For Healthy Relationships Week, Sexual Assault Services hosted its annual Great Dates Contest, which invited students to submit creative date ideas for Mason students that cost less than $30. The contest winners’ ideas, which are listed below, include taking a stroll amid D.C.’s famed cherry blossom trees, checking out an art museum and even grabbing hot dogs at 7-11. Read on and take notes on all the innovative ways you can impress your date, while saving a little cash too.

– Emily Sharrer, editor-in-chief

Top 5 Great Dates Ideas 2011

1.) Take your honeybun to the National Zoo, it’s only a Metro ride away ($6 each way). Admission is free and you can take pictures with the animals or sit back and snuggle on a bench.

Kyra Wiseman, theater

2.) Take Mason to Metro, then Metro to the Jefferson Memorial Stop ($7 each way). Take a nice long stroll during the Cherry Blossom Festival. Have fun taking pictures and walking along the water. Then for lunch, grab a hot dog and a water ($7 per person). To finish out the day, go to one of the many free art museums in D.C. and look at art from all around the world. A picture from this day will look great framed when your relationship has blossomed just as the flowers in the picture.

Stan Heaney, government and international politics

3.) Start the date in the morning by making kites with your partner. You’ll need paper, string, glue and wood sticks. Get on the Mason to Metro and take the Metro to the National Mall. Go to the middle of the lawn and fly kites. For lunch, stop by a local 7-11 and eat hotdogs with crazy toppings. Spend the day traveling to museums and learning, you can even quiz each other on what you learn.
At night go to the World War II Memorial or back to the lawn where you flew the kites and gaze at the stars and tell each other the shapes that you see in the night sky. Return to Mason and put your ticket in a special box on the top of your closet.

Sabrina Speights, psychology

4.) There’s no better way to connect with someone than through helping others. Multiple organizations on campus have philanthropy sections and are great outlets for finding a way to volunteer. At the end of the day be sure to spend time with each other and rest. The help you provided others will give you a sense of accomplishment and a tenderness. By relaxing afterward you are more inclined to feel closer to the other person. Relaxing can be watching a movie, art and/or making dinner to share with each other.

Nicholas Brightwell, government and international politics

5.) Meet at the Johnson Center and get sushi for two. You can share the chopsticks. Before eating, head out to Mason Pond with a blanket for two and some non-alcoholic drinks. Sit and eat sushi under the stars while you share a great conversation. End the evening by walking back to the dorm hand and hand, and give your date a kiss on the cheek.

Chris Tirado, communication and Brittany Beben, communication

Honorable Mention:

My great date would be a day at the National Aquarium in D.C. First my date and I would take the Mason to Metro shuttle (free) then purchase tickets to D.C. ($10 for both people). After that we would get off at Metro Center and buy tickets to the aquarium ($20 total). Pack some snacks to bring along in case you get hungry and come back to Mason for dinner. Two swipes later, you and your date can have a three course meal at Southside.

– Anonymous