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Photograph: Courtesy Viviana Rishe

The best date ideas in Los Angeles

Looking for date ideas? Los Angeles has it all, from free and divey to romantic and truly unique—check them out.

Michael Juliano
Edited by
Michael Juliano
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Whether you’re already in the wedding planning stages with your significant other or are trying to woo someone new with some romantic things to do, there are so many date ideas in Los Angeles that it can be overwhelming. Here’s our guide to planning the best night out, from cheap and easy dates to some of the most romantic restaurants in L.A

The 12 best date ideas in L.A.

  • Things to do
  • Event spaces
  • San Marino
  • price 2 of 4

The bequest of entrepreneur Henry E. Huntington is now one of the most beautiful attractions in the Los Angeles region. From a Gutenberg Bible to an exquisitely landscaped Japanese garden, nearly every inch of the estate’s ever-growing grounds and collection is essential. It’s best enjoyed at a leisurely pace rather than as part of a mad day-long dash; consider treating your date to a meal on the patio or in the Rose Garden Tea Room (closed through winter 2022).

  • Things to do
  • Pacific Palisades

With a variety of terrain, flora and views of the Pacific and city, this Pacific Palisades park is perfect for a more active date. You can encourage each other along the sunny, slightly demanding uphill portions, marvel at the breathtaking views from the top and thenkeep the conversation flowing during the shaded descent. Just don’t roll through the stop signs nearby or that $100 fine will make for one expensive date.

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  • Things to do
  • Encino

Mulholland Drive is the road of classic make out points, and a clutch date night route to navigate around cross-town traffic at the same time. Make a stop at the half-dozen or so overlooks along the way, or follow the road to its gravelly terminus at San Vicente Mountain Park, where a decommissioned radar tower provides 360-degree views of Palos Verdes, Downtown and the entire Valley, including the adjacent Encino Reservoir.

  • Movies

Travel back to a time of cheap tickets and flicks from the privacy of your own car at one of the half-dozen or so drive-ins left in the region (Paramount and Vineland are the closest, but Mission Tiki is our favorite if you don’t mind venturing east of the SGV). While it’s a cinema sin to smooch loudly in a movie theater, you can cozy up a bit more easily at the drive-in: Keep it in your car and we’re cool.

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  • Things to do
  • Echo Park

A former reservoir turned public recreation area, Echo Park’s manmade lake boasts skyline views and summertime lotus blooms. You can push your way through the lake in a swan boat for $11 per person per hour. Reserve a time after 5pm and the boats will all be illuminated for extra romance.

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  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Highland Park
  • price 2 of 4

There are few L.A. venues more beautiful than Highland Park Bowl, and it’s a triple threat, no less: a bar, bowling alley and restaurant all in one. The price to rent a lane fluctuates between $35 and $70 per hour, depending on the date and time, so drive that cost down with another couple or two (each lane accommodates up to eight).

  • Movie theaters
  • Downtown Financial District
  • price 2 of 4

L.A.’s sole Alamo Drafthouse screens first-run flicks along with repertory picks (for example, Terror Tuesday, with deep-cut horror films) all within auditoriums that feature plush, reclining seats with in-theater food and drink service (including booze). In other words, if you’re looking for dinner and a movie, you can do both in one pretty cool spot in Downtown L.A.—just maybe save the romantic chitchat for later (or before the film in the theater’s easygoing bar), lest you reckon with the theater’s hardline no talking, no texting policy.

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  • Things to do
  • Venice

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 and bunches of ducklings gliding by. And if you happen to own a tandem kayak, tour the ’hood by water via the launch ramp at Venice Boulevard.

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