25 Affordable Date Night Ideas

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Has date night with your significant other taken a back seat to everything else in your life? If the expense and planning for dates with your partner have kept you from enjoying each other’s conversation and laughter, it’s time to indulge in some couples-only time and take a mini break from the kids. Here are creative ways to make date night a reality.

Save on a Sitter
If you’re on a budget, getting a sitter may be the biggest deterrent of going out, but it doesn’t have to be. Try these ideas:

  • Swap childcare with a trusted friend or neighbor. You take her kids once a month and she returns the favor.
  • Recreation centers and gyms throughout the county offer monthly Parent’s Night Out, where kids can be dropped off for childcare, activities and fun (sometimes even dinner).

Play Outside
With San Diego’s near-perfect weather and beautiful scenery, plan outdoor dates anytime of year.

  • Go on a hike. Whether it’s a quick urban walk or a scenic drive to a mountain adventure, hiking allows people to reconnect with nature and each other (and it’s free!).
  • Take a stroll through memory lane by visiting the neighborhood you lived in when you were single or before you had kids. Peruse the streets, marvel at the changes, then visit an old favorite hangout: a bar, restaurant, beach or park.
  • Have a bonfire on the beach.
  • Only in San Diego: Ride the Coronado Ferry from Broadway Pier to Coronado, rent bikes and watch the sunset.

Indulge in Arts and Culture
If you miss discovering new music and exploring galleries together, take time to remember your roots.

  • Don’t miss the free fun of Friday Night Liberty at Liberty Station, the first Friday each month from 5–9 p.m. Check out museums and galleries, and enjoy dance, theater and music performances.
  • Peruse ArtsTix, Goldstar and Groupon online to buy discounted theater and music tickets.
  • Only in San Diego: Explore Balboa Park, wander through the Botanical Building, and be entertained by buskers on the Prado. Then, head over to Panama 66, an open-air eatery outside The San Diego Museum of Art where visitors enjoy local beer (and sometimes free jazz music).
  • From Balboa Park, walk across the Laurel Street Bridge to Extraordinary Desserts for a decadent treat.

Dine Out Affordably
A meal out with adult conversation (and no dishes to wash) is priceless. Think: atmosphere. A table with a view during the sunset (or nice decor and upbeat music) beat a strip mall chain every time. Try a casual dining spot with counter service to reduce cost.

  • Tacos are delicious, versatile and cost less than most meals out. Have you tried the best fish, lamb or duck tacos in town? Seek them out on Taco Tuesday — make it an adventure! Or, order a classic favorite in Old Town, accompanied by mariachis and window-shopping.
  • Instead of dinner, go out for dessert. What speaks to you: gelato, chocolate cake or pie å la mode? Find a list of delicious frozen treats in San Diego at www.sandiegofamily.com/out-and-about/ice-cream-shops.
  • Only in San Diego: Tacos Libertad in Hillcrest is a Cohn Restaurant Group gourmet taqueria that donates 100 percent of its profits to charity. Tip: Go early for happy hour at Bo-Beau next door and consider checking out Caché, a speakeasy accessed through a secret door.

Think Outside the Box

  • San Diego is “hopping” with breweries. Explore a new spot and enjoy a beer with a charcuterie platter.
  • Pack a picnic and take a game to the park.
  • Trivia Night is a great way to make a couple of beers last. Root for each other while playing on the same team.
  • Find a local, independent coffee house with comfy seating, put up your feet and talk for hours like you used to.
  • Only in San Diego: The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma is a retro delight. Lounge on the shag carpet with pillows and play a board game while you enjoy happy hour specials like oysters and champagne on Monday nights, or try Dive-in Theatre on Wednesdays (year round).

Have Good Old-Fashioned Fun

  • Attend a movie matinee.
  • Bowling spurs on fun competition.
  • Only in San Diego: Ride the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster or play a round of mini golf at Tiki Town in Belmont Park.

Stay Home Sweet Home
Take turns planning a special surprise evening for each other once a month.

  • Order in. Choose something you can’t pull off in the kitchen (sushi?) and have it delivered.
  • Rent a new movie on Amazon or Netflix. Grab popcorn, wine and jumbo-sized candy.
  • Watch Jeopardy and get competitive.
  • Turn off the TV. Pull out dominoes, cards or a board game instead.

Cherie Gough is a native San Diegan and mom of two who is grateful for every friend who has watched her kids so she and her husband could enjoy a date night.

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Get more ideas in our article Keep Love Strong: 36 Creative Ways to Rekindle Romance at www.sandiegofamily.com/parenting.

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