Looking for a date that'll elate without trashing cash? 

Every now and again, school deals a sweet card in a student's love life, creating a different kind of chemistry between 8 a.m. lab partners. It's at the moment when "Could you pass that beaker?" segues into "What are you doing this Friday?" that many a hopeful student realize Free Movie Friday at the student union won't make the cut as a legit date.


When pondering the next inevitable question " "So what the heck is there to do in this town that doesn't cost the equivalent of my used and overpriced economics textbook?" " keep the next few college town locations in mind. Although always classy and fun, these hot date spots won't empty pockets and should keep the happy couple happy.

Get with the times, savvy college students: Your dates don't want ice cream " they want gelato! With this Italian delight making quite an impression on the icy desserts scene throughout the U.S., try some tasty gelato at Allaus Coffee & Gelato, 1333 N. Santa Fe in Edmond, or Il Dolce Gelato, 1318 N. Interstate Drive in Norman.

From the delicious selection of traditional and experimental homemade gelato flavors to the coffee and homemade pastries, Allaus has University of Central Oklahoma students covered on tastiness. The coffee shop's chic atmosphere makes this the perfect date location. With prices on gelato ranging from $2.69 to $3.79, you'll get an off-campus experience without the unsympathetic off-campus bill.

Open since October 2005, this family-run business strives to create a relaxed, chilled environment.

"We wanted to create a European look and style, but also cozy and comfortable," said owner Vienny Tran. "The idea behind it was cozy, relaxed, just like at home. People bring their dates here to have good conversation."

The west wall windows look out into a small courtyard with patio tables, so you can take your gelato selections outside for an al fresco date.

For Sooner students, Il Dolce Gelato satisfies all gelato cravings. Norman's first gelateria, Il Dolce offers 20 gelato and four sorbetto flavors each day, alternating its selection among the 100 different flavors that are homemade in the store. Sample any of the flavors before making your choice, which range in price from $2.95 to $4.25.

"Il Dolce provides a fancy, yet still affordable alternative to typical ice cream. The quality of this artisanal product that you receive is among the finest you can buy," said Sommer Buss, co-owner. "The quaint atmosphere and small tables make it easy for conversation. It is open late in the evening hours so that students can come in after dinner or after a movie."

Gelato isn't the only authentic Italian treat at this spot. Lavazza coffees, Numi organic teas, hot chocolate and San Pellegrino sodas are also available.

If you're hoping a classroom partnership will turn into something more, suggest a study date at Allaus or Il Dolce. The free Wi-Fi makes these locations good study spots, with coffee and gelato making quite the efficient study fuel.

A quiet bistro located just southeast of the UCO campus at 331 S. Blackwelder, Tao Café is the perfect spot to visit for an intimate lunch or dinner date.

Co-owner Pei Tao said a cool, relaxed restaurant with affordable, stable menu prices was his main objective.

"I just wanted comfortable, casual, contemporary," Tao said. "I didn't want it to be serious."

This low-key restaurant features a menu of Asian favorites, like spring rolls, sweet and sour chicken and General Tso's chicken, all reasonably priced. To get the best bang for your buck, try one of the Rice Boxes, which range in price from $4.75 to $5.95. The special comes with your choice of main entrée, steamed rice, egg drop soup, mini spring roll and cheese wonton, all arranged in a cute boxed tray.

To accompany the delicious Rice Box, try the trendy teas. More than 35 expertly made flavors come with or without boba, those sweet, chewy tapioca balls floating in the bottom of your drink.

Not quite ready for a dinner date? Tao Café is hangout-friendly, fitting the bill as a lounge as much as a restaurant. Grab a couple of bubble teas and chill out with your special someone on the couch inside, or take your selections outdoors and enjoy your drinks in the sidewalk tables and chairs.

Plenty of national chains claim to be the one-stop drink experts, but in Norman, Classic 50s Drive-In is the icy and slushy drink authority for college students and residents alike.

Settled just west of the University of Oklahoma at 1521 W. Lindsey, Classic 50s is a centrally located college town destination, owned by the same family since 1957. The drive-in experience doesn't get any more authentic than here, making this the perfect spot for a retro, nostalgic date.

"Back in the day, kids made it the perfect place for a Coke date. Even my parents met here, and they got married in the early Seventies. It's a real magnet," said Mike Dodson, Classic 50s manager.

Bright neon signs welcome drivers who park their load, and for those who feel like taking a break from being behind the wheel, a shaded area complete with picnic tables is available, ideal for an evening date.

Try the best burgers, curly and crinkle fries, jalapeño poppers, corn dogs, okra and, of course, Pickle-Os and Slushy and Eskimo Frosty drinks. With homemade cherry and vanilla flavorings, and more than 50 flavors of slushes and frosties, there's something sure to delight everyone.

Right now, however, Dodson said the favorite for most drive-in diners is the Sprittle " a combination drink of Sprite and Skittles. Adding candy to drinks is another one of Classic 50s' signature moves, but nothing has taken off like the Sprittle. Charm your date with this favorite; a medium Sprittle is only $2.31.

Feel like going on a date that explores the colorful, scenic side of Oklahoma? Pops is the place to go! Not only will your date get to see historic Route 66, where the ultra-modern gas station/restaurant has its roots, but also the site's floor-to- ceiling windowed walls, displaying the full color spectrum of more than 500 sodas and sparkling waters Pops proudly serves every day.

Located in Arcadia at 660 W. Highway 66, Pops delivers the fun of unlimited soda pop choices without emptying your pockets. All of the bottled drinks cost just $1.99, including the best seller for the past several weeks: Pops' own Round Barn Root Beer.

With flavors like blueberry and bubble gum and even some ginseng-infused sodas, there's something to quench even the most finicky date's thirst.

"Kids go for just the most outlandish and they go for the craziest color or the craziest label, so it's kind of all across the board," said Jessica Ockerhauser, Pops marketing manager. "That's the fun of it, though."

If constant cramming and study sessions have forced your senses to equate fresh air with the stuffy smell of the library and tall trees' shade with the towering shadows of bookshelves, it's probably time for a reintroduction to the great outdoors.

Where can you find rolling hills, streams, a waterfall and even an enchanting pond full of koi? Why, Putt-A-Round miniature golf, of course! Located a mere mile from the UCO campus at 601 S. Bryant in Edmond, the picturesque scene is a great spot for getting you and your date reacquainted with nature on the beautifully landscaped course.

And don't worry about the price distracting from the outdoor loveliness of it all. With unlimited rounds of miniature golf for two students costing $14, you'll be so carefree, you'll be chirping with the birds.

There once was a time when asking someone out to a movie was synonymous with asking them out for a date. Now, with the cost of movie tickets rising, it's synonymous with becoming broke.

Three prime date locations that don't charge $9 for adults are the Winchester Drive-In in Oklahoma City, the Beacon Drive-In in Guthrie and Starplex Cinemas Robinson Crossing 6 in Norman.

Each of these college town theaters has one important thing in common: tickets for two costing less than $10.

Robinson Crossing 6, 1300 N. Interstate Drive, is the quintessential dollar theater. Students who have been hiding under the midterm studying rock for a few weeks can catch all the second-run blockbusters for only $1 before 6 p.m. and $1.50 after 6 p.m. Fifty-cent movie Tuesdays are the real gems at this site.

Winchester Drive-In, 6930 S. Western, has been showing movies since it opened in 1968. The 85-foot screen features showings of two to three movies, depending on the day, for just $5 a person. Beacon Drive-In, 2404 S. Division, is only a short drive up Interstate 35 from Edmond and boasts the same low price as Winchester. "Reneé Selanders

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Renee Selanders

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