Where to Go on a Date This Spring in San Diego

Get back out there with wine and beer fests, live music, art exhibitions, and more.

It’s finally spring, and love is in the air—or wait, maybe that’s oak pollen. Whatever it is, we’re happy our noses are free to smell it, now that California has lifted its mask mandate. Whether you fancy a romantic walk on the beach, a spectacular dining experience at one of our city’s best restaurants, stunning rooftop views, or an adventurous outing, San Diego’s perfect weather and abundant activities can make choosing the perfect date scenario somewhat intimidating. Fortunately, you can have an effortlessly great date night (or day) by stealing one or more of these can’t-miss ideas. Here are our favorite things to do and places to go with someone special this spring:

Uncorked Wine Festivals
Uncorked Wine Festivals

Uncork by the bay

April 2
$$$
Spanish Landing Park
Spend a relaxing afternoon sipping your way through nearly 100 wineries at the 7th annual Uncorked: San Diego Wine Festival. Your general admission ticket will get you tastes of over 200 wines from around the globe, ciders, seltzers and canned cocktails, plus lawn games and a live DJ, all surrounded by stunning views of San Diego Bay. Early admission on the other hand, includes shorter lines and exclusive pours from select vineyards. Proceeds from the fest benefit Urban Surf 4 Kids, an outreach organization that works with orphaned and foster youth. +21 only, no pets are allowed.

Vista Strawberry Festival
Vista Strawberry Festival

Feast on the best local foods

$$-$$$$
Various locations
What’s more romantic than strolling hand-in-hand through one of San Diego’s unique neighborhoods, noshing on all the best sips and bites from local restaurants? In April, experience all that Liberty Station has to offer at the 6th annual Taste of Liberty Station, while enjoying live music, local artwork, and sampling bites from featured restaurants. May welcomes Vista’s A Berry Sweet Market, where you’ll celebrate all the joys and pleasures of the quintessential summer fruit. Also in May, get ready for the ultimate taco throwdown at the San Diego Reader Tacotopia, featuring 60 of the finest taco vendors from San Diego, Los Angeles and Tijuana, including unlimited taco tastings, live music, and games. Fire up your taste buds in June at the inaugural West Coast Hot Sauce Experience, for an almost endless array of hot sauces and spicy foods to sample and buy, craft beer and specialty cocktails, food trucks, eating contests, and live music. Three ticketing options are available; general admission will also be sold at the door, but upgraded packages must be purchased in advance.

Tequila & Taco Music Festival
Tequila & Taco Music Festival

Dance till you drop at a music festival

Various locations
Nothing brings two (or a few thousand) people together like watching a favorite band perform live, and music festivals are a great way to get to know your new crush. While the fate of KAABOO hasn’t been decided yet for 2022, there are plenty of other opportunities for open-air concerts and festivals. Late in April, Petco Park hosts the Tequila and Taco Music Festival, two full days of fun in the sun, tequila tastings, live music, food vendors, craft beer, margarita booths, and shopping. Celebrate Mardi Gras in May at Gator By The Bay, a music and Louisiana food and crawfish festival in Spanish Landing Park that brings you over 10,000 pounds of live crawfish,seven stages featuring non-stop zydeco, blues, Cajun, swing, salsa, country, and jazz music, and a French Quarter food court full of all the classic Louisiana dishes you can imagine. Later in May, join several thousand of your new best friends at the finest free two-day music festival of the season, Fiesta del Sol in Solana Beach, where The Belly Up provides a diverse showcase of continuous live music spanning rock, reggae, soul, funk, jazz, blues, Latin, and Worldbeat. That same weekend, wander through one of San Diego’s most dynamic neighborhoods at the North Park Music Fest, with three stages of free live music, craft beer and cocktails, food vendors, and a VIP Sunday brunch from Breakfast Republic and Eggies.

ArtWalk San Diego
ArtWalk San Diego

Ogle some art

Various locations
Whether your date takes you to Barrio Logan, Balboa Park, Hillcrest, Liberty Station, or almost any other neighborhood, wandering through local art galleries and museums is a must-do for any art lover. Experience Comic Con all year long at the new Comic Con Museum in Balboa Park, where comic art and similar genres are celebrated through rotating exhibits and interactive displays. April brings one of San Diego’s biggest art events to Little Italy, when the Mission Fed Art Walk fills the streets with fine art in a mind-bending array of visual media, with street food vendors in addition to Little Italy’s plethora of restaurants, plus this year, a New Orleans-themed program of live music hosted by the Gator by the Bay Festival.

Reach your fitness goals together

$$-$$$
Various locations
Setting fitness goals together and working to achieve them brings you closer to your love, not to mention encouraging sweaty sessions of another sort. Stay in shape and have fun doing it at one of the many road races that take place across the county every weekend. The San Diego Beach and Bay half marathon, 10K and 5K has a race length for everyone on a fast oceanfront course on April 10, plus a beer garden and a great finisher’s medal. In May, the legendary Carlsbad 5000, otherwise known as “The World’s Fastest 5K”, offers the opportunity for you to set a world’s record, or at least a new personal best, on its famously fast oceanfront course. June brings the Rock & Roll Marathon, half marathon and 5K, with live music every mile, an after race festival at Waterfront Park, and the coolest race t-shirts and finisher’s medals around.

North Park Festival of Beers
North Park Festival of Beers

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Various locationsGiven our status as a craft beer capital, it’s inevitable that you and your love will find yourselves bonding over saisons or sessions at a beer garden or festival. Mark your calendars for April 2 as the North Park Festival of Beers returns for a fun-filled day with unlimited tastings from 50+ craft and international breweries, live music, and some of San Diego’s most popular food and craft vendors. Later in the month, head to Petco Park for the first of six San Diego Padres Beerfests scheduled for 2022. Beerfest is a tailgate-style happy hour party with live music and $5 beer specials that commences at 4:30 pm and continues until just before the first pitch in Petco Park’s Gallagher Square. Your four-legged friend can join you on your date at Barks & Brews Beerfest in May at Spanish Landing Park East, where you’ll enjoy craft beer tastings and bites while the pups can strut their stuff in fun contests and cruise the designated off-leash zones.
Head to NTC Park in Liberty Station this June to quaff the best at the 11th annual San Diego Brew Festival, with more than sixty excellent breweries, cideries, ginger beers, and kombuchas, live music and an array of local food trucks (not included with admission).

$-$$
Mission Hills
Every Saturday and Sunday the Mission Hills rooftop theater, Cinema Under the Stars, features the best classic and cult films, shown on a 20-foot screen with HD projection and surround sound. You can choose from single or double zero gravity recliners, loveseat cabanas or deck chairs with ottomans when you make your reservation online. The smallish snack bar serves coffee, tea, soda, bottled water, popcorn, and a variety of candy for just $2 each. Come with cash—your credit card just reserves your seat online and they only accept dollars at the door and the snack bar for payment.

...Or at an old school drive-in theatre

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South Bay

Built during the heyday of drive-ins in 1953, South Bay Drive-in Theatre has undergone several renovations, finally upgrading to fully digital picture and sound, with the brightest picture quality available on three 100-foot screens. You can see a double-feature every day, year round for the bargain price of $10 for adults and just $1 for kids between five and nine years old. The snack bar covers all your movie faves, plus burritos, tacos and tortas, and they even have email coupons for food discounts, but feel free to bring your own goodies if you prefer. Audio is played through your car speakers, but if you’re concerned about your car’s battery life, bring along an FM radio—most audio apps don’t work well here. Plastic is accepted for tickets, but the snack bar is cash only.

Morley Field Disc Golf Course
Morley Field Disc Golf Course

Try your hand at disc golf

$
Balboa Park
It won’t matter if you have beginner’s luck or flame out spectacularly, this mashup sport of golf and frisbee is still a good time at a budget-friendly price. Even on weekends, Morley Field Disc Golf Course’s surprisingly challenging 19 holes are a mere $5-$6. Afterwards, hit up Panama 66 for grab-and-go bowls, salads and ficelle sandwiches, and have an impromptu picnic in the park.

AxeVentures San Diego
AxeVentures (San Diego)

Unleash your inner lumberjack

$$
North Park, Oceanside
Yoga and meditation are great stress relievers, but so is throwing a tomahawk across the room, albeit it’s a little more aggressive. Try your hand at Axe Ventures, one of several tomahawk axe-throwing venues that have popped up across the city. Book a lane online or walk in anytime, learn the ropes from one of the coaches, and spend the next hour or so perfecting your technique. Check out North Park’s new Rage Room, or hit them up on Thursdays in North Park, and Mondays and Thursdays in Oceanside for Dark Light Night and one-of-a-kind date night memories.

Climb the walls

$$
Grantville
Show off your climbing skills on 7,000 square feet of wall space at Grotto Climbing and Yoga. Featuring state-of-the-art indoor bouldering terrain, including more than 13,000 handmade holds, a campus board, a peg board, an illuminated moon board, fingerboards, and a 60-degree training board, climbers of all skill levels are ensured an exhilarating experience. In addition, there’s a yoga studio teaching all-level vinyasa, acroyoga, yin, restorative and Budokon-inspired flow classes, and a fitness area with a Rogue fitness rack, weights, and rings. The Intro to Bouldering class is a great choice for first timers and includes shoe rental, 30 minutes of instruction, and a day pass, so afterwards you can hit the weights or stretch out any sore muscles in a yoga class.

Silver strand beach
Eleni Mavrandoni/Shutterstock

Bike along the Silver Strand

Free
Coronado Ferry Landing
The Silver Strand Bikeway begins at Coronado Ferry Landing, and takes you along the nine-mile flat, sandy tombolo all the way to Imperial Beach. Perfect for riders of all levels, you’ll be treated to views of the Pacific Ocean on one side and the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge on the other. Don’t miss a stop at Silver Strand Beach for a quick swim or a walk along the sand. Your bike rides for free when you cross over on the ferry and rentals are available at the ferry landing if you haven’t brought your own.

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 raicillas 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. The expanded patio can accommodate in-house drinking and dining on a first-come basis.

Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream
Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream

Share an ice cream flight at Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream

$
North Park and Point Loma
Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream 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, 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).

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 90 minute to two-hour session takes you through the creation of your own colorful painting, no experience required. Classes are held indoors and outdoors, with Pinot’s Palette bar service and a special menu from the neighboring Solare Ristorante available. 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.

Hornblower Cruises & Events San Diego
Hornblower Cruises & Events San Diego

$$$-$$$$
Little Italy
What could be more romantic than viewing San Diego’s glittering skyline from the water, beneath a luminous moon? Board City Cruises’ signature dinner cruises and enjoy a variety of different date night options, from cocktails at sunset to a three-course lobster dinner. There’s even a dinner and movie cruise featuring old and new classics. If you and your crush are more into daytime adventures, there’s sea life and whale watching cruises, where you can see migrating gray whales, Minke whales, and pods of dolphins.

Pick up pickleball

Free
Various locations
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 dozens of outdoor courts across San Diego County, where some have free clinics for beginners.

The Marine Room
The Marine Room

Swim with sharks

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La Jolla Shores Now that the weather is getting warmer, the shallow waters of La Jolla Shores will start to attract 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 a few to hundreds in four to five 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. Use your own equipment or rent from one of the local shops within walking distance of La Jolla Shores Beach.

Balboa Park
Balboa Park

Explore Balboa Park like a tourist

Free
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 and architecture, hike one of the 19 trails, or snuggle through a free afternoon concert at Spreckels Organ Pavilion, held every Sunday at 2 pm.

Perfect your double axel at the mall

$-$$
University City
Lace up your skates and hit the ice at UTC Ice Sports Center, located next to the food court inside Westfield UTC. Daily public skating sessions are available two-hour sessions, and include four hours of free parking with validation, so you and your love can glide to your heart’s content, then grab lunch or dinner at one of UTC’s 55 cafes, coffee shops, or fine dining restaurants. Rental skates are included, and helmets are available for a few bucks more.

Windmill Food Hall
Windmill Food Hall

Check out a food hall

$-$$
Various locations
Food halls, the latest trend in casual dining, are a far cry from the old mall food courts you used to hang at back in middle school, plus you can scope out your new crush’s culinary leanings while indulging your own whims. Market on 8th in National City, the Liberty Public Market in Liberty Station, and Windmill Food Hall in Carlsbad host craft cocktail bars and nearly every kind of food shop you can imagine, from pizza to poke.

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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 stuff, reading cookbooks and drinking fabulous gin. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.