Some of my recent blogs have centered on finances in dating.  Let’s face it, these days paying our own way is expensive enough without adding an additional person to that.  But it is Spring (in theory anyway), and love is supposed to be in the air.  Here are The Relationship Academics top 5 not-so-expensive springtime dates.

1. Enjoy the splendor of nature.  This week (April 16-24, 2011) is National Park Week.  Admission to the 394 national parks are free this week.  Even beyond National Park Week, this is a great opportunity for you to bond without breaking the bank.  Daily admissions are usually under $10, and annual passes can be a real bargain.  Get out, get moving, and get bonding.  Go for a hike or relax and enjoy the scenery.

Find your national park here:

 2. Take me out to the ball game!  Admittedly, I’m not a huge sports fan.  However, there is something so American about a great baseball game.  Of course we have the Major leagues.  But are you up for something different?  Try a minor league game.  Tickets are often cheaper, food and beverages are usually cheaper, and the between-inning entertainment is great for the non-sports loves out there like me.

Find your local Minor League team here:

In Michigan?  The West Michigan Whitecaps offer ‘Thrifty Thursday’ games with $1 hot dogs and $2 beers.  The Lansing Lugnuts offer ‘Thirsty Thursday’ with $2 beers and $8 game tickets.  May 1st the Lugnuts will also be hosting Eat-a-palooza with $16 all-you-can-tickets.

3. Get tropical.  This time of year as Mother Nature struggles to find her balance between winter and summer temps, we can get a little impatient.  While most of us would love a tropical vacation, there is an option closer to home, the local botanical gardens.  These indoor gardens offer not only tropical plants, but also tropical temps.  As an added bonus, this time of year many gardens also house butterfly exhibits.  Get up close and personal with the pretty insect!

In Michigan? Check out the Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids.  (Don’t miss the outdoor sculpture park too!)

4. Plan a picnic.  Whether it’s the small park in town, the county park in the backwoods, or the not warm enough to swim at beach, there are few things more romantic than a picnic.  From Grant Park in Chicago to Belle Isle in Detroit, quiet time together, even in the city, is a perfect date.

Tip: Some beaches and parks don’t allow alcohol.  But, let’s face it, wine is a picnic must have!  Plan ahead and pack your own pitcher of ‘juice’.

Need some inspiration?

5. Take a walk on the Wild Side.  Remember your trips to the zoo as a child?  Well no one ever said that adults can’t enjoy the zoo as well.   If you are lucky enough to live in Cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C., the zoo is a free date! Some zoos even offer adult programs.  The Detroit Zoo offers Wednesday night concerts.  Other zoo’s have early admission or even 5k’s.

Find your local zoo here: