Where to Go on a Date in LA This Spring
Between immersive art exhibitions, new restaurants, and outdoor activities, your date card will be full this spring.
Yes, we know we told you late last year that dating has officially returned and then suddenly Omicron showed up and we were back to that uncertainty we’ve come to hate, with restaurant and bar closures due to staffing issues, and concert and event cancellations in the name of caution.
But here we are, two years since the start of the pandemic. The mask mandate has been lifted in California, which means that everything from exciting restaurants to new and old bar haunts, including dive bars and glitzy rooftops, are ready to welcome you once more. It also means that Coachella will be back in full-force with zero COVID restrictions, if you’ve been eagerly anticipating the return of festival season. Whether it’s with your long-time main squeeze or that person you’ve been messaging for months, it’s time to get back out there again. With spring newly arrived, you have your pick of outdoor action, cultural activities, and plenty of good food finds as well. Here are TK date-worthy ideas to consider right now.
Take in the big bloom
Ongoing throughout spring
Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
Head to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve (about 75 miles north of Downtown LA, for reference), which, come spring, bursts into a vibrant, Technicolor display of bright orange poppies and other wildflowers you can access via eight miles of trails. The backdrop is a perfect place for photos (especially if you’re ready to make things Instagram official), but just make sure to be respectful and stay on the trails. The bloom is just in the beginning stages, so you can keep an eye on the live poppy cam to check the status of the buds before making the schlep up there. There are also lesser-known opportunities to see blooming wildflowers throughout the state.
Share a blanket under the stars for festival season
Festival season is back—for real this time! Coachella passes are sold out, but you can still join the waitlist for weekend one or two if you and your +1 are hellbent on rubbing elbows with hundreds of thousands of concert-goers in the desert. However, there are also plenty of slightly more low-key festivals closer to home if that’s more your vibe. House and techno fest Desert Hearts returns to Lake Perris April 28 through May 2; toke up with your favorite stoner musicians at The Smoker’s Club Fest in San Bernardino on April 30; get nostalgic with 70s/80s bands like Morrissey, Blondie, and Devo, at Cruel World Fest in Pasadena (May 14 is sold out, but tickets are still available for May 15); or opt for alt-rock at Pasadena’s Just Like Heaven festival with Modest Mouse, The Shins, Chromeo, and more.
See Walter White live on stage
Ongoing through Sunday, March 27
After a year and a half spent as its alter ego, the Geffen Stayhouse, the Geffen Playhouse brought back live performances last fall. Right now, you can get tickets to a doozy of a show titled Power of Sail, starring the crazy talented Bryan Cranston as a Harvard professor who sets off a series of wild and unfortunate events when he invites a white nationalist to speak at his annual symposium. The entire cast is impressive, the topic is timely, and the plot will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end. Catch it now through March 27.
Have a theatrical dinner experience Downtown
Ongoing through Tuesday, May 31
It’s dinner! It’s a show! It’s animation! Basically, this “multi-sensory, five-course culinary odyssey” called Le Petit Chef taking place at the Downtown Ritz-Carlton is a lot of things, and they all sound like they make a great date. Set on the view-heavy 24th floor (in the former WP 24 space), the two-hour experience uses visual technology conceived by the artistic collective Skullmapping, to follow an animated 3D character who’s projected on every table, sharing a story about the ingredients, inspiration, and history for each of the courses. The food definitely shares the stage here since a team of chefs from The Culinary Institute of America at Copia helped to create the menu.
Check out the immersive Frida or Klimt experience
Ongoing through mid-June
Hollywood and Montebello
Following in the footsteps of the successful immersive Van Gogh exhibition last year, a few new artist-themed experiences have popped up. Housed in the same space on Sunset as the Van Gogh show, Immersive Frida Kahlo is set up similarly, with guests invited to wander the 25,000-square-foot exhibit space to see many of the iconic Mexican painter’s greatest works brought to life via 360-degree large-scale projections. Another option is Klimt: The Immersive Experience, featuring creations by Austrian symbolist artist Gustav Klimt via both two-story, floor-to-ceiling digital displaysand a virtual reality experience. Taking place in Montebello, tickets are available from April 1 through April 24.
Puff puff pass with your boo for 420
Wednesday, April 20
No one celebrates the stoner holiday of 420 quite like LA and now that we’re approaching something like a new normal, you might even feel comfortable passing a joint with your date (or smoke side by side if you’re not up for that yet). Make sure you stock up at our favorite dispensaries in LA, and don’t disregard newcomers like the speakeasy-inspired Josephine & Billies and Gorilla Rx Wellness. If you’re looking to take the holiday even higher, sign up for an experience with Green Tours, which includes a visit to a dispensary in North Hollywood, a tour of a glass-blowing warehouse, discounts, goodies, swag, and of course, the chance to satisfy your munchies.
Cozy up on swan pedal boats at Echo Park Lake
Echo Park Lake
Echo Park reopened last year and it’s officially the perfect place to spend the day recreating one of those romantic comedy movie montages. Take advantage of the newly planted greenspace by lounging around with a picnic (go the traditional cheese, olives, and pick-ons route, or gorge yourself on tacos from nearby Playita or El Ruso), feeding the resident ducks, going on a sunset stroll, or a ride on the iconic Swan pedal boats (which in case you didn’t know, actually light up at night!). You’ll need a reservation for the pedal boats, so you’ll have to commit to the idea ahead of time. Yes, you’ll be one of those couples, but hey, it beats the days of quarantining.
Canoodle over culture at a museum
Nearly all of LA’s most impressive museums opened back up in 2021, many with new and exciting exhibits to show your date (or just pretend) that you’re the cultured type. In September, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
opened following years of anticipation, with three floors of exhibition space celebrating moviemakers and the stories they create, including a retrospective on legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki and the chance to simulate your own Oscar award acceptance speech. At LACMA, check out the City of Cinema: Paris 1850–1907, which explores how film emerged amid a wave of social, political, artistic, and technological developments in the capital city. The California African American Museum has several new installations, including Matthew Thomas: Enlightenment, featuring a selection of the artist’s recent paintings that function as visual prayers meant to harmonize humanity and the universe. DTLA’s beautiful Broad is showcasing new works by the likes of Lichtenstein and Warhol, and you can sign on for hour-long exhibition, garden, or architecture tours at the Getty Center, all happening daily right now.
The Sunday fabled food fest Smorgasburg LA returned last summer and we can’t think of a better daytime date idea than exploring five acres of deliciousness at the ROW DTLA, sampling everything from fried chicken sandwiches to horchata cupcakes to sustainable oysters, and washing it all down with Micheladas, fresh fruit slushies, and Boba teas. A wave of new vendors arrived at the market this year, including standouts like Israeli vegan spot, B’ivrit, Black-owned Happy Ice, and Korean-fried chicken spot, Chimmelier. It’s also a good way to decide if you and your date can stand the test of time. Love BBQ and cheeseburgers but realizing your date is a lactose-intolerant pescatarian? Now may be the time to cut your losses.
Eat your way through LA’s most iconic foods
One thing the pandemic has proven is that many of our favorite LA meals translate just as well when devoured from a greasy paper bag or eaten on the roof of our cars. And with indoor and outdoor dining resumed, we can set our sights back on checking off every worthwhile food experience the city has to offer, like taking a tour of Boyle Heights’ Taco Row, noshing on Poppy & Rose’s Southern-style brunch before hitting up the famous Flower Market on Saturday mornings, or visiting the late Jim Morrison’s favorite Venice burger shack. With 35 experiences to choose from, your date card will remain stacked throughout the season.
Work out (together)
Maybe you stopped working out when your gym closed. Maybe you stopped working out before your gym closed. Hey, we’re not here to judge. But if you’re looking to get back to some kind of fitness routine that doesn’t just involve walking to the front door to meet the delivery guy, then grab your partner and do it together, which has to be at least a little more fun than going at it alone? Maybe not. Many studios that started offering outdoor classes during the gym shutdown are still at it so you can experience beach yoga, rooftop bootcamp, and HIIT in the park together in the fresh air. Check out our favorite outdoor workouts in LA to get some inspiration, get your workout on and then go load up on mimosas and brunch as a much-deserved post-exercise treat.
Plan a picnic at the top of a mountain
With the days getting longer, you can still get a good dose of Vitamin D (and exercise!) thanks to LA’s bounty of hiking options. Sure, Runyon is right in the middle of the city, but you’ve already taken enough Instagram photos there to last a lifetime. Mix it up and seek some adventure outside the city. Want to brave the wilds of Topanga Canyon? Sandwiches from Cricca’s are a must. To get high on the Westside, try the Los Liones trail, a seven-mile-plus quad-burner that rewards you with endless ocean views at the top. But first, hit up the legendary Italian deli and bakery, Bay Cities, for dreamy Italian subs on life-changing bread (the signature Godmother includes something like 74 different types of meats), along with pints of salads and sides by the pound (pick from the grab-and-go fridge to save time), and a killer cheese selection for mountaintop enjoyment. Looking for more under-the-radar treks? Check out one of these secret hikes.
Feel the flower power
The Flower District and the Original Los Angeles Flower Market are some banger only-in-LA experiences. 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.
Perhaps a traditional hike is a bit too vertical for you (at least in front of someone you might eventually want to take home to your parents). 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.