Unique, cheap dates around metro Detroit


Taylor Stinson

With valentine’s day coming up, a visit to the Detroit Institute of Arts is one of the affordable date options.

Metro Detroit is hopping with unique things to do. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, take a gander at these possibilities for a memorable, yet inexpensive, date.

 Bombowl at The HUB Stadium

This 30,000-square-foot facility just opened in Auburn Hills. While staff calls it “bombowling,” the concept is also known as fowling. A combination of football and bowling, players use a football to knock down their opponent’s pins.

With 16 bombowling lanes, the place is complete with the largest TV wall in Michigan and a 50,000-watt sound system and DJ booth, according to The HUB’s website.

After working up an appetite, visit its restaurant and wait 90 seconds for pizza made in a 1,000-degree oven. Wash it down with one of the rotating premium craft beers served from a “bottoms up” beer tap, which fills the cup from a magnetic bottom that prevents a foamy head, according to the Oakland Press.

Enjoy Campus Martius

Before getting into the heart of downtown, stop at Green Dot Stables for a quick bite.  This equestrian-themed restaurant was called a Detroit slider gem by Eater Detroit.

With a lengthy list of original selections at $2 or $3 each, go splitsies on a bunch—from BBQ bacon and buffalo chicken to fried bologna and PB&J.

Afterward, drop your car off at The Z Garage, located at 1234 Library Street. While going up each of its 10 levels, take time to admire the unique array of bright murals done by different artists. Then walk through a stretch of alleyway called The BELT, decked out in pop-up artist exhibits.

Once you’re at Campus Martius, enjoy the stunning Detroit skyline while ice skating for $8.

Then, grab a drink at The Rink Side Bar, a heated indoor area with cocktails and Atwater craft beers, according to The Detroit Hub.

Venturing outside of Campus Martius, explore the temporary outdoor art installation LuminoCITY. On display until Feb. 18, these 16 large-scale sculptures are located around Detroit’s Central Business District, according to Opportunity Detroit.

Walk hand-in-hand while hunting the sculptures down together, each a five-minute walk from the last. Emitting colorful light, sound and even projected videos, this spectacular display would make for a great end to a memorable evening.

Visit The Detroit Zoo

Bundle up while roaming the zoo’s various exhibits, seeing animals from polar bears and red pandas to arctic foxes and grey wolves.

“The Detroit Zoo is a popular place for a first date, a Valentine’s Day date—or any date,” said the zoo’s Communications Director Patricia Mills Janeway. “In fact, many couples have become engaged at the zoo—14 couples (that we know of) at [the] Wild Lights [event] alone!”

Janeway also mentioned many indoor areas to explore, like the lush Butterfly Garden, Edward Mardigian Sr. River Otter Habitat and Matilda R. Wilson Free-Flight Aviary.

There is also the recently-opened Polk Penguin Conservation Center, the world’s largest exhibit of its kind, according to USNews.com.

After visiting the animals, ice skate on the new Winter Rink, open until the end of February. It is $7 for 25 minutes, or $3 for those who bring their own skates.

Wander one of many art galleries

Of course, there are bigger museums like the Detroit Institute of Arts, with free admission for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne County residents.

Stroll through its many rooms while admiring temporary exhibits like “Detroit After Dark,” a collection of photographs that depict the city’s streets, architecture and nightclubs.

Then, relax in the airy, elegant Kresge Court and chat over some Starbucks and snacks.

Another option is the Cranbrook Art Museum, which costs $6 for students with their IDs, according to its website. Current exhibits include “Cranbrook Time Machine: Twentieth-Century Period Rooms,” where one can walk through four distinct rooms based on the domestic landscape of different time periods, like the mid-century modernist “Bachelor Pad” or the 1970s “Cosmic Cave.”

Or you can opt for smaller, more intimate galleries nestled throughout the city. Many don’t have an entry price.

Wasserman Projects in the Eastern Market has a thought-provoking exhibit opening Feb. 3, titled “After Industry.” It will feature sculptures, paintings and photographs that comment on the world’s infatuation with consumption, according to the gallery’s website.

Then, there’s the Detroit Artists Market, a nonprofit gallery on Woodward. Its exhibit, “Inspired by Nature,” will display the work of various artists until Feb. 13, according to its website.

Go to a Pistons game

This is the last season to catch a basketball game at The Palace.

Buy tickets ahead of time to score the cheapest prices, some as low as $6 on StubHub.com.

While there, sit with your boo and cheer on the home team as the game unfolds. The stadium’s booming playlist adds to the hype, along with energizing halftime acts by the entertainment team.

The concessions will cost an arm and a leg, but the cheap ticket price pretty much balances out, right?

Test your knowledge at Quizzo

This free trivia game is hosted on different nights at restaurants and bars all over the area and may be a great option for a group date.

After gathering a team and deciding on a name, the Quizmaster will facilitate different rounds, according to QuizzoDetroit.com. Categories range from over 1,000 topics and ask participants to do things like identify famous faces or sing song lyrics.

Winners may be rewarded with free drinks or gift cards.

Venues include Red Ox Tavern in Auburn Hills, the Hamlin Pub in Rochester Hills and Rosie O’Grady’s in Ferndale.

Another option is at the restaurant in The Maple Theater in Bloomfield. Landis Spencer works at its joining coffee shop and has witnessed the fun many times.

“The atmosphere is very lively,” he said. “Although Quizzo is competitive, everyone around is usually happy and enjoying time with their friends.”

Escape a room

In an interactive adventure game, groups are locked in a room where they have 60 minutes to find hidden objects, figure out clues and solve increasingly difficult puzzles in order to escape.

Whether arriving as a couple or part of a group, getting grouped with other people may help take some pressure off.

One option for $28 is Escape the Room DetroitThe Great Escape Room in downtown Royal Oak has a Sherlock-themed adventure for $23.

Or you can check out the Escape Room Zone in Farmington, Canton or Waterford. It has multiple options like “Bank Heist” and “Prison Break,” with tickets running between $25 and $30.

Assistant manager of the Farmington Escape Room, Zone Sean Cavanaugh, said his personal recommendation is “Haunted Room 13.”

“A lot of couples and smaller groups go to that one,” he said. “It can be quite scary and is great for the same reason couples see scary movies in theaters.”

These escape rooms make for a more memorable date.

“[Participants are] part of the experience and really go on an adventure,” Cavanaugh said. “If they share it, they won’t forget it.”