum (of art) hosts a free open house with concerts of wildly varying music genres, film screenings, lectures, crafts, and an early night dance party. They even feed you, and it’s all for free! Be careful to check out in advance which events you need to reserve tickets for (most don’t require any). Total cost: $0!
2) Bike ride on Governor’s Island: This is best on a Friday afternoon, when bike rentals are free. Governor’s Island was opened to the public last year after extensive renovations were made to make it a pleasant park area. Take the free ferry right next door to the Staten Island Ferry, and enjoy the fresh breeze and great views while snuggling with your honey. Once on the island, rent your bikes—or, for true romance, a bicycle built for 2 (*sigh*). On Saturdays and Sundays, bikes are $15 for 2 hours (after 2 hours, you’ll have done a few circuits of the whole island). Pause for a free round of mini-golf, a picnic, and if you time it right, a historical walking tour. Total cost: $0 on Fridays, $30 for 2 hours on Saturdays and Sundays (or $25 for a tandem).
3) Share your favorite buildings, bridges, sights, etc.: My favorite idea, this is good for 2 dates. Each partner takes one date to lead the other on a tour of their favorite locales in the city. When I dated an architect, it was our favorite buildings. It could be your favorite statues, small gardens, river views, used bookstores—anything you’ve noticed that you’d like to share with your partner. Total cost: $0!
4) Rowboats in Central Park: Totally romantic. Rent a boat for $10 per hour (cost rounded up to the nearest quarter-hour) and glide across the Central Park lake, gazing at the sky, passing under bridges, spotting ducks and turtles, and avoiding collisions with other boaters. It’s a very mellow and relaxing activity, but not ideal for a first date—you should already have plenty to talk about for this one. It’s also best during the week, when fewer people will be cramping your style. Total cost: $20 for two hours.
5) Mini-golf at The Putting Lot: Hop on the L and head out to Bushwick for a round of artistic mini-golf. The “green” is located in an old vacant industrial lot, and each of the 9 holes has been designed by a different artist expressing his or her own vision of the most avant-garde use of the space. This hangout just opened up in June 2009, so you’ll get props for hipness. Total cost: $10 for 2 people.