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9 best seasonal and holiday inspired dates in Los Angeles

Christmas lights in Los Angeles: Venice Canals
Photograph: Courtesy Alaindemour/Flickr Christmas lights in Los Angeles: Venice Canals

The holidays are a magical time, especially for those who are in the early stages of a budding romance. LA's streets are lit with Christmas lights, ice skating rinks are popping up left and right and it's finally cool enough to cuddle up on the couch with a fire going. Whether you're still in the honeymoon phase of your relationship, trying to impress someone on a first date, or just need to get your partner off the couch for a bit, these seasonal date ideas are a sure-fire way to amp up the romance.

1. Ice skating in Downtown LA: There are plenty of ice skating rinks around, but there are two outdoor rinks open right now that are especially romantic. Pershing Square's Downtown on Ice and LA Live's holiday rink are both surrounded by Downtown LA's skyscrapers, creating a setting that you won't get at most of the other rinks. Plus, being located in Downtown means there are plenty of restaurants and bars nearby for a bite to eat before a spin around the rink and a nightcap afterwards. 

2. Venice Beach CanalsWalking through the Venice Beach Canals is always romantic, but when the bridges and houses are decorated with Christmas lights and garlands, it's even more swoon-worthy. Plus, taking a walk through the canals when it's cooler outside means plenty of time for hand holding, cuddling up to keep each other warm and good conversation.

3. Sunset Beach gondola: Everyone knows about the Venice Beach Canals, but in Sunset Beach—a few beach towns south of Venice Beach—there's a slighter lesser known canal system. Much like Venice, homeowners along the Huntington Harbour often decorate their houses for Christmas, amping up the romance factor. Add in that the Sunset Gondola company, which offers leisurely gondola rides around the canals, will provide you with a blanket, wine glasses and an ice bucket—and that you're allowed to bring your own food and drinks with you—and this will be a night to remember.

4. The Grove: Normally we wouldn't recommend dealing with the Grove's crowds on a date, but when they make it snow in LA—every night, at 7 and 8pm during the holiday season—it turns into the perfect romantic outing. They also have live entertainment, Santa's Cottage and holiday decorations throughout the shopping center. Sip on hot chocolate, enjoy a unique LA experience and maybe even get some shopping done—or use this time to hint at what you want your significant other to get you for Christmas as you walk by the store windows.

5. Chill: If your date is a sucker for the holidays, this is the ultimate date spot. Chill at the Queen Mary is a winter wonderland, with an Ice Kingdom, ice skating, a North Pole Village, carolers and more. And when you're over the holiday cheer, you can head onto the former cruise ship for a bite to eat or a beer. And hey, if things go well, maybe you can snag a room!

6. Terranea Resort: This beautiful hotel is quite busy during the summer, but we think it gets even better during the winter. Take a stroll on one of the walking trails—you just might see a migrating whale!—then grab lunch or dinner at the Nelson's, located right on the Palos Verdes cliffs. But the date will really heat up when you take your spot next to one of the fire pits scattered around the premises. There are heaters around as well if the fire isn't enough, or hold on to each other for extra warmth.

7. Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade and Ring of Lights: Find a spot along the bay and settle in, cuddle up and watch the festive boats pass by. You can pick a a seat along a public beach or one of the many restaurants along the harbor for your viewing pleasure. This is such a popular event that the parade takes place over five nights (Dec 16-20), starting at 6:30pm.

8. LA Zoo Lights: A trip to the zoo is always a fun date, but during the holidays the LA Zoo turns into a magical place during LA Zoo Lights. No matter how many times you've been to the zoo during the day, you've never experienced it like this. The amount of lights used for this event, which takes place through Jan 3, is incredible. And if you want a bit more of an adult experience, go on Dec 10 when there will be a VIP Happy Hour taking place. 

9. Day trip to see fall foliage: Yes, there is still fall foliage out there—just grab your date, jump in the car and get out of the city to find it! Adventures are always the best dates.