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Plan the perfect date on a budget.

As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. So when it comes to first dates (or third, fourth or fiftieth), you want to look good. And you don’t have to break the bank to win his or her heart.

Here are 10 budget-friendly date ideas that are high on romance and low on cost:

  1. Get active: Your date won’t be the only reason your heart is racing. Play a sport, go for a hike, take a bike ride, or if the weather cooperates, go skating or sledding. It doesn’t cost a thing, and it will immediately break the ice (so to speak).
  2. Visit a museum or gallery: Ideally, find one that’s free or has low-cost admission. You can enjoy a leisurely stroll admiring the work and talking. Grab a latte at a nearby coffee shop afterward, and you’ll have yourselves a great afternoon.
  3. Pack a picnic: If the weather is right, a picnic can be fun and romantic. Try it French style and pick up a fresh baguette, cheese, fruit and a bottle of wine, and head to a nice quiet spot in a local park.
  4. Cook dinner together: Cooking a meal together can be romantic — and fun. It’s also a less expensive and more casual alternative to dining out. You can even start by grocery shopping together, or take a cooking class and learn some culinary skills while you’re at it.
  5. Go for coffee or dessert: Pick a coffee shop or little spot that has some charm and ambiance. This is a great idea for a first date, because it’s low commitment. If there aren’t any sparks, have a quick coffee and move on. If you click, linger over lattes and dessert.
  6. Head to a pub: The dark atmosphere and casual vibe will instantly calm those nerves and help you both relax so you can get to know each other better. Pub fare can be delicious and cost a fraction of what it would run you to dine in a fancy restaurant.
  7. Go bowling: You won’t strike out with this fun date. Bring out your inner child and have some old-school fun. You just have to pay for the alley, rental shoes and possibly some snacks.
  8. Head to the zoo: It’s not just for kids. The fun you’ll have is worth the price of admission — which shouldn’t be too steep, especially if you attend on a discounted or free day. Choose a local petting zoo and pack a picnic.
  9. Have a game night: Buy a new game (you can find most board games for under $20 and card games for even less), break open your favorite libations and snacks, and roll the dice. It’s a light-hearted way to have fun and get to know each other.
  10. Hit the farmers market or go apple picking: When the season is right, local produce can make for a fresh date idea. Head to a local farmer’s market or nearby orchard for a fun, inexpensive excursion. Pick up a seasonal snack while there (caramel apples or fresh tomatoes?), head to the park and relax with great conversation.

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