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Venice Canals
Photograph: Roberto Nickson

The best first date ideas in L.A.

Plan to woo the new romantic interest in your life with our guide to the best first date ideas in L.A.

By Stephanie Morino

You’ve scoured Los Angeles, from Tinder and Bumble to the city’s best singles bars, and have finally found someone worth going out with. But now comes the even harder part: planning the first date. Sure, you could head to one of L.A.’s many romantic restaurants or plan a quick meet-up at a coffee shop, but if you want to really blow your crush out of the water, we recommend moving forward with one of these best first date ideas in L.A. Good luck!

The best first date ideas in L.A.

Photograph: Courtesy Patrick Semansky/West Wind Drive-In Theatre

1. Go to a drive-in theater


Travel back to a more simple time, when going to a movie was a major Friday night activity and most certainly enough to land you a second date. We’re not talking about the ArcLight or AMC, or even some of the newer dine-in theaters that have popped up—we’re talking about drive-in theaters. There are a number of drive-in theaters in Southern California that have stayed true to the original concept, including relatively cheap ticket prices. And in the privacy of your own car, you can chat (or make out) as much or as little as you’d like without bugging the people next to you.

2. Walk through the Venice Canals

Things to do Venice

Grab your new love interest and take a romantic stroll through these three canal-lined blocks—hence the name, Venice—and you’ll discover an idyllic scene: arching pedestrian bridges, charming beach houses, bunches of ducklings and the occasional paddle boarding bulldog. You can also bring your own non-motorized vessel to tour the neighborhood at water level (enter via the launch ramp at Venice Boulevard). This romantic setting is perfect for getting to know your partner and maybe even nabbing a kiss or two.

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

3. Have some fun at an arcade bar


Dating is supposed to be fun, and what’s more fun than having a couple drinks while playing arcade games? This fun-filled date is a surefire way to break the ice and see if your new love interest can tap into their childlike qualities to have a good time. And if they can’t? There’s booze to get you through.

Eaton Canyon Falls Trail.
Photograph: Michael Juliano

4. Hike to a waterfall

Things to do

Okay, so going on a hike may not be the most original first date idea, but adding a waterfall to the mix might just push it over the edge (no pun intended). Choose from our list of the best hikes to one of the many waterfalls in the L.A. area, then jump in feet first—into the relationship and the water!


5. Visit the Getty Center

Museums Art and design Westside

Whether you go for the art, the architecture, the panoramic views of L.A., or to eat at the restaurant, the Getty has enough variety to please any date. Stroll through the garden, visit at the water fountain or get intellectual in front of some of the world’s most renowned artwork—you can make the date as short or as long as you’d like here. And if you’re really trying to impress, bring along a picnic to enjoy on the lawn as you soak in the view.

6. Watch a movie under the stars


Watch new releases under the stars and take advantage of LEVEL and the Montalbán rooftop’s beautiful city views at Rooftop Cinema Club. You don’t even need to bring your own blanket or camping chair—RFC provides you with a comfy lawn chair, as well as blankets on request for the ultimate cozy evening. Get there early to grab dinner and drinks for a full date-night experience.

Grand Central Market
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

7. Share a meal at Grand Central Market

Restaurants Lunch Downtown Historic Core

Can’t settle on a single place? Picky eaters and avid Instagrammers will all find something to love at Grand Central Market. Full of bucket-list dining options from Eggslut to McConnell’s, you can each hit up separate vendor stalls and reconvene at a table together. Make sure to stop by at the Bradbury Building across the street, the stunning brick building featured in Blade Runner and 500 Days of Summer.

El Matador State Beach

8. Spend time at the beach

Things to do

With 80-degree days year-round, Angelenos can enjoy SoCal’s beautiful beaches from January to December. Whether you go to Manhattan Beach to play volleyball, rent beach cruisers to ride along the Venice Beach Boardwalk, or plan a picnic at sunset in Malibu, there are plenty of ways to use SoCal’s beaches as the perfect first-date landscape.

Griffith Observatory
Photograph: Courtesy Daniil Vnoutchkov

9. Take in the view from the Griffith Observatory

Museums Science and technology Griffith Park

Whether you hike up to it during the day or drive to it at night to see the stars, the Griffith Observatory makes for a romantic location for first dates. Look out at the city below—which often makes for interesting conversations—sit through the observatory show, or test each other’s astronomy knowledge. Whatever you do here, it makes for a fun day and as romantic or casual as you want.

Malibu Wines
Photograph: Courtesy Malibu Wines

10. Clink glasses at Malibu Wines

Bars Wineries Santa Monica Mountains

A visit to Malibu Wines is almost a rite of passage for Angelenos—your date included. The picturesque vineyard and tasting room here boasts plenty of lawn space for picnicking (you can bring in food, but no alcohol) and the pours behind the bar are fast and plentiful. Wines include varietals from Semler and Saddlerock vineyards, and while they’re not the best of California, it’s fun to taste through a few flights on a gorgeous weekend afternoon in the canyons.

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