Free (Or Almost Free) Date Nights


Free (Or Almost Free) Date Nights

Over the last two years, date nights have taken a back seat to diaper changes, health care costs, sleep training, and the complete exhaustion of having two babies. About six months ago, I got really serious about making it a habit again. We will always have kids, and many reasons to skip it, but our marriage is a priority! So we finally found a babysitter and scheduled her to come once a month. This past weekend, we had planned a nice date with dinner downtown and a ride on the Southern Belle. I lined up the babysitter and smiled throughout the week as thoughts of not having to do bedtime rolled through my mind.

Friday rolls around, and I finally run the dog by the vet. He’d been sick for the last week, but this wasn’t entirely new for him, so I put it off, hoping he’d stop puking soon. He was really sick, emergency surgery sick, and one giant vet bill later, I walked out the door wondering how I’d ever recoup this unexpected expense. We don’t live paycheck to paycheck, but, dang, we’d been on a fabulous European vacation for less. As I’m leaving the Vet ER, I get a call that the babysitter is having a minor health emergency and needs to cancel our date for the following night. While I’m sad for her, I’m slightly relieved knowing I’ll save almost 200 bucks by not going on our planned date.

I still need to prioritize time with my husband, and for our mental and emotional health, we really need a night off from bedtime routines. So what do we do? We plan our following few dates to be free or really cheap, which is something we love to do anyway. Now we have more motivation to seek out those fun things to do around town that won’t break the bank.

Here are six ideas for free or almost free date nights:

  1. Plan an afternoon of arts and leisure. The Hunter Museum is free from 4-8pm on the first Thursday of the month. Spend an hour or two strolling the museum, then head over to The Ice Cream Show or one of the many local coffee shops within walking distance of the museum. If you are looking for a day date, take a picnic to the Sculpture Fields at Montague Park. This city park features 40+ sculptures and plenty of green space to sit and enjoy a conversation or take a walk holding hands.
  2. Enjoy an outdoor movie or concert. Weekends in Chattanooga are filled with options for sitting back and listening to great music or watching a movie. Music and Movies in Miller Park are just one option. While the movie options are family-friendly, that doesn’t mean you have to bring the kids. With other music ventures downtown offering free concerts and a couple of drive-in movies around the area, this is a great way to spend a night out and not spend a dime (although the drive-in would be more in the almost free category).
  3. Spend an evening downtown. Honestly, this could be a couple date nights with so much to see and enjoy downtown! Walk along Market Street, ducking into Coopers Alley, then on to stroll the waterfront. Or head over to the West Village and take photos together in Umbrella Alley, then stroll through the historic Reed House Hotel lobby. Or make an evening of exploring the Southside, walk through the Chattanooga Choochoo over to Main Terrian Art Park, checking out shops and restaurants along the way (even if just to window shop).
  4. For our outdoorsy dates, take a hike on one of the many trails Chattanooga has to offer or take a bike ride down the TN Riverwalk. Check out this awesome guide to the Riverwalk. It works great for stroller gangs or romantic duos! There’s just too much in this category to list it all, but it is definitely a way to spend a romantic daytime date.
  5. Get in a workout or two. My husband and I like to play tennis, so we occasionally play tennis when we have a babysitter. It’s a great way to let off some steam and it’s great for your health. Plus, how often do you get to use that gym membership you pay for each month, let alone at the same time? Spice it up with some competition or enjoy a leisurely low-key yoga class.
  6. Lastly, get your creative juices flowing and plan something unique. Drive around and see how many “see rock city” signs you can count, do a scavenger hunt to find all the artsy alleys in town, or pick a unique spot and put together clues for your spouse to “solve” to find the destination. Whatever fun and unique thing you can create, make it about the two of you!

Whether you have tons of money to spend or are dating on a budget, enjoy the company of the person you created life with! Then go home rested, and start the craziness all over again the following day.