As much as I’d love to roll up to Ruth Chris’ Steak House, dressed to the 9’s with my boyfriend by my side, the fact that I had to check my bank account before I bought a bag of pretzels makes one thing very obvious: I’m in need of some cheap dates. As a University of Michigan student who’s ballin’ on a budget, I’m thankful I live in a city where fun really does come cheap (or even free)! Keep reading for 15 cheap and fun date ideas near the University of Michigan! Show your favorite human you care for them, without driving your credit rating off a cliff.
1. A walk in The Arb.
Nichols Arboretum (AKA “The Arb”) has trails, beautiful views, and a path to the Huron River, where you and your date can gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes, take in the beautiful foliage, and maybe even see adorable baby ducks!
2. Ice skating at Yost!
Yost Ice Arena has open skate many different times each week. There are few things more fun than making complete fools of yourselves together, and the chilly temperature makes hand-holding necessary.
A loaf of day-old Jimmy Johns bread is 50 cents. The smile on that squirrel’s face when he sees you and your date walking through the Diag with it is priceless.
4. Biking the B2B trail.
The Border-to-Border bike trail spans all of Washtenaw County, with an access point just outside of downtown Ann Arbor. The trail is dotted with parks and nature observation decks. You can bring delicious sandwiches to have a picnic and admire the cute little geese! Then pedal away from them very quickly when you realize that geese bite.
5. Literally any other sporting event other than football or basketball.
Flash your MCard for free admission to gymnastics, soccer, volleyball, and tons of other sports. You are your date can be amazed by incredible athletes, and commiserate about why everyone can’t look that perfect in a Speedo.
6. “Latin Night.”
Bar Louie transforms each Friday night from your typical college-town bar to a salsa dance club. Cover is free, making a fool of yourself while you learn to dance is free, but, tragically, the pitchers of sangria will cost you.
7. Ice cream at Blank Slate Creamery!
This isn’t completely free (otherwise, there’d be no need for any of the other 14 items on this list) but it’s only $4.25 for a delicious ice cream cone the size of your forearm. With flavors like “Crème de Menth Chip” and “Blackberry Riesling Sorbet”, you and your date can eat junk food and still feel incredibly classy. It is easily the most delicious of cheap and fun date ideas near The University of Michigan!
8. SMTD performances.
Umich’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance student ensembles are free to watch, and take place in Hill Auditorium. Enjoy top-notch musical performances in the university’s finest venue for literally zero dollars.
You and your person can enjoy one of Michigan’s most beloved museums for $0.00. The first time I went to the University of Michigan Museum of Art, my jaw hit the floor with how many inspiring works I saw. It just kept hitting the floor, again and again. Prime GIF material.
10. Pinball Pete’s.
Located on South U, and open till 2 AM, Pinball Pete’s is basically a Chuck-E-Cheese you can frequent when you’re wasted. There are few things more romantically-binding than a game of inebriated DDR.
11. Lunch at TKWU Chinese Restaurant.
Hands-down, my favorite restaurant in Ann Arbor. Their lunch specials are $8, and the portions are huge, definitely enough for leftovers (and even leftover leftovers). My boyfriend and I tried to feed each other sesame chicken with chopsticks, and I wound up spending what I saved on beautifully cheap food on dry-cleaning.
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Lunch at TK WU. We just discovered this place last year, and it's quickly become a fave! ——- Stay gutsy, gang! ——- #mayniax #branding #mayniaxbranding #gutsy #businessowner #businessowners #entrepreneur #entrepreneurs #brand #brandidentity #identity #brandstrategy #strategy #marketing #annarbor #a2 #treetown #michigan #tkwu #chinese #foodie #chinesefood
12. Canoeing in Argo Park.
For around $20, you can rent a double kayak and paddle down the Huron River. It’s one of the best cheap and fun date ideas near The University of Michigan. Rumor has it that double-kayak trips have a 50% break-up rate. Can you and bae survive the Argo Cascades without flipping your craft/screaming at each other?
13. There’s no shortage of book shopping!
Whether you’re trying to impress your date with your knowledge of rare almanacs or feel-good novels, there are tons of book stores (many with $1 book bins!) all around Ann Arbor.
14. The Union’s Game Room.
Few things are better than kicking your date’s butt at foosball. One thing I can think of, however, is kicking your date’s butt at foosball for free. Hand over your MCard for a night of friendly (or not-so-friendly) competition!
15. Ann Arbor Reminiscing.
My boyfriend and I did this during our first date. We walked all around campus and compared the stories of our campus-based shenanigans. From comparing our favorite 2AM burrito pit-stops to our favorite study nooks, talking about this awesome city really brought us closer together!