Dates that don’t break the bank

The economy may be down the drain, but you still need a way to woo that cutie from your economics class. Luckily, D.C. hosts a plethora of unique and romantic options that won’t bust your budget. From trips to one of the many free Smithsonian museums on the National Mall to kayaking on the Potomac River, the city is perfect for head-over-heels college love.

1. National Mall Museums – The National History Museum, Air and Space Museum, and The National Art Gallery are just a few of the 19 Smithsonian Institution museums offered in D.C., located within walking distance from one another. Take the Blue or Orange line from Foggy Bottom to the Smithsonian stop and enjoy an afternoon of culture and history, all for free. Learn something new while learning about your date.

2. E Street Cinema – Specializing in independent and foreign films, the E Street Cinema, located at 555 11th St., is just blocks from campus. At $10 for general admission and $7.50 for weekday showings before 6 p.m., the cinema is a perfect venue for those strapped for cash.

3. The National Zoo – Take a stroll through one of the many exhibits offered at the National Zoo. It is part of the Smithsonian Institution, so entrance is free. Spend the day discovering your favorite species and figuring out which one most resembles your date.

4. Kayak on the Potomac River – The waters of the Potomac River are not simply nice to look at – they are also usable. Though the river might not be a swimmer’s paradise, it is perfect for kayakers who can traverse the waters and stay dry while viewing the city from a different angle. Visit one of the boathouses located off the river in D.C. to rent a kayak. Rates are usually around $10 per person, per hour.

5. The Hippodrome – Take advantage of GW’s Hippodrome, located on the fifth floor of the Marvin Center. With its numerous bowling alleys, pool tables, and centralized location on campus, it’s great for a quick and easy date night. Can’t bowl or play pool? Even better! Ask your date to teach you their techniques.

6. Free shows at the Kennedy Center – The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage offers a free show every night at 6 p.m.. Held in the Grand Foyer, performances range from symphony acts to theatrical skits. An updated schedule is accessible through the Kennedy Center’s Web site.

7. Picnic on the Mall – There is nothing like seeing the statues and monuments of the National Mall lit up at night – and there could not possibly be a more romantic setting. Pack up a picnic and walk to the area at sunset. Set up around the duck pond or in front of the Lincoln Memorial, which offers a view straight down to the Washington Monument. Once the sun disappears, watch the scene change as the sky turns from day to night.

8. U Street Corridor – This nine-block corridor in Northwest D.C. is full of great culture to explore hand-in-hand with a date. Enjoy walking around the snazzy restaurants like Bus Boys and Poets, or stop in for a late-night snack at Ben’s Chili Bowl. Maybe even catch a show at the nearby 9:30 Club or the Black Cat.

9. Waterfront stroll – Go for a stroll and dessert along the Potomac River. Just a 15-minute walk from Foggy Bottom to Georgetown, the waterfront is a quaint area to go for a late-night stroll. There are a multitude of restaurants to choose from right on the Waterfront, or up in Georgetown where you and a date can take a quick break. Or, make it extra special by bringing your own desserts – which can be up for interpretation – to the park near Wisconsin Avenue and K Street.

10. Nationals games – Take in a Washington Nationals game. Despite being the cheapest option, the $10 tickets actually give you a great panoramic view of the game. Who cares if you can’t see details? You and your date can still be in the heat of your own game, and maybe enjoy a few hot dogs or beers, too.

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