Trying to plan a romantic date, but don’t wanna break the bank? Looking for a good time with the gals, while also trying to work with a budget? James Madison University is hands down the best place on earth (yes, it’s as good as Disney World), but sometimes we all wonder what there really is to do around good ol’ H-burg when you want to hang with your BFF, the roomies, or ~someone special~ without having to give an arm and a leg to pay for it. If you’re literally a broke college student like me, (I currently have $6.23 to my name, pray for me), but are in need of a sweet escape, this is for you. Keep reading for some of the nest cheap and fun date ideas near James Madison University.
1. Go hiking at sunset… or if you’re brave, sunrise.
You’re in the freakin’ middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains – take advantage of it! Get active and visit the High Knob Fire Tower on the Virginia/West Virginia border for a mile and a half of scenic views before getting to the lookout. Watching the sunset over the mountains is the best reward (and super romantic). Humpback Rock is another beautiful place to take cute pics with friends, and is about a 45-minute drive from campus. Not super into the trek up the mountain? Reddish Knob is the place for you – just drive straight up to the summit; the view is unbeatable at sunrise if you want to wake up at the crack of dawn. Nature is free, people!!!
2. Everyone’s loves to stay caffeinated!
Sometimes taking a break from Starbucks and Dunkin can actually be a good thing! Have a study date downtown at Black Sheep Coffee, and watch the barista’s blow your mind with their cappuccino-art. Need a quaint place to grab coffee for a first date? Head to Shenandoah Joe’s. Great coffee, great music, can’t go wrong.
3. Check out the arboretum.
Seriously, one of the most under-rated places on campus – and it’s free. This is great for all you freshman lovebirds who are limited in their date locations. The arboretum is gorgeous in the spring, and is the perfect little stroll. Plus it’s very likely you’ll see people walking their dogs, and who wouldn’t love to run into some pups.
4. Because no one dislikes pizza.
It only costs $4 to be in a complete state of bliss when you go to Benny’s. One slice is as big as your face, so just do it.
5. Painting downtown, it’s great therapy.
Paying a visit to You Made It! is probably the best thing you could do for yourself when midterm stress and finals hit. Show up with all your roommates, complain about how stressed you are, and put all of that energy into painting something awesome! It’s really a great stress reliever, and every Wednesday is 20% off for college students!
6. Donuts DUH
You’ve probably seen Peace, Love, & Little Donuts take over Instagram. This funky little shop just opened up on Port Republic and Devon Ln. and totally lives up to the hype. Take your boyf out to split a half-dozen; they’re mini and you can add as many toppings as you want!
Featured Photo Source: Vianna Kotouch
7. The puppy farm!
Easily the best $5 you’ll ever spend. Gap View Ranch & Kennel is by far one of the coolest places Harrisonburg has to offer. Little pups, sweet mamas, and handsome golden retrievers everywhere – you will melt over these cuties. Watch out for the wild turkey, they chased me around the farm once.
Featured Photo Source: Erica Wilder
8. Get funky
Go old school and hit up Funky’s Skate Center on Wednesday nights for $3 roller skating! Super cheap, and gives you an excuse to hold hands.
9. Carter’s Mountain Orchard
Carter’s Mountain is my personal favorite, located a few minutes from UVA’s campus, but is so worth the drive. Go peach picking, get some homemade apple cider donuts, and don’t leave without visiting the Bold Rock Hard Cider cellar. Sample all the ciders and make your own six-pack with bae!
10. See a show at Forbes.
Forbes has got just about everything, and showcases all of the hard work and talent from the JMU School of Music, School of Theatre and Dance, and School of Art and Art History. Tickets are very reasonably priced and students often get a discount. Forbes is currently showing Guys and Dolls, as well as several musical performances, and the fine arts gallery!
Kline’s ice cream is rated best in the ‘burg and is the sweetest date spot. There are two locations on Main St. and Downtown, and their special flavors vary week to week!
When it’s cold out it’s really easy to stay in for the old Netflix and Chill, but embrace the tundra and if you’re willing to spend a little more, visit Massanutten for skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing! JMU student discounts are offered every Wednesday and Friday!
13. The Kissing Rock
If you’re feeling really bold, bring your date to the Kissing Rock on the Quad. Rumor has it if you kiss someone at the rock, you’ll stay together forever! Quad days are definitely some of the best on campus. Enjoy a Top Dog picnic on the Quad, hammock in an Eno together, and then seal the deal on the rock!
14. Pulp Juice & Smoothie Bar
One of the coolest places Downtown, located inside of a bike shop! Customize your acai bowl for a cheap, healthy breakfast or snack! Enjoy your smoothies in the garden out back, it’s a super cute date spot.
15. Wright’s Drive-In Dairy Bar
If you’re sure he’s a keeper, you have to take him to Wright’s. Think of Sonic, but the food is ten times better. This drive-in restaurant lets you grub and chill at one of the best diners in Staunton – you have to try their onion rings and homemade ice cream!