20 Dates under $20: A Summer (Grown-Up) Bucket List


As the end of school drew near and my working mama guilt started to increase, I found myself working on our family’s kiddo-focused bucket list. (If you’re interested in creating your own, our monthly guides and this pool guide are great resources!)

But as I was working on the list of parks, ice cream shops, and festivals we want to experience, I kept thinking of fun activities that would make great date nights!

My husband and I only get a date night about once a month so we won’t be able to do all of these this summer, but we really need a list of options so we aren’t left staring at each other hoping the other has a good plan!(#tellmewearenttheonnlyones)

While this brainstorm had you and your main squeeze in mind, these would totally work for a mamas’ day/night out, an afternoon off with co-workers, or an adventure with your favorite sibling.

The main factors I had in mind when creating my bucket list were:

  • Inexpensive ($20 or less)
  • Could be completed in a reasonable amount of time
  • Located in central Iowa

I hope these give you some ideas for your own grown-up bucket list!

We Need to Chill

  • Go to your favorite coffee shop, go inside, wait in line (without anyone asking for a smoothie), order your favorite drink, and take it to your public library. Sit in peace and quiet for an hour reading and then take a walk to discuss your surprising coherent thoughts.
  • Other Ideas:
    • Wander through the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens and then sit and people watch at the Pappajohn Sculpture Park.
    • Use your pool pass to go sit in the lazy river together. Spend your $20 on snacks that you don’t have to share!
    • Check out the horse races at Prairie Meadows (free admission + free fountain pop).

We Want to Eat & Drink

  • County fair season is upon us! Release your inner Hungry Caterpillar and spend Saturday eating through one footlong corn dog, one funnel cake, one sno cone, one ice cream cone…
  • Other Ideas:
    • Window shopping and a drink. Downtown Ames & Della Viti or Valley Junction & Fox Brewing are great options!
    • Wineries throughout central Iowa have great entertainment options all summer! For a small fee, you can usually get a glass of wine – plus, you can bring your own snacks!
    • Go shopping together, each pick out three ingredients, and then go home and make your own version of a Chopped dinner.
    • Farmer’s Market!

We Love Adventure

  • Take a standup paddleboarding class together through Des Moines Parks & Rec. We did this for our anniversary a few years ago and it was a great workout while still being conversation-friendly!
  • Other Ideas:
    • Did you know you could take classes at the West Des Moines REI? Hammocking, backpacking, bike fixing – #learntogether.
    • Want to try kayaking or canoeing? Try out disc golf without having to purchase equipment.  Places like Iowa State’s Outdoor Recreation Services rents equipment for really reasonable prices.
    • Rent bicycles downtown and explore together. Lots of shops, eats, and places with air conditioning as needed.
    • Pack a picnic and go for a hike at a state park.

We Want to Feel Like Kids Again

  • Find a local arts center and try your hand at something new – jewelry, printmaking, Latin dancing!
  • Other Ideas:
    • Up Down in the East Village
    • Go to an outdoor movie
    • Mixology Night at SCI

We Like to Do Good Together

  • Are you both Iowan to the core? If so, I bet you love the Iowa State Fair!  Did you know that they are always looking for volunteers?  Did you know that some of the volunteer positions come with free admission, free parking, and $5 in food coupons? 
  • Other Ideas:
    • Variety hosts really cool charity events throughout the year and are always looking for volunteers!
    • Pitch in with a community garden or do some work hours on a local organic farm.
    • Be a packager for Meals From the Heartland – take some awesome selfies in hairnets so your kids can see the fun you’re having together!

What’s on your Grown-Up Summer Bucket List?



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