15 Date Ideas For Fall in LA
Socially distanced options for your next Saturday night.
Cuffing season may have been optional in the past, but 2020 has changed things up a bit; for those quarantining with their bae (and even for those blazing the incredibly spooky trail of trying to meet somebody in the time of ‘rona), you can only watch so much TV before you long to get out and do something date-y. Movie theaters, indoor restaurants, and other traditional date options are off the table, but we’ve got you. Take a look at some of these COVID-friendly date ideas, with everything from haunted drive-thrus to sunset picnics and virtual food fests.
Take a hotel staycation
While not as exciting as getting on a plane to somewhere new, a hotel staycation is an easy way to jumpstart your love life if you’re sick of staring at the same four walls. With LA being such a sprawl of a city, it can also be a fun way to explore a neighborhood you wouldn’t normally traverse. Whether you’re spending time in LA staples like Hotel Figueroa and the many Beverly Hills luxury outlets, or newer additions like the Silver Lake Pool & Inn and Cara Hotel, there’s no shame in giving yourself some well-deserved R&R. Looking for something new and exciting in Orange County? The Radisson Blu has landed.
Earn yourself a picnic at the top of a mountain
Outdoor activities are the safest way to go at the moment, so it’s a good thing that LA is lousy with different hiking options. Sure, Runyon is right in the middle of the city, but you’ve already taken enough Instagram photos from Runyon to last a lifetime. Plus, with all the craziness these days, trails fluctuate between open and closed pretty frequently (make sure to check before you head out for your trek). Mix it up and seek some adventure outside the city. Want to brave the heat of Topanga Canyon? Sandwiches from Cricca’s are a must. Headed to the San Gabriel mountains? Otoño has just reopened as a Spanish-style market, and hiking without tapas is so 2019.
Dine al fresco because it’s the only way you can
If there is any sort of silver lining to the world today, it’s that all of a sudden we’ve got more outdoor dining options than we’ve ever had. Restaurants and bars have taken to repurposing street corners and parking lots for outdoor patios in a way that’s never been done in LA, and as the weather finally starts to drop to an acceptable temperature, it will be the perfect time to take advantage of a romantic outdoor dinner. Things are fluid right now, but check out our list of patio dining options.
Go old school at a drive-in movie
2020 has caused us to go old school in so many ways, but one of the most fun has easily been the rise of the drive-in movie experience. Drive-ins are now the safest (and in most cases, only) way to see movies, so let’s embrace it. Check out the well-prepared Electric Dusk or head over to the Hollywood Mel’s Drive-In, where it’s really living up to the name. LA’s Art Society Drive-In has an October line up stacked with your favorite horrors or watch classic family flicks poolside at the swanky Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica.
Crawl through Taco Row
There’s no way around it: you haven’t eaten tacos in Los Angeles until you’ve tasted what they’re cooking along Olympic Blvd in Boyle Heights. From the famed shrimp tacos at Mariscos Jalisco to the flour tortilla sensations at El Ruso (or even the brand new window from the burrito magicians at Burritos La Palma), not a lot can bring you closer to your partner than the magic of Boyle Heights’ Mexican food.
If there is one thing that 2020’s antics can’t take from us, it’s Spooky Season. While Halloween parties might not be in our immediate future, staying home and watching scary movies is just as much a part of October’s fun as anything else. That said, IRL horror is not totally off the table with options like the Haunted Hayride, Fright Farms, Hauntoween Drive-Thru, Halloween Road, and so much more. If sitting in a car while people dressed as Leatherface run towards you isn’t exactly the picture of romance that you imagined, feel free to keep it simple -- a picnic in the Dia de Los Muertos-decorated Hollywood Forever Cemetery oughta do the trick.
Enjoy your favorite restaurants at home
Going to a restaurant might still make you uncomfortable, and we can’t say that we blame you -- even some restaurant employees still say it’s a bad idea. Luckily, tons of our favorite places have pivoted to a system that makes delivery more exciting than it’s ever been. With delivery specials and set meals (we cannot get enough of the Meat N’ Three specials from Manuela), it’s becoming easier and easier to have a quality restaurant experience at your own dinner table. Most of your favorite restaurants are delivering their signature cocktails, but what we really love are all these independent cocktail popups (like Mommy's Medicine and The Stubborn Nail, to name a few).
Don’t forget, though: Third-party delivery services take commission fees, so it’s always better to order directly and pick up food yourself, when you can!
Cook restaurant hits with meal kits
Wanna take a crack at your favorite dishes yourself? Easy peasy. We’ve got a slew of spots helping you to do just that. Feeling like some crucial LA seafood? Give Holbox a look. What about some huge, make-your-own taco kits? Guerrilla Tacos is what you want. The legendary gluten-free pancakes from Kitchen Mouse more your vibe? Grab some of their mix and make your own.
Stroll some of LA’s botanical gardens
Our outdoor gardens have long been a place for peaceful reflection, and these days, we could all use more of that. Many of the best spots -- like the Arboretum, The Huntington, and Expo Park’s Rose Gardens, and even the Poppy Reserve -- have reopened with strict safety precautions. Respect the rules, get lost in the trees, and enjoy a healthy dose of forest bathing.
One of our best annual food fests has fully relaunched its strategy for 2020, and even though we can’t all pack into a big room and toast to a delicious pork-based dinner, you can carry out as many options as you want. Each day has a different menu, so from 10/13-10/17, grab some food and hop on Zoom for a live experience with each chef.
These days getting food, booze, laundry, and, well… pretty much anything delivered is only a few taps away on your smartphone. Immersive theme parties are no exception, especially with Disco Dining Club’s new delivery option. Each party is designed for two people and ranges in theme, with everything from erotica to garden gnomes, including food and drink. The party service recently launched “Dracula’s Disco of the Night,” a campy Halloween package with add-ons that include a doorstep marionette show by members of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater and a five-course fall meal from renowned chef Laurent Quenioux of LQ Foodings.
Be a living cliche on the Echo Park pedal boats
Okay look, this is probably on every LA date idea list that has ever been written, but at the end of the day, who cares? Echo Park Lake’s pedal boats are a defining activity of our city, and there is no relationship forged in Los Angeles that doesn’t include them -- and here in 2020, it helps to feel some semblance of your old life. If it helps, go under the guise of making fun of it (“wouldn’t it be so totally lame if we did that?”). You’ll be unironically enjoying it before you know it.
Perhaps a traditional hike is a bit too vertical for you. If you want to keep your exercise of the horizontal persuasion, bike the Marvin Braude trail, which runs from the Palisades all the way down to Torrance. The majority of the journey is car-free, flat, and chock full of the prestigious sea breeze that makes Southern California so famous.
Feel the flower power at the Flower District
Even if you aren’t a budding botanist, exploring the Flower District and the Original Los Angeles Flower Market are some banger only-in-LA experiences (and COVID-safe!). 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.
Cruise the coast in a rented convertible
Car rentals are down 15 to 40 percent across the country, meaning that you can now rent luxury cars and convertibles for cheaper than ever before. Live out your Hollywood fantasies with a leisurely drive up the Pacific Coast Highway and enjoy what’s left of our unseasonably warm fall weather. Grab lunch at La Super Rica Taqueria in Santa Barbara and sink your feet into the legendary purple sand at Pfeiffer State Beach in Big Sur before you U-turn it back to the City of Angels.
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