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Nothing is more full of promise than summer afternoons. Your Twitter feed gradually stops chirping, Facebook is full of “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” posts and you are ready to hunt and gather fun. Sometimes, though, your budget doesn’t meet your aspirations. Here’s where we come in. When it comes to planning a date (or an outing with a friend), we are here to hook you up with low-cost goodness every week during the summer months. Such a deal!

Week of June 1: It’s not just for art lovers. Fun lovers also flock to the monthly First Thursday Art Walk in Pioneer Square (Thursday, June 5, this month), when galleries stay open until 8 p.m. to introduce new exhibitions and the artists who created them. Expect movers and shakers, stimulating conversation and a chance to look like you’re a culture maven ( Eastsiders, enfold your sweetie in love for crafting at “Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami,” at BAM. Free First Friday is 11 a.m.-8 p.m. June 6,   510 Bellevue Way N.E. (425-519-0770 or

Week of June 8: A coffee date is the safe fallback. But how about revving it up, by sharing a venti with a view? Meet at the Starbucks on the 40th floor of the Columbia Center, 701 Fifth Ave., downtown Seattle. It’s open 5:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays.

Week of June 15: What Seattle Center modestly calls “The Best Damn Happy Hour Ever” busts out at the Armory, 5-8 p.m. every third Thursday. Cheap drinks, food specials, plus Giant Jenga (teams of three), raffles, free old-school video games and board/dice games for the borrowing. Sounds happy, yes? ( hour)

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Week of June 22: Outdoorsy types might want to try their hands at “Cast Off! Free Public Sail,” which allows visitors to the Center for Wooden Boats to set sail in a classic boat on South Lake Union. There’s a Cast Off! day on Sunday, June 22; sign-ups begin at 10 a.m. for the 45-minute rides. 1010 Valley St., Seattle (

Week of June 29: In Seattle, the Seafair Summer Fourth takes place at two venues: Gas Works Park and South Lake Union Park. Gates open at noon on Friday, July 4; fireworks start when darkness falls. Entrance is free, but if you want a reserved seat for the daytime fun and the fireworks, you can buy one for $15 at

Week of July 6: Summer in Seattle means cheapie outdoor movies, and we can thank the Fremont Almost Free Outdoor Cinema for being the trendsetter 20 years ago. The Movies at Magnuson Park series, which shows films every Thursday through Aug. 28, kicks off the season July 10 with “Grease.” Movies start at dusk, but seating starts at 7 p.m. on movie nights. Low-back chairs and dogs allowed. Cost: $5. Bring extra $ if you want to graze at the food trucks ( The Fremont movies are up next, starting at dusk July 12 with a free screening of “The Royal Tenenbaums” at 3501 Phinney Ave. N. Full schedule:

Week of July 13: The thespians at GreenStage are staging two of Shakespeare’s lighter works outdoors — for free — this summer. Catch “All’s Well That Ends Well” at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 13 at Madrona Playfield, or “Love’s Labour’s Lost” at 7 p.m. that day at Seward Park. Other opportunities: Seattle Shakespeare Company also offers free outoor plays:

Week of July 20: Bellevue Arts Museum’s annual ArtsFair starts its weekend run on July 25, 9:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m., at BAM and Bellevue Square. More than 300 artists and artisans will be on hand in a maze of booths, and you can eat while you stroll, thanks to all the food booths. Many attendees make a beeline early for that perennial favorite, the Kiwanis Club BBQ beef sandwich stand (

Week of July 27: The KEXP/Seattle Center Concerts at the Mural series kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, at the Mural Amphitheatre. Lineup was still TBA at presstime; past acts have included Mudhoney, The Head and the Heart, Dude York and Head Like a Kite. The concerts are free and in a delightful setting; can you really complain? (

Week of Aug. 3: Maybe sailing (see June 22) isn’t your thing, but you and your beloved still appreciate the city’s maritime feel. A meander around the roses at the Ballard Locks, a peek at the fish ladder, some yacht envy — oh, and a free concert by quintet Dukes and Diva at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9 — fit the bill (

Week of Aug. 10: Shall we dance? Outdoors? On a real dance floor? For free? Oh, stop, you rogue. Dancing Til Dusk offers beginner lessons 6-7 p.m. and dancing until 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 14, with Ranger and the ReArrangers at Freeway Park, 700 Seneca St., Seattle; the series continues with one more session Aug. 21. Rain hotline: 206-264-5646 (

Week of Aug. 17: Two great traditions: happy-hour drinks AND dogs. The Woodmark at Carillon Point in Kirkland is the place to be 5-7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 18, for the canine-friendly Yappier Hour.

Week of Aug. 24: Making conversation won’t be hard as you’re oohing and ahhing over the mysteries of the universe at the Green Lake Public Star Party. Friendly, knowledgeable Seattle Astronomical Society members bring their high-powered telescopes and invite the public to look and learn at monthly “star parties” around the region. 7-9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30, Green Lake, south of the Bathhouse Theater. Attending and learning is free (

Melissa Davis: 206-464-2506,; on Twitter@DuckMel

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