6 Free-Spirited Date Ideas for Sober October in LA

Latina business owner Brianda Gonzalez shares date ideas for sober singles in LA, including what to grab from The New Bar, her alcohol-free bottle shop in Venice Beach.

The New Bar
Photo courtesy of The New Bar

Dating in LA is… an experience. And even if you are lucky enough to swipe right on a hottie, coming up with a fun date idea to actually impress said cutie is a whole other ball game. Sure, you can grab a drink at a hip bar or on a dazzling rooftop, but that gets monotonous pretty quickly. And what to do if you or your new match are cutting back on booze, sober, or just prefer not to imbibe?

Thankfully, Brianda Gonzalez, who recently opened the non-alcoholic bottle shop The New Bar on Venice’s Lincoln Blvd, is here to make alcohol-free (and alcohol-reduced) lifestyles that much easier by carrying a bespoke selection of wines, beers, spirits, aperitifs, bitters, and mixers that contain all of the flavors, but none of the booze from your favorite adult beverages. The Catalina Island native grew up having large family celebrations where drinking was often at the center, but was inspired to look into alcohol-free alternatives when searching for a way to bond with her father after he was diagnosed with a debilitating autoimmune disease. The New Bar arose out of that discovery, with Gonzalez hoping to empower others who want to explore the sober lifestyle without sacrificing their connection to drinking culture altogether.

Similar to Dry January, Sober October is a month-long challenge where participants cut down on drinking alcohol or cut out drinking altogether. The movement was first spearheaded by Macmillan Cancer Support, which encourages you to donate the money you’re saving on alcohol to support people living with cancer. Some of the reported benefits of quitting alcohol for 30 days include better sleep, brighter skin, increased energy, and improved mood.

So whether you need a first date idea, are hoping to spice it up with your regular flame, or plan on partaking in alcohol-free activities solo or with platonic friends, here are some fun things to do in LA during Sober October (or whenever!), courtesy of The New Bar’s Brianda Gonzalez.

Gran Blanco.
Gran Blanco.

If you’re feeling conventional…

Sometimes you just want to go to a restaurant for a nice meal and a beautiful cocktail. Gran Blanco in Venice strikes the perfect balance for a date—the ambiance and decor are beautiful, yet relaxed and I love that they’ve been adding to their non-alcoholic cocktail menu, featuring two brands we carry at The New Bar. Pop in for drinks and a light bite and be sure to try their Optimist Margarita (featuring Optimist Botanicals’ Smokey spirit), or their N/A Spritz (featuring Three Spirits Livener Elixir).

If you’re in the mood for French food and great ambiance, you can also pop by to visit our neighbors at Zinqué’s Venice location on Lincoln Blvd. We’ve partnered with them to curate a non-alcoholic cocktail for Sober October. They’ll be mixing up a NA Spicy Pineapple Mezcal Margarita, with one of our all-time favorite spirits, Monday Mezcal.

After dinner, walk down by the beach to enjoy the people-watching and sunset.

If you’re the outdoorsy type…

Grab snacks then pop into The New Bar to stock up on non-alcoholic drinks from our Fall Favorites collection. Afterwards, head out for a light, accessible hike with a rewarding view. We recommend heading towards Tuna Canyon Trail Head and taking a leisurely stroll to the viewpoint that provides a stunning view of the city. We’d probably cheers with a Brooklyn Hoppy Amber or Non #2, a Pear and Kombu sparkling wine alternative that’s refreshing and full of warm fall flavors.

The New Bar
Photo of Brianda Gonzalez, courtesy of The New Bar

If you’re feeling wholesome…

Spend a day stimulating the local economy, supporting local vendors and small businesses, and making your date fall in love—you can do it all. Go to Mar Vista’s Sunday farmers market for some fresh berries, cheeses, and other light snacks, then pop by The New Bar for a bottle of non-alcoholic wine, and head to the beach for a picnic. We love Prima Pave’s rose or Noughty’s Sparkling Chardonnay.

If you’re feeling artsy…

Grab a non-alcoholic drink at Zinqué or Gran Blanco, then head to an in-studio ceramics class at Good Dirt LA. Taking a break from alcohol can provide a perfect opportunity to explore new hobbies, pick up new skills or revisit old interests. Good Dirt LA offers fun introduction classes that make for a less conventional and more engaging date experience. If you’re nervous about going on a sober date, having an activity planned and led by an instructor can help take a lot of that pressure off.

Santa Catalina Island
Santa Catalina Island

If you’re feeling adventurous…

Just a short drive and a scenic ferry ride away, Catalina Island feels worlds away from LA. It’s famously known as “the island of romance” and also as the destination of the infamous “Catalina Wine Mixer” in Step Brothers. Though the town of Avalon holds over 16 bars in one square mile, there are much more interesting and memorable ways to experience the island, without the alcohol.

Take a morning ferry from Long Beach to Avalon. The ferry ride is just about an hour long, and you can expect to see dolphins, whales, and other marine life on your ride over. Once on the island you can rent a golf cart for a couple of hours and take the scenic route through town. Stop by the Wrigley Botanical Gardens for a leisurely stroll through their grounds.

If you’re feeling more active, you can hike the Hermit’s Gulch Trail, a gorgeous 3.5-mile out-and-back trail with stunning views of the ocean and the town of Avalon. Or, if you’re a water enthusiast, you can rent a kayak at Descanso Beach Club and enjoy the views from the harbor. For lunch, I recommend popping into Cafe Metropole, and if you’re around for dinner, check out the Blue Water Grill for seasonal seafood and beautiful seaside views.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat!

Danielle Dorsey is the West Coast Editor for Thrillist.