Whether you’re trying to impress with that all-important first date or need a break from the predictability of Netflix-and-fall-asleep-on-the-couch-together, getting creative with date night isn’t always easy. So, to help you shake things up a bit, we’ve scoured the city to find date ideas that are actually great. And while we don’t exactly have seasons here in LA, we’ve recommended options ideal for the (slightly) colder months to help heat things up.
Take a retro flight with the Pan Am Experience
While booking a flight with your date might be a bit premature, you can still hop aboard a retro-themed flight with the Pan Am Experience and sip cocktails together in first class. The immersive, five-course dinner experience features an exact replica of the airline’s Boeing 747 done to the last 1970s-era vintage detail. Order martinis from the open bar, feast on chateaubriand carved seat-side by flight attendants in the iconic Pan Am uniforms, and even shop old school items from the duty-free cart. You also tour Air Hollywood studios, where pretty much any film or TV show set on an airplane is filmed. It’s a fun, one-of-a-kind experience that’s sure to impress.
Sweep them off their feet (just be careful on the ice)
While the rest of the country is avoiding frostbite, we here in LA merely inch closer to the heat lamp as we continue drinking outside year-round — but that doesn’t mean we don’t like to pretend we have seasons. Enter: curling, that curious Winter Olympic sport beloved by our neighbors to the north, involving sliding “rocks” across ice and furiously sweeping their path to a target. It actually involves a lot of teamwork, strategy, and healthy competition — great ingredients for a date night. Plus, you can warm up together with drinks afterward and laugh about all the times you wiped out on the ice. Hollywood Curling, the only club in LA, offers frequent curling classes for beginners.
Get your heart racing on a slide 1,000 feet above DTLA
There’s nothing like an exhilarating experience to bring people closer together, which is why you should take your date to OUE Skyspace LA at the top of the US Bank Tower. There, you can zip down a 45-foot glass slide from the 70th floor to the 69th(!) floor on the outside of the building; afterward, soak up spectacular views from California’s tallest open air observation deck. If stretching is your thing, there’s also sunset yoga classes up there, and if you’re ready to pop the question, there’s a wedding proposal package with a private dinner, string quartet, and a helicopter tour that leaves from the roof. If you’re not quite ready for that, though, just head up to 71Above, one of the most romantic restaurants in town, for a fantastic prix fixe dinner and cocktails. The sunset views up there are so legendary, they even have their own Instagram account.
Tour the secret tunnels beneath the streets of DTLA
Venture below street level to discover the hidden tunnels, former speakeasies, and lore of the city’s underbelly with Cartwheel Art’s Underground LA tour. In partnership with Hotel Indigo, the tours will give you and your adventurous date an up-close look at the legendary secret passageways once used to transport booze (and bodies!) during Prohibition, and the clandestine watering holes used by those in the know. Once you’ve seen a side of the city that most haven’t, you’ll likely want to whet your whistle at a modern-day LA speakeasy like The Varnish, The Slipper Clutch, or Jackalope. Also note that Cartwheel Art has several other tours for other options as well, in case secret tunnels aren’t quite the date you had in mind.
Get cozy over boozy cider and mead
Take a break from your usual hop-heavy brewery date night, and discover refreshing new flavors together at Honest Abe’s Cider House and Meadery. Located just down the road from the spooky and sour brews of Phantom Carriage Brewery in Carson, this cider house features 15 rotating taps of classic ciders (as well as creative ones like pineapple and pomegranate), plus a variety of meads, wine, and even brandy — perfect for warming up on a chilly night. The cozy tasting room has couches and games, plus Taco Thursdays and free pizza and movies on Fridays.
Share your creative side with art classes at LACMA
Exploring LACMA’s numerous exhibitions and taking selfies in front of Levitated Mass and the streetlamps of Chris Burden’s Urban Light could constitute a respectable date on its own, but why not kick your creativity up a few notches and sign the two of you up for art classes at the museum? The adult classes include drawing and painting, mixed media printmaking, and more, and not only will you learn about composition, color, and technique together, but you can gift each other your own works of art. Most of the classes are five, once-a-week sessions, so this is really more for advanced dates; if you’re more of an entry-level option with less commitment (and the addition of booze), try Paint Nite.
Take a staycation cruise aboard the haunted Queen Mary
Head down to Long Beach to the historic (and haunted) Queen Mary, which offers a multitude of date options in one location. The retired ocean liner, which sailed from 1936 to 1967, hosts numerous historical tours, as well as the Ghosts and Legends tour and paranormal-themed dinners sure to bring you and your date closer together. It also features monthly comedy shows and local band nights at the Observation Bar & Art Deco Lounge, and you can check the calendar for special seasonal events. If things go really well, you can even book one of the stylish staterooms for a luxurious staycation.
Don’t worry, we’re not recommending hiking hiking — the hikes we’re referring to (10 of which we detailed here) are instead easy-breezy short ones that’ll get you to I-think-I-can-see-San-Diego-from-here heights. They’re all ranked from one to five, with a one being a suuuuuper-easy hike, and five being just a little bit not-easier.
Your roller-skating skills are definitely shaky (get it? DO YOU?), but struggling to stay upright while holding onto your date will be way more fun than trying to practice your solo spin move. Alcohol isn’t served at this throwback roller rink in Glendale — one of the last in LA — but that’s what flasks were made for, right?
Explore a new food neighborhood with Six Taste
For both the new transplant in the city, and the longtime local who plainly just loves food, Six Taste’s walking tours hit up five or six different spots in one tour, focusing on the most edible and historical highlights of neighborhoods all over LA.
Make sure your next date can be a romantic dinner in with a Hipcooks class
Whether you consider yourself a Top Chef or a Boyardee Chef, your cooking game can always use some refining. Hone your skills and get messy together at one of the classes from this fun and affordable cooking school (at the Eastside, Westside, or Woodland Hills locations). You might just learn how to make some dim sum or pasta from scratch. Added bonus: You get a meal (and usually booze!) out of it.
Look fancy with dinner and a show at the Wallis Annenberg Center
Stock up on culture cred with your date by checking out a jazz/theater/dance/classical production at the Wallis, the impressive arts center in Beverly Hills (of all places), and enjoy a sweet happy hour at the upscale Italian bistro Cecconi’s before the show. Hungry diners can pop in and get a little tipsy with some wine and cocktails, and soak up all that booze with gourmet bites (including truffle burgers and pizzettas with porchetta) for $4-$7 Tuesdays through Saturdays from 4-7pm.
Taste local wine with wild animals
Because Sonoma is a bit far to drive for someone who maybe accidentally swiped right, this handy wine tasting room along Mulholland offers you two a chance to sip vino with a view without awkwardly suffering through the smell of cow pies while driving north on the 5. Pack a picnic/stock up at Trader Joe’s and catch some live folksy music on the weekends, or get wild with the Wine Safaris, where you can take a jeep tour to meet and feed zebras, camels, giraffes, and more wild animals on the property (while tasting wine along the way).
We already told you how awesome OUE Skyspace LA is for dates, so what are you waiting for? From the two open-air observation decks, located 1,000 feet above the city, you get 360-degree views of Downtown Los Angeles. Visit at sunset and it’s one of the most romantic spots in town. But there is one small problem: how will you ever outdo yourself?
Indoor rock climbing
You and your date can flex your muscles and “spot” each other at LA’s largest indoor bouldering gym (no ropes!) in the Arts District. Even if the two of you aren’t feeling like Stallone in Cliffhanger, the gym offers intro classes to get you both climbing safely.
Nighttime bike riding
The Passage is a weekly bike ride that starts and ends at a donut shop (score!), and along the way aims to hit unexplored parts of LA — sometimes hitting pool halls, bowling alleys, and karaoke along the way. Is it oddball? Yes. Is it still an awesome date? YES.
Roll a spare at vintage bowling at Highland Park Bowl
Sure, many of LA’s classic and well-worn bowling alleys have that endearing je ne sais quoi (like All Star Lanes’ karaoke stage!), but if you want to really impress a date, Highland Park Bowl is where it’s at. This historic joint has been open since the Prohibition era and was the former home to punk rock venue Mr. T’s Bowl. The revamped alley’s been given a glam makeover that melds the old with the new, like a recovered mural from the 1930s, chandeliers made of vintage pin-setters, and some seriously good wood-fired pizzas and craft cocktails. Pro tip: Go to happy hour Monday through Fridays from 5-8pm for discounts on drink and food — like a $10 pizza-and-draft combo or $3 PBRs — and lanes.
Scope out the city’s architecture at Barnsdall Art Park
Barnsdall Art Park is one of the most underrated spots in LA to get a gorgeous view of the city and some culture under your belt. For the architecture buffs, Frank Lloyd Wright’s first-ever LA project, Hollyhock House, sits on this hilltop and is open for viewing with the purchase of a ticket Thursdays to Sundays. Pack a picnic for a sunset meal for extra bonus points with the date. And check the park’s calendar, as throughout the year it also plays host to wine tasting parties, outdoor movie screenings, gallery openings, and plenty more fun cultural events that are prime date material.
Grab a drink in secret at LA’s best speakeasies
The Prohibition era may be long gone, but the idea of sneaking into a speakeasy never gets old. A few years back there were only a scant number of LA bars with secret entrances and special passwords (like “ET phone home”). Now we have so many (23 of the best ones are detailed here) that you and your date could even do a bar crawl visiting these watering holes. But shh, you didn’t hear it from us.
Explore the bizarre at the Museum of Jurassic Technology
While some people like to have romantic candlelit dinners on dates, others love a good adventure exploring really weird and creepy stuff. Don’t let the name of this place confuse you — it’s not quite a museum like LACMA or MOCA — but rather a bizarre experience exploring art, trinkets, and stuff that will have you giggling and muttering to your date, “What the hell?” We don’t want to spoil it for you, but all we can say is go in with an open mind and just know you’re in for a fun and delightfully unsettling time. An added perk is that you get to end your visit with a trip to the rooftop garden where you can have tea and cookies… because why not?
Lace up your shoes for an urban hike at the secret Beachwood Canyon Stairs
One of the coolest things about LA is its many, many secret sets of stairs. From Silver Lake to Santa Monica, you’ll find hillside neighborhoods with shortcuts dipping up and down random sets of stairs — something Angelenos used to use back in the day, many for the sadly defunct streetcars. Our favorite route is the Beachwood Canyon one that goes through what old Hollywoodland once was. It’s a chill 2.6-mile hike/walk where you and your date can get a little sweaty (that’s sexy, right?) and have fun figuring out the route and discovering some cool views and architecture porn along the way. If the date’s going well, extend it a little further with a bite to eat at nearby Beachwood Cafe, which just so happens to be owned by Chopped winner Patti Peck.
Take advantage of our weather and dine al fresco
LA is #blessed with good weather pretty much most of the year, which means we have a plethora of al fresco dining and drinking options. We’ve highlighted 20 of our favorite restaurants with outdoor patios here, from a sweet rooftop bar with Fijian food to poolside dining at a swanky ‘60s-style hotel.
Take a guided tour of the Watts Towers Arts Center
Watts Towers is unlike anything else you’ll see around LA. Go on a guided tour and walk through the 17 historic art structures made of steel and mosaics. The tallest one is nearly 100 feet high! After you’ve gotten your dose of history and art, do yourself a favor and take your date to Watts Coffee House for soul-food brunch and get some of the best fried chicken wings and waffles in town.
Star Parties in Griffith Park
Whether you venture up to the Griffith Observatory on a hike or take the easy way by car, it’s always an excellent, starry-eyed date destination offering stunning views of the city. You can, of course, re-enact plenty of movie scenes from Rebel Without a Cause to La La Land — or better yet, take your date to the Star Parties held one Saturday a month, where you two can peer through telescopes to see the real stars of Hollywood. Then head down to date night classic Little Dom’s to get cozy in a booth with a bottle of red and some hearty Italian eats.
Enjoy a magical meal
You’ve probably heard couples talk about how they want to add some magic back into their relationship, so why not add some actual magic to your next date? Surely you know a magician — er, illusionist — who can get you into the legendary, members-only Magic Castle where illusions abound and dinner is actually much better than it used to be. Or, if you don’t, you could impress your date with an intimate show at Black Rabbit Rose, the new magic theatre from the creative Houston brothers (Break Room 86, Good Times at Davey Wayne’s, etc). After the show you can grab magic-inspired cocktails and excellent Thai-Chinese from Crying Tiger.
Journey through LA’s historic past
There’s nothing like a bit of vintage Los Angeles history to inspire swoons straight from a classic noir romance. Start off with a ride on the newly reopened and restored Angels Flight, the iconic funicular railway that originally opened in 1901. Afterward, head over to Grand Central Market, which celebrates its centennial this year, where you and your date can feast from the myriad of delicious vendors (both new and legacy). Pro tip: The market now stays open for dinner, and offers nightly date-friendly events like trivia and jazz. You could also head down Broadway to historic Clifton’s and grab a drink at the Pacific Seas tiki bar. Explore even more with Esotouric’s unique and fascinating tours, which take you through the darker corners of LA’s literary, cultural, and true crime past.
Take in a floral-inspired brunch
Even if you aren’t a budding botanist yourself, exploring the historic Southern California Flower Market and Original Los Angeles Flower Market is an incredible only-in-LA experience that everyone should check out. Plus, what date wasn’t improved with a bouquet of fresh flowers (especially ones at a fraction of the cost of retail shops). Admission is just $2 per person for the general public, and you two can roam through the fragrant aisles freely, but just be sure to go before noon when most vendors close. There’s also a farmers market between the two flower markets on Saturdays, and you definitely want to grab brunch or lunch at Poppy & Rose. There you’ll find incredibly delicious American classics, including biscuits & gravy and buttermilk-brined fried chicken, as well as salads and egg dishes.
Crafts, brews, and sea life in San Pedro
Venturing down to San Pedro may be unfamiliar territory for some, but the drive is well worth it if you’re looking for a unique date adventure — and possibly even a staycation. Kick off the date at Brouwerij West, the massive brewery specializing in Belgian-inspired brews that use unique grains and ingredients. Grab a bite at the food truck parked outside and if you happen to go during one of the summertime Popfuji festivals on the huge patio, you can catch live music as well. Across the way, you and your date can also check out works from local artists at Crafted, and you should definitely visit the Frank Gehry-designed Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, where you can explore exhibits of Southern California’s sea life, or get even more up-close during guided tide pool walks or local excursions.
Article by We Like LA.