Sex & Dating

20 Actually Great LA Date Ideas

Published On 11/18/2014 Published On 11/18/2014

So you swiped right and dinner-and-a-movie dates just aren’t cutting it anymore. We’re here to help step up your dating game with 20 sweet ideas that might land you that next Netflix-and-chill rendezvous. There’s something for everyone in this guide, from urban explorers to foodies to artsy types and more.

Disco roller-skating

Moonlight Rollerway (address and info)
Glendale
Your roller-skating skills are definitely shaky (get it? DO YOU?), but struggling to stay upright while holding onto your date will be way more fun than trying to practice your solo spin move. Alcohol isn't served at this throwback roller rink in Glendale -- one of the last in LA -- but that's what flasks were made for, right?

David Lobos / Shutterstock.com

Hiking

Various locations
Don't worry, we're not recommending hiking hiking -- the hikes we're referring to (10 of which we detailed here) are instead easy-breezy short ones that'll get you to I-think-I-can-see-San-Diego-from-here heights. They're all ranked from one to five, with a one being a suuuuuper-easy hike, and five being just a little bit not-easier.

Six Taste

Explore a new food neighborhood with Six Taste

Various locations
For both the new transplant in the city, and the longtime local who plainly just loves food, Six Taste’s walking tours hit up five or six different spots in one tour, focusing on the most edible and historical highlights of neighborhoods all over LA.

Jeff Miller/Thrillist

Vintage pinball

Pins and Needles (address and info)
Echo Park
Remember how we told you about that sweet new arcade bar Downtown? Well, this amazing underground-ish pinball arcade in Echo Park (located -- in the most hipster way possible -- above the rehearsal studio where every single band that plays Eastside bars practices) is where all of that pinball wizardry started, and is still home to a rotating collection of classic pinball machines from the past several decades, which all offer a good money-to-fun ratio.

Hipcooks Los Angeles

Make sure your next date can be a romantic dinner in with a Hipcooks class

Multiple locations
Whether you consider yourself a Top Chef or a Boyardee Chef, your cooking game can always use some refining. Hone your skills and get messy together at one of the classes from this fun and affordable cooking school (at the Eastside, Westside, or Woodland Hills locations). You might just learn how to make some dim sum or pasta from scratch. Added bonus: You get a meal (and usually booze!) out of it.

Electric Dusk Drive IN

Catch a flick at Electric Dusk Drive-In

Glassell Park
Steam up your windows with your date at the only drive-in movie theater left in LA proper. Order food from Electric Dusk Drive-In’s Snack Shack, bring your own hooch, and watch (or don’t, WINK WINK) classic movies (up next: Young Frankenstein, Home Alone, and plenty more) up on the big screen from the comfort of your car.

Do your best The Notebook paddling impressions at Echo Park Lake

Echo Park
Take to the high seas (or relatively newly renovated Echo Park Lake) for some side-by-side paddle boating -- or, if you’re feeling fancy, splurge for the guided gondola ride. You can reminisce about your voyage afterward while grabbing coffee and bites at Curate Café, the new spot that’s scheduled to take over Square One at the Boathouse.

Local wine tasting

Malibu Wines (address and info)
Malibu
Because Sonoma is a bit far to drive for someone who maybe accidentally swiped right, this handy wine-tasting room along Mulholland offers you two a chance to sip vino with a view -- without awkwardly suffering through the smell of cow pies while driving north on the 5. Pack a picnic/stock up at Trader Joe’s and catch some live folksy music on the weekends.

Flickr/Al

Nighttime bike riding

Various locations
The Passage is a weekly bike ride that starts and ends at a donut shop (score!), and along the way aims to hit unexplored parts of LA -- sometimes hitting pool halls, bowling alleys, and karaoke along the way. Is it oddball? Yes. Is it still an awesome date? YES.

Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Look fancy with dinner and a show at the Wallis Annenberg Center

Beverly Hills
Stock up on culture cred with your date by checking out a jazz/theater/dance/classical production at the Wallis, the impressive arts center in Beverly Hills (of all places), and enjoy a sweet happy hour at the upscale Italian bistro Cecconi’s before the show. Hungry diners can pop in and get a little tipsy with some wine and cocktails, and soak up all that booze with gourmet bites (including truffle burgers and pizzettas with porchetta) for $4-$7 Tuesdays through Saturdays from 4-7pm.

Sunset Ranch Hollywood

Try your best Western accent at Sunset Ranch

Los Feliz
Even if you’ve only been on pony rides as a kid, you can still saddle up for a guided horseback ride through the trails of Griffith Park with totally ridiculous views of the city. And on Saturdays, the ride ends with a big-ass BBQ (!) and live music back at the ranch.

LA Boulders

Indoor rock climbing

LA Boulders (address and info)
Downtown
You and your date can flex your muscles and "spot" each other at LA’s largest indoor bouldering gym (no ropes!) in the Arts District. Even if the two of you aren’t feeling like Stallone in Cliffhanger, the gym offers intro classes to get you both climbing safely.

Wonho Frank Lee

Roll a spare at vintage bowling at Highland Park Bowl

Highland Park
Sure, many of LA’s classic and well-worn bowling alleys have that endearing je ne sais quoi (like All Star Lanes’ karaoke stage!), but if you want to really impress a date, Highland Park Bowl is where it’s at. This historic joint has been open since the Prohibition era and was the former home to punk rock venue Mr. T’s Bowl. The revamped alley’s been given a glam makeover that melds the old with the new, like a recovered mural from the 1930s, chandeliers made of vintage pin-setters, and some seriously good wood-fired pizzas and craft cocktails. Pro tip: Go to happy hour Monday through Fridays from 5-8pm for discounts on drink and food -- like a $10 pizza-and-draft combo or $3 PBRs -- and lanes.

Scope out the city's architecture at Barnsdall Art Park

East Hollywood
Barnsdall Art Park is one of the most underrated spots in LA to get a gorgeous view of the city and some culture under your belt. For the architecture buffs, Frank Lloyd Wright’s first-ever LA project, Hollyhock House, sits on this hilltop and is open for viewing with the purchase of a ticket Thursdays to Sundays. Pack a picnic for a sunset meal for extra bonus points with the date. And check the park’s calendar, as throughout the year it also plays host to wine-tasting parties, outdoor movie screenings, gallery openings, and plenty more fun cultural events that are prime date material.

Courtesy of Adults Only

Grab a drink in secret at LA's best speakeasies

Various locations
The Prohibition era may be long gone, but the idea of sneaking into a speakeasy never gets old. A few years back there were only a scant number of LA bars with secret entrances and special passwords (like “ET phone home”). Now we have so many (23 of the best ones are detailed here) that you and your date could even do a bar crawl visiting these watering holes. But shh, you didn’t hear it from us.

Courtesy of Patina Restaurant Group

Stroll through the Descanso Gardens

La Cañada Flintridge
This massive botanical garden (over 150 acres!) got even cooler this month when it opened its new restaurant, Maple (run by hotshot Patina Group), where you can get righteous weekend brunch dishes like fried chicken and beignets or huevos rancheros. As an added bonus, the restaurant will be open for dinner service as a pop-up from November 25th to January 8th during the Descanso Gardens’ Enchanted: Forest of Light ticketed event -- a crazy one-mile light display through the grounds -- which could become a “light show & chill” sort of thing, if you know what we’re saying. Make sure to reserve a table beforehand because the spots are filling up fast.

Explore the bizarre at the Museum of Jurassic Technology

Culver City
While some people like to have romantic candlelit dinners on dates, others love a good adventure exploring really weird and creepy stuff. Don’t let the name of this place confuse you -- it’s not quite a museum like LACMA or MOCA -- but rather a bizarre experience exploring art, trinkets, and stuff that will have you giggling and muttering to your date, “What the hell?” We don’t want to spoil it for you, but all we can say is go in with an open mind and just know you’re in for a fun and delightfully unsettling time. An added perk is that you get to end your visit with a trip to the rooftop garden where you can have tea and cookies… because why not?

William Bradford

Take advantage of our weather and dine al fresco

Various locations
LA is #blessed with good weather pretty much most of the year, which means we have a plethora of al fresco dining and drinking options. We’ve highlighted 20 of our favorite restaurants with outdoor patios here, from a sweet rooftop bar with Fijian food to poolside dining at a swanky ‘60s-style hotel.

Lace up your shoes for an urban hike at the secret Beachwood Canyon Stairs

Hollywood Hills
One of the coolest things about LA is its many, many secret sets of stairs. From Silver Lake to Santa Monica, you’ll find hillside neighborhoods with shortcuts dipping up and down random sets of stairs -- something Angelenos used to use back in the day, many for the sadly defunct streetcars. Our favorite route is the Beachwood Canyon one that goes through what old Hollywoodland once was. It's a chill 2.6-mile hike/walk where you and your date can get a little sweaty (that’s sexy, right?) and have fun figuring out the route and discovering some cool views and architecture porn along the way. If the date’s going well, extend it a little further with a bite to eat at nearby Beachwood Cafe, which just so happens to be owned by Chopped winner Patti Peck.

Flickr/ATOMIC Hot Links

Take a guided tour of the Watts Towers Arts Center

Watts
Watts Towers is unlike anything else you’ll see around LA. Go on a guided tour and walk through the 17 historic art structures made of steel and mosaics. The tallest one is nearly 100ft high! After you’ve gotten your dose of history and art, do yourself a favor and take your date to Watts Coffee House for soul-food brunch and get some of the best fried chicken wings and waffles in town.

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Danny Jensen is a regular Thrillist contributor who thinks donuts and wine are a recipe for romance. Tell him how your date went on Twitter and Instagram.

Jean Trinh is a Thrillist contributor who thinks pizza makes any date better. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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