I have compiled some of my favorite frugal activities targeted for those living on or visiting Amelia Island.
Eight for Eight provides you with 8 Frugal Date Night ideas for the Isle of 8 Flags community.
Amelia Island, the Isle of Eight Flags, boasts some of the most unique and luxurious eateries and activities a community can ask for. But, in the end, the Island’s residents aren’t always the target consumers for such high-end products and services. Like many of my neighbors, I am currently living on a limited budget. I can’t always afford dinner for two at Beech Street Grill or renting out a boat for day to go deep-sea fishing. While these are both great ways to spend a dollar, I rarely have the extra cash to indulge in such treats. I allot myself a set amount of cash for the week, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Many days, my budget for food and entertainment is zero. So, I asked myself, “How can the average Islander afford and enjoy a relaxing, romantic date night on this beautiful paradise we call home?”
After much brainstorming and research, I have compiled some my favorite frugal activities into the following short list of low-cost or free “date night” ideas. This list is specifically targeted to those living on or visiting Amelia Island. I hope you find this information of use!
1. Build a Sandcastle! Well, not literally… unless, of course, you want to. This first one should be a no-brainer. Go to the beach! Go for a walk, a bike ride, or even a picnic. If you have children, hit up Main Beach for their kid-friendly playground or teen-friendly skate park, both of which are free! (Don’t forget the sunscreen!) Whatever you fancy, you can be sure you’re taking advantage of the most beautiful scenery and relaxing atmosphere this island has to offer, for free! Going for a walk at Main Beach without the kids? Stop by Sandy Bottoms for a cold one. This restaurant/bar is right on the shore, with a great patio view and offers happy hour between 4:00pm and 7:00pm Monday through Friday. Some of the best deals I’ve found include their $2 domestic drafts, $8 pitchers and $2.25 house wine or wells. Sit back and relax; you’re in paradise!
2. Pick up a Book. More specifically, go to the local library or a local bookstore. Yes, public libraries may invoke distant memories of treacherous school reports past, or stressfully rampaging for a book the catalog says is in stock but you swear isn’t on the shelf. Toss out those misconceptions and, if you haven’t already, take your significant other to our Nassau County Library. Together explore the endless options for entertainment, just some of which include books, magazines, audio books, and movies! Is a quiet library not your scene? Checkout a DVD and share a night in, for free! One good movie I noticed on their website is Inglorious Bastards, a war film, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, based on Nazi Germany. Search more titles on their online catalog and lower the cost of your next date night.
3. Do lunch instead of dinner. Many restaurants offer the same or similar dinner cuisine and portions for lunch. So, don’t get stuck on having a date night per se, rather venture out into the island and take your date to an island favorite during the day. I always go to www.restaurant.com to find great deals on local restaurants. I went ahead and found a great deal for you all. Here is how you can pay as little as $16 plus tax and tip for a $35 meal at Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro:
•Go to www.restaurant.com
•On the left hand search bar, search area code 32034
•Scroll down and find Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro
•Select “$25 Gift Certificate, Your Price $10”, enter your quantity and click “Add to Cart”
•Enter promotional code BRIDAL to take 40% off your total
•Your total should be $6 per certificate
•To redeem a certification, click on the yellow “Redeem your gift” tab at the top, and enter your certificate’s unique code.
•Note: Promo codes rotate and/or expire. So, go to RetailMeNot to check for current codes. I also found similar offers for Beech Street Grille and 29 South Eats. But be sure to read the fine print! Some restaurants’ certificates are stricter, and prohibit use during lunch or have a higher minimum order.
4. Skip the Matinee. This one might sound strange, but our Island Cinema 7 actually offers lower ticket prices for movies shown between 4:00pm and 6:00pm than they do for matinees, or movies shown 11:30am-4pm. Matinee ticket prices are $7.50 for adults and $6.50 for children (ages 3-11) and seniors. Ticket prices for movies shown between 4:00pm and 6:00pm are only $6 for adults, children or seniors. Compare that to the regular after-six movie tickets that cost a whopping $9.50 for adults, $6.50 for children or seniors. Fortunately, all movies currently showing have show times within the 4-6 timeframe. So, take your date to a movie during this off-peak hour and save! Hey, every penny counts!
Editor’s note: 3-D movies are more expensive. However, if you catch a movie between 4 and 6 on a Tuesday, take advantage of their Stimulus Tuesdays, where you can purchase small cokes and small popcorns for only $1.00 each.
5. Rock Out at a Free Concert! As you may or may not have heard, Amelia Island is offering some great quality, musical entertainment this summer, for free! Want to make your date a full day event? From 7:00am to 7:00pm, each first Saturday of every summer month, there will be an annual concert series. Just some of the festivities for the free SunSplash events include sandcastle contests, surf contests, fashion shows and live music. Artists vary from month to month, so check out the SunSplash article on this website for more information and ongoing updates. Need your music fix more often than once a month? Don’t forget about Sounds on Centre! Bring your lawn chairs and cooler to this free Downtown Fernandina Beach concert series. This ongoing, musical event is held the first Friday through October. Concerts will be held on Centre Street between Front and 2nd Street. Downtown Fernandina comes alive with music, pirates and dancing feet from 6:00pm to 8:00pm.
6. Eat in. Every once and a while, my husband and I will have a date night in. Most often, we’ll evaluate our pantry and decide on a meal that we both enjoy and for which we already have the ingredients. Then we usually pop open a cheap bottle of wine or a couple bottles of craft beer and spend the evening cooking together and laughing at our less-than-superior culinary abilities. If you’re going this route, then be sure to check out supercook.com. This free website allows you to search for recipes based on ingredients. You can also tweak your money saving date night by basing the romance on a meal instead of your pantry. Search for recipes together online or from a favorite cookbook, and simply pick up the ingredients at your favorite grocer. This latter option, though not as frugal as the former, is still a favorite of ours and can still saved you a beaucoup of money by not requiring you pay restaurant prices and tips for service and “convenience”. I find eating in the privacy of my own home much more convenient than having to dress up and go somewhere, anyway! Bon appétit!
7. Go for out for fudge, or ice cream, or coffee! After you’ve mastered the art of dining in, go downtown for some tasty, homemade treats that are sure to leave you and your date satisfied. Fantastic Fudge boasts some of the most delicious from-scratch fudge and miscellaneous candies I’ve ever tasted! Their fudge is a main point of interest for native Islanders with a sweet tooth and foreign tourists alike. Moderately priced, you can pick up a half slice of rich, Fantastic Fudge for about $3.50, or a few of their yummy chocolate candies for about $1 to $2 each. One homemade treat is enough to satisfy my salty, sugary cravings, and a half piece of fudge lasts my hubby and I a week! I love their pecan pralines and their dark chocolate turtles and their homemade peanut butter cups and chocolate covered pretzels. If you’re not in the mood for fudge or candy, they offer single scoops of ice cream for a little more than $3. They also have coffee, homemade caramel popcorn and, of course, chocolate covered caramel popcorn. You can’t go wrong! Once you’ve got your ice cream, take a stroll down Centre Street and window shop. Make a mental note of all the possibilities of Christmas and birthday presents. Make the dock your last stop, and let the view speak for itself. Sunset is around 7:30pm during the summer, so plan accordingly if you want your date night to go out with a bang!
8. Have a Game Night! You can always stay home and whip out a game of trivial pursuit, but going to one of the many bars and restaurants around town that host a trivia night could be way more fun! And it’s free to play! Jax Trivia seems to be the main sponsor of trivia nights in and around Jacksonville, including many eateries on Amelia Island. Some of the participating bars that I’ve found include O’Kanes Irish Pub (Monday nights), Café Karibo (Tuesday nights), and Halftime Bar and Grill (Wednesday nights). Gift certificates to each host restaurant are given to the top three teams: $20 for third place, $30 for second, and $50 is given to the winning team. You can’t use your winnings the same night you play. So, if you’re you and your partner are gurus of random bits of knowledge, you can turn trivia night into a regular date night. You can roll over your winnings from one week to afford your next week’s outing, that means a potentially infinite number of date nights for the price of the first investment. But beware; I’ve spotted some fierce, trivia-hopping competitors on the island who are sure to give you a challenge! Click here for more info.