While Charleston, South Carolina, is a beautiful, vibrant city with a rich culinary culture, dining at the swanky downtown restaurants can get pricey. If you’re looking for the perfect date that won’t break the bank, there are plenty of free and cheap date ideas, from weekly events to food specials.
Though it may seem strange that this cafe is located inside a laundromat, locals will tell you Persimmon serves up some of the best soups and sandwiches in town. During the week, flocks of students, doctors and professionals crowd the small space to get their cheesy fix. Once a month, this quirky establishment offers the perfect solution for anyone looking for a budget-friendly date. On the third Thursday of each month, Persimmon runs the Date Night special. For $20, you can order two delicious paninis or salads, two drinks – including the basil limeade – two sides and a large custard to share. Helpful hint: make sure you get the toasted marshmallow Nutella custard. The staff uses a blowtorch to roast the marshmallows to perfection. Plus, the quaint atmosphere creates the perfect ambience for date night.
The only comedy theater in Charleston, Theatre 99 offers hilarious improv shows for just $5 on Wednesdays and Thursdays. With tickets that cheap, a trip to this theater is your best bet for an affordable date in Charleston. The rotating cast, made up of local comedians and actors, uses suggestions and responses from the audience to pull together impromptu performances. The show usually lasts anywhere from one and a half to two hours with a short intermission.
Active couples should head to the James Island County Park, just over the bridge from downtown Charleston, to test out the climbing wall. Designed for all skills levels, this 50-foot wall is one of the area’s tallest outdoor climbing facilities. Whether you’re an expert climber or you’ve never tried rock climbing before, the wall offers an exciting challenge for everyone. An all-day pass is $14 plus an additional $3 for harness rental, making it a relatively cheap date idea in Charleston. After you’ve conquered the wall, spend some time in the park strolling through the wooded trails or around the lake.
King Street runs through the heart of downtown Charleston and is the center for bars, restaurants and shopping. On every second Sunday of the month, lower King is closed to traffic, and shops take their business to the street. The festivities begin where King and Calhoun streets intersect, then continues to Queen Street from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Pedestrians wander down the middle of the road enjoying street performers and sidewalk sales. Dine at one of the many restaurants that set up outdoor tables, or just grab your sweetheart tasty treats from King of Pops, which serves crazy, seasonal flavors such as banana caramel and blueberry cobbler.
A weekly favorite for locals and visitors, the Farmers Market in Marion Square is an excellent place for a cheap date in Charleston. Every Saturday from April to November, vendors, food trucks and farmers set up tents to sell tasty foods and unique items. Bring a blanket and lay in the park’s soft, green grass near the outdoor stage where local musicians perform. While visiting the farmers market, be sure to catch one of the breakdancing shows that take place near the water fountain on the corner of King and Calhoun streets.