We’ve all been there. You ignored your budget this month and spent all your money on cocktails, Chinese takeout, Sephora, Uber rides. Washington DC isn’t cheap! But now you have a special cutie who is super excited to hang out and it’s YOUR turn to have a special plan ready to go. What are you going to do? Saving money is important, but having good date ideas is an important part of the late-capitalism-wooing-process™. You don’t want to seem like a noob who just read a DC tourism blog; you want to show how much you understand about the nitty-gritty of the city. We’ve got you covered.
1. Get Away From the City….Within the City!
The Hillwood Estate Museum and Gardens is like a dream within a dream within a savings plan. This one is great for dreamy, imaginative, history-loving types (or those of you who like taking great Instagram pics surrounded by opulence and natural light). Tickets are $18 but flash your valid college ID and it’s $10. It’s definitely worth jumping in on a tour – the staff really know the place inside and out and they will be unveiling a new dining room soon that will hopefully make picnicking in the garden a great option!
2. Go Tour a Totally Not Haunted Brewery…
Try a Heurich House public tour ($10 suggested donation, but technically free).
The best part of planning a date at the Heurich House is that you get to send a text that says “meet me at the gothic mansion on New Hampshire Ave.” We recommend you leave the actual date, an hour-long tour of a badass brewery/museum with lots of cool old-timey things in it, as a surprise.
It’s so affordable that you might as well stay after and grab a pint…or three. Or maybe you could pay off your credit cards!
3. Spend a Day on the Waterfront
Come on, you know you want to. Skip the pricey bars and restaurants (bring a paper bag lunch instead) and get on the water! Take a kayak tour around the monuments for $45 each or just kayak around for an hour at only $16/person. Check out District Wharf Rentals for more info. Heck, if you go for a cheap option, you might as well hit a happy hour after a long day in the sun. Pro Tip: bring a waterproof container for your phones!!! And sunscreen!
4. Embassy Tour!
Most embassies offer guided tours that are full of information about their country. Where in the world do you want to visit the most? Schedule a tour there! You might get some food out of that. You can usually sign up via email, but you will need your passport when you go, as you are technically stepping onto foreign soil. The first weekend of May many embassies actually host more tours and offer events for the internationally curious. If you aren’t having any luck booking tours on your own then be sure to check our guide to DC Embassy events.
The around the world embassy tour happens in May. This is an exciting time when tons of embassies open their doors to visitors all at once! Embassy Tours should always be free! Free as in automatic savings.
Free as in now that your day-date is over you can also have a date night! Or maybe just a retirement plan!
For other awesome tour ideas check out the inside of the US Capitol Building. Who even knew they let you in there?
5. Catch an Indie Flick
Check out a new film somewhere like Suns Cinema or the awesome non-profit Avalon Theatre!
DC has a few cool cinemas that show the films you would see at a more experimental/international film festival (though they’ll play the Oscars shorts sometimes too).
Suns Cinema also has a bar, which is always awesome.
6. Book shopping!
This one is great for someone who loves to sit around explore the endless worlds inside of books! Spend the day casually perusing a few DC bookstores and give yourselves a book budget that won’t force you to pull from your emergency fund. Pro Tip: After finding your new treasures find yourselves a nice park bench for snuggling and reading together!
Hit These Awesome Book Shops
There are plenty of amazing places to relax and read in DC. Below are a few of are favorite book worm jems, that make this city feel like home. One of the top reasons why our residents in DC decide to become city dwellers.
Free on Tuesdays!!! Open daily, entries are timed. $7.50 for a ticket. This one is great if your job has you staring at a computer all day with no time to sit and appreciate the world around you. Life is beautiful! Sometimes we need reminders. Take some time to wander around the Natural History Museum with no particular agenda or thing to learn, and then end your time with a trip into the land of fairies butterflies! Viola! Savings account status: safe. Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Butterfly Pavilion.
8. Put Your Minds to the Test
Escape rooms are great if you are in a long term relationship because it forces you to work together and appreciate what your other half brings to the table.
They are ALSO great if you are getting to know each other — one date at an escape room can show you how well you and your boo can get along in moments of high stress, which is a VERY important litmus test for any budding relationship. We recommend Insomniac Escape Room DC; they have some super creative rooms and they are one of the only facilities that allow for just two people to play at a time and the rates are pretty good at $28 per person.
9. Have the Ultimate Good Time on these Dates in DC
If you are both adventurous and social people this might be a fun way to work up a sweat and still be able to save for retirement.
If you have a bunch of friends in town who are down to clown then go ahead and get the group together (a fun way to see if your friend groups can mix).
If not, jump in on a game! Check out this meetup group page for regular postings, snap on those sweatbands, and get out there! Pro Tip: Once you have a solid crew who wants to toss the ‘ol frisbee with you regularly, take a day trip to a cool nearby park, or maybe just the national mall.
Your checking account will thank you for not forcing yourself into a gym membership that you never use!