Romanticizing East Lansing: Your Guide to Inexpensive, Creative Summer Dates

Summer is the time when our professional and academic lives typically slow down, allowing us to focus a little more on our personal — and romantic — lives.

But when you’re a college student on a budget, it’s not always a question of whether or not you have the time to keep your dating life fun and interesting — it can also be a question of whether you have the money .

If you’re living in the East Lansing area this summer or returning for the fall semester, here’s a list of ideas to keep you and your significant other entertained without draining your tuition savings account.

Attend a free concert

If you or your partner love music or just enjoy a happy, lively time, concerts can make for an exciting date night. However, concerts are usually reserved for a special occasion as tickets can get expensive.

This summer, a concert trip for two can cost nothing. The City of East Lansing will be hosting six completely free shows every Friday from July 8th through August 12th summer concert series. The concerts take place in the Ann Street Plaza and start at 7pm

“For the summer concert series, we are highlighting local and Michigan-based groups,” said Justin Drwencke, East Lansing administrative services coordinator. “Usually around 200 people come by for the concert alone.”

Explore art exhibitions

Visiting art shows is a great way to spark conversations between you and your date.

Discussing the art allows you to get a glimpse of their perspective on the world. East Lansing offers many free and inexpensive ways to view artwork.

The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum on the MSU campus is a popular attraction for visitors and locals alike. Open from Thursday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm, you can reserve your free tickets on-line.

The East Lansing Public Art Gallery is more of a hidden gem on the second floor of the Hannah Community Center. Admission to the gallery is always free and you can enter during the opening hours of the community center.

“Every first Saturday of the month, an art gallery opens and there are snacks,” said Heather Majano, coordinator of the arts festival and arts initiative. “You can ask the artist a few questions and look at his art.”

Majano said the art gallery is small but impactful for the artists. Usually, she said, it’s an East Lansing-area artist who’s featured, and it’s her first showcase, so you and your date will be supporting new artists while having a fun time.

Shop at farmers markets

Farmer’s Market days can be a great way to enjoy a quiet morning with your partner. Set the romantic scene by listening to ’70s feel-good jams on the way to the market and choosing a fun snack to try together.

The East Lansing Farmer’s Market, or ELFM, is held every Sunday through October 30th. You can shop at ELFM from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in Valley Court Park. Every item sold by the sellers at ELFM is 100% homegrown, meaning every item is made or grown locally in Michigan. There is also live music every week which you can enjoy while strolling the market.

“The goal is to create a safe space that everyone can enjoy,” said Farmer’s Market Manager Karla Forrest-Hewitt. “It provides access to local fresh food, it gives vendors a chance to connect with customers. It gives the community a place to engage.”

Farmers’ markets don’t necessarily have to be a Sunday activity. Just outside of East Lansing, the Meridian Township farmers market is open Wednesdays from 3pm to 7pm and Saturdays from 8am to 2pm at 1995 Central Park Drive in Okemos.

Go bookstore hopping

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If you or your partner are a bookworm, you’re in luck because the East Lansing area has several bookstores just waiting to be explored. Grab a latte at your favorite coffee shop and visit them all for a great-value day of entertainment.

The odd bookstore, located at 307 E. Grand River Ave., has been a part of the East Lansing community for over 50 years. The store is a three-story space filled with books. The store offers fun specials like “Blind Dates,” where associates wrap a book in paper, hiding the cover, and allow you to choose a book based solely on a brief synopsis written by an associate.

Lives just half a mile down the road The Archive Bookstore, companion store to the Curious Book Shop. This shop is perfect for those who are more interested in antique or collectible books. The room houses more than 60,000 books.

Schuler Books is an independent bookstore located just outside of East Lansing on Grand River Ave. 1982 lies. It’s a relatively larger store and probably better suited for those looking to explore more contemporary reading. The store also houses various eventswhich can take your bookstore hopping date to the next level.

New to the area is Hooked, a bookstore that’s doubling – tripling? – as a café and wine bar. Here you can explore a selection of books that is a bit different from other shops; They focus on stocking books by MSU professors, Michigan-based writers, and aspiring “indie-next” authors. And if the date goes well, you can have a drink on the terrace.

If you’re feeling adventurous, introduce a fun game to your bookstore date: ask your partner to pick a book they think you’d like, and don’t look at their choice until you get home .

Try a new sport or exercise

There are many ways to get active in East Lansing, and many of these options are free.

Yoga State has partnered with downtown East Lansing to make an offer Yoga about Albert, a free outdoor yoga class, three times a week this summer. Classes are held on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays at the corner of Albert Avenue and Grove Street in the Albert El Fresco room.

Practicing yoga with your partner is a good opportunity to try something new, and there are also several benefits that could benefit your relationship. Yoga is known to be positive affect your mood by producing endorphins and reducing anxiety.

Dating doesn’t always have to be expensive or stressful. Hopefully this list will help you get creative and crank up the romance this summer!

This story is part of our 2022 Mail-Home print edition. Read the whole thing issue here.

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