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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.

By Michael Juliano and Time Out contributors |
Venice Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Viviana Rishe

Whether you’re already in the wedding planning stages with your significant other or are trying to woo someone new, 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.

Venice Canals
Photograph: Roberto Nickson
Things to do

Stroll along the Venice Canals

icon-location-pin 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, bunches of ducklings and the occasional paddle boarding bulldog. And if you happen to own a tandem kayak, tour the ’hood by water via the launch ramp at Venice Boulevard.

Vineland Drive-In Theatre
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Eric G.
Movie theaters, Drive-in

See a drive-in movie at the Vineland Drive-In Theatre

icon-location-pin San Gabriel Valley

Travel back to a time of cheap tickets and flicks from the privacy of your own car at what’s perhaps the only top-notch date spot in the City of Industry. While it’s a cinema sin to smooch loudly in a movie theater, you can cozy up a bit more easily at the adrive-in: Keep it in your car and we’re cool.

Griffith Observatory
Photograph: Courtesy Daniil Vnoutchkov
Museums, Science and technology

Take in the view from the Griffith Observatory

icon-location-pin Griffith Park

Whether you hike up to it during the day or drive to it at night to gaze at the moon, the Griffith Observatory makes for a romantic location. Look out at the city below—which often makes for interesting conversations—or sit through the observatory show. Just don’t expect it to be as magically empty as in La La Land.

Huntington Library
Photograph: Courtesy the Huntington Library
Things to do, Event spaces

Spend an afternoon at the Huntington Library

icon-location-pin San Marino

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.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Julie R
Things to do

Hike Temescal Canyon together

icon-location-pin Pacific Palisades

With a variety of terrain, flora and views of the Pacific and city, this Pacific Palisades park is great for an easygoing but still uphill hike. You’ll experience vast, breathtaking views that span from Catalina to Downtown and enough varied terrain to keep the conversation flowing. Just don’t roll through the stop signs nearby or that $100 fine will make for one expensive date.

Wildlife Learning Center
Photograph: Courtesy Wildlife Learning Center
Attractions, Animal rescue homes

See cute animals at the Wildlife Learning Center

icon-location-pin San Fernando Valley

Walk around the leafy grounds of this suburban Sylmar sanctuary to see everything from monkeys to foxes. For hands-on photo ops, request a close encounter with a porcupine, a Siberian lynx, a two-toed sloth or an impossibly adorable fennec fox. Make sure to say hi to Zeus, the starry-eyed blind owl in the gift shop.

Highland Park Bowl
Photograph: Wonho Frank Lee
Things to do, Games and hobbies

Go on a double date at Highland Park Bowl

icon-location-pin Highland Park

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 $25 and $70 per hour, depending on the date and time, so drive that cost down with another couple or two (each line accommodates up to eight).

Things to do

Picnic at Echo Park Lake

icon-location-pin Echo Park

The Eastside’s historic Echo Park Lake boasts beautiful views of the Downtown skyline, and during the summer lotus gardens in bloom. Bring your own picnic basket and roll out a blanket, or hit up on-site spot Beacon. You’ll also find pedal boats rented by the hour—possibly the cutest couple activity ever, though it will cost you ($10 per person).

Photograph: Michael Juliano
Things to do

Take a joy ride along Mulholland Drive

icon-location-pin Encino

Mulholland Drive is the road of classic make out points, and a clutch date night route to avoid cross-town traffic at the same time. Make sure to get real cozy at the half dozen or so overlooks along the way. 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.

Santa Monica Farmers' Market
Photograph: Courtesy Santa Monica Farmers' Market
Shopping, Markets and fairs

Stock up at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market

icon-location-pin Santa Monica

We love the idea of perusing fresh fruits and veggies with a new crush. Even if you don’t buy anything, you can sample some fresh eats, people-watch and plan for a future spent cooking breakfast for each other—maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Regardless, Santa Monica hosts four of our favorites, particualrly on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.

Little Prince
Photograph: Courtesy Little Prince
Restaurants, American

Have a romantic meal at Little Prince

icon-location-pin Santa Monica

Choosing a date restaurant is hard. It needs to be romantic without being too formal, special without being too expensive and cool without being tragically so. We think Alma chef Ari Taymor’s Santa Monica spot perfectly fits that bill, whether for a bright brunch and walk around town, or a low-lit dinner. Make sure not to skip some of the most decadent sticky buns in the city.

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