Congrats, you finally got a date with the person of your dreams that you locked eyes with across a student protest. Let’s be real: Finding a decent person in college is priceless. Problem: you’re broke. Never fear.
Here are 10 great free first date ideas for you and your Berkeley lover.
At the top of the UC Berkeley Campus sits the Lawrence Hall of Science and the UC Berkeley Observatory. At night and during the evening (really, at any point in the day), the view is great. The Bay Area sparkles in the light of the sun or the light of the moon. For you starry-eyed lovers, this is the place for you.
Alejandra Leynez, senior at UC Berkeley, had a very romantic experience. “He picked me up from class and we went to the Observatory. He said he wanted to get his other jacket from the back. He got out of the car and rummaged in the trunk and then he came back with flowers and a cute gift bag. He asked me to be his girlfriend,” Leynez said. Who wouldn’t be jealous of that?
2. Park Picnic Date
Ah Berkeley, the perfect combination of city, campus and outdoors. The campus, located across from the San Francisco Bay Area, is also nestled at the bottom of (or maybe in the middle of) The Berkeley Hills. “Well, pretty much any City of Berkeley park in the hills is great—Cordornices Park, Indian Rock, Cragmont, Grizzly Peak. There’s a lovely spot that isn’t a city park called Greenwood Common, with some fantastic views of the entire Bay Area,” UC Berkeley senior Sam Siegel said. Make a day out of it by packing a lunch and a blanket while you chill out in the sun. If you’re musical, bring a guitar or a uke and serenade your date.
3. Take a Hike
If you and your date are an active pair, take a hike. The Fire Trails, a popular route for hikers, runners and dog walkers, feels like a time warp to a time when nature sat untouched. However, if you really want to show off your school spirit, “There’s always the Big C,” sophomore at Berkeley Isabella Chow said. The Big C can be seen on the top of the hill, most times painted gold but sometimes in different shades. Secret’s out: there’s a swing hidden along one of the paths. Bet I’ll beat you there.
4. Have Lunch Under the Campanile
At Berkeley, there are plenty of grassy spots to hang out, read and enjoy lunch with your love. From any picnic spot on campus, you can see the beautiful white structure or hear the bells of the Campanile Clock Tower chiming at the hour. “My man and I just had lunch at the Campanile,” junior Isabella Garcia-Mendes said. A quick bite on the benches underneath the trees gives you and your honey a romantic hideaway with a view. The clock tower, also pretty at night, lights up the sky. Pro tip: A late night fro-yo date is never out of the question (Yogurt Park for the win).
5. See the #Views
Take in another view with your date. If you both attend Berkeley, you can travel by elevator to the top of the Campanile for free. “You could go to the top and have some romantic adventure with the best view in Berkeley,” said senior Monica Martinez. Every Berkeley student has this experience on their college bucket list, so check it off while you still can.
6. Hit the Books Together
Berkeley has no shortage of libraries. Study dates let you raise your grades and your heart rate at the same time. One time, I was in Moffitt Library working on a paper. A couple (or a potential couple) flirted very obviously with each other in the corner of the library. Even though it was the buzz floor (the floor in Moffitt where you can talk), the non-couples on the floor might not have appreciated the display. However, they probably had an amazing time ducking behind their textbooks. I don’t know if a library date is something I would idealize, but Valentine’s Day plopped itself right in the middle of the week this year, so we do what we can.
7. Sneak in a Show
The Greek Theater in Berkeley hosts more than just graduation and pep rallies. There is a line-up of famous and semi-famous artists who perform there every now and then. A free date idea may be “trying to watch a concert in the Greek Theater from the woods,” Junior Andres Irigoyen said. There is a spot up above the theater where some students sit and watch concerts and games for free. You may have to sneak back there, and you may have to sit in a patch of dirt but it will be worth it while you and your love talk about music under the light of the moon.
8. Visit the Marina
“You could take a walk around the Berkeley Marina,” Martinez said. The Berkeley Marina, a short drive or (free) bus ride away from campus, attracts students to its peaceful vibes. You can gaze out at the water across the bay. Walk along the pier and gaze out at the boats as they float. The Marina has nice restaurants and is a great spot for gorgeous pictures. Make sure to smile for your #selfie.
9. Hit the gym together
The RSF, Recreational Sports Facility, is free for all students (not really, they rolled that up in tuition). However, all you need to have is your ID card, a water bottle and your favorite workout fit and you are ready to go. Sweat it up with your date.
Or if that’s weird, catch a game together. Spring sports like track, softball, rugby, tennis, swimming and baseball are free for all students and still get your adrenaline up. Share a popcorn, a soda and all your embarrassing sports stories from when you were a kid (that would def make me fall head over heels).
10. Go for some late night pizza
For those of you who don’t know, Sliver Pizza just moved locations. If you head over to Telegraph after 12 a.m. (once they have closed the register), you may get lucky and they may give you half a pizza for free (plus the yummy green sauce).