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Last-minute Valentine's Day date ideas near Tempe and Downtown campuses

From a board game cafe to Trader Joe's, The Echo has you covered for quick Valentine's Day ideas

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"If none of these are working, and maybe you'd rather use M&G, well, good luck. You can always go to Subway in the MU or something, it's your relationship."

Picture this: It's Feb. 13, and you forgot to make a dinner reservation for tomorrow night. No pressure, but if you mess this up, it might just be the end for you. At least you have The Echo! These are our picks for navigating Valentine's Day close to campus, on a budget. 


Snakes & Lattes

Snakes & Lattes is a board game cafe that only costs $6 per person to play. Located on Mill Avenue, it has over 1,000 games and is open until 10 p.m. on the big day. What's not to love? No matter what kind of games you and your partner are interested in, there's sure to be something you'd both enjoy. 

Games that offer fun and silly bonding experiences include Hedbanz, Incohearent and any kind of trivia game. Loosen up, have fun and be ready to embarrass yourself! Snakes & Lattes can be an elite location for a first date or a hundredth. Seating could fill up, though, so book a reservation ASAP to be safe. 

Trader Joe's

Isn't the grocery store romantic? Trader Joe's might be an unconventional Valentine's Day destination, but it's the perfect place within walking distance of the Tempe campus to pick up supplies for date night or a Galentine's Day hangout with your DIY friends. 

Try some of the store's seasonal treats for a romantic movie night. Pair an affordable Valentine's Day card with some of the store's cult-favorite snacks. As a special activity, pick out each other's favorite flowers and make each other bouquets. No floral experience is needed, just follow one of many online tutorials. Skipping the professional florist will save money and could help you bond with your significant other. 

@a_trader_joes_florist A classic valentine's bouquet but with a twist. - the chamomile works with so many colors! 2 dozen roses ($9.99 ea.) / 2 bunches of chamomile ($4.99 ea.) #diyvalentineflowers #affordableflowers #traderjoesflowers #diybouquet #rosebouquet #buyyourgirlflowers #buyyourselfflowers ♬ love song (hesitations) (sped up) - Lofuu & Shiloh Dynasty & dprk

Tempe Town Lake

It might be a little overdone, but you really can't go wrong with Tempe Town Lake. Whether you'd rather rent a pedal boat or keep your feet on the ground, there's something for everyone. Throw together a quick lunch or dinner, grab a blanket, and set up along the grassy areas to chat and enjoy a picnic. Boat rentals are around $50 an hour. If you have the extra money to spend, go for it!

The picnic shouldn't run you that kind of money, but even a last-minute planner needs to meal prep a little. Make some brownies, grab some fresh fruit or even just make some PB&Js. It's the thought that counts. Don't forget the blanket!

Phoenix Zoo

For those with a little extra cash to spend and a desire to see, I don't know, a giraffe; the zoo is the place for you! Prices start at $37.95 for adult entry

The Phoenix Zoo hosts a large variety of animals, views of Papago Park and multiple endangered species. It would probably be a long walk from campus to the zoo at, so either take the light rail from either the Tempe or Downtown Phoenix campus to the Priest Drive/Washington Street station or get a ride across Tempe Town Lake if you want to avoid a long walk. 

Downtown Phoenix

Novel Ice Cream

You just can't outdo Novel. About a 20-minute walk from the downtown campus, this ice cream shop hosts the legendary "dough melt", an ice cream donut that's made in-house. It won't cost you any more than $15 for two people and has a pretty outdoor seating area sharing a courtyard with a few other small businesses. There are also cats. Are you convinced yet? 

Novel's hours can fit whatever schedule you have, opening at noon and closing at midnight. There is limited parking if you'd rather drive. You really can't outdo a sweet treat and a comfy seat. Your date will love it, and if they don't, well, it's time to find someone else: someone who appreciates the dough melt.

Japanese Friendship Garden

For our early birds out there that want to get a move on before the sun goes down, take a quick 20-minute walk north of the downtown campus to walk even more at the Japanese Friendship Garden! It will definitely be the time to wear comfortable shoes. 

It's open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, and tickets cost $7 for students if purchased in advance and $9 at the gate. Valentine's Day is supposed be sunny and in the high 60s for most of the day, so don't underestimate a good place to romantically (or casually) take a stroll outside. 

Phoenix Art Museum

Just a few blocks north of the Japanese Friendship Garden is the Phoenix Art Museum. It's open on Wednesday until 9 p.m. and is free to enter if you hold a Phoenix Library card and obtain a pass. You just have to check out a museum pass from the library, and the Burton Barr Central Library is close to the museum. 

If none of these are working, and maybe you'd rather use M&G, well, good luck. You can always go to Subway in the MU or something, it's your relationship. 

Edited by Sophia Braccio, Alysa Horton and Shane Brennan

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