NEW YORK (MainStreet)The summer dating social scene is a perfect remedy for most of the nation that endured a long, cold winter indoors. But once you step outside for a season of fun, make sure you find value with entertainment options that stretch your dollar while making you (and your date) smile...
Major Fun in a Minor Way
No other sport says "summer in America" like baseball. While everyone knows popular franchises like the New York Yankees, the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants, the ticket prices at Major League Baseball games definitely don't fit everyone's budget.
Look a little closer to home to enjoy America's pastime this summer by taking your date to a minor league baseball game. With cheaper tickets, parking, concessions and memorabilia, you will stretch your dollar before the first pitch is even thrown. Seats closer to the action allow you and your date to take in the complete experience of the game. Minor league ballclubs have unusual promotions and giveaways to keep fans entertained, and the teams are spread out across nearly every state to nearly every middle market metropolitan area that does not have a major league team. So grab some peanuts and Cracker Jacks, and enjoy the game!
Save in these cities: There are nearly 100 minor league baseball teams across the U.S., including: Buffalo, N.Y.; Columbus, Ohio; Durham, N.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; New Orleans, La.; Pawtucket, R.I.; Reno, Nev.; Sacramento, Calif.
Cheap Fare at the Fair
Want to enjoy a variety of food without going to an exclusive restaurant on a regular dining setting? Check out the state fair, and make a daytrip to the finest agriculture and fair food your state has to offer. Kettle corn, deep fried Twinkies, fried turkey legs and fish tacos are all fair favorites.
Most state fairs partner with local media outlets to offer discounted admissions, and weekday admissions are often cheaper than weekends. Fairs make great dates because of the sensory overload and the warm heartedness of the experience, all the more true once you've won your sweetie a prize at the carnival. The animals in the agriculture area makes for easy conversation and shared experiences, and many fairs partner with their state lotteries for fun promotional booths.
State of Mind: Almost all state fairs occur in the summer except Arizona and Texas, which have their fairs in the fall.
Fun with Fish
Want a truly unusual date? Pack a lunch, bring a radio and find a local lake to take your date fishing. Make sure you buy a license (around $35) and use the morning sunrise or the evening sunset to create a perfect ambiance for your date.
Fishing allows for you two to focus on just on each other. Bring a radio for background music, and don't be afraid to slow dance if the mood hits you.
Finding Fish: Most areas in the U.S. have a natural or manmade lake within 50 miles.
Here's to the Horses
Horse racing is a real win-win for an inexpensive, but original and fun date. Women enjoy the pageantry of horses and many men enjoy the gambling aspect. Many horse tracks have special promotions on the weekends to attract the general public. These specials usually include food buffets, discounted entry, alcoholic beverages priced in the $2 to $5 range and inexpensive promotional merchandise.
With the standard bet of two dollars, $50 at the horse track can last you all night, regardless of whether Lady Luck is on your side...so go to the horses and enjoy the ride!
And They're Off: 31 of 50 states have horse racing tracks, and many states have multiple tracks.
Rodric J. Hurdle-Bradford, APR is a freelance writer based out of Scottsdale, Ariz. He covers casino gaming, personal finance and real estate topics for several publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.