In this tough economy, millions of single adults have curtailed their dating activities for no reason other than finances. You know, scrilla, ducats, moolah, Benjamins. In other words, singles have become quite money conscious because there is no extra to spend wining and dining one new person after another.
Here comes Ms. HeartBeat (Deborrah Cooper) to the rescue with seven interesting and different ideas for Bay Area dates that won’t break the bank. Though this list focuses on locations in Northern California, the $25 price tag may be slightly more or slightly less than we estimate for other regions of the state or country. However, you’re still going to be able to enjoy an afternoon with a special someone, create great memories, and do it all without going into debt.
Bicycle riding through Golden Gate Park, Central Park, Greenway Trail, Stone Mountain Park, or along the scenic coast of Monterey, paved biking paths offers convenience and fun for urban bikers. With plenty to see and lots of places to stop, rest and grab a snack, urban biking is a great way to spend a few hours. Some bike rental shops offer guided tours, or you can take off on your own with a map and tour guide. Prices are dependent upon the type of bike you wish to rent, online booking discounts and the length of time you plan to ride. Average rates nationwide seem to be in the $12-18 per person range for 2-3 hours. Look into internet coupons, 2-for-1 promotions, evening discounts, half-day and full-day rentals, etc. to get the best prices in your area. Of course if you both have your own bikes or the ability to borrow one for the day, you’re off the hook!
To me fishing is nothing but a wonderful excuse to laze around, eat, drink and enjoy the sunshine while claiming you are trying to catch fish. Fishing, if done seriously, is a lesson in patience and broadening your horizons. If you’ve never seen 4:00 am, you’re gonna see it today buddy! It’s easy to borrow two fishing poles and tackle, so that shouldn’t put you out a dime. You can fly fish in rivers, fresh water fish (lakes, reservoirs and stock ponds), or salt water fish (ocean). If you use live bait (worms, minnows, etc.) you’ll spend $5-8 for that. Buying your own lures can be a bit pricey but you might be able to borrow some. Your state may also require that a fishing license be issued by the Department of Fish & Game (or similar agency). Unless you plan to fish regularly, your best bet is a short-term one-day to two week option, usually available at a reduced rate. Bring along snacks, sandwiches, beverages, a cooler filled with ice, sunscreen, sun hat, Wet Wipes, swimwear if the weather is nice, and bug repellant. You’ll be together for at least 5-6 hours, so a fishing trip should be saved for date #4 or later. For information on locations and licensing in your area, log onto http://www.takemefishing.org/
Fruit or Vegetable Picking
This is great to do if you love fruit or don’t mind giving away at least some what you pick as gifts to friends and family. Apples, peaches, nectarines, cherries, plums, oranges, walnuts, tomatoes, apples and cucumbers are some of the most common produce available on you-pick farms. Orchards often provide instructions for canning or freezing the things you pick. Check to determine that farm that uses pesticide free growing methods to reduce exposure to chemicals since you won’t be wearing protective clothing like farmworkers do. Log onto www.pickyourown.org to find a farm in your area that offers the fruits or vegetables you’d most like to pick.
Winery Promotional Event
One of the cutest and most unique ideas is BYOM (bring your own meal) and Bluegrass Band at Cedar Mountain Winery in Livermore, California. A quiet little secret, the wineries of the Livermore Valley area include big names like Wente Vineyards, Eagle Ridge Vineyard, and Concannon Vineyard (check out www.discovercaliforniawines.com for more information). The winery provides a grill and hot coals for your meat or vegetables; you bring your own side dishes, plates and utensils and dancing shoes. Cedar Mountain wine and other non-alcoholic beverages are available for purchase. Can’t beat a great date event like this which costs only $5 per person. From Ohio to New Mexico, North Carolina to Iowa, scores of new wineries are opening their doors and welcoming tasters in by dozens. Look online for information about wineries and events in your area.
Drive In Movie Date
Believe it or not, there are still areas of the country where there is at least one drive-in movie theatre within a short driving distance. The Solano in Concord is still around, as is the Westwind in San Jose. Nothing like a summer evening spent in the car munching on popcorn and hot dogs, watching a movie. A touch of nostalgia for the over 40 crowd guaranteed to stimulate conversation filled with great childhood memories. Even if the movies aren’t that great, it’s still fun and different. You can bring your own food and drinks to some, not to others. Be sure to have blankets on hand in case the temperature drops. General admission nationwide between $5-8 per person with some theatres offering free nights.
All over the country there are candy, beer, chocolate, ice cream, truck, motorcycle, and cookie factories. Here in Northern California there are several micro-breweries (Anchor-Steam and Sierra Nevada), Jelly Belly and Anheuser-Busch factories. Sierra Nevada brewery offers live music, dancing and a buffet-style dinner from 6:00-7:30 pm in its 350 seat state of the art show venue. Eat and party for only $12.50 per person on Friday and Saturday nights (not including beverages). Reservations a must. Find out about tours in your area by logging onto http://factorytoursusa.com/ or the book “Watch It Made in the U.S.A.” at http://www.factorytour.com/
Bowling (no striking out though!)
A retro classic but always fun date that provides an environment where you can laugh, joke and get to know each other in a relaxed atmosphere. Many bowling centers offer lower prices if you are out by 4:00 p.m. Special events might include a dj or band, $2 food and beverage days, $2 game days, or flat rate all-inclusive pricing for shoe rental and games for a two hour period. A popular themed promotion is black light bowling where everything white glows creepily. Gotta admit, its something different! And if you’re not a good bowler anyway, what can it hurt? Shoe rental averages $3-5 per person, with each game bowled adding another $4-5 to your bill.