Brooklyn is for lovers (with no money): A guide to cheap summertime dating

Brooklyn is for lovers (with no money): A guide to cheap summertime dating
It’s a barger-than-life date. via Brooklyn Barge

Brooklyn is a great place to fall in love. But dating here in the summer? Forgetaboutit. Well, don’t actually forget about it. I’m just saying that there’s a tyranny of choice, with so many options for what to do on a date that it occasionally leaves a brokester feeling overwhelmed (and eventually short on rent).

Lucky for you, spending a perfect afternoon on the cheap just happens to be in our wheelhouse! This borough really is made for people who want to do something special with a special someone without breaking the bank — you just gotta know where to look.

So with a little preparation and the help of this handy Brokelyn dating guide, you can have a memorable time with Mr. (Swipe) Right that doesn’t require you to sell your prized baseball card/Beanie Baby collection/kidney. Whether you go dutch on these, split it halfway, treat someone or get treated, nothing’s going to break the bank. And don’t worry about giving us credit for any of the ideas you try. We’ll just expect seats at the head table during the wedding reception. 

Best for: first dates, foodies, outdoorsy types
Cost: Walk the Plank pork “fries” ($11) and kayaking, sailing lessons ($0)

Tucked away at the edge of Greenpoint off Milton Street, The Brooklyn Barge recently reopened just in time for summer. Couples who don’t have a crippling fear of the ocean can enjoy kayaking, stand up paddle board and free sailing lessons. Afterwards, grab a pint and share that plate of fries while watching the sunset. The barge gets pretty crowded so if you and your date are trying to have a more intimate conversation, head back streetside and grab a seat along the Hudson at one of the many picnic tables set up along the river.



That's real. That's not even not real. You know? via East River Ferry
Swap out the skylines and this may as well be the Seine in Paris. via East River Ferry

Best for: Couples, escapists feeling “reckless”
Cost: Two round trip weekend tickets ($24) large iced chai ($4.50), baguette ($9)

It’s a steamy weekend and you’ve got about forty bucks total to beat the heat with your partner. No problem, take some Dramamine and then head over to Pier 1 in DUMBO for a boat ride along the East River, where the breeze will keep you cool while you pass under The Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. It’s a quick ride to the end of the line in Long Island City, so take in the gorgeous view of the Manhattan skyline from Hunters Point South Park while sipping on an Iced Chai and sharing a caprese baguette from outdoor cafe Coffeed.

Best for: Third or fourth dates, weird people who want to sweat more in summer
Cost:  New student special ($20/two weeks), hibiscus doughnut + large tea ($5)

Did you and you new love interest bond over your Shaktis and Shivas? Maybe you locked eyes in cobra position at Yoga to the People. Even if you didn’t, try a date at Sacred Brooklyn in Bed-Stuy. Take a Sacred Flow class or challenge yourself and your partner by taking the Salt + Honey class to work up a sweat. After you’ve finished, head around the corner to Dough, one of Brooklyn’s best-loved doughnut spots, and treat yourself to the tarty Hibiscus doughnut and a tea.

Best for: One month anniversary
Cost: Tasting with private tour ($20) slice of Steve’s Key Lime pie ($6)

Is your new beau a wine lover? If so, either give them my number or head out to The Red Hook Winery for a tour of the facilities while enjoying a sample tasting. Private tours require a reservation so remember to plan ahead. Afterwards, take a stroll through Red Hook, stopping at Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies on Ferris Street, and share a slice while discussing tannins and undercurrents from your favorite samples.


Nothing’s grim about Rippers. via Tumblr

Best for: New couples who are trying to DTR (define the relationship)
Cost: 24 Hours bike rental (avg. $30) Rippers burger and limeade ($9.50)

While I generally try to avoid any chance someone might see me exercising until at least the third month of dating, I know plenty of people who feel differently. This post is for you. Grab or rent two bikes, throw on a helmet and take a ride through the borough before heading over the Marine Parkway Bridge and into Rockaway Beach. The ride takes about an hour and a half, which oughta leave you in great shape to enjoy a burger and limeade on the boardwalk from Rippers. Take in the sun and sand before hopping on your bike and heading back home. Remember: alcohol and biking don’t mix.

Best for: Second dates trying something different
Cost: Museum ($8), church cemetery ($0)

Do you and your new sweetheart enjoy a more twisted sensibility? Skip the wine and roses and opt for something more your speed at Morbid Anatomy Museum in Gowanus. The latest exhibit “House of Wax” features ethnographic and pathological wax works from the turn of the 20th century. If all is going well, take the date on the road and plan a walking tour of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story “The Horror in Red Hook!” Mentioned in the short story is the Flatbush Reformed Church near Prospect Park South, as well as the gravestones in the cemetery behind the church where Lovecraft devotees will recognize the Martense family name from the writer’s other Brooklyn based short story, “The Lurking Fear.”

Best for: Couples with a sense of whimsy
Cost: $1-2 per item (spend $5 each, tops)

Forget Broadway, dollar stores are the cities greatest resource and they are everywhere. Start the date by walking through the packed aisles of a Dollar Tree and pick up some items you would never think to get otherwise. You can try making a likeness of your date with some Cra-Z-Art softee sculpting dough. Work on a 500 piece puzzle of the Hoboken skyline. Or, grab a not-Nerf foam football to throw around if you want to be more active. Once you’ve each selected four dollars worth of merchandise, complete your shopping spree with two cold Shastas and a bag of Bugles to snack on, then get moving to the closest park where you have just secured hours of fun with your partner for around 10 bucks.

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