Look locally for cheap, creative date ideas to create memorable moments


The college budget allows for very little in the way of entertainment, especially when you add another person into the mix — like when two people want to go out on a date. To impress your date without emptying your wallet, the key is to think locally and intimately.

Manhattan is more than K-State, and there’s a good chance your date has seen just about all of the campus. The easiest dates can be found there, including dance lessons with the Swing and Salsa Club, swimming in the Natatorium, a rodeo in Weber Arena or a sand volleyball match outside of the residence halls. But to really step it up, you need to venture outside the campus bubble as well as the realm of traditional movie and restaurant dates. Look to local activities and places you may drive by every day. They break the formality and false fronts that come with traditional dates and offer a deeper insight into your significant other.

The last of the summer rays can provide a beautiful backdrop for a walk on the Konza Prairie. Bring your cameras and see who can take the better photo. Loser pays for the trail mix. Geocaching, the use of GPS and maps to find capsules hidden by other geocachers, is a treasure hunt for the outdoorsy or the technically-savvy. K-State Geocaching Club has a mailing list that shares the dates and times of their excursions.

Grab a book from the Dusty Bookshelf and take turns reading it aloud to each other while walking in Cico Park or dipping your feet in Tuttle Creek.

The Sunset Zoo, only $4 per adult, operates at summer hours until the end of October from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Friends of the Zoo also host Brew at the Zoo and Wine in the Wild each year, after-hours fundraisers that add a little romance to the exotic venue.

The Flint Hills Discovery Center offers a student rate of $7 per person. They also feature an adult education series. The next lecture, Art of the Flint Hills, is Sept. 19. The 4-D theater and three stories of permanent and temporary exhibits make the Flint Hills Discovery Center worth visiting at least once every few weeks.

One of the most intimate dates is a look into everyday life. The most basic would be to try cooking a new recipe together. If it isn’t edible, try again with dessert. If you didn’t do so well, make the best of it with a candlelight pizza dinner. Real plates and wine glasses will add to the atmosphere.

Walk a dog together. If you don’t have one, ask to borrow a friend’s canine companion for a while. Feel free to give your borrowed pet a pretend backstory and tell it to everyone who asks to pet it.

Learn how to do something that isn’t homework. Crochet or stained glass at Hobby Lobby or planting at Home Depot are some examples of activities that two people can do that will also be useful once the date is over.

One of the more obscure dates, suggested from sites like Tumblr, is called a “sweater date.” The general idea is to scan all the thrift stores in your area, from Goodwill to Rockstar and Rogers, to find the softest or hilariously hideous sweaters available. Buy them, take them home and clean them up. Guys, this is also an opportunity to learn how to hand-wash clothing.

On the date, the couple can also brave the housewares section to find DIY projects to do together like repairing a chipped vase or repainting a shade for a lamp. Even if the date doesn’t pan out, you’ll have something for your apartment.

Ask a stranger for a random word and compose a song or poem. Take advantage of Hale Library’s Media Development Center, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and record your masterpieces. Post the best ones and let your friends vote for Hale Idol.

Creative outings, or “innings,” will win you more brownie points with your date but even if he or she doesn’t call you back, at least it was memorable.