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Movie screenings, live concerts, comedy and more happen here at the Santa Monica Pier.
Photograph: Courtesy Twilight Concerts

The best free date ideas in Los Angeles

Looking to break hearts without breaking the bank? Check out these free date ideas to impress on the cheap.

Michael Juliano
Written by
Time Out editors
Michael Juliano

Free date ideas abound in Los Angeles, we promise. Everyone thinks of LA as an expensive city more suited to the wallets of celebs than the everyman, and while we can't argue with all of that, we will stick up for the budget-friendly options that exist just slightly under the radar. Great date ideas in this city are possible at every price point (even $0). From free museums and public works of art to by-donation yoga, hikes and long walks on the best beaches, we're here to help you craft some unforgettable, frugal fun.

RECOMMENDED: See more free things to do in LA

15 free dates ideas in LA

Whether you want to explore a new 'hood, see if your potential partner can keep up on hidden stairs, share great views or angle for a kiss under a waterfall, there are options aplenty for great hiking dates in and around LA. Impress your date by bringing snacks and plenty of water—low blood sugar and dehydration do not a sexy mood make.

RECOMMENDED: Best hikes with waterfalls

With 80-degree days year-round and miles of picturesque coastline from Malibu to the South Bay, there's no excuse not to take your date to the beach—the fact that it's free is just a nice bonus. Frolic in the surf, bake in the sand or go for a swim—regardless, you'll be half-naked, sweaty and sun-drunk, which sounds like the perfect date to us.

RECOMMENDED: Best beaches in LA

  • Museums
  • Science and technology
  • Griffith Park
  • price 1 of 4

One of LA's most popular date (and proposal) spots, Griffith Observatory offers beautiful views, impressive architecture and all sorts of nooks and crannies for a close moment with your sweetheart. Not to mention, there's a plethora of couple-friendly activities inside the actual building, such as a camera obscura and a seismograph machine (the two of you can cause an earthquake together, literally). Check the schedule for free nighttime star shows for double the romance.

RECOMMENDED: 84 Los Angeles attractions for tourists and natives alike

Picnic at Echo Park Lake
  • Things to do
  • Echo Park

After a massive renovation in 2013, the Eastside's historic Echo Park Lake now boasts a boathouse, track, lighting and railings, plus new landscaping, picnic tables and grills. The lotus gardens have been restored—with water lillies added—and the Lady of the Lake statue has been returned to her rightful place overlooking the fountain. It's a beautiful spot with nesting water birds, lots of grassy knolls to lounge on and pedal boats rented by the hour—possibly the cutest couple activity ever, though it will cost you ($10 per person).

RECOMMENDED: A guide to Echo Park

Mosey along the Venice Canals
  • Things to do
  • Venice

Tucked between the grimy Venice Boardwalk and the posh Abbot Kinney, the Venice Canals offer a completely different side of the famed beachfront neighborhood. Take a stroll through these three canal-lined blocks and you'll discover an idyllic scene: arching pedestrian bridges, charming beach houses, bunches of ducklings and the occasional paddle boarding bulldog. Play sea captain for your date and bring your own kayak to tour the neighborhood at water level (enter via the launch ramp at Venice Boulevard).

RECOMMENDED: Free attractions in LA

  • Sports and fitness
  • Cycling
  • Venice

This 22-mile bicycle path traces nearly the entire extent of LA's westward-facing coastline. The path starts at Will Rogers State Beach and winds its way all the way down to Torrance County Beach. We think a walking pace is best for dates, though; you'll find particularly pedestrian-friendly forks in Santa Monica, Venice and Manhattan Beach—perfect for snooping on that stunning oceanfront dream house.

RECOMMENDED: A guide to Manhattan Beach


Want to see your date in downward dog? We know you do. Grab your mat, don your stretchies and head to one of (literally hundreds) of free and by-donation yoga classes across the city. And don't worry about looking cheap in front of your date—there's low-to-no pressure to pitch in the full amount (or anything at all) if you really can't. Asanas for all (or at least you and your boo).

RECOMMEDED: By-donation and free yoga in Los Angeles

Stroll the Santa Monica Pier
  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Downtown Santa Monica

We know what you're thinking: Cheese alert. But doesn't a kitsch factor make for an epic date every once in a while? The pier has a traditional setup stocked with a mini amusement park, aquarium, fairground games and cotton candy stands (okay, not free—but relatively cheap). Win your date a creepy stuffed animal at the games, or share some funnel cake while overlooking the ocean, then top it off with a kiss at the top of the Ferris wheel (go big or go home, friends). Better yet, check the schedule to see what free outdoor films or concerts are coming up.

RECOMMENDED: Things to do in Santa Monica


Get to know your date and your city at the same time by adventuring in a new area. Been meaning to explore Pasadena? Keep hearing about the Arts District? You don't have to drop a dime to enjoy the walks outlined in our neighborhood guides—though you definitely could at the many tempting eateries and shops if you're feeling splurge-y. Worst case scenario, the date is a flop, but you'll still have the inside scoop on a new 'hood to impress your next one.

RECOMMENDED: Los Angeles neighborhood guides

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