Cheap, sweet dates x 4 

For the Outdoorsy Types $30-$40

1. Head to the Botanical Garden. It’s open until 5 p.m., so be sure to get there around 4 to leave extra time for macking behind plants if that strikes your fancy — usually it strikes ours but, hey, everyone’s different.

Cost: $5 each with a student ID.

2. After strolling through the greenhouses, you can drive or take the bus down to Central Market (don’t forget to bring a reusable bag), where you can buy a sandwich to share or a selection of different pre-made goodies perfect for a picnic. Swing by the bakery to pick up dessert; they have plenty of mini desserts to share.

Cost: $20 ... if you go crazy on the sweets.

3. Take your picnic to the McNay Art Museum, where the buildings cost but the grounds are still free. The shady clumps of trees and wide lawns filled with sculpture are perfect for an al-fresco meal. You can stay until 9 p.m. on Thursdays, which means you can end the evening with a little stargazing.

Cost: Free, but if you do want to wander inside, it’s only $5 apiece with a student ID. 

Culture lovers $24-$33

1. Head to Hogwild Records, where perusing the shelves for the perfect album can be a date in and of itself.

Cost: $15, if you find your song

2. Travel the short distance downtown to the the Central Library’s inexpensive Java Nook coffee shop. Sit outside the café, take a walk around the library and snap photos of Ricardo Legorreta’s vibrant design, or browse the library’s Texana collection. Don’t hang around too long or the San Antonio Museum of Art will be closed.  

Cost: $4-$8

3. SAMA offers free admission 4-9 p.m. Tuesdays. Check the website, samuseum.org, for current and upcoming exhibits, but don’t skip the seven permanent collections, which include Egyptian art and contemporary local works. 

Cost: Free, if you go on Tuesday evening

4. Stroll down the river for a snack and a Bonita Dessert Crepe at the Cool Café, in the Havana Riverwalk Inn just off Auditorium Circle.

Cost: $5-$10

The Penniless Foodies $10

1. This is not a date plan for the perennially hungover, because it begins bright and early Saturday morning at the Pearl Brewery Farmers Market, which officially opens at 9 a.m. The earlier you get there, the more goodies there are to choose from. Head over to the Full Goods breezeway to buy an iced coffee (necessary for the next hour in the sun) and pick out a pastry or breakfast taco from the market stands.

Cost: $10

2. The weekly cooking demonstration, performed by a Texas chef, begins at 9:30 a.m. With pastry or taco in tow, you can grab a seat under the central tent to watch chefs cook with seasonal produce. They hand out free samples, so you can decide which recipe you like best. You can find the schedule of chef demonstrators at pearlfarmersmarket.com.

Cost: Free

3. Once you’ve had your fill of the cooking demonstration, stroll among the stalls and munch on samples of candied pecans and marinades. Plan date number two, if you so choose, by purchasing the ingredients for dinner later in the week. You could even try your hand at one of the dishes demonstrated by the chefs that day.

Cost: Free, not including dinner for date number two.

4. Wind down the date with some quiet face time on the art-filled new Urban Reach of the River Walk, which heads south from Pearl toward the San Antonio Museum of Art and downtown.

Cost: Free

Shopaholics $37-$41.50

1. Head to Rivercenter Mall, San Antonio’s shopping jewel in the heart of downtown. With a $10 limit per person and 30 minutes to shop, you must must explore the array of stores in the mall to find one item within the budget that the other person would enjoy, whether it’s a pretzel from Auntie Anne’s or a key chain from Texas Treasures.

Cost: $20

2. After your gift exchange, stop in at the Marble Slab Creamery. To cut down on costs, share a cone and pick flavors and toppings you agree on. With fresh ice cream in hand, stroll down the River Walk for some quality conversation and bonding.

Cost: $5

3. If you prefer to tour the River Walk by vehicle rather than on foot, hop on a Rio San Antonio cruise. These 35 to 40 minute tours travel two and half miles and the ersatz San Antonio history offered by the guides is entertaining if not entirely accurate.

Cost for two: $16.50 general admission, $12 Bexar County residents


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