Cheap yet classy: dating frugally

Jeannine Snyder

hiking for ice cream treats (and more): $7.13*

Topeka has both dirt trails and concrete paths for the outdoor enthusiasts. From Shunga Trail to Cedar Crest’s MacLennan Park to Dornwood, if someone wants to convene with nature it can be done.

And it’s always better with a date.

Shunga Trail stretches roughly 4.5 miles from Crestview Park, 4801 S.W. Shunga Drive, to the Kansas Expocentre at 21st Street and Topeka Boulevard, while MacLennan Park sits adjacent to the governor’s mansion, 1 S.W. Cedar Crest Road. Dornwood nestles itself a few blocks behind Highland Park High School at the end of eastbound 25th Street.

Ask someone out any time, except after dark unless you want to lug around flashlights and risk getting lost (which would be a whole other date), and take your pick of trails. Hike your hearts out; then replenish all those calories just spent with a serving of ice cream.

Cold Stone Creamery may offer the best ice cream deal in town, if you’re a Washburn student. From 7 to 10 p.m. each Tuesday, Cold Stone offers buy-one-get-one-free deals to people packing university ID. Even if the date’s another day, it gives students 10 percent off during all other times, and you still have $10 to indulge that sweet tooth and growling stomach.

However, for some, ice cream treats don’t satisfy the hunger.

“One minute my girlfriend and I were hiking on the governor’s mansion trails,” said Stephen Mitchell, senior French major, of a past relationship. “The next minute we were doing it in the woods.”

caffeine-buzzed movie extravaganza: $9.87

A spin on the traditional, two coffees and a dollar movie offer a frugal alternative to the dating stable of dinner and a movie.

Ask your date out for mid-afternoon, keeping in mind to check the show times at West Ridge 8, 1727 S.W. Wanamaker Road, and leaving enough time to stop by a coffee shop for a leisurely beverage before the matinee.

For example, at World Cup Espresso Café, which offers 10 percent off everything on its menu to Washburn students and sits caddy corner from the university, two large mocha lattes come to $6.78 with tax and the discount. Lazio’s Coffee Bar and Lola’s Café Espresso both offer student discounts as well.

But don’t limit your date to just mocha lattes. Instead, let him or her order first, and base your order around it. Remember, the movie tickets will come to $3, which leaves you $7, and the student discount will cover tax. Do some quick math, and you’ll stay under budget.

However, considering the theater, keep the old adage in mind: You get what you pay for.

“When people pay a dollar, they act like they paid a dollar,” said Andrew Roland, a junior political science major. “So you can expect to sit next to a drunk.”

Yet the experience adds to the date.

“It gives you more to talk about after the movie,” said Roland, who has been dating Melissa Linquist for about two years.

By skipping the dinner, you’ll skip the embarrassment of getting something stuck in your teeth.

submarine picnicking, people perusing: $9.69

Grab a blanket or sleeping bag and ask someone out for brunch or an early afternoon snack. Hit Planet Sub on Wanamaker Road, (because it offers $0.75 off subs to students), before heading to Gage Park, the governor’s mansion or anywhere with grass. Schlotzsky’s offers a discount as well.

However, be up front: This is a picnic of sharing – and a lesson in compromise.

Share a large sub and couple it with two regular drinks. Sandwich prices range from $6.89 to $8.09, so suggest those closer to $7, but listen to your date – that’s where the compromise comes in.

Once you’ve decided, take your catch to some grassy knoll, spread out the blanket and enjoy each other’s company and the bonding experience of sharing together. Bring a book or a battery-powered music player of sorts for added entertainment. And you can always people watch.

“It’s kind of creepy staring at people in a restaurant,” said Roland. “Outside it’s OK, and you’re not just sitting in a restaurant.”