5 Michigan-inspired date nights that don’t break the bank

From baseball games to a romantic dinner on an outside patio, summer date night ideas are endless. If you’re looking for an affordable take on romantic bliss, someplace that’s a little more Thursday night than Saturday, look no further than local events. Here are some ideas that are sure to impress, but won’t crunch your wallet.

Farmers markets

With summer in full swing, farmers markets and local grocers are booming with the abundance of the summer’s freshest produce. From sweet berries to crisp corn on the cob, make the most of everything the season has to offer by making dishes together that highlight fresh ingredients and simple preparation.

By choosing foods that are in season, you are not only saving money, but you’re reaping the benefits of some of the freshest produce around. Walk through the market, pick an ingredient or two, and then go home to prepare a recipe with one another. To find a farmers market near you, visit the Michigan Farmers Market Association’s website.

Food festivals

If you both love food but have differing tastes, a food festival is a great alternative to picking a restaurant that suits one but not necessarily the other. The best part: Vendors typically offer free samples. While walking and sampling from a variety of vendors, your stomach and feet get a workout. Don’t forget to bring a blanket, as you can turn a food festival into an impromptu picnic if you find there’s a vendor or two you want to purchase food from. Click here for a list of all food and drink festivals in Michigan.

Free outdoor concerts

Free outdoor concerts highlight the summer in many Michigan cities, with music playing as often as every week in a downtown park or promenade (such as Detroit’s New Center Park). Don’t forget to bring lawn chairs or blankets — you’ll want stake out a good spot for the music. Pack a picnic basket so you can dance and dine in the same place. All you’ll need is a baguette, a couple of different types of cheese, strawberries, grapes and an adult beverage of your choice. Check your local paper or its website for upcoming free concerts.

Tour a local brewery or winery

What’s a better reason to enjoy a glass of wine or beer than sharing the experience with pleasant company? Move over California, Michigan wines are making a statement, and increasingly, Michigan wines are receiving high honors at national and international competitions. Additionally, most Michigan wineries are located in scenic locations. For a list of Michigan wineries, visit the Michigan Wine Industry’s website.

Are you more of a hops, yeast, and malted barley couple? Take a trip to a local brewery for a glimpse into the brewing process and beer tastings, which generally last an hour. For a list of Michigan breweries, check out A Healthier Michigan’s A-Z brewery guide.

Physical activity

Dinner and a movie are always a date option — but why not enjoy the beautiful summer weather and get active on your date? Hiking or biking is a great way to get to know your object of affection, while getting the vitamin D your body needs from the sun. Are you an adventurous duo? Make like a tourist and see all of the local attractions your city has to offer. It’s as simple as turning off that Blackberry and enjoying a bike ride, trail walk, Frisbee toss, or even mini golf.

What ideas have you come up with to spend date nights on the cheap?

This guest post is from Katie Serbinski, a registered dietitian who blogs foodie-inspired recipes at ktcaputo.com and tweets healthy tips and tricks @katieserbinski. She works as a nutrition and health communications consultant for various food industry organizations and small businesses.

Photo Credit: Vladimir Pustovit

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