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Last minute, budget-friendly date ideas that don’t make you look cheap

guides Mar 15, 2017

Dinner at that hip new restaurant by the water. Drinks at the cocktail lounge with the Bartender of the Year. Gold class tickets to the cinema. While these are tried-and-true date options, they’ll drain your wallet of cash faster than a cougar pouncing on a (stud) muffin. Plus, let’s face it, *whisper* they’re kind of conventional.

You don’t need a wad of $100 bills to have fun. All it takes is enthusiasm and a big smile. Here we’ve rounded up some ideas on where to take your date without blowing your budget. The bonus? Most of these can be organised with a day’s — or even a few hours’ — notice.

Pack a picnic

Make a visit to your local supermarket and you’ll have yourself a first-class spread in no time. Antipasti, dips and cheeses are all tasty options that hold up to being shoved into a picnic basket and, when artistically arranged on a platter, look utterly Instagram-worthy. Add in a crusty baguette, a picnic blanket and a seaside or botanical gardens backdrop and you’ve got yourself an effortlessly chic date.

Free art gazing

Get your hit of culture without paying a cent — many of Australia’s top art galleries have free permanent exhibitions, and some, like the Art Gallery of NSW, even have free talks, tours, screenings and workshops. What could be more romantic than strolling through an art gallery hand-in-hand, discussing your preference for dadaism over surrealism?

As a cute souvenir, you can buy postcards of artworks and mail them to each other.

Visit a weekend market

Weekend markets are the ideal spot for a multi-tasking date. Share a gozleme, sip on a homemade sugarcane juice and soak up the music vibes from the live act. Then, browse the stalls together and pick up some veggies plus a present for your sister’s birthday next week. Food, music, shopping, all in one place. Sorted.

Salsa nights around town

Going out can get pretty pricey when drinks cost upwards of $10 a pop. Instead, head to a salsa bar where entry is cheap or free and sometimes dance classes are even included. Sure, you’ll still have to spend money if you want to have a mixer or two, but you’ll be drinking at a much slower rate if they’re interspersed between bouts of cha-cha-chaing on the dance floor.

Join a ParkRun

If your date is the sporty type, getting sweaty together (clothes on, in broad daylight) might be the key to his or her heart. ParkRuns are timed, weekly 5km runs that are held all around Australia and have a great no-stress community feel. Afterwards, head out for breakfast and coffee at a nearby cafe, riding on your high of exercise endorphins. (A warning for the late risers: ParkRuns generally start at either 7am or 8am.)

Last minute tickets to a show

Catching a show doesn’t have to break the bank. Lasttix offers last minute tickets to events around Australia at up to 60 percent off. The website even has a section for shows under $50. So whether theatre, musicals or comedy are your thing, there’s sure to be something that tickles your fancy.

Catherine Mah

Catherine likes to run, eat and read but not simultaneously. If you can't find her doing these things, she's most likely sleeping.