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Find Love- Keep Love : Romance News : Dating Tips : 8 Fun (and Free!) Dates

8 Fun (and Free!) Dates

1. Hit a gallery opening
These high-brow affairs are often open to the public (to find one, look in your local paper or put your name on some galleries' mailing lists). If afternoon dates aren't for you, see if the gallery stays open late on a certain night of the week; many do. Plus, if it's opening night, there may be a spread of gratis wine and cheese. Interestingly, you'll get some insight into how your date's mind works. "How people respond to art says a lot about them," says Mapes. "Are they open-minded about unusual art or do they only like the classics? Where does their mind go when they look at something?" The answers you'll hear will be much more enlightening than conversation than you'd have over dinner and drinks.

2. Watch an amateur sports match
Little leagues, local schools and grown-up amateur sports leagues don't charge for spots in the bleachers, and, unlike at a pro game, you can find a great seat that isn't adjacent to a fan who'll spill his beer on you when he jumps up to curse at the umpire. "I once took a girl to a baseball game at the local high school," says Jay Bixler, 27. "It was just as intense as a big-league game would have been, and we had a blast." You can liven things up by making bets on little things like what the score will be by the seventh inning stretch, or which team will hit the first home run. In the middle of the game, switch bleachers and root for the opposing team. Call your local schools, colleges or Parks and Recreation Department to get a schedule of upcoming games.

3. Test drive a car
Convince a salesperson that you're in the market for a new set of wheels, then go on a joy ride around town. You'll feel spoiled cruising around in that new-car-scented 2007 model, despite the fact that you don't own it, and it provides a chance for you two to drive around aimlessly (albeit briefly) and get to know each other. It's true that couples have some of their best conversations in the car. So who knows? You might be able to have one of those quality dialogues while "shopping" for a new Beemer.

4. See a literary star
While most forms of entertainment -- movies, plays, music shows, etc. -- force you to cough up some cash, there is one performance you pretty much never have to pay for: book readings. Bookstores big and small are hosting increasing numbers of these events to lure in customers. "Some bookstores are even sponsoring group readings in clubs and taverns," says Mapes. Pick a provocative author, and the reading should provide plenty of material for intriguing conversation at the end of the night. Put a little culture in your life!

5. Browse at a flea market or crafts fair
Flea markets and crafts fairs offer hours of browsing amusement with no pressure to buy--plus, it's a great way to suss out someone's personality. "I've found I can really get to know someone at a flea market," says Emily Smith, 32. "By watching which booths a guy is drawn to and what items he loves or hates, you learn a lot about his tastes." To give your browsing a bit of a focus, you can make a game out of it--propose a competition for who can find the most perplexing item (What the heck does it do?) or put on your own mini Antiques Roadshow in which you both try to guess how much some weird old item is worth.

6. Head outdoors
Parks and other al fresco spots offer space to hang out and pretty stuff to look at with no admission fee. So find out your date's favorite outdoor activity, whether it's hiking, biking, or just going for a stroll, then center your rendezvous around that. Another selling point of the active outdoor date: It can make you feel frisky in a way that sitting at dinner just doesn't. "When I was first dating Geoff, we went on bike rides, rowed boats in the park, all that outdoorsy stuff," says Molly Boxer, 30. It brought out both of our playful sides, and it was a turn-on to see each other doing athletic things."

7. Put your culinary skills to the test
Restaurants can cut deeply into your paycheck, but seeing as you two have to eat together at some point, propose this cost-free alternative: dig through the refrigerator and kitchen cabinets and concoct a meal based on what you find. If it's been awhile since you've been grocery shopping, that only makes this proposal more playfully challenging. For ideas, head to, where you can type in the ingredients you've got; then the site searches its database of 30,000 dishes for something you can make with them.

8. Start a little competition
With the right opponent, a few heated rounds of cards (gin rummy is a perfect one for two players) or a session over the backgammon, Scrabble or Monopoly board can be more fun than money can buy, says Mapes. You can assess your date's mental acuity or show off your own, and get a sense of how the two of you handle competition. Does it create a sexy Bogie/Bacall chemistry? Or is one of you snarling at the other by the end? Either way you'll learn a lot.

Celeste Perron is the author of Playing House: A Starter Guide To Being A Grown-up.
Article Courtesy of

*** For tons of other great dating ideas, visit our Fun Romantic Ideas


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