Once you start to factor in our oscillating weather patterns, innumerable coffee shops, bars, and breweries, and no shortage of activities to get involved with, finding someone new to spend time with can feel like a job in and of itself. But we don't believe that it should be, so we came up with a list of 22 awesome date ideas that won't break the bank. And once you run through these, be sure to check out our guide of everything else fun and entertaining you can be doing in Seattle right now.
Bellevue/Ballard At this pair of local board game shops and cafes, you can play the latest games or old favorites for free -- though if you're up for forking over a few dollars, they also serve food and drinks. Let out your competitive side as you try to meet your match over Magic: The Gathering or make a connection during Settlers of Catan (which likely won't happen because why won't your cousin Tevin just give me some damn wheat!?).
University District While the money sport is football, many of the University of Washington's best athletes compete for national titles all winter on the basketball court, tennis courts, and gymnastics... floor? Meets rarely cost more than a few dollars and offer a far more up-close-and-personal experience than the mega-crowds at the big stadium.
Belltown Happy hour wine has a tendency to be, to put it lightly, terrible. Not at List Restaurant, where Italian bottles (red, white, and rosé) go on sale every afternoon. Grab one to share and split it on the patio: your $20 will cover the bottle, tax, and a generous tip, so linger long and enjoy watching the world... err, Belltown go by.
International District From the Vietnamese food at 12th and Jackson to the stalls inside Uwajimaya, there are hundreds of dumplings, spring rolls, and snacks with big flavor and tiny price tags. Pop in and out of shops and cafes, buying just a bite or two at each place.
Kerry Park All the views that you’d get if you spent the money to go up the Space Needle, none of the expense. For extra romance (read: fewer people) but a slightly less-good view head a few blocks away to the lookout across the street from Parsons Gardens.
SoDo It’s gotten a bit pricey just to watch another embarrassing Mariners loss, but Safeco Field offers $10 tours of some of the areas you might never have seen before -- stop by a private suite and pretend you can afford to see the game from there!
Get the adrenaline pumping with a little sledding
Snoqualmie Drive up to Snoqualmie Pass or one of the nearby sno-parks for an afternoon of slipping and sliding around. Everybody's a little more attractive after a spike of adrenaline, and if things go well, you can warm each other up afterward... by buying hot chocolate, obviously.
West Seattle Getting on a boat is the most quintessential Seattle way to pass an afternoon, and the easiest way to do it is the water taxi, which leaves from downtown and takes passengers to West Seattle. While the $4.75 price tag (per person, each way) won’t leave you much spending money, the best thing to do on the other side is free: stroll along Alki Beach.
All around town Kale rarely breaks the bank, so hit your neighborhood’s farmers market and grab a few nice vegetables and maybe some bread and cheese to put together a simple supper for you and your new friend. Just steer clear of the meat as it tends to get pricey!
Pioneer Square You could actually each get your own small sandwich, if you’re that type, from Seattle’s most famous sandwich shop. But it’s far more romantic if you split one of the giant, messy beasts for which the place is known: the porchetta or grilled lamb (get a few extra meatballs at $2.50 each, if you think you’ll still be hungry). Walk a few blocks to eat at Waterfall Garden Park and pretend you’re eating anywhere that isn’t Pioneer Square.
Go for the gold… or just for the exercise
Renton/Kirkland Weekday rates at the Sno-King Ice Arenas mean that you can twirl each other about as you show off your Olympic level skating skills -- or compete for the gold medal in best wipeout on the ice.
Pike Place Market Watching the guys throw the fish at the market is super cheesy. Watching the tourists bumble around watching the guys throw the fish is fun. Stopping for a yogurt at Ellenos afterwards basically guarantees a successful date.
Belltown Tuesday nights at the Rendezvous are open mic Comedy Nest, which means a mere $5 each buys you two hours of amateur comedy. Even better? They reserve at least half the spots for ladies, so you're far less likely to be in for 120 minutes of dumbass dick jokes.
Donate blood (one session can save up to three lives!)
Around town Sure, it might seem a bit morbid, but science has shown that good deeds create endorphins -- so you'll both be feeling good and just a little bit lightheaded. And they even give you free cookies afterward, and who doesn’t like free cookies?!
SoDo Yup, there’s free whiskey to be had. Take the tour and learn how they make the single-malt, then head to the tasting bar to sample the wares. Since it’s all free, you’ll leave with $20 to spend on your date.
Belltown With rolls priced at $5 apiece and a full sashimi set at just $10, even the thriftiest of Romeos can eat well during Umi's late-night happy hour. Beers start at $4 each, though, so make sure to keep that budget balanced.
Phinney Ridge The $0.69 tacos served on Tuesdays are none of the authentic taco-truck styles that are trending around town: these are old-school American, right down to the crispy shell, orange cheese, and shredded lettuce. But the price -- and nostalgia -- hit the spot, so feel free to see how many you can down in a sitting.
Various locations It’s a hometown favorite, but it’s time for a taste-off: are the burgers under the orange sign actually any good? Or have you just only ever had them while wasted at 1:30 in the morning? Take your date to Dick’s, order the works (a Deluxe, fries, and a milkshake, natch) and enter a deep discussion on burger quality.
South Park There’s no particular reason a cheap beer might taste better from the inside of a sleek-looking Airstream, but there’s also no particular reason said trailer should be parked on the patio of a dive bar in South Park. Loretta’s Northwesterner gives you and your date plenty to ponder as you drink $2.50 tallboys of Rainier.
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Naomi Tomky judges all of her dates based on the food they order, so listen to her restaurant suggestions on Twitter: @gastrognome.