The $20 Date in New York City

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(Photo Courtesy of Sam Lundin)

The $20 Date in New York City

Now that it’s summer the weather is kind, the parks are warm and (relatively) clean, the people are friendly, and the food is inspired by the newly come season. Is that lavender you smell in Union Square? You bet it is. What’s next to it, but freshly baked sourdough and farmer’s market pears. Once again, just like every year, the beginning of summer feels lavish. And once again, just like every year, you’re feeling the strain on your bank account.

Sometimes dating on a budget in New York City can be as difficult as optimizing your subway schedule during rush hour. You thought you had that seat next to the window.

The average date in NYC is fairly expensive.

A dinner date at the Standard easily takes $100 straight out of your pocket. Your date’s a drinker.

A ticket just to get up to the top of the Empire State Building: $40. But let’s face it, we’re not tourists anymore.

A classy cocktail bar for two cocktails: $40.

A pair of movie theater tickets: $22. Popcorn: $60

At the end of the night, your date has put you back nearly $200. Not to say your date isn’t worth the money. It would just be less stressful if you weren’t digging for pennies, right?

So what could you do on a budget?

This $20 date itinerary is not only affordable, it allows you to enjoy the life of the city and your frugal, but delightful date.

All at the same time. Like serendipitous magic.

1. The Met Museum: (Price: Free…essentially)

Start out the day by going to the Met Museum. You have two options for entry: You can always choose to enter for free, or you can also choose to donate a few dollars to the museum. (All donations go to keeping the museum open to the public. However, let’s not forget about the hole in your pocket and all of the Met’s patrons. One day of free admission is fiiiine.) As you’re walking through the museum, admiring the ageless architecture and pristine marble floors and the beautiful classic paintings and sculptures in the various galleries, think about what you and your date would enjoy seeing most. There are two great exhibits happening this summer that will keep you and your date talking. First is the stunning Roof Garden by Dan Graham with Günther Vogt. Almost maze-like, the garden is a hidden green sanctuary with modern shrubs and glass encasing. The garden will surely spark conversation between you and your date. Did I mention how easy it is to get lost in the garden? You could even hold hands, without shame or regret.

The second exhibition that will keep the conversation going is the “Now You See It” photography gallery. This quirky, twerk-free exhibit will bring in laughs, and endless curiosity to the two of you.

2. Central Park: (Price: Free)

After the Met, head on over to Central Park for a walk in the park. If the two of you are big readers, bring the books you are currently reading and maybe a blanket, and sit or lay together and read for an hour or two. Not only is this relaxing, it also brings you two together in the thrills of nature. As one of NYC’s largest park, it’s easy to get lost, but for good reason under the sun.

3. Peanut butter and Co.: (Price: $9.25 + $5 travel)

By now, you and your date are probably getting a little hungry, if you’re not already starved. Take the train down to the West Village for delicious and filling treats. Peanut Butter and Co. has been around for over 15 years, serving some of the most inspired peanut butter sandwiches and milkshakes. One of the best sandwiches to try is The Elvis. To wash down all of the peanut butter and honey, you and your date could try the peanut butter smoothie: light and airy, made with soy milk, peanut butter, bananas and honey, blended with ice. It is a delicious final kick of peanut butter madness. Everything is fairly heavy, so I hope you’re okay with sharing. You’re on a budget, of course you’re okay with sharing.


The Elvis: Toasted white bread, peanut butter, honey, banana, and bacon.

4. The Highline: (Price: Free)

To walk off all of the peanut butter you just consumed, head on over to the Highline where you can check out local artists, walk above the city, next to skyscrapers and see the city from new heights, peering out at the water, the people, the cars, the buildings, and the gardens.

5. La Bella Ferrara at 108 Mulberry St.: (Price: $4)

To end the night, take a trip to Italy (Little Italy) and share a dessert at La Bella Ferrara’s. Share a scoop of authentic gelato or a few chocolate covered strawberries and feel like you’re sitting together outside under the lights in Florence. You might even continue holding hands.

By the end of the date, you’ve spent just $20 or perhaps even less.

And then, you can bid each other farewell and goodnight.

Or not… the holding of the hands continues.

Summer is the season for love. If you’re taking that relatively special somebody out, this itinerary will help you plan an enjoyable evening while staying within reasonable means of your budget. Whoever said “love doesn’t cost a thing” was clearly never on a budget living in New York City.