Looking for free date night ideas that are actually fun and romantic? I highly recommend checking out your local observatory–because what could be more romantic that looking up at the stars?
We actually did this last year, and it was really cool. We learned how telescope lenses were made, the history of modern astronomy and got to see the rings around Saturn.
The best part?
It was 100% free.
Free Date Night Idea: Stargazing at Your Local Observatory
We live in Pittsburgh, which just happens to have one of the most important modern observatories in recent history. But we’re not the only city to have an observatory, and we’re not the only city to benefit from free tours.
This is common practice at observatories all around the United States, so if you’re looking for free date night ideas, be sure to look up the one that’s local to you.
Here are some examples. If you don’t find yours on the list, just search ‘free observatory tour [your city here]”.
Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh, PA
Like I said, this is one we’ve tried and loved. We learned a ton, including that until the late 90s–when digital imaging became a common thing–every astronomical theory of what stuff was (meteor? planet? alien spacecraft?) and where it was when had to come through this observatory.
Every Thursday from April through October you can join a free tour from 8p-10p. Just be sure to call ahead for reservations.
There is also an extremely popular lecture series that runs throughout the entire year on one Friday per month. The topics are crazy interesting, and the presentation is followed by a tour of the building. All of it is free.
Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, CA
Admission to the Griffith Observatory is free, and the opportunities to visit are more frequent. You can go Tuesday through Friday from 12p-10p or Saturday/Sunday 10a-10p. The observatory is closed to the public on Mondays.
While you’re there, you may notice the planetarium that runs different shows. These shows are not free, but they’re also not mandatory.
If you want to indulge, they won’t cost you much:
- $7 for adults
- $5 for seniors and students (bring your ID)
- $3 for kids 5-12
- Kids under five get in free as long as they sit on a parent’s lap.
Maunakea Observatory in Hilo, HI
The observatories at Maunakea are arguably the best situated in the world. That did come at a cost to native Hawaiian’s cultural and religious beliefs–a common theme in our country, apparently.
While the observatories are closed to the public, you can stargaze for free everyday from a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise outside of the observatories on the stargazing deck. It is an adventure to get up to the peak, though!
When the Observatory Isn’t Free
Most observatories here in the states are run by a university or other educational organization. They also typically have some type of free event for the public on a regular basis.
Not all of them do, though–especially when you travel outside the US. For example, the Sydney Observatory does offer stargazing tours, but they are not free.
Sydney Observatory in New South Wales, Australia
They are, however, affordable. A couple can get in for as low as $15.30 total, and the cost of admission includes not only telescope viewing but also a show in the planetarium.
The Sydney Observatory also has qualified astronomers on hand to answer any questions you may have during the visit, and a solar telescope–which allows you to look at the sun–for those who are visiting during daylight hours.
This level of affordability is common. Even if you can’t go for free, you can still chalk it up as a super cheap date night idea.