Sweet for Valentine’s Day: 4 Fun Alternatives on the Student Budget

So you may have wanted to take your valentine out for steak and champagne yet your budget is along the lines of conversation hearts and a glass of water. Come with me as I roam around town in search of the perfect Valentine’s Day alternatives for the student budget. Caution: visiting the sites below might send you into a sugar coma!

To compile this list, I left the house with some friends, twenty dollars (combined between the four of us) and a tank of gas. Let’s see how far it goes!

1.) Where: Buffalo West Side area

What: Niagara Branch of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library

Why: Fun and laid back option to stay in and make dinner together while listening to some new music and watching a few movies. You don’t have to feel guilty about picking up a few different movies or music selections with week long free rentals.

Minutes from Campus: 1.5 min walking across the street

Cost: free (minus dinner supplies)

Hours: on Fridays the library is open 9am-5pm

2.) Where: East Aurora

What: Exploring Knox Farms State Park and fixing your sweet tooth at Firefly Cupcakery

cupcakes window at firefly in east auroradriving into knox farms state park

Why: At Knox Farms, you can walk or cross country ski around this beautiful open state park just a few minutes from the village of East Aurora.

walking through an old fashioned wrought iron gate into a winter wonderland

Walk through an old fashioned wrought iron gate into a winter wonderland.

Bring your dog along for the walk or to play in the dog park.  After your winter walk, you can warm up at Firefly Cupcakery to some delicious cupcakes and coffee selections. The atmosphere is cozy with hanging lights, a fireplace, and a large window facing busy and quaint Main St. We tried “ the indulgent”, which lived up to its name; a rich gooey fudge cupcake topped with an airy peanut butter frosting.

Minutes from Campus: 25

Cost: 3.25 a cupcake. Coffee selections ranged from about $2-4.

Hours: Knox Farms is open until dusk. Weekend hours at Firefly Cupcakery are Friday and Saturday 9am-11pm and Sunday 11am-6pm

3.) Where: Hamburg

What: Mary Claire’s and the the Palace Theater

checking out the cupcake selection at mary claire's

Checking out the selection at Mary Claire’s

mary claires hamburg

Mary Claire’s in Hamburg

Why: Mary Claire’s has a dessert for everyone. It is a sunny little bakery located in the village of Hamburg, complete with rich slabs of cake, enormous cupcakes made to be shared with your sweetie, and various chocolates. We tried some of the chocolates such as dark chocolate raspberry cream, sponge candies, and peppermint patties. At about 50 cents a candy, it was fun and easy to sample the different varieties. The village of Hamburg is fun to window shop and stroll through.  Walk down the street to the old fashioned Palace Theater for discounted movie tickets.

Minutes from Campus: 20

Cost: 50-75 cents a candy. $3.50 a cupcake. Movies at the palace are $6.

Hours: Mary Claire’s weekend hours are 11-7pm Friday, 11-5pm Saturday, 11-4pm Sunday.

4.) Where: Buffalo, Canisius area

What: Sweetness7 and Delaware Park

charming yet unassuming, sweetness 7 might be easy to miss to the rushed passerby

Charming yet unassuming, Sweetness 7 might be easy to miss to the rushed passerby

Why: If you are looking for a neighborhood coffee shop, Sweetness 7 is the place to be! Not only are strong coffee drinks available, but fresh made sandwiches, day old desserts for a dollar, wine, beer, and an interesting variety of crepes.

funky colors and tables invite restaurant patrons to sit inside and chat

Funky colors and tables invite restaurant patrons to sit inside and chat

The prices were a little higher with crepes ranging in price from $7-12, yet the “other worldly” ambiance of the neighborhood shop is worth the little extra. Cozy up to your valentine on a winter walk across the street to Delaware Park, although you might not want to leave the bewitching neighborhood shop.

Minutes from Campus: 8

Cost: coffee drinks from $2-6, crepes $7-12

Hours: Delaware Park is open to the public until dusk. Sweetness7 has a busier brother shop on Grant St with extended hours; the Parkside branch is open daily 8am-6pm.

cupcakes window at firefly in east aurora




About the author


Major: Physical Therapy (DPT)
Where I’m from: Buffalo, NY
When I graduate: I’d like to work in a clinical setting, focusing on pediatrics and women’s health.

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