April 12, 2019
Vermont is a super fun place to be in love. There are so many unique ways to bond and try new things together!
My partner and I try to keep our relationship exciting by trying one new thing a week, even if Netflix is beckoning from the black mirror across the couch. When you’re saving for a wedding, or for a trip, or just trying to heckin’ save in general, dates can take the back burner financially.
I wanted to make a list of less-obvious date ideas (we all know we can go to a coffee shop or grab an appetizer downtown, take a drive up to the Northeast Kingdom, or go to Archives to play arcade games). And since I’ve lived in Burlington for almost a decade, I feel I have a few tricks up my sleeve for saving money and having a blast that some other people don’t know about!
1. Picnic at Shelburne Farms
There’s horses and other fun animals, amazing views, and a lake shore. Packing a picnic with a bottle of wine and sandwiches on a fall day and heading to Shelburne Farms is easily one of the most romantic dates I’ve been on.
Pro tip: Head to the Lake Shore and drive past the Inn. Park near the Coach Barn and set up the picnic near the cliffs. I might see you there because I often have photoshoots here!
Admission: $8 per person
2. Hike at Shelburne Bay
Down the road from Shelburne Farms (closer to Route 7), you’ll find free parking and gorgeous trails. In the winter, I’ve snowshoed here, but I especially like going in summer when you can hang out near the water. My partner and I often bring our kayaks here.
(If you kayak or paddle board, you’re also going to want to check out Arrowhead Lake. It’s north of Burlington, secluded, and BEAUTIFUL.)
3. First Friday at S.P.A.C.E. Gallery
The first Friday of each month, there’s an opening reception for new exhibitions at SPACE Gallery (I’ve been featured in two o them, and it’s always a blast).
There’s refreshments, wine, and inspiring conversation.
Cost: free (but bring $$ in case you fall in love with an art piece)
4. Taste great wine at Dedalus Wine Shop
Dedalus is constantly planning wine tasting events at their wine shop on Pine Street. I follow them on Facebook to know what’s happening and when. It’s a gorgeous atmosphere and the employees are knowledgeable and fun!
6. Bike or walk the Colchester Causeway
I JUST discovered this two years ago, so maybe you don’t know about it: the Colchester Causeway makes me feel like I’m on vacation. It’s stunning, and for a major portion of it near the bridge, you are surrounded on both sides by Lake Champlain. I biked, but walking would be fun too.
7. Fill out, “Our Soppy Love Story”
We bought this book one year for Valentine’s Day, and we love the quirky little straight couple (drawn by Philippa Rice). There are prompts for you two to write down memories and stories, and I love doing this with my partner. We usually bring it to the beach and fill it out whenever we have a free afternoon.
8. Download the app, “BTV Specials”
It tells you what drink/dining deals there are in Burlington that day! My personal favorite is the $5 wine pours at Gryphon on Wednesdays, or the half-price burgers on Thursdays at RJs.
Nothin’s better than a drive in movie in the summer. It’s actually already open for the season. Last year, we double-dated with some friends and saw It. We were pretty scared but had a blast! You can go for one movie, or stay for a second feature after.
Cost: $10/person (but you can stay for a second movie after!)
9. Consign and Buy Books at Crow Bookshop
I loooove reading. This winter, my partner and I purged all of the books we had that we knew we wouldn’t read, and we consigned them at Crow on Church Street. Then we went back and spent an afternoon picking out new books. We ended up getting a like-new Wine Folly book so that we could learn something new together, and we had so much fun!
10. Visit Burlington City Arts
Burlington City Arts on Church Street always has AMAZING artists featured on all 3 levels. It’s a great rainy day activity.
Cost: by donation
11. Apple picking at Allenholm Farm
There’s a happy donkey who wanders around, and depending on the time of year, you can get a hayride to a separate apple orchard down the road. Maybe I’m still 5 years old at heart, but I love a good hayride.
Oh yeah, and they have apple slushies made with their cider. So, so good.
Cost: per pound (easily under $10)
12. Jump into the Bolton Potholes
It’s usually VERY crowded on the weekends. My strategy is to wait until August, when the water seems the warmest, and go on a weekday. Sometimes my partner can’t get out of work, so we go in the evening (it’s not usually that crowded, and we always get a place to sit). Your best bet is a morning weekday, if you can swing it– and it’s honestly very worth taking a morning off of work if you can. It’s bone-chilling water, and even though I am usually very unwilling to be that cold, there’s something spiritual about bathing in a stone basin surrounded by waterfalls. (This is a dorky admission, but my tradition during the height of wedding season is to swim there because it’s my good luck charm.)
Pro tip: Park in the nearby school lot and walk down to the water.
13. Hit the Spa at Bolton Valley
Alright, this one is NOT under $20 (it is $25– still a great deal), but sometimes I just REALLY NEED TO BE IN A HOT TUB.
There’s a weekday evening spa pass that includes their baths and saunas. When I went last, there were three baths (hot and warm) to choose from, and one was aroma therapeutic. I love doing this in the winter, because you sweat out toxins and rejuvenate your lungs. And see each other in bathing suits, which is always fun!
14. Beginner’s Salsa Class at Dsantos (Monday and Thursday evenings)
We were not good. But we had a good time and bonded over it.
Classes are offered 2x/week at their studio in the North End.
15. Visit the humane society (or better yet, foster an animal!)
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that my partner and I fostered kittens for a few years. We had over 10 litters before we adopted our own cat, Winifred!
Fostering animals was a huge bonding experience for me and my partner. We learned how to work together to take care of another living thing, how to budget for food/medicine, etc., and most importantly, the animals gave us something to love outside of our relationship. If you can’t foster, you can always go visit the humane society. We also love scouring Petfinder to find our purrrfect pet.
16. See a matinee at the Roxy
If it’s rainy/snowy and you have $5, why not?
17. Shelburne Vineyard Tasting
Go sit on their patio and try this harvest’s favorites. I love ranking them with my partner and logging them in my wine journal.
Cost: $7 per person (and you get to keep your glass)
18. Buy a hammock and set it up at Leddy (or any beach)
We bought a camping hammock online for about $20 and, surprisingly, it has lasted us 2 years and counting. We use it ALL THE TIME when the weather is warmer. We just find two trees with a view, set up shop, and spend the afternoon reading. (I did flip the hammock once when we saw a spider in it. But that’s been my only negative experience.)
Cost: $20 (purchased on Amazon but Outdoor Gear Exchange usually has good used ones!)
And, there’s one higher priced item that is on my personal bucket list that I figured I’d share:
19. Rent this cabin
This island cabin on Lake Iroquois is $262 a night and sleeps 6 people. Did I mention that it’s on an island?!
Cost: Not under $20
Do you have anything to add to this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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