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10 Valentine’s Date Nights that Won’t Break Your Wallet

Pooja Salhotra
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The Ravine Trail

The Ravine Trail at Houston Arboretum and Nature Center offers a quiet nature walk, perfect for a serene date. (Photo: Christina Spade) 

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, you might have date ideas on your mind. Whether it’s a first date with someone new, or a thousandth date with your spouse, we’ve got you covered with this list of fun activities that won’t break your wallet – they are all 100 percent free! 

1. Visit James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace  
Located on Rice University’s campus, the James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace has an LED light show that projects onto the ceiling of the dome-like structure during sunrise and sunset. This is a great spot to enjoy the beauty of light while snuggling up next to your date on a chilly night or morning. The light sequence can be viewed daily at sunrise and sunset, except on Tuesdays. 

2. Hike the Trails at Houston Arboretum & Nature Center  
After going through extensive renovations, the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center re-opened in April and there are now even more trails to check out. Bring your date (and even your dog!) to stroll through The Ravine Trail, which runs along an old tributary of Buffalo Bayou and has plenty of great photo spots. The grounds of the Arboretum are open daily from 7 a.m. to dusk. 

3. Visit Free Museum Thursdays
Houston is known for its extensive museum scene, and it’s always more fun to peruse them with a partner. Several museums offer free admission on Thursdays. Check this list for details.  

4. Attend an Outdoor Yoga Session 
Yoga is a great way to get a workout in while also de-stressing.  Enjoy a free yoga session with your partner at a local community event. For example, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston hosts free yoga every fourth Sunday of the month, in partnership with Black Swan Yoga; Discovery Green will be hosting free weekly yoga sessions starting in March; and you can find more yoga events on this Facebook group.  

5. Have a Movie Marathon 
Who says you have to go out to make it a date night? Microwave the popcorn, flip on the a rom-com and you’re ready to go. Some classics that you can never watch too many times: Sixteen Candles (1984), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), The Princess Bride (1987), Notting Hill (1999). If you and your date are not into rom-coms, maybe try starting a new television series together. Some popular shows right now include The Witcher (Netflix), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime), The Young Pope (HBO) and, our personal favorite, Cheer (Netflix). Who can resist Jerry’s positive “Mat Talk"?   

6. Answer this Questionnaire with Your Partner  
Years ago, psychologist Arthur Aron conducted a study exploring whether intimacy between a heterosexual man and woman could be accelerated by having them each answer a set of 36 specific personal questions. Those questions became the subject of this New York Times Modern Love essay, where the writer goes through those questions with an acquaintance. The two do, in fact, fall in love. For an intimate night with your partner, take turns answering the questions. You might just fall in love. 

James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace

James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace, located on Rice University’s campus, is a beautiful spot to experience sunrise or sunset with your partner. (Photo by Paul Hester, Courtesy of Rice Public Art)

7. Explore Houston’s Street Art 
Houston has a vibrant street art scene, particularly in the Montrose and East End neighborhoods. Grab your date for a colorful drive around Houston and plenty of opportunities for Insta-worthy photos. Check out this list of some of our favorite murals around Montrose and around Downtown and The Heights. (Note: These stories were written in 2017 – even more murals have been added since then.)

8. Volunteer Together 
Volunteering can be a great opportunity to bond with your partner while also giving back. These couples volunteer together on a regular basis, and here are some summer volunteer opportunities you can reference when deciding where to volunteer. 

9. Challenge your Partner to a Game Night 
Bring some friendly competition to your date night with an evening of board games at home. Or if you want to try a new game, check out board game café, Tea + Victory, where it’s $5 per person to play board games all day long. They have a room full of any board game you can imagine, and onsite game experts can teach you to play something new. 

10. Sample your Way through a Farmers Market 
For the foodies out there, turn grocery shopping into a date by exploring an outdoor farmers market such as Urban Harvest or Rice University’s weekly farmers market. Yes, you will likely splurge on food items, but you can also usually enjoy some free samples along the way. 

Editor’s Note: See Dating with Your Dog for dog-friendly spots around town to take your significant other and your furry best friend.  

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