The great Ron Swanson once said, “Never half-ass two things; whole-ass one thing.” Clearly, Swanson was referring to date night with this gem of a quote. Believe me when I say that it’s hard these days, with the economy the way it is, to find places for date night that are affordable and don’t look, smell, or taste like an absolute armpit. Luckily, that is why I’m here. This is a young person’s guide to Cheap Fancy Date Night. I guarantee an adventure will be waiting for you and your significant other. Dress to the nines (or at least to the eights or even sevens), and sweep your other half off their feet.
When I went on my first date with my girlfriend, I pulled out all the stops. We first went to the Portland Art Museum, which has dynamite discounts for students. If you’re the kind to impress your date with knowledge of various artists and truly know the difference between a Michelangelo and a Modigliani (or want to), consider heading to the Portland Art Museum. Discounted student pricing for a single ticket is $16.99, but the real draw is the College Creative License, an annual Museum pass you can get for the price of a single adult admission ticket—a mere $20. Is art not your thing, Picasso? Never fear. Pull a Ken Burns and take your S.O. across the street to the Oregon Historical Society. For the price of one crisp, clean, Alexander Hamilton, you can immerse yourself in the culture and history of the great state you live in. It’s actually quite fun, contrary to popular belief.
“But Evan, what if we have no interest in museums? We’re more of a live performance crowd!” Never fear, Reader. As an actor in the Portland theater scene, I can tell you that discounts to various performance spaces are a great way to go, date night-wise. If you happen to have an Oregon Trail card in your pocket, you can take advantage of a neat little Regional Arts & Culture Council program called Arts for All, which gives you access to a pair of $5 tickets to Portland Center Stage, Portland Opera, Artists Repertory Theatre, Oregon Symphony, BodyVox, Chamber Music Northwest, Portland Japanese Garden and much more.
For PSU students, if the sweet dulcet tones of Mozart, Beethoven and Rachmaninoff really rev your engine, swing on down to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Broadway and pick up some student tickets for $10. You can purchase tickets two hours before most concerts. Have two hours to kill? Walk literally two minutes away from the Schnitz to Southpark Seafood for some DYNAMITE happy hour food that’ll literally change your world.
After going to the Art Museum, my girlfriend and I did the quintessential first date “move” and went to dinner and a movie. Two awesome gems here in Portland are the Living Room Theatre and the Laurelhurst Theatre, offering wicked discounts on either side of the river.
Tickets at Living Room Theaters are $7 for students every day except Mondays and Tuesdays, when tickets go down to $5 for everyone. How cool is that? Besides showing first-run Hollywood fare and foreign films, they host free music in their lounge area Friday and Saturday nights.
If you’re looking for a more “art house” vibe and want an IPA to go with your movie, head to the Laurelhurst Theatre in SE Portland. General admission is only $4, and if there was that movie that came out way back that you wanted to see but never got a chance to (looking at all of you, people who still haven’t seen Logan and Kong: Skull Island), then Laurelhurst is your jam. They also regularly screen classics like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Kindergarten Cop alongside limited release pictures like David Lynch: The Art Life and Citizen Jane: Battle for the City (all of these are playing this week).
Want to stay on campus cause you’ve got that one ridiculously big midterm coming up? Dress up and take your sweetie over to 5th Avenue Cinema. As Oregon’s only student run movie theater, 5th Avenue’s price for PSU students is FREE (which is totally the best price). General admission for nonstudents is $5, and popcorn is free for everybody. Catch some of the cool films they’ve got coming up: Three Hayao Miyazaki films, the Kurt Russell masterpiece Big Trouble in Little China, and Singapore Minstrel, a fantastical Singaporean busker documentary from PSU’s own Xi Jie Ng, (who will be in attendance).
So, put on your fanciest suit jacket, your strappiest heels, or your fanciest dress, grab your partner and head out on a cheap, fancy adventure!