14 free date ideas for broke students

Let’s face it: we’re all students, and most of us don’t have a lot of wiggle room financially. Forget feeling like you have to wow that special someone with fancy meals and expensive entertainment – if they know you’re a broke student, they’ll understand. Many people don’t realize that there are plenty of fun, romantic, or engaging things you can do that don’t even cost a penny.
Most of these are appropriate for a very broad definition of “dates” — with significant others, new crushes, a friend, a whole group of friends, a spouse or even that rare underrated date with yourself when you just need some me–time.
1. Go for a bike ride up or down the bike path. You could go all the way to Cherry Creek Reservoir in the south or the much closer Globeville Landing Park in the north. This is particularly nice in the fall when the foliage is changing. Find a nice secluded spot along the river to make out. (bike path map at www.bikedenver.org )
2. Go for a picnic. Not totally free, but much more affordable than eating out, and can be combined with #1.
3. Go for a walk along the 16th St. Mall. Look up above street level and admire the fantastic and diverse architecture (really, this is underrated). People–watch. Browse in Tattered Cover. Hang out and listen to the street performers. (Although tipping the street performers would make this not a free date, you really should if you can. Street performers rock.)
4. Go to the main branch of the Denver Public Library – browse around and look for cool books, check out the exhibits in the Western History section, curl up in one of the quiet sunlit alcoves with a couple good books (or find one of your favorite childhood books from the children’s section and revisit it). Afterward, climb on the giant orange–red sculpture in the plaza next to the library – although the library or art museum staff may tell you otherwise, the artist intended this sculpture to be climbed on and interacted with.
5. Go to one of Denver’s museums on a free day – check out www.scfd.org for a list of free days for the Museum of Nature and Science, the zoo, the botanic gardens, and the Denver Art Museum.
6. Put your student ID to good use and take the bus to adventure – for free. Take a scenic, relaxing ride on the BX up to Boulder and then the N up the canyon to Nederland. Wander around – it’s a neat little mountain town. Or instead of the N, take the SKIP up to the National Center for Atmospheric Research and tour it for free (actually some pretty cool exhibits in an even cooler building), then find a nearby trail and go for a hike in the foothills.
7. Cook a nice meal together, and a pie (why not?). Again, it won’t be completely free, but hey, you have to eat anyway.
8. Go to the Santa Fe art district on First Friday and walk around and check out the art. A lot of times they have free food – and wine. The rest of the month, you can check out the artwork at Auraria’s Emmanuel Gallery (next to the P.E. Building), or at Metro’s own Center for Visual Art at 965 Santa Fe – where the art is often done by some of your fellow students.
9. Creativity night. Make something cool together from re–used materials or from stuff you already had. Build a kite and fly it on the next windy day (also a convenient excuse for a second date). Make a magazine collage. Make stencil T–shirts with spray paint and re-purposed cardboard. Take those magnets that come stuck to phone books and paint over them with funny slogans or pretty designs.
10. Go to a free concert given by Metro music department students and faculty – often Friday evenings at the King Center.
11. Go to Sunken Gardens Park, Cheesman Park or your favorite local park and swing on the swing set. Swinging is therapeutic and calming. Climb a tree. Throw a frisbee around. Run around and tumble in the grass like little kids.
12. Raining or snowing out? Bundle up, run around outside (especially if it’s snow) until you’re good and cold, then come in and make hot chocolate or hot toddies, etc., and curl up under a blanket.

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Kate Rigot

Kate Rigot

Kate has been cooking cheap but delicious food for years and wants to share with you what she's learned. She has a passion for empowering students to be able to cook their own food, and for taking the elitist/expensive edge off of (mostly) healthy, gourmet, made-from-scratch food. "Cheap Eats for Broke Students" runs weekly, and focuses on relatively inexpensive recipes that are quick and easy to make, cooking and food shopping tips, and other writing about food and where it comes from. E-mail her with any feedback on recipes, your own recipes you'd like to share with the campus, or ideas for things you'd like to see covered here.
Kate Rigot

Latest posts by Kate Rigot (see all)

Kate Rigot

Kate has been cooking cheap but delicious food for years and wants to share with you what she's learned. She has a passion for empowering students to be able to cook their own food, and for taking the elitist/expensive edge off of (mostly) healthy, gourmet, made-from-scratch food. "Cheap Eats for Broke Students" runs weekly, and focuses on relatively inexpensive recipes that are quick and easy to make, cooking and food shopping tips, and other writing about food and where it comes from. E-mail her with any feedback on recipes, your own recipes you'd like to share with the campus, or ideas for things you'd like to see covered here.

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