Cheap, Cold-Weather Dates in MHK

Photo By: Mary Kate Zach

It can be difficult to stir up romance without upending the piggy bank in winter, when it’s too cold to enjoy lakes, parks, trails and pools. Of course, Manhattan boasts a number of typical entertainment options: ice skating in the park, bowling in the union basement, collegiate basketball games in Bramlage Coliseum, movies at two different theaters, dozens of unique restaurants and more bars than anyone could visit in a single weekend, but it’s hard to remain excited about the same-old same-old, increasingly expensive dates for months on end.

Luckily, Manhattan is also home to more than a few unique, casual options for poor college students struggling to maintain a love life.

Photo by Mary Kate Zach

Village Geek Open Board Gaming

For a relatively reasonable fee of $10 a person, gaming store Village Geek in downtown Manhattan opens its doors and board games to the public every Saturday night. Customers can choose popular, complex games to play from over a dozen options, borrowing right off the shelf and returning them when they’re done. Considering that many of the available games are valued at $50 or more, a $10 all-you-can-play buffet isn’t a bad deal. Better yet, one Saturday night a month, Village Geek waives the fee. Free play dates are announced on their Facebook page, and the next is February 17th.

Science on Tap and Science Saturdays

If you’re looking to impress the STEM major in your life, take advantage of the free monthly lectures sponsored by Sunset Zoo, both onsite (Science Saturdays) and at Tallgrass Taphouse (Science on Tap). While Science Saturdays are geared toward families with simpler hands-on activities, Science on Tap is a more mature option for public discussion on topics presented by local scientists and researchers. The latter is also convenient in the fact that you can grab drinks and dinner with your date while you listen.

Beach Art Museum

With free admission and parking, and a wide variety of collections, exhibitions and interactive programs, the Beach Museum of Art is a hard bargain to beat. Modern, vibrant, and conveniently located on the south end of campus, the museum is worth the walk to spend some time with your muse among the masterpiece, especially if he or she is into the visual arts.

K-State Insect Zoo

With $3 admission and hundreds of creepy-crawlies to check out, the Insect Zoo makes for a light-hearted, fascinating date. Even if your significant other isn’t a huge fan of bugs, it’s hard not to enjoy daring each other to touch tarantulas and searching a terrarium for a little stick bug, only to finally catch sight of an eight-inch tree branch twitching a leg. The Insect Zoo is also conveniently located in the K-State gardens, which have a certain charm even in the barren winter landscape.

Discovery Center Rainforest Adventure and Butterfly House

Observe frogs and butterflies this semester at the Flint Hills Discovery Center, which now features a colorful Rainforest Adventure exhibit and multiple lectures about native amphibian and insect species. This highly-interactive program is on the pricier side, at $7 per college student, but is perfect for anyone hoping for a family-friendly experience. It’s a great opportunity for your partner to bond with the young children ($4 admission) in your life.

Bring a Date to the Zoo Month

Sunset Zoo’s admission is typically an admirable $5 per person, but it’s been cut in half throughout February in the name of love. Tickets are buy one, get one free for the next 28 days, and $2.50 each is a small price to pay to traverse the animal kingdom with your lovebird. Watch otters frolic, tigers stalk and wallabies leap before you for endless fun.

Photo by Mary Kate Zach

MAC Classes and Performances

The Manhattan Arts Center isn’t just a theatre—although they do host plenty of plays, which students can attend for as little as $10 each—but a site for collaboration and learning between people of all ages in visual and performing arts. They offer classes, workshops, lessons and studios in filmmaking, drawing, painting, ceramics, writing, photography, singing, dancing and printing of varying prices for every budget. If sitting back and watching is more your speed, there are a few fun performances quickly approaching. At the end of February, MAC will be hosting a Sherlock-Holmes-based mystery play called “The Game’s Afoot,” followed in mid-March by a puppet show called “The Cat Came Back” and “Numb and Number,” a heartfelt story about a family’s struggle with dementia.

UPC After Hours

It never hurts to take a peek at the Union Program Council calendar. Aside from showing popular films at an extreme discount, UPC also hosts numerous events designed for college students. In the first half of February alone, their programs range from the annual Drag Show next Friday at 7 pm, to a Wild Wild West night of bull-riding and swing-dancing this Friday at 8 pm, to an afternoon improv sesh courtesy of On the Spot Improv once a month at noon, beginning today.

Exercise at the Rec

There’s no reason you can’t work out and hang out at the same time. Visiting the rec together is simple, cheap and easy, and it will help you both stick to your New Year’s resolution to exercise a little more. If one (or both) of you isn’t much of a gym rat, play tennis or climb the rock wall together instead of lifting weights or running on a treadmill.

Dress Up a Night In

Staying in doesn’t have to be boring. Take shelter from the whirlwind of college life and responsibilities in a pillow fort with your significant other. Break up the monotony with blankets, string lights, card games, a pile of snacks and a silly rom-com. Don’t be afraid to get a little crazy and throw in some video games or paint and canvases. What really matters is that you’re together, and taking time out of the week just for each other. Best of all, you can hide from the world as long as you want.

Promotional Events

Always be on the lookout for promotional activities at your favorite restaurants and other hangouts to keep things interesting. Many coffee shops and bars in particular host fun events for their customers on weeknights, from stand-up comedy to karaoke. For example, Auntie Mae’s has Trivia Smackdown every Wednesday, and Drunken Bingo on a monthly basis. For the under-21 crowd, Arrow Coffee often hosts even zanier events, like Teachers Read Mean Tevals and Open Coloring Book Night. Like your favorite places on Facebook, and you’ll be surprised by all the fun options that pop up in your timeline.