It was January when I began to search for activities for my fourth anniversary. Page after page with variations on queries such as “budget friendly anniversary ideas + Atlanta + GA.”
I was rewarded with results telling me to create scavenger hunts. Or to serve him breakfast in bed. Or to write him a love poem.
I’m not saying those ideas don’t have merit, but they’re also chock full of Pinterest-level banalities. I wanted to get outside and do something while still being friendly to my wallet. Plus, you can do all of that without just writing cute little notes to your partner and tying them to a balloon that will go in a landfill in two weeks time.
Unreasonable expectations from social media have instilled the fear of missing out in the average person. It’s made us consumers of a well-groomed life which doesn’t exist outside of fairy tales. I want substance in my relationship, not platitudes.
Thus, we’ve had to find creative ways to make our anniversaries memorable while being conscious of our wallets.
Celebrating Your Anniversary on a Budget
- Avoid any planned activities with the word “anniversary” in it to avoid the price markup.
A search query like “Cheap things to do for your anniversary + Atlanta + GA” into Google will typically feature a price markup. Nothing can take the place of knowing your partner’s preferences, but there are still “off brand” activities that almost anyone can enjoy.
Sean knows that I enjoy the zombie genre, so he surprised me one year with tickets to the Big Zombie Movie Tour. For $69 a person, the tour took us around to the major filming spots of The Walking Dead. The four featured set locations used to create a side of Atlanta that either doesn’t exist or is cobbled together to create something new.
- Get to know your city by visiting its tourist attractions.
Whenever I visit a new city, I might as well wear an olive drab expedition hat. I’ve planned the entire trip in advance down to the street we’ll be walking on. I visit all the tourist traps and I purchase all the cheap, kitschy gift shop memorabilia. In fact, I have a shadow box chock full of tickets and snippings of the places we’ve been. But when it comes to the place we call home, it’s easy to overlook those same activities.
Atlanta has a City Pass package that features all of the city’s top attractions bundled into one affordable day trip. Outside the city, we have Banning Mills where you can enjoy zip-lining and canopy tours. And if money is more of an object than any of these activities will allow, you can enjoy the Ferris Wheel at SkyView Atlanta for $13.89 + tax per person and an evening walk through Centennial Olympic Park afterward.
- Take advantage of Southwest Airlines’ Wanna Get Away? feature flight deals.
Southwest Airlines is responsible for my being able to fly to Louisiana Halloween weekend for a mere $200 for the both of us. That particular deal offered $49 one way flights to any international airport in the country. We have since switched to using Southwest almost exclusively for our flying arrangements simply because they’re so affordable.
These deals will run you anywhere from $49-$149 one way. They are by far and away some of the most affordable flights while still maintaining mile high comfort along the way. These flights come with fewer Rapid Reward Points and standby flights cost extra.
The perks: no change fee and two free check bags in addition to your purse. Flights can be changed at any time, but fares will rise as your travel date nears. If you have your eye on a budget weekend getaway, Southwest is definitely the way to go.
- Pick an affordable hotel or AirBnB in a part of town you know but haven’t actually stayed in before.
I did this for my fourth anniversary; it’s going to my primary modus operandi when I can’t travel out of town. After you’ve picked your hotel, take a walk around the area and choose a random restaurant that you can walk to. We settled on Truva, and hilariously not knowing its location in relation to us, hailed an Uber to… deliver us less than a block away.
An in-room picnic would be just as lovely. In fact, this is what we did for our third anniversary in Orlando, Florida. Sean surprised me with tickets to Orlando, Florida to see Florence and the Machine. Attempting to be budget conscious, Sean ran to the store and grabbed a cheese sampler and boxed Moscato while I got ready.
It was cost effective and memorable. Laughing with my partner while we drank cheap wine from hotel cups with our pinkies out remains a cherished memory.
- When all else fails, go for a bike ride or for a walk.
We love bike rides. It’s the cheapest activity available to us with the most emotional payoff. Our favorite trails in and around the Atlanta area are The Silver Comet Trail, the Stone Mountain Trail, and Piedmont Park on the BeltLine. The Silver Comet is 61.5 miles long beginning in Smyrna, Georgia, ending at the Georgia-Alabama state line. It makes for a fantastic morning to afternoon activity. It’s my favorite trail in the Atlanta area because you aren’t competing with vehicles for road space. Additionally, there are plenty of places to rest along the way and enjoy the scenery.
The Stone Mountain trail begins in Centennial Olympic Park and ends at Stone Mountain after nineteen miles with street-level travel for the first four. We live close to this trail and often ride it after work. As an added bonus, we ride by a small population of feral but well tended to cats.
The BeltLine features 33 miles of multi-use paths through the city. If you do not own a bicycle, you can rent one at the Atlanta Bike Rental Coalition. Plus, if you need a bike tune-up anywhere in Atlanta, our city boasts an extensive network of Bike Racks throughout the Atlanta area.
Living a Budget Friendly Life
This past year Sean and I spent our anniversary at the location of our first date; Oakland Cemetery. Romantic in its simplicity while remaining budget friendly, strolling the cemetery is one of our favorite activities.
Sean and I have spent our relationship scraping ends together. Because of that, we haven’t always been able to have Pinterest perfect celebrations. Additionally, our first year and a half together were long-distance; the subsequent years have been highly transitional. I moved from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Augusta, Georgia, to live with him. After that, we relocated to Atlanta—all within the first two and a half years we were together.
While it’s made for interesting challenges in our relationship, it hasn’t stopped us from enjoying life bought for a song.
I have compiled a list of additional resources regarding this entry and its contents for researching the topics therein:
Southwest Airline Airfare Information: Southwest Airlines’ Wanna Get Away? fares are mine and Sean’s favorite way to travel on a dime.
Atlanta City Pass: a handy list of attractions found right here in Atlanta, in case you’re spoiled for choice.
Atlanta Bike Rental Coalition: if you like riding bikes as much as we do but lack a bike, don’t worry! Atlanta has you covered.
The 15 Best Places for Biking in Atlanta: just like the title says, here you’ll find a list of the best places to bike in Atlanta.
Oakland Cemetery: I am completely and utterly biased here, but Oakland Cemetery is the best location for almost any special occasion. They have tours dedicated to the mausoleums and gravesites lead by volunteers, you can have a picnic, or you can simply enjoy the scenery while you walk. What’s not to love?
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