By Julia Beckner

Bring new meaning to the term ‘cheap date’ with these five ways to entertain your lovely on a budget. From days spent immersed in high art at Sacramento’s famed Second Saturday art walk or cozy evenings snuggled on a blanket enjoying downtown’s free outdoor concerts to romantic strolls along the boardwalk against the backdrop of historic architecture, there are plenty of things to do that will impress that special someone without breaking the bank.

Second Saturday Art Walk
1731 L Street and throughout the Central City
Sacramento, CA
Hours: Every second Saturday of the month, year round, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Admission: Free
Maps, Participating Galleries & More

One night each month, local art galleries and dealers offer extended hours and complimentary beverages and hors d’oeuvres to showcase new artists and their work. Sidewalk entertainers and craft vendors fill the streets, allowing you and your date to just stroll leisurely throughout midtown the sights and sounds of Sacramento’s creative community.

Friday Night Concerts in the Park
Cesar Chavez Plaza in Downtown Sacramento, 10th & J streets
Sacramento, CA
Every Friday Night through August 19, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Admission: Free
For Concert Line – Up & More Info

Kati Garner/

For over a decade, the Downtown Sacramento Partnership offers locals the chance to see Sactown’s best and brightest musical talent for free. This event draws over 4000 patrons each week and is The Place to Be every Friday night during the summer. Bring a blanket, grab some yummy street food from one of the many unique food trucks peppered around the park and enjoy a rockin’ good time with your honey.

Insider’s Tip: If you’re not quite ready to end the evening at 9 p.m., use the wristband given to you at the event to receive happy hour prices on food and drink from neighboring bars and restaurants after the show.

Old Sacramento Historic District
Between I & L Streets and 1st & 4th streets
Sacramento, CA
Hours: Varied with each individual business
Admission: Free
Directory listing

Another low cost option for a budget date can be found simply by visiting Sacramento’s historical jewel, Oldtown Sacramento. Frozen in time, this Gold Rush era district, set along the American River, has retained the architecture, décor and ambiance of that pivotal time in California history. Add to that establishments that offer hand dipped ice cream cones, hand pulled taffy or an old-timey shooting gallery for easy ways to entertain without ever entering a shop or restaurant. For just a few bucks, you and your date can travel through time, watch the sun set over the historic architecture or share a snack at the river’s edge.

Insider’s Tip: Ladies, leave your stilettos at home; the historically accurate boardwalk planks are notoriously uneven and have ruined many a shoe. Wedges, flats or sandals are best.

Downtown Walking Tours
Starting Point depends on Tour
Offered 7 days a week; hours vary
Tours: $10 per person
Get the Complete Schedule, Tour Menu & More

Looking for something to do during the day? Opt for a downtown walking tour that highlights the historical, cultural and artistic identity of one of California’s oldest cities. The Downtown Sacramento Partnership offers a variety of tours ranging from art and architecture to early California history or even Sacramento’s contributions to rock and roll history. At only $10 per person, these tours are a great way to spark conversation, learn a little about each other, or offer an alternative to that awkward first date dinner.

Crocker Art Museum’s Holiday Mondays
Crocker Art Museum
216 O Street
Sacramento, CA
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays until 9 p.m.
Admission: $10 for non-members, Free on Holiday Mondays
Current Exhibitions & More Info:

So, you met at the water cooler and have had a few lunch-hour dates, and now you want to perhaps meet somewhere without the added stress of cubicles and deadlines. A perfect choice for state workers in love is Crocker Art Museum’s Holiday Mondays. This nationally known museum has just completed an extensive expansion project and is now an architectural gem in the heart of the city. Meet that special someone on a Federal holiday at Crocker Art Museum,the oldest continually operating art museum west of the Mississippi, for a sophisticated afternoon date. Admission is free each ‘Holiday Monday,’ saving you $20 in entrance fees.

Insider’s Tip: Check out Crocker Café, managed by local celebrity chef, Patrick Mulvaney of Mulvaney’s Bank & Loan. Mulvaney has cultivated a loyal following of foodies in the region looking for innovative dining options using locally sourced ingredients. Reservations at Mulvaney’s must usually be made well in advance and dinner for two averages over $150; have lunch at Crocker Café to try Mulvaney’s famous fare for a fraction of the price.

Julia Beckner has lived and worked in the Sacramento region with her husband for over 15 years.
She blogs regularly about the ins and outs of starting a small fair trade business in Sacramento