Whether you fancy a romantic walk on the beach, an intimate picnic in a secluded park, or an adventurous outing, San Diego’s perfect weather and the abundant options for activities can make choosing the perfect date scenario somewhat intimidating. Fortunately, you can have an effortlessly great date night (or day) in SD by stealing one or more of these can’t-miss ideas.
There's a Stock Market-Themed Cocktail Bar in Hong Kong
Multiple locations Burgers and pizza will always be there for you, but it’s good to break out of your culinary comfort zone and get busy with some new flavors now and then. Fortunately, San Diego’s restaurant scene is fully stocked with all sorts of tasty international eats, including Indian and Nepalese fare at Taste of the Himalayas, upscale dim sum at Fung Fung Yuen in Mira Mesa, and aromatic Southern Indian cuisine at Surati Farsan Mart (to name a few).
Catch dinner and a movie at a dive in theatre
Point Loma Every Wednesday evening, the iconic, retro-inspired Pearl Hotel hosts a free Dive-in Theatre event poolside. Drop in early to grab a bite to eat at the newly revamped Charles and Dinorah restaurant, named for the couple who owned the hotel for forty years, back when it was called Sportsman’s Lodge. Après-dinner, grab a cocktail from the bar and a pool chair, or, if you’re the adventurous type, hop into the pool to view the show. No splashing!
Various locations Cheese, it is said, is milk’s leap toward immortality, but for a shorter term relationship, let Venissimo’s cheesemongers guide you through the process of making your own mozzarella, ricotta, and queso fresco. If you’d prefer to just eat cheese together, Venissimo also hosts tasting events with charcuterie pairings, beer or wine pairings, or a decadent ménage à trois of cheese, chocolate, and Champagne.
Sip some mezcal at Cantina Mayahuel
University Heights Introduce yourselves to tequila’s sexier, smokier cousin at Cantina Mayahuel, where over 100 different mezcals, sotols, bacanoras, and racillas line the wall behind the bar. While mezcal margaritas are available (and delicious), aficionados prefer to sip it neat, and the friendly, knowledgeable bartenders will gladly guide you through your tasting experience. If mezcal isn’t your thing, there are also 250+ varieties of tequila, including the house brand, Don Lorenzo Reposado Reserva.
Middletown Whether it’s your three-year, three-week, or three-hour anniversary, celebrate your milestone at the Wine Vault and Bistro’s wine pairing dinners, one of San Diego’s best, most reasonably priced nights out for wine and food lovers. Held every Thursday through Saturday, you can choose from three- or five-course prix fixe menus that change weekly, with optional wines specially selected to go with your food. Pro tip: reservations are recommended, and must be made by phone.
Pacific Beach, North Park, Point Loma Hammond’s offers over 300 flavors of Tropical Dreams super premium Hawaiian ice cream and sorbet, which is the perfect excuse to skip dinner and go straight for indulgence Having a hard time deciding between chocolate coconut macadamia nut, lilikoi (passionfruit) sorbet, or peanut butter and guava jelly? Opt for flights of your favorites in adorable mini cake or waffle cones, to share (or not).
Mira Mesa If your date's into beer, or you've ever wondered what makes a Belgian ale taste so different from an American ale, take one of the free daily tours offered by White Labs. What began as a group of homebrewers searching for higher quality yeast has grown into a world-class international company that sells beer, wine, and distilling supplies, and holds classes ranging from how to pair beer with donuts to in-depth, hands-on lab courses for professionals. There's a 20-barrel brewhouse onsite, as well as a 32-tap tasting room, so after the tour you can experience how much yeast impacts the flavor profile of beer firsthand.
Make like a pinball wizard at Coin-Op Game Room
North Park This arcade ups its old school game cabinets like Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Mortal Kombat with the addition of craft cocktails, punch bowls, a dozen or so beer taps, and inventive twists on classic bar bites. Both locations also have vintage pinball, but the Gaslamp venue has Skee-Ball machines and Super Shot Basketball games, both of which are classic "date night" staples. Right?
Drink wine and paint a masterpiece
Liberty Station Anyone can be an artist at Pinot’s Palette in the beautiful Liberty Station Arts District. Each two- or three-hour session takes you through the creation of your own colorful painting, no experience required. Grab a glass of vino to get your creative juices flowing, then relax and follow the instructor-led, step-by-step directions. Whether you end up with flawless masterpieces or undisplayable accidents, it’ll certainly bring you closer.
Embark on a full moon dinner cruise
Little Italy What could be more romantic than viewing San Diego’s glittering skyline from the water, beneath a glowing full moon? Board Hornblower Cruises’ signature full moon dinner cruise and enjoy a glass of Champagne, a three-course dinner, and plenty of time to dance under the stars and enjoy the sparkling sights around San Diego Bay.
Salsa dance under the stars
The Headquarters at Seaport Village Watch the evening turn to night as you and your love make with the sexy salsa moves in the beautiful outdoor courtyard at the Headquarters at Seaport Village. On the third Friday of every month, from now until September, local musician Manny Cepeda and his orchestra bring their repertoire of classic salsa, merengue, cumbia, bachata, and Cuban music from 6 to 9pm. New to salsa? No worries, as there’s no experience necessary for this free event.
Pick up pickleball
Point Loma Invented in 1965, pickleball is a fast-paced, easy-to-learn mash-up of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton, where players (singles or doubles) face off and whack a Wiffle Ball with a solid paddle across a low net on a small court to score points. Give it a try at one of the open play sessions at Barnes Tennis Center in Point Loma; a half-hour lesson on the basics starts you off, and loaner paddles are included in the $7 court fee.
Swim with sharks
La Jolla Shores As the weather gets warmer, the shallow waters of La Jolla Shores attracts scores of leopard sharks, especially around the front of the tennis club and The Marine Room Restaurant. There, during peak season, the sharks typically hang out in groups of hundreds in about 4-5 feet of water. Although seeing a five-foot-long shark can be intimidating, leopard sharks pose no danger; despite being carnivores, they never attack humans. Besides, these sharks draw snorkelers from all over the world and are used to seeing people gawking at them.
Balboa Park Similar to human relationships, it’s easy to start taking even a treasure like Balboa Park for granted. Renew your love for both with a romantic hand-in-hand stroll through the exquisite gardens, museums, and architecture, or snuggle under the night sky at the Twilight in the Park Summer Concert Series, held every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from mid-June through August.
Visit a secret bar
Multiple locations Everybody loves to be in on a secret, even if it’s not really a secret. There’s just something vaguely clandestine (and a bit naughty) about going into, say, a taco joint, opening a door at the back, and finding yourself in a French-inspired speakeasy -- as you can when you visit ¡Libertad! Tacos a la Brasa in Hillcrest. The East Village’s Blind Burro has a beaded portal to the Cat Eye Club tiki bar, while Rare Form’s delicatessen leads to a rooftop speakeasy, Fairweather, overlooking Petco Park.
Unleash your sapiosexual side at trivia night
Multiple locations Intelligence is sexy as hell, and trivia nights are a great way to gauge whether your crush will still be as alluring tomorrow morning -- and fortunately, you’ve got options for basically every night of the week. True North in North Park pairs trivia with $4 Bacardi or Jameson shots on Mondays, Park & Rec in University Heights is a popular spot on Tuesday nights, The Regal Beagle in Mission Hills has Wednesdays covered and the East Village’s Knotty Barrel Gastropub combines trivia with half-price bottles of wine every Thursday night.
Watch some close-up magic
Old Town Join magician Sebastian and his Intimate Miracles show at the Red Spade Theater in Old Town for an unusual and memorable date night. His fascinating mix of sleight-of-hand, close up magic tricks, and incredible storytelling will leave you and your date both mystified and enchanted.
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Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting various vegetables and beverages, reading cookbooks and traveling around Mexico. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.
As of January 1, 2018, weed is now legal for any and all kinds of users in the great state of California -- we even put together a statewide legal weed guide to celebrate it! With the end of prohibition comes a glut of new, fully licensed dispensaries that are able to sell product to both medical and recreational patients, and existing dispensaries have responded by upping their customer service regimens, adding bells and whistles, and decking out the decor. Unfortunately, with legalization also comes a few headaches, like longer lines, higher prices and, in some cases, reduced selection, meaning that some dispensaries have chosen to stay strictly medical. Regardless of designation, though, here are the best marijuana dispensaries in San Diego.
From Los Angeles to San Diego: Every Pit Stop You Need To Make Along The Way
With zero humidity and palm trees in the rearview mirror, cruising down the Pacific coast to San Diego from Los Angeles is summer. Of course, LA traffic can make it less cruiseworthy and more bumper-to-bumper. But with authentic taquerias, whale watching, and iconic surf breaks, there’s a quintessential SoCal pit stop just about every mile of the ride to distract you. Here’s seven summer getaways you can easily hit on the way to San Diego -- just don’t forget the sunscreen and a swimsuit.
The San Diego Bucket List: 37 Things to Do Before You Die
Congratulations on living in San Diego -- plenty of people make that an item on their bucket list and never check it off. But why stop there? You want to make the most of your precious time here, and to do that, you need to do these 37 things before you die, or worse, move somewhere else.