On one of my trips to Italy, I found myself one day surrounded by young Italian Stallions at the Spanish Steps, all of whom asked me what my name was and would I like to go back to my room room for a little boom boom just two minutes after meeting me. To which I replied to all, “In North America, the guys at least ask me for dinner and then pretend to want to get to know me. I want the dinner; I want the pretense.” Listen up guys, it’s not about how much you spend on us on a date, but the fact that you took the effort to plan a night out that impresses the hell out of us. So to that end, I’ve found some affordable date night options that are not only easy on the pocketbook, but are bound to score a few brownie points.


1.  Laugh the Night Away at Vancouver TheatreSports League

First dates can be awkward especially when you discover 10 minutes in that your Prince Charming has turned into Kermit the Frog. So what could be better to break the ice than a hilarious improv show at Vancouver TheatreSports League where even if your date is a dud, you’ll still have a whooping good time. And tickets are only $15 ($10 if you’re a student) or to really ease the pain of that first date, it’s only $21.75 with a drink.  But it gets better as it’s Half Price Hilarity shows at VTSL (Wed/Thur 9:15) for only $7.75 and Rookie League Shows on Sunday 7:30 for only $8.75.

2.   Serenade the Senses at Opera Mariposa

Is there anything more romantic than listening to opera singers singing haunting romantic arias?  At performances at Opera Mariposa, you’ll have an opportunity to listen to young talented opera singers on the rise to stardom for less than $30 a ticket.  The venue won’t be fancy, but the angelic voices will set the mood for amore.

3.  Dance Your Way Into Her Heart

is there anything better than free?  In the months of July and Sunday, there’s free Sunday Afternoon Salsa at Robson Square starting at 3pm where lessons might or might not guarantee that toes will go unharmed.  Then dance to your heart’s content from 3:30pm to 7pm and after 7pm it’s the afterparty.  And if you decide that you’re tired of your date, well here’s your chance to play musical date.  In the wintertime it’s Free Ice Skating at Robson Square.


4.  Picnic in the Park

With some many beaches in Vancouver, there’s no excuse for you not to skip merrily to your favorite restaurant, bakery or take out joint to fill your picnic basket full of goodies,  Some of my favorite establishments to pick up sandwiches, salads and baked goodies are  Meinhardt Fine Foods, Truffles Fine Foods and Whole Foods.

5.  I Promised You a Rose Garden

Why present your date with a mere bouquet of flowers when you can give her a huge rose garden at the VanDusen Botanical Garden, well  at least for an afternoon.  Admission is just $11 from April 1 to September 30.  And in the month of December, you can dazzle your date with the VanDusen Festival of Lights.


6.  Did Someone Say Free Movies?

By the time you pay for two adult tickets, two popcorns, two drinks and oodles of candies, it’s not a cheap night out at the movies when you hit $50 (being an Asian girl with plenty of ginormous purses, I sneak in my own treats).  But in the summertime, enjoy outdoor movies from freshaircinema with venues all over the Lower Mainland – click on link for schedule.  Otherwise, get a Netflix subscription for about $10 – $12 a month and snuggle up with all you can eat popcorn for pennies.

7.  Pasta and Pinot for Two

La Pentola is one of Vancouver’s better Italian restaurant as the food is authentic but the prices reflect the quality of food offered here.  But on Wednesdays, feature pasta is $10 and B.C. bottle of red and white wines are only $20 which makes this sweet deal $40 plus tax/gratuity for dinner for two.

8.  It’s Drama Time at Metro Theatre

If you want to take your date to a big production such as Les Miserables or Phantom of the Opera, then you better have some deep pockets.  But at the Metro Theatre, tickets for live theatre are a mere $24 for adults or $21 for seniors & students, with a special 2 for $35 deal every Thursday plus tickets to the preview performance are just $13.



9.  Tempt Her With Tasty Tasting Plates Events

By the time you order appies, entrees, desserts and drinks, it’s time to take on a second job to pay for your meal.  Tasting Plates events organized by Vancouver Foodster is a series of self-guided food tours that takes you to several restaurants in the same neighbourhood where you receive tasting plates which vary from coffee, desserts, entrees and sometimes breweries and wine stores might be on the agenda.  Regular priced tickets at the door are $60 per person but if you buy an early bird ticket, its $29 per person which makes this a real deal.


10.  Five Bucks Five Bucks Five Bucks

At many places, the “special” wine for $5 often leaves a lot to be desired.  But at The Wine Bar where there are 50 wines on tap every day, it’s an oenophile’s dream come true.  Come during Tappy Hour (daily 3-5pm and 10pm to close) where red and white wines, beer and tapas are $5.  Tappy Hour is also all day and night on Tuesday.  And for those people who love bubbles, they’re 25% off on Saturday and on Monday night when all weekly specials are featured.


11.  Dine Italiano Style at Bibo

If you love Neapolitan style pizza with real Italian wine then head to Bibo Pizzeria con Cucina in Kitsilano on Thursdays when all bottles of wine such as Italian Cortese Gavi di Gavi are 50% off.

12.  Last Minute Half Price Tickets

Not sure what to do on your date, go online to Tickets Tonight to find half price tickets to theatre, food tours, dance events and more.  These half price tickets are sold the day of the event and must be bought in person at the Tickets Tonight office from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. And if you end up not liking your date well, you won’t feel like you wasted your money as her ticket was free!

13.  Eat for Less With Restaurant Coupons

Three course dinner for two at a four star restaurant for $59?  Yes please.  It’s hard not to find a restaurant deal if you sign for any of the following coupon sites:  Groupon Vancouver, Social Shopper Vancouver, Travel Zoo Vancouver, Living Social and Entertainment Book.  I find that Travel Zoo has the better restaurants as Groupon sometimes often features restaurants that are about to close their doors although I did manage to score a Groupon for the Pear Tree and Francescos.

14.  For the Truly Budget Conscious Serial Dater

For the young and the restless aka serial dater, here’s a way to spread it around by going to Mamie Taylor’s happy hour Monday to Friday 5-6pm and Saturday/Sunday 3-5 pm where $1 and $2 food (ham grenades, lamb meatballs, chicken wings & sliders) won’t empty your wallet for the next round of dating. Draft beer is only $5 and wine and cocktails $6.


15.  Summer Festivals

During the months of June to September, there are numerous festivals which feature free music and entertainment for all such as the Jazz Festival, Honda Celebration of Lights, Greek Day on Arbutus, Italian Day on the Drive, etc.  The music might be free, but bring your own food and drink because if items bought from food vendors/food carts will add up,  Find the list of festivals at  The Georgia Straight.


16. Artsy Fartsy Tuesdays

Impress your date with your worldly knowledge of impressionist artists on Tuesday nights at the Vancouver Art Gallery when admission from 5 pm to 9 pm is by donation. But if your date is not in any way artistically inclined you might find her headed to the exit after five minutes.

16.  Pay What You Can Wednesdays

If you can plan your dates for Wednesdays, then take advantage of Ensemble Theatre Company’s Pay What You Can Wednesdays performances.  But get there early as tickets are available online and you pay at the door.  Otherwise productions are $30/25 (Previews: $20)..

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Editor in Chief of Fabulously Frugal in Vancouver.

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