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Impressing your sweetheart for Valentine's Day turns into an expensive bill for most couples, but a nice date doesn’t have to break the bank. With a little planning and imagination, a romantic outing can be made affordable, even if only one party is paying.
Good news: We’ve got you covered on the planning portion of Valentine’s Day, but it’s up to you to tailor our $20 unconventional date ideas in accordance to that special someone. You never know: Ditching the traditional dinner and chocolate-covered strawberries shtick may be cheaper and more enjoyable than you’d expect.
Pick a downtown area with shops that interest both of you and take some time to window shop. Yup, that’s pretty much it. Akron, Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, Barberton — take your pick. Be sure to grab a meal or some snacks along the way, the only thing worse than no valentine is a hangry valentine.
More: Local Flavor: Cilantro Thai & Sushi Restaurant in downtown Akron offers next-level flavor
If downtown Akron is your destination, the Cilantro’s Thai tea is tasty, caffeinated and only $2.59, a pretty good deal for how filling it is. Couples can also try the Lock 3 ice rink for $3 per person if they bring their own skates and $5 per person if they need to rent skates. Akron’s WinterBlast festival will have firepits, ice bumper cars and ice bikes available to rent for specific days before and after Valentine’s Day. To find additional events or reserve a spot on any outdoor attraction, visit the Lock 3 event calendar.
More: WinterBlast brings skating, ice bumper cars, Grinch, other holiday favorites to Akron park
If you are a books and cats kind of couple, perusing Barberton's downtown, and specifically Snowball Bookshop, will start the date on a good note. This particular bookshop has two cats, Callie and Maya, and thousands of books — some of which are located in the super secret basement.
This outing is perfect for those early risers who like to start adventures before sunrise. Make a doughnut trail and spend a morning taste testing doughnuts together. All you need to do is compile a list of shops, determine the order in which to visit them and bring something to wash down all those sweets. Some destinations to add to your list are North Hill Donuts, Jubilee Donuts, StowNut Donut & Diner, George’s Donuts and Hiss Bakery.
If you and your partner have a competitive streak, this date may be an especially fun challenge. Hit up a local thrift store together, with $7.50 in both your pockets, to see who can find the coolest item for the least amount of money. Determine a winner between the two of you or consult an outside party if needed. The winner determines which ice cream shop to use the remaining $5 at for postgame dessert.
Some thrift stores to compete in are Village Discount Outlet, Happy Tails Thrift Shop and Abbey Ann’s. Where to get ice cream afterward is a whole other ball game, but some good places are Stricklands Frozen Custard or Durbin Magic Freeze (the latter is cash only).
More: Celebrate National Ice Cream Day with Summit County’s most popular shops
The best medicine also makes for a memorable evening out. Visit the Funny Stop Comedy Club in Cuyahoga Falls on a Wednesday or Thursday night (tickets are less than $9 on those days) for a show and a minimum of two drinks. Ticket prices may be higher for certain special events and performers, so check the Funny Stop’s schedule before arriving.
Mid-February does not exactly provide pristine weather for outdoor activities, but that doesn’t mean a picnic with a nice bottle of wine is out of the question. The Winery at Wolf Creek in Barberton has a cozy tasting room where guests can bring their own food, order delivery from a nearby restaurant or buy the small variety of salty snacks, chocolates and local meats and cheeses that the winery has. Not sure what to fill your basket with? A good rule of thumb is to bring you and your partner’s favorite sweet and savory snacks that won’t need to be reheated.
Two glasses filled with any of Wolf Creek’s wine will cost less than $20. Some of their bottles, such as White Lies and Redemption, also fall within this price range. There you have it, an outing featuring new wines to discover together for less than the cost of an oil change.
Most movie theaters have a designated weekday where movie tickets are $5, and at some locations snacks are discounted. Use these deals to your advantage by taking your date out for a movie with popcorn on one of these discount days. Tickets are $5 on Tuesdays for Cinemark and Regal locations, but you must sign up for a free royalty card on the Regal app to get their ticket discount and half priced popcorn. The Highland Square Theatre sells its tickets for $5 no matter the day or movie. Visit the theatre’s Facebook page to see its upcoming movies and start times.
Contact Beacon Journal reporter Tawney Beans at tbeans@gannett.com and on Twitter @TawneyBeans.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: 6 dates for under $20 to celebrate Valentine's Day
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