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Top 10 Unique Dates in Upstate New York That Won't Break the Bank

On a budget? These ten inexpensive and unique date ideas in upstate New York will quench your thirst for romance and fun without draining your bank account. 

  1. Think your date is up for a little competition? Release some stress and your inner child as you putt through 18 holes of outdoor miniature golf. DC Sports in Wappingers Falls only charges $8 a person at their mini-golf course or $6 for 9 holes on the blacklight indoor course. They also offer bumper boats, sand volleyball, arcade games, and a pub where you can get a bite to eat.

  2. How would you and your date like to enjoy watching two movies for the price of one? At three local drive-in movie theaters, you can do just that, seven days a week, beginning April until October! At  Overlook Drive-In in Poughkeepsie, it's only $10 per adult to see two movies. The gate opens for ticket sales one hour before the first showtime. In Amenia, you'll find the Four Brothers Drive-In. A double feature (and the occasional triple feature!) is $12; gates open as soon as the first car arrives. They even have charging stations for electric vehicles. For the nostalgia lover, they offer a car-hop service, making your movie experience an extraordinary one!

  3. If your date is interested in art, the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson features the Marieluise Hessel Collection of 1,780 paintings, sculptures, photographs, works on paper, artists' books, videos, and video installations from the mid-1960s to the present. Admission to the museum is absolutely free. Exhibitions in the Hessel Museum compliment the extensive exhibitions curated for Bard's Center for Curatorial Studies Galleries, which are also open to all free of charge. **Museum and Galleries are currently closed for installation and will reopen June 26, 2021**

  4. Take in picturesque views as you stroll through Innisfree Garden in Millbrook. Innisfree's 40-acre lake is surrounded by cliffs, low hills, waterfalls and streams providing a relaxing and scenic backdrop for a romantic date. From 1930 to 1960 Innisfree was the private garden of Walter and Marion Beck. In 1960, the Innisfree Foundation opened the garden for all to enjoy. The garden is a unique contribution to garden art in America, as its design is influenced by a Chinese cup-garden style dating back 1,000 years. Garden admission is $10. **Reservations are currently required due to COVID-19**

  5. Link arms with your date and stroll across the Walkway Over the Hudson. Enjoy a relaxing walk across this spectacular 1.25 mile-long pedestrian bridge stretching from Poughkeepsie to Highland. At one time the Walkway carried freight trains across the Hudson so they could reach destinations all over the country. Open from 7 am-sunset, the park is free and open to the public. Walk, jog, bike, skate or bring your favorite furry friend; dogs are allowed on the Walkway.
  6. For a date that gives you some serious retro vibes, check out Happy Valley in Beacon. The barcade features over 20 arcade and pinball machines so you and your date can battle it out on classics like Pac-Man, Centipede and Donkey Kong. For only 25¢ a game, you can spend the evening seeing who can get their name on the high score screen over some craft beers and cocktails at their outdoor biergarten.
  7. If you're looking for some nightlife, Max's On Main in the City of Beacon is a casual city bar hosting bands on Friday and Saturday nights, with no cover charge. And their food is great if you crave a late-night snack, too! There's no shortage of local bars and pubs that offer live music on Main St including Quinn's and Town Crier Cafe.

  8. If you and your date prefer outdoor recreation, Dutchess County offers an abundance of hiking trails. One such destination is the Pawling Nature Reserve in Pawling. Protected by The Nature Conservancy, this 1,060-acre area appeals to hikers of all levels. You can explore more than ten miles of marked trails that range from moderate one-hour strolls to strenuous day-long treks. The reserve is also home to many animal species, including 77 different species of birds. There's no cost for entry, just make sure to bring water for you and your date on your hike!

  9. Another inexpensive date idea is a picnic. You and your date can each bring some food and a beverage of choice to a park and enjoy a quiet afternoon together. A perfect park for picnics in Dutchess County is Wilcox Memorial Park in Stanfordville. It's a public park, so admission is free. Wilcox Memorial Park has two small lakes for swimming in the center, covered picnic pavilions and over 5 miles of hiking trails where you and your date can work off your delicious lunch!

  10. Interested in history? Two such exciting places to explore are Locust Grove and Wilderstein. Locust Grove in Poughkeepsie is a historic estate, museum and nature preserve built for the artist and inventor Samuel F. B. Morse. Covering almost 200 acres, Locust Grove gardens and grounds are open year-round. There is no charge for access to the grounds and its 5 miles of walking trails. You can also visit the mansion, open by guided tour only, featuring a 15,000 piece collection of furniture, paintings and decorative arts. $11 per person for adults. Wilderstein was the home of Margaret (Daisy) Suckley, cousin and confidante of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Located on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River, the Queen Ann-style mansion features books, letters, photographs, furniture, paintings, art objects and china acquired by three generations of the Suckley family. Take advantage of the 40-acre estate and walk several walking paths enjoying views of the river, specimen trees and ornamental shrubs. There is no charge to walk the grounds and trails but you can take a guided outdoor tour of the landscape for $11 a person. **Mansion tours are currently closed due to COVID-19**
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