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Valentine’s dating on a budget in the SCV

Watching your pennies?

Posted: February 12, 2009 7:27 p.m.
Updated: February 14, 2009 10:45 a.m.

A walk along the Santa Clara River makes an inexpensive date.

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Can romance flourish during an economic crisis? It can, if you're creative.

Come on, you remember dating before dinner and a movie became de rigeur...think new, different, interesting...or a throwback to younger, more carefree days when money wasn't the barometer of fun.

Because whether you're wine lovers or theater buffs, hikers or dancers, there are plenty of inexpensive things to do with your beloved in the SCV this Valentine's Day and the rest of the year.

Here are our favorite local dates under $30, including some free options (if you don't count the gas it takes to get there).

$25 - $30
Comedy Night at JR's -
Catch national level comedians right in your own backyard with a $12 cover and a one- drink minimum. Make those drinks soda or tea and with tip, you'll slide out of there just around budget. Beware of the tempting pie menu, though (the club is located in the lounge at Marie Callender's), which will literally and figuratively tip the scale. 27630 The Old Road, Valencia. (661) 259-2291. www.comedyinvalencia.com.

Local Theater - Are one or both of you drama queens? Then you'll love the local productions at Canyon Theatre Guild, located in Old Town Newhall. CTG focuses on popular, family-friendly fare such as "High School Musical," "Grease," and the holiday classic, "It's A Wonderful Life," and features mostly talented SCV residents in the cast.

(For an extra bit of free fun, check out the Western Walk of Fame on Main Street beforehand). - $12 to $15. 24242 Main Street, Newhall. (661) 799-2700. www.canyontheatre.org.

$15 - $24
Dancing at Mojito's -
Live Latin music provides the backdrop for some seriously sexy dancing, whether you're on the floor or just watching. As the name might suggest, you can also get the best Mojito in town at $7 a pop...just sip them slowly and savor the ambiance. No cover. 26876 The Old Road, Valencia. (661) 254-2018. Music starts at 9 p.m.

Sagebrush Sunday at Roast House - If you loved the Calabasas restaurant's incredibly popular Sunday tradition, check out Santa Clarita's version. It's got the same great brunch/lunch menu, drink specials, and live music, but it's cheaper, cleaner, and closer to home. Plus, you won't be fighting bikers to get to the bathroom. No cover. 26532 Bouquet Canyon Road, Santa Clarita. (661) 296-3866.

Happy Hour Buffet at Salt Creek Grille - Satisfy your hunger with a variety of free hot and cold foods in the bar (menu changes daily), then linger over discounted drinks, which start around $4. 4 - 6:30 p.m. Monday - Friday. 24415 Town Center Drive, Valencia. (661) 222-9999.

Picnic at Castaic Lake - Pick up some sandwiches and drinks, then lay out a blanket by the water or park in the car for a front-row seat to the prettiest sunset around. What happens in the dark afterwards is your business. 32132 Castaic Lake Drive, Castaic. (661) 257-4050. No charge on weekdays through February; $10 per car on weekends. Open 6:45 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Wine & Music at All Corked Up - Depending on the evening, you can catch stellar jazz, blues, and classic rock performances in an intimate, grotto-like atmosphere. Wine starts at $6 a glass, appetizers at $9, so don't come on an empty stomach... the bill could quickly get out of hand. Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m. No cover. 26340 Diamond Place, Valencia. (661) 799-7979.

Ice Skating - Lace up for fun on the ice, a rare treat in Southern California. Bonus: built-in opportunities to snuggle with your sweetheart through the chill. Even if you're good, don't forget to fall down at least once - it's a great way to get "picked up." Ice Station Valencia, 27745 North Smyth Drive, Valencia. (661) 775-8686. $9 admission and $3 skate rental.

Painting at Color Me Mine - Remember the fun of arts and crafts? Add that element of play to your date at Color Me Mine, where "Half Off Tuesdays" allow one person free studio time, a savings of $10. Pick up a couple of ornaments at $4.50 each and the $10 studio time for one and you'll have a keepsake moment for under $20. 24305 Town Center Drive, Suite 190, Valencia. (661) 799-9266.

$1 - $14
Farmer's Market at COC -
Get up early on Sunday morning, head to this treasure trove of local food and produce, then go home and make breakfast together from your findings (think free-range omelet with veggies galore). Pick up the Sunday paper for $1.50 more to spark conversation over your delicious meal. No entrance fee, food ranges from $1 and up. College of the Canyons Parking Lot 8, between Cougar Stadium and Valencia Boulevard, from 7:30 a.m. to noon.

Mark Moulin outside The Coffee Bean - Take in classic rock tunes (covers from Eagles, Beatles, and Crosby Stills Nash & Young) from this local musician along with your coffee, conversation, and pleasant outdoor atmosphere. Gateway Village, Newhall & Rye Canyon Road. Saturdays, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Karaoke at Mulligan's - Who needs American Idol? Create your own karaoke magic every Wednesday, Thursday, or Saturday night at 8 p.m. in the bar of this traditional Irish restaurant/pub where the cast of characters are as entertaining as anyone you'll see on TV. No cover, two-drink minimum (drinks are $4 and up). 25848 Tournament Road, Valencia. (661) 255-3356.

Third Friday Concerts - Catch the hottest local hip hop, alternative, and hardcore local bands every Third Friday at the Sports Complex/Santa Clarita Activities Center. Definitely for the younger crowd, this is the closest thing Santa Clarita has to a Los Angeles-style music scene and is massive amounts of fun for the price. 18 and over, $8 - 10 cover. 20880 Centre Point Parkway, Santa Clarita. For more info, visit www.higherlevelshows.com or call (661) 296-8751.

Nightclub Action at the Vu Ultra Bar - The guys at Higher Level Productions, who put on Third Fridays, brings the Hollywood night club vibe to Santa Clarita. The former Rendezvous space now throbs with a multi-band bill and DJ geared to the 21-and-over set a few Fridays every month. Hot, sweaty rock n' roll fun for you and your honey! $5 cover. 22505 8th Street, Newhall. For more info, visit www.higherlevelshows.com or call (661) 296-8751.

Arcade Games at Tilt - Kick it old school at this festive arcade where retro classics as Pac Man and Centipede share the floor with more modern games, all at 50 cents to $1 a pop. 24445 Town Center Drive, Valencia. (661) 254-5866.

Free
Hike at Vasquez Rocks - Some of the most gorgeous scenery around is just a few miles from Santa Clarita. You might get a sense of déjà vu here, as Vasquez Rocks has been the backdrop of many TV shows and movies. Gorgeous rock formations beg to be climbed, while flat trails are available for more moderate hikers. Plus, there are plenty of tables for picnicking or taking a break, though you might want to bring a canopy - there's no mercy from the desert sun here. 10700 W. Escondido Canyon Road, Agua Dulce. (661) 268-0840.

Walk the Santa Clara Riverbed - Accessable from various locations thorughout the SCV, a walk in the riverbed is relaxing and romantic.

Cal Arts Events - Major talent abounds at this arts-focused college and they're happy to share it with the community through a series of plays and recitals featuring students. There are also speaker events featuring well-regarded artists, some of whom are alumni, and art exhibits. It's a wealth of free entertainment. 24700 McBean Parkway, Valencia. 255-1050. www.calarts.com.

Volunteer Together - Spending quality time together while giving back makes this the ultimate free date. So many local charities need help - you can stock shelves at the SCV Food Pantry, clean kennels and walk dogs at the Brittany Foundation, interact with rescued livestock at the Gentle Barn, or maintain trails at Placerita Nature Center. In the immortal words of "Flashdance," find your passion and make it happen. Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry - www.scvfoodpantry.org, The Brittany Foundation - www.brittanyfoundation.com, The Gentle Barn - www.gentlebarn.org, and Placerita Nature Canyon - www.placerita.org. For more volunteer opportunities, visit www.volunteermatch.org.

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