Upfront: this is not even kind of free, but it is probably the cheapest way to stuff your face and call it an event.
You need a local Chinatown, long undies, and a whole lot of one-dollar bills.
Rather than escaping to somewhere warm for a winter vacation, embrace the season by taking a long drive and renting a lake house or log cabin. Leave your laptops at home and turn off your cell phone for the weekend.
Ice skating is too predictable, so why not try something new and unusual?
It's a perfect excuse to get out and dress up, and the people-watching opportunities will make for unusual conversation fodder. Don't ask questions—you'll be seriously amazed by the creations and can maybe convince someone to carve you into a bust. Grab a sled from your garage (or nab a plastic one at most pharmacy chains), head to a snowy hill, and prepare for an adorable day date.
It yields perfect opportunities for loafing around and eating with your significant other, and lest you thought we forgot about you outdoorsy types, we've also imagined some extreme adventures to take up in pairs (tobogganing is an extreme sport, right? Below, our favorite ways to while away the puffy-jacket season with a special friend. Relish the chance to spend some relaxing quality time together with a couple's massage followed by some steamy sauna time. If you're already living in a small town, this will be easier than ever (they're usually hotspots for great antiques).
But if not, seek out a local spot for antiquing where you two can get lost for an hour or two, hunting for records and retro treasures, or perusing the shelves of dusty vintage books. If you're both extra outdoorsy, make it a weekend camping trip in the mountains before the weather gets too severe.
Gone are the days of places serving up your average cup o' Swiss Miss.
Make a list of spots that serve next-level, Instagrammable hot chocolate.