Lovin’ and Learnin’: 6 Economical and Educational Valentine’s Day Date Night Ideas

For college students, planning a date night for Valentine’s Day can sometimes feel pretty daunting.  You’ve just started a new semester so one, trying to squeeze a free night into your already-rapidly-filling study schedule is difficult and two, your wallet still might be recovering from all the books and supplies it recently got hit with.  What if you could plan a date night that not only didn’t dent your recuperating wallet but also managed to help you out in one or more of your classes?  Check out these ideas for Valentine’s Day date night that’s not only economical but educational too!

Pack a Picnic Dinner and Stargaze.

If you’re on a strict budget but still want to get out of the house for a meal, a picnic is one of the most rewarding choices.  For Physics majors or those taking courses in Astronomy, adding a stargazing element to that picnic is a perfect way to test some of your newly acquired knowledge and to gather some good questions and observations to take back to class discussions.  Find a quiet, open space along the beach or in a park (if it’s high up on a hill or on an overlook, bonus points) and get there at sunset.  Bring along a telescope or binoculars if you have them (you can still have an awesome time if you don’t), download one of the many star map apps available on the market, and have fun seeing who can spot the most celestial wonders in the night sky.

Battle it Out at a Vintage Arcade.

You don’t have to be a gamer geek to enjoy a good vintage arcade game battle, and it might seem far off finding the educational value in a game of Space Invaders or Pac-Man.  But those who are studying fields like Gaming Design, Information Technology or even Computer Networking can certainly apply the experience to their coursework.  Animation or Design students can explore the difference between graphics of vintage games versus today’s design programs that they’re now learning.  Students studying aspects of coding or software can do the same, comparing the technology available today versus what was achieved with the vintage tech.  Many vintage arcades still in existence are economical and some are even attached to restaurants and cafes to round out the night!

If Near the Coast, Explore Local Tide Pools Before Grabbing Some Seaside Treats

Three young adult friends look at a tidepool on BC’s coast, Saltspring Island

Who doesn’t love going to the beach?  For those studying sciences like Biology, or certain Physical Sciences such as Geology or Marine Sciences, a trip to some local tide pools is not just really cool, but beneficial to your coursework, too!  Here in Orange County, we have some great tide pools to choose from, including some not far to the North or South.  Check the tide times before heading out and then spend the morning or afternoon exploring some of the ocean’s truly amazing creatures and habitats.  Afterward, grab a quick bite or a sweet treat at a coastal café or sweet shop.

Grab Some Coffee to Fuel up for a Local Museum Visit

It may seem a bit cliché to visit a museum for an educational outing, but there really is no better way to dive deeper into your studies than by immersing yourself in real-life examples.  History students can visit a local natural history museum.  Art students can spend an afternoon getting inspired at a local art museum or gallery show.  Even Electronics/Engineering students can apply their knowledge at automotive or aerospace museums.  Much smaller, local museums have low entry costs, if any at all, and many museums of all sizes offer discounted student rates as well.  Grab a cup of coffee and a quick bite before to fuel up for the day or relax and recoup from the adventure at a cozy café afterward.

Pick an Inexpensive Eating Spot with an Outdoor Patio to People Watch

Just how much fun can sitting and watching people pass by really be?  Well, if you’re a Sociology or Psychology major, it could be pretty interesting observing and analyzing the interactions and behaviors of those passing by.  Or what if you’re an English major?  Practice character development!  Pick out an interesting character in the crowd and join forces with your date to weave an intriguing backstory about who they are, where they’re going, and where they’re coming from.  Dinner out still a little beyond your wallet’s reach?  Pack a small lunch and hit up a public thoroughfare like a boardwalk or busy park and just relax and observe!

Attend a Lecture or Panel Together then Discuss and Debate over Dinner

Communication Studies majors can observe important skills and techniques by attending a local public speaking event such as an engaging lecture or informative panel.  Colleges or universities in your area are always a great place to start looking for nearby events but don’t forget to also check out local museums and bookstores.  Find an event that speaks to both of your interests or pick something entirely foreign for you both to learn for the first time!  Afterward, discuss and debate about the lecture over either a home-cooked meal or dinner at a budget-friendly diner or café.

Whether you’re planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a romantic night out, a fun adventure, or a cozy night in, try to remember that no matter what you end up doing, the most important thing is to simply enjoy and cherish the time you spend together.

Have you been on an enjoyable and educational date?  Tell us about it in the comments!