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I admit that I was a little hesitant at first (ok, resistant may be more accurate) to the idea of trying “disc golf,” “frisbee golf,” (or “FROLF” as my date likes to call it).  But after a few hours spent flinging discs, tramping through the woods, and feigning a competitive edge, I was sold.  This game is really fun!  And being that it’s totally free to play, it’s also a cheap date!  In fact, the Sedgley Woods disc golf course is actually one of the oldest free, public pole-hole disc golf courses in the United States.  A more detailed history of the sport here in Philadelphia can be found here.

Disc golf also has the benefit of being an outdoor sport that takes place mostly under the cover of trees — a definite advantage for hot summer afternoons.  And much like standard golf, you can go at your own pace, allowing plenty of time for flirting and joking around.  You will need to invest in a specialized disc, which is flatter and smaller than a traditional frisbee and specially designed for the sport.  Never fear if you find that aspect intimidating — there are usually some kind and friendly Friends of Sedgley camped out at the entrance to the park selling discs (proceeds go to benefit the park). The best part? The satisfying clang of metal you hear every time you throw your disc into the basket.

Benches!

How cheap we talkin’?: Entrance to the course is absolutely FREE! If you are a first-timer, you may have to invest $9-12 in a disc, generally available for purchase on site.

Why this will impress your date: Because throwing a frisbee is athletic but it is also laid-back. So you can show your date that you are (importantly) both.

The Inside Game: By showing your date the “back 9” – an additional 9 holes that are more challenging than the regular 18, but will lead you into some lovely deep dark woods (read: where to MAKE OUT).

Score Extra Points: By bringing a picnic or some drinks. There are plenty of places throughout the course to stop and enjoy the view.

Next Date: Anytime! Sedgley Woods are open to the public year round, during daylight hours.  Check SEPTA for your exact route, but the 48 bus will get you within walking distance (the park is at 33rd and Oxford in East Fairmount Park).

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The bowling date is a classic, and one of my personal favorites. While not generally recommended for a first date (it can be a bit stilted trying to get to know someone in alternating 30 second increments while the pins reset) it is great for a group date, or for couples who enjoy a little friendly competition every now and again. “Social bowling” has experienced a resurgence in popularity recently, giving rise to slick and cavernous enterprises which seem to cater to large parties or corporate events, complete with fancy finger food, flashing lights, and frenetic music. That’s fine, but for a date it can be a little overwhelming, not to mention expensive. That’s why I was so thrilled to discover PEP Bowl at 1200 Broad street in South Philly. Small and laid-back, this six-lane establishment opened in 2009, but dates back to the 1950’s and maintains a retro-ambiance that is both winning and romantic in its charm. At the same time, its scoring mechanism, lanes, shoes and equipment are all modern and well-maintained, guaranteed to satisfy even the most serious of recreational bowlers. It’s also 100% handicapped accessible.

How cheap we talkin’: $3.50 per game per person and $3.00 shoe rental. Tuesdays they do one better, with $2.50 shoe rental and games from 5-11pm. And it’s BYO!

Why this will impress your date: At PEP, you are also bowling for a good cause. Patronage of PEP Bowl helps support PEP’s mission to provide education, recreation, vocational training, and job placement services to people with disabilities.

Score extra points: By throwing a gutter ball at least once. Now that may seem counter-intuitive, but it depends what kind of points you are really trying to score.

The Inside Game: Because there are only 6 lanes, it’s a good idea to call ahead and reserve one. 215 952-BOWL.

Next Date: Anytime! Well, almost. Lanes are reserved some early evenings for league play hours. Check here for the complete schedule, and here for special deals.

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Since its renovation in 2006, Franklin Square Park has been transformed into a vibrant amusement park, complete with a carousel, two playgrounds, the impressive and historic Franklin Square Fountain, and the perfect Cheap Date diversion: an 18-hole miniature golf course designed around iconic Philadelphia landmarks like Love Park and the Liberty Bell. After battling it out on the green, my date and I cooled off by getting frosty treats from Square Burger, the park’s freestanding snack stand, and taking them on a stroll (part-way) across the breezy and beautiful Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

How cheap we talkin’: $8 for a round of golf ($7 if you have a Septa pass!)$3.50-$4.75 for a rootbeer float or shake from Square Burger.

Why this will impress your date: By showing that you can be a gracious winner. Or loser.

Score extra points: By offering to be the one to keep score. (Do not literally score extra points by cheating).

The inside game: Access to the Ben Franklin Bridge closes at 9pm, and is not reputed to be the safest after dark, so make sure you are finished walking well before sundown.

Next date: Anytime! Well, almost. The course is open from 10am to 9pm every day May 28th through September 7th.  Then, through October 23rd, you can golf Tuesday through Saturday 9am-9pm (although from October 1st – 31st the hours Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are 11am-8pm).  The course is also open Columbus Day, and November 26th-28th, 5-8pm.  December 4th-19th golf Saturday and Sunday 5-8pm.  December 27th-31st golf every day 5-8pm.  Then the course will close until daily hours resume March 26th. Whew! Did you get all that???

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Every Tuesday evening throughout the summer (or as long as the season lasts) the folks down at the Piazza in Northern Liberties throw the big game up on the big screen.  Whether you are a huge Phillies fan (because you live in Philadelphia and therefore pretty much have to be), or are feigning interest (because you didn’t always live in Philadelphia but it’s too early in the relationship to quibble about sports), this weekly event – when coupled with some take-out slices from nearby Pizza Rustica – is a downright pleasant way to spend a summer evening.

How cheap we talkin’: $5-10 pp (depending on how hungry/thirsty you are).  Figure $3 or less per slice for pizza, and $2, give or take, for beverages.  Optional post-pizza treat, about $2.

Why this will impress your date: Because baseball is America’s pastime, dammit.

The Inside Game: Avoid your dinner getting cold by getting drinks first and asking for your pizza extra hot.

Score Extra Points: By treating your date to a frozen dessert.  The Pink Dolphin market in the Piazza (1001 N. 2nd) has Klondike bars for $1.75, or split a pint of Ben & Jerry’s for $5

Next date: Every Tuesday night, for the win!

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