Americans have a habit of spending way too much on Valentine’s Day. You don’t have to show someone you love them by buying a ton of gifts or going to a fancy restaurant. Don’t waste your money on a giant teddy bear they have no use for. If anything, spend your money on experiences and where you can create everlasting memories. You can have a romantic day without spending a fortune. Especially if you just started dating, or want to simply save money, you don’t want to go overboard.

Find free events and admission. There are so free things to do in Charlotte that you may not even have to spend a dime. For instance, if you and you’re significant other appreciate art, the Mint

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Museum has free admission every Wednesday from 5 to 9 PM. You can walk around holding hands telling each other your opinions of the art. The Uptown skyline happens to be quite the fantastic backdrop for your night out, so even if you just wanted to walk around the four wards and take in the sights and sounds together that would be entertaining. You could challenge yourselves to a “treasure hunt” to find all of Charlotte’s amazing sculptures and funky murals.

Skip the dinner reservations. You could make a candlelit homemade meal at home and then go out for drinks on the rooftop of Peculiar Rabbit afterward. Or for something cozier, share a yummy milkshake at Pike’s Olde Fashioned Soda Shop for only $4.99 each so you can be like Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black. And for social media-obsessed couples, you’ll want to go to Ninety’s Ice Cream for their limited edition Valentine’s red velvet milkshake and macaron ice cream sandwich. You can take your treats to the bridge over the pond for a picturesque moment.

Be cliché. See a movie at Stonecrest, or somewhere you can put your feet up to watch the critically acclaimed The Greatest Showman or the romance Forever My Girl. Right now Groupon has a coupon for $5 movie tickets at the Epicenter’s Studio Movie Grill.

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Take part in some friendly competition. Plaza Midwood’s wine shop Cork & Crate is always a good idea for a date night. They will be hosting an Italy VS. Spain wine tasting February 16th for $10 each with complimentary charcuterie. You and your loved one will be the judge of which country has the best wine. If you don’t attend Friday, the husband and wife owners will always help you find affordable, delicious wine for your special night. Not winos? Another idea would be to see who gets the most wins on the arcade machines at Abari Game Bar where they serve beer and cocktails.

Plan for the weekend. As Valentine’s Day is set in the middle of a work week, many couples may celebrate it on the weekend. You won’t be in such a time crunch and have cheaper options at the beginning of the day such as sitting down at a new coffee shop for lattes. This will give you more time to explore the city during the daytime because when was the last time you took a full day to do that with your chaotic schedules? Take a break from reality and just enjoy each other’s company. The weekend gives you plenty of time to go to Romare Bearden Park or First Ward Park and pack a picnic with your favorite Charlotte take-out foods or heart-shaped donuts from Krispy Kreme. Want to get out of the bustling city? Take a mini road trip to hike together through Anne Springs Greenway where non-members only have to pay $5 to get in. Visit the horses, the Dairy Barn where many couples get married and stroll through the streams and historic sites.

Don’t stress if you can’t afford an over-the-top Valentine’s Day. Your date shouldn’t rate your value on how much you spend on them. Charlotte has numerous priceless and low priced romantic experiences perfect for your 2018 Valentine’s Day.

Layout & Edits by: Angie Baquedano

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