No Money? Have Fun Anyway!
And oh, those summer nights
by Kaitlin Flanigan
Gorgeous sunshine and warm nights translate into one thing: one of the best times of year in Oregon. Summer is a time to have fun and enjoy the company of others — especially the company of someone special.
But no matter how compatible you two might be, and no matter how many hours you can talk each other’s ear off, eventually, you’ll have to get out of the house and into the world, where the same-old same-old — dinner, a movie, a pint at your local — might get tired. Then what? No one in his or her right mind wants to drop a ton of money these days. EW decided to get just a bit creative for you and dream up a couple of cheap summer date ideas.
HIKING Who doesn’t like to visit Mother Nature in the Oregon summer? There isn’t a better time out there to set out and explore. And luckily for Eugene, there are state and local parks aplenty in the area that are either free or require a small fee for a day pass. Hiking can be all the more romantic when you pack up a small picnic for the end destination of your wandering. For the lazier among you, a walk in Alton Baker Park along the Willamette at dusk can be just as cozy. You don’t even have to wander far from city limits to find great places to walk around and enjoy nature. Skinner’s Butte, Spencer’s Butte and Mount Pisgah all offer stellar trails and views.
FAIRS, FLICKS & OTHER ORGANIZED EVENTS If you’re only eyeballing the big summer events — the Oregon Country Fair, Faerieworlds, even the Lane County Fair — you might think fairs and festies are a costly experience: tickets, food, transportation, new faerie wings, several dozen strawberry lemonades, all those dollars spent trying to win your sweetie a stuffed panda on the midway. But there are other options. Close to home, don’t skip the free Whiteaker Block Party’s many delights, music and otherwise. The Saturday Market — a weekly festival unto itself, no? — offers some of the best people watching around. The city of Eugene’s free summer event schedule includes a whole host of events downtown at Broadway Plaza, including a couple of quirky pairings, such as live music and dodgeball night (with Volifonix and Sea Bell). If dodgeball is too traumatizing, opt for the Casablanca and choir event: Listen to local choirs serenede the summer audience, then curl up for an outdoor screening of one of the best movies ever. Other movie nights take place throughout the summer in parks all over Eugene. Sure, the movies are mostly kid-friendly, but don’t let that keep you from canoodling.
STARGAZING Warm summer nights are good for several things … including stargazing. What could be more romantic than you and your sweetie looking up to the heavens on a blanket in a field? Nothing, that’s what, and it’s free. The Eugene Astronomical Society hosts a First Quarter Star Party each month at dusk on the reservoir on College Hill; this summer’s events are June 18, July 16, Aug. 13 and Sept. 17. But if you don’t want to hang out with a bunch of other star-spotters, take a picnic up on your own time.
BICYCLING Although Eugene was recently dislodged from its top ranking as the most bicycle friendly city in the U.S., it doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything to see. A bike tour of summertime Eugene is always a great way to see how quirky our town really is. Why not bike around the Whiteaker on Last Friday, checking out the neighborhood and the art? You can bike along the river to an Ems game, bike to the Owen Rose Garden — hell, if you’ve had enough with the whole being outside thing, you can even bike to the mall.