Affordable Love

Sure, we all like romantic dinner dates, nice hotels and stylish
outings. But that’s not all there is to dating and romance – and there
are a lot of activities in that gray area between dining at a 5-Star
restaurant and being stuck on the couch in front of the television. You
don’t have to blow the bank to have a memorable, romantic experience. In fact, some of the best dates are the most inexpensive! Try some of these ideas to heat up your passion.

Love in the afternoon
Who says dates are relegated to the evenings? If the sun is out, you should be too. Take your date for a nice hike somewhere with inspiring views or even a place to sit, rest and whisper sweet nothings. Get in touch with nature – and each other – if you get the drift! There’s nothing like a little deer or furry rabbit roaming the trails to bring out your soft side.

If hiking is too demanding, what about relaxing in a nearby park? Simply pack a picnic basket with fare such as finger sandwiches, grapes (to feed to each other), a cheese selection, chocolate and bottle of wine. Don’t forget the blanket – it may come in handy! Get comfortable and just relax, talk, enjoy each other’s company and see where the fresh air and the singing birds take you.

Is there anything more romantic than the beach? Get in your car (or onto your bikes if you’re close enough) and take the scenic route. Stop for a walk, or plant yourselves in the sand. Watch the waves or a sunset. How often do we do that? That’ll be a night to remember.

Summer fun
Summer lends itself perfectly to dating season, because there is so much going on outside for free. Street fairs, outdoor concerts and farmer’s markets are everywhere! How much fun is it to go exploring together – trying exotic foods, looking at informative booths, picking up inexpensive-but-unique art and pottery. Check the paper for firework displays by a pier, bonfires on the beach, Shakespeare in the park, car shows and outdoor concerts. Classical music under the stars makes for an enchanting evening. Drive-in theaters still exist in certain areas, and those can be a blast to catch a flick and some fresh air (you know – in between all the “necking”). Is there an observatory by you? It’s amazing to stargaze, and if there isn’t a specific place to go, make one yourself – on a hill or rooftop – with a blanket. A telescope is nice, but not necessary. Be sure to make a wish on a shooting star!

Mighty pen and paint
If you are looking for a little intellectual stimulation with a romantic flair, try a book reading or signing. It can be super-sexy to see your date’s brain at work. Hear your lover say, “I believe the author was trying to convey…how… amazingly hot you are!” You might even read passages from a book aloud to each other in bed while you sip red wine. Who knows where that will lead?

Or, venture to a museum where there are hours to while away looking at beautiful art and artifacts. Being visually stimulated can be very sexy! Check your local listings for art openings at intimate small galleries as well. Opening receptions often feature wine and cheese, and can be delightful and full of new friends. And they’re free!

Set up a couple’s spa at home! Make your place look like an elegant spa with dim lights, white votive candles everywhere, and rolled-up towels by the bathtub – which you can fill up with water and rose petals. Play some meditation music from your iPod. Leave pitchers of ice water with cucumber and lemon, or a tray with champagne on ice, around the house. Clear off pillows, and set your bed up like a massage table with flat sheets and towels and massage oil on the nightstand. Offer your beloved a fluffy robe to wear – and do the same. Then give each other massages and facials on the bed – it’s a sensual way to share time together and totally relax.

Take a car ride to a charming small town neither of you has been to before – something not too far from home. Try the best little local spot for a bite to eat. Do a photo shoot of your adventure along the way. If you pick up local food at a fruit stand, local deli or winery, make dinner with your ingredients when you get home. It’s the perfect activity to create intimacy by mulling over the recipe, chopping ingredients and coordinating timing while you sip wine or sparkling water. Set an intimate table with candles and relish in the scrumptious food you have created together. You’ll be surprised at the imaginative conversation that will arise.

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