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5 cheap dates you need to try before your next paycheck

5 cheap dates you need to try before your next paycheck
Photograph: Allison Fender Need a conversation starter? Try this odd little museum.

March is the perfect time to start dating again. The days are getting longer, the nights are getting warmer and best of all, the rapid-fire holy trinity of couple-friendly holidays is well behind us.

If you’re anything like me, one of the biggest drawbacks of putting yourself out there is how costly it can be. For a middle-income man like myself, it’s a constant concern whether my plus one will pick a five-star steakhouse that’ll leave me eating Larabars for a week.

So, consider these five cheap date ideas. They won’t bore your new boo, they don’t involve food trucks and most importantly, they won’t dry up your tax refund.

1. Become workout buddies. Physical activities are top-notch first dates. Sure, hiking Runyon Canyon is free, but it’s also banal, especially to city veterans. If you’re looking to break a sweat while you’re bootlicking, try FlyWheel in West Hollywood. For $25 each, you and your stranger-of-choice will spend an hour cycling, lifting and racing against each other in a cracked-out spin class.  

2. Spend an afternoon on Abbott Kinney. Grab a late lunch at Lemonade on Abbott Kinney for about $12 before walking over to the Venice Canals, a cozy labyrinth of sidewalks and bridges around some of the best residential architecture the beachside neighborhood has to offer. Once the sun sets, skip over to the Whaler on Washington and split a pitcher of craft beer for $21. Or, head back to Abbott Kinney and swing into Roosterfish, a quaint, candle-lit, two-room bar that attracts both gays and straights and offers a game of pool for less than a buck.

3. Experiment with experimental theater. Los Angeles is home to tons of local comedy shows and small-company plays, but how many of them come with free booze? Consider Tiny (Ugly) Rhino, a theatrical drinking game put on once a month by Play, a collaborative arts venue in DTLA. A measly 10 bucks gets you a ticket and a beer. 

4. Get your game on. GameHaus Cafe in Glendale is home to 900 board games, and you can play them all with your new beau for $5 a person. The game emporium also serves up reasonably priced deli sandwiches, coffees, teas and tasty treats like giant slices of cookie-dough cake or apple pie—all of which can be split. 

5. Venture into the bizarre. Culver City’s Museum of Jurassic Technology has been called weird, creepy, compelling, cool, obscure, amazing, unsettling, pointless, dark and confusing. In other words, the type of place that provokes endless conversation, which is the stuff good dates are made of. With an $8 entry fee, the museum—which is really a parody of museums—will either humor you or make you run for the Hollywood Hills

You may also want to date outdoors? Or see if the newest online dating app is actually UberPool?