7 Unique and Budget-Friendly Date Ideas

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Valentine candyLet’s get real about the the months after the holiday season. Everyone is exhausted, broke, and probably on a new diet — and therefore hungry. Just when we think we have it under control, those aisles at the grocery store and Target turn bright red and pink, and a slight panic sets in. “Oh dear Lord, what are we going to do for Valentine’s Day?” We rack our brains for a cute, fun, and unique date night idea, only to realize in this post-Christmas, pre-tax season, we should be a bit more mindful with our money.

Here are a few budget-friendly date ideas for the fun and thrifty couple — some for which you won’t need to pay a sitter!

1. Food Trucks

Food trucks are great for the foodies on a budget and have fun, happy atmospheres. Generally tucked away or near a scenic green space, food trucks allow you to get some unique bites and a great spot to sit and chat the evening away. Check out local food truck parks, which are collections of food trucks, some with additional amenities such as restrooms, an outdoor bar, and entertainment like live music on weekends.

No-sitter option: Food truck areas are casual enough to let the kiddos come along, run around, and get some fresh air. Pack the kiddos a few sandwiches to save yourself from buying them an artisan taco or chicken fingers, and then share a fancy cupcake or ice cream before you head home.

2. Gym Date

Schedule an afternoon to work out with your spouse, book a yoga or spin class together, and splurge at the gym juice bar or health food café. Working out may not be something you get to do often with your partner.

No-sitter option: Most gyms have childcare up to 12 years old. If you are not part of that program, many have a drop-in day rate for childcare that is usually around $5.

3. Museums

Museums have tons of events and opportunities to give you a unique date night with little or no cost. In Fort Worth, the lawn at the Kimbell Art Museum is a great place to sit and people-watch. Enjoy the sounds of the fountain — and usually there’s something exciting happening under the covered walkway on the weekends.

The Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth has Tuesday Evenings at the Modern, with lectures and films open to the public. Some events require tickets which are as low as $5, and others are completely free.

4. Take a Tour

Dallas-Fort Worth has some great breweries! (Check out “A Guide to Family-Friendly Breweries in the Tarrant County Area,” if you haven’t already!) Take a brewery tour, which is low-cost and usually includes some beers and a glass to take with you. Check out a few breweries’ websites; some often partner with other local small businesses as well. You might find they are hosting a game night or yoga class at their venue — and, voila! You may get two dates at one awesome location.

No-sitter option: Rahr & Sons Brewing Company in Fort Worth has Saturday tours where kiddos are welcome!

5. Dive Bar Exploration

This is one my husband and I did when we had a new baby. (Yes, a new baby.) We did not want to be far from our house, but needed a night out. So we explored the bars and hole-in-the-wall places within 15 minutes of our house — even if we only ordered one drink and left 20 minutes later. It was always an adventure, and we always came back with a story.

6. Downtown Stroll

Straight out of a romantic comedy comes a people-watching stroll downtown. Fort Worth Sundance Square has is all: water fountains, dramatic lighting, and there is always music from a street performer or nearby venue. Grab some coffee or a glass of wine and stroll the evening away.

7. Check out Some Stars (and Planets)

Sure, you can go on a star-gazing date outdoors, but it’s usually chilly in February! Why not check out a planetarium? The University of Texas at Arlington has a great planetarium. At only $6 per adult ticket, this is an unique and fun date! There is even a special event for Valentine’s Day.

No-sitter option: Kiddos under two are free here! And with the exception of the late-night showings, shows are very family-friendly, science-focused, and great for all ages.

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Valerie was raised in a small town in south Texas and met her husband in Aggieland. They moved to Fort Worth in 2007 and are now happily raising three wild-hearted children. She is a part-time homeschooling mama and spends most days in parks, libraries, or a grocery store. She loves coffee, music, road-trips, any new health fad, and well-written children's books. Valerie is also a portrait photographer and has photographed the journey of motherhood from pregnancy and birth to breastfeeding and beyond for DFW families for more than 10 years.

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