Reduced Rendezvous

imberly Dick

Places to take your date that won’t empty your wallet

Credit: Andrew popik

Waking up Friday morning through the pounding headache and equally aching stomach, you glance down to see a phone number on your hand, which triggers the image of that perfect person and the date you set this weekend.

Jumping out of bed and running to the shower, you remember the most shocking thing of all — you’re broke!

A lot of college students are looking for someone to have fun with, but few can afford romance by today’s standards. Think roses, dinner in a restaurant rated with at least three stars and a menu with nothing in English, followed by the opera or an $8 movie.

According to, the leader in online matchmaking, the average romantic dinner date can cost anywhere between $50 and $100. A romantic evening of dinner, theater tickets and flowers costs $314 on average.

In order to date without taking out a separate loan, here are some options that are basically under $20 but won’t make you look like a total cheapskate.


If dinner is on your agenda, the median between expensive entrées and eating out of foil wrappers and boxes is family-owned restaurants.

“The cheapest restaurants are the ma and pa places,” said sophomore conservation major Brandon Winkler. “Places like the Roadhouse and Rockne’s are good because they offer an array of food at a reasonable price. For specialty places, stay away from well-known places like the Olive Garden. If you want Italian, go to Parasson’s in Stow.”

Mike’s Place on the corner of state Routes 43 and 261 is a good option locally that is reasonable and fun at the same time, occasionally offering live entertainment and always boasting an atmosphere that is intriguing to break the ice or keep the conversation going.

“The Black Squirrel Pub, on state Route 43, is just so good,” said Danielle Smeach, junior political science major. “It’s a good change from where everyone goes, and I think it has the same prices as Rockne’s. It’s not expensive at all.”

Events and museums

From cheap seats to student discounts, Cleveland, Akron and even Pittsburgh are among many cities within reasonable driving distance that offer a variety of ways to show off your interests or that you are into his or hers.

Many museums have a night that they stay open until at least 9 p.m., and places like the Cleveland Museum of Art are free.

“My best cheap date was venturing to Pittsburgh to the Andy Warhol Museum,” Smeach said. “They had cheap tickets for students, and then we just walked around the city all day.”

Even if you’re not quite sure what radio station your date listens to, live music can always be enjoyable even if it isn’t your favorite bands.

“Some of the best concerts are held at local bars or even county fairs,” Winkler said. “The key to concerts is just to have your ears open. If you really want to go to that expensive concert, try winning tickets from radio stations.”

Sporting events are different from concerts because both parties have to be near the same enthusiasm level for a successful date.

“I wouldn’t take a girl to a sporting event unless she’s into the game as much as I am,” Winkler said. “Sporting events when both people enjoy the sport provides entertainment and easy topics of conversation, but the best sporting events are the ones that you could really care less about who wins. Then I don’t care if I’m in the nosebleeds.”

Minor league games, like the Lake County Captains and the Akron Aeros, start at $5, and you can see the future major league players today.

The great outdoors

As cheesy and cliché as a walk in the park might sound, it’s romantic and free.

“The best way to keep a date cheap without coming off cheap is to go outside,” Winkler said.

While you’re on that walk in the park, plan for a picnic.

“My boyfriend and I had a picnic on the hill by the annex the day after classes were over last year, so no one was around, and it could be just us,” Smeach said. “I thought it was cute, and it was so nice out.”

The classic

When people think date, they think dinner and movie. But to modify the classic, try a matinée before dinner.

Matinées are not just better economically, but they can even improve your odds of the evening going in your favor, Winkler said. By going to the movie first, you can fill up on snacks and not have room for a steak dinner, and you can talk about the movie at dinner.

But be careful with the snacks. Even though the movie is $5, the drinks and snacks still are full price. Ignore the “No outside food” sign and try bringing in a couple candy bars.

In the warmer months, Midway Drive-in on state Route 59 is about $15 for a carload. You can easily smuggle dinner in, and if you make it a double date, it’s even cheaper.

If going out isn’t on your evening agenda, one of the most economical and an intimate dates is watching a movie on the couch. You can get a classic DVD from a library for free.

“My favorite inexpensive date is the late-night movie at home,” Winkler said. “Movies don’t cost that much to rent, and if you’re really broke just turn to one of the classics in your DVD collection.”

Contact features editor Kimberly Dick at [email protected].