Where to Go on a Date in LA This Summer

Between immersive art exhibitions, essential restaurants, and outdoor activities, your date card will be full this summer.

The pandemic did crazy things to time, shrinking and stretching and warping it like a funhouse mirror; it was weird for everyone, but it was especially wild for anyone trying to date. Some relationships slowed down because of travel restrictions and distancing guidelines. Some sped up, with couples forming intimate bubbles and even moving in together in record time. But now, with most everything open again, dating is back—or, for some pandemic couples, it’s finally here for the first time.

Summer is the prime season to be out and about in LA, with exciting restaurants, dive bars, and glitzy rooftops ready to welcome you, and a wealth of outdoor action, cultural activities, and plenty of essential food experiences as well. Here are 14 date-worthy ideas to try right now.

Rooftop Cinema Club
Rooftop Cinema Club

Take dinner and a movie to the next level

June 29-July 31
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Arts District
There’s no date more classic and pleasant than dinner and a movie, but in this town you may want to step things up to make the night memorable. And what better way to step it up than by literally raising the date five floors into the air? Rooftop Cinema Club is a favorite for open-air movie screenings, and they’ve added a location at Row DTLA this summer, which has a great view of the downtown skyline from the Southeast, looking out towards the setting sun. You can arrive early to play games, crush movie snacks, and sip beer, wine, and spritzes, then snuggle up in their lounge chairs to watch classic and new films like Dirty Dancing (June 30), Selena (July 19), or Everything Everywhere All At Once (July 30).

Across town, Melrose Rooftop Theater adorns the top floor of EP & LP Restaurant and offers a $65 dinner and a movie deal that includes a three-course pre-theater meal with a Baja Tuna Tartare, Twice Cooked Duck Leg, and Choux Bun representing a few of the choices. Afterwards, head to the roof to cozy up on plush bean bag chairs and watch films like The Princess Bride (July 10), House of Gucci (July 19), and The Wizard of Oz (July 24), with the Hollywood hills as your backdrop.

Loamis Media
Photo courtesy of Loamis Media

Get risque in Hollywood

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Hollywood
Just a few short years ago, if someone wanted to take you to Hollywood on a date it would have been a major red flag—it was only for tourists, Scientologists, and the kind of movie nerds who refused to appreciate cinema anywhere but the ArcLight. But now Hollywood is absolutely happening, with the Vinyl District popping off, the Media District growing exponentially… and still a ton of Scientologists. You could go for a celebratory French feast at Mes Amis, a chic Levantine dinner and drinks at Saffy’s, or get stimulated at the Wednesday evening rooftop burlesque show, Femme Follies, at Bar Lis in the Thompson Hotel. Femme Follies stars Miss Tosh in a classic burlesque revue, with live performances throughout the evening from 9 pm to 2 am.

For a truly unforgettable night, book an immersive dinner and show with Karnevil, Hollywood’s newest spectacle that blends a 1920s circus with elements of pop culture, including sword swallowers, fire eaters, contortionists, psychics, and burlesque, alongside a DJ and a multi-course meal where audience participation is encouraged.

Take a day trip to the other side of town

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The opposite end of LA from wherever you are
LA is huge, but many of us desperately avoid leaving our neighborhoods, especially in this WFH world. Which means you have an opportunity to surprise your special someone with a big outing without ever leaving the LA area. Say you live in Silver Lake, and you just met someone who lives in Frogtown. Grab your crush and hop on the 110 to the South Bay for soba and a scramble down a rocky cliff in Palos Verdes, then stop for ice cream or a beer on the way home. You live in Marina Del Rey and your boo’s in Culver City? Head out to Sierra Madre for coffee and a hike, then stop for sushi or step into a raucous pub for dinner. One of you never leaves NoHo and the other is a die-hard Valley Villager? Cruise down to Long Beach for pastries and the amazing food scene, with a backdrop of twisting cranes and gentle waves.

Topgolf
Photo courtesy of Topgolf

Try swinging by the sea

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El Segundo
Topgolf—the high-tech mega-facility for golf, golf-adjacent games, and drinks—just opened in El Segundo, which might already be the leisure capital of LA County. Escape to the beach town with its crisp ocean air and then duck into the range to whack golf balls at giant targets, crush frozen spiked lemonade and local IPAs, and track your score—because nothing spices up a relationship like a little trash talk. Or take a leisurely stroll while you play the ten-hole course at the adjacent Lakes at TopGolf. Afterwards, dip out to El Segundo’s cute Main Street for pasta, pizza, or poke.

Break a sweat in an inclusive space

Ongoing
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Glassell Park
Some couples like to go to the gym together, and a workout can be a great way of seeing if your new plus one can keep up with your pace. Just so you’re not stuck spotting, there are plenty of fun, out-of-the-box workouts, too—like dance. The radically inclusive trans and queer-centered dance aerobics adventure Leo Moon is held Friday evenings in Glassell Park. Polymath musician/poet/dancer/advocate/instructor CJ Miller leads an exuberant journey through contemporary, hip hop, and music video-inspired dance, designed specifically as a safe and welcoming space for people who have been traditionally excluded from or harmed within these arenas. It’s a great workout, a rowdy good time, and a beautiful endeavor. Plus, the 6:45 pm time slot is a perfect divider between the week and weekend.

The Vau de Vire Society: Revive
The Vau de Vire Society

Have a theatrical dinner experience downtown

Ongoing through July 24
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Downtown
Nothing screams grand (and maybe star-crossed) romance like a mid-1800s cathedral, so taking a date to Vibiana is always a big move. But this summer, the team behind excellent downtown restaurantRedbird has paired with San Francisco-based circus Vau de Vire Society to put on “Revive,” a soaring and immersive 1920s inspired dinner and circus experience, with live music and performances. There will be appetizers and drinks in the gorgeous courtyard and then a four-course meal created from chef Neal Fraser to be eaten in, on, and around the performance spaces where 40+ dancers, musicians, characters and circus performers will roam. The stated goal is to leave you feeling hopeful, enthusiastic, exhilarated, and restored, which sounds like the end of a really good date, too.

Frida: Immersive Dream
Photo courtesy of Frida: Immersive Dream

Check out the immersive Frida or Klimt experience

Ongoing
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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. You can even go all out with a date night experience that includes a private booth, box of chocolates, and a romantic gift set. Another option is Klimt: The Immersive Experience, featuring creations by Austrian symbolist artist Gustav Klimt via both two-story, floor-to-ceiling digital displays and a virtual reality experience. Taking place in Montebello, tickets are available through the end of July.

Ms S. Ann/Shutterstock

Cozy up on swan pedal boats at Echo Park Lake

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Echo Park
Echo Park reopened last year after some major changes, and though it is still behind a chain link fence with few entrances and exits, the grass is back and ready for a perfect picnic. You can join the hipster crowd with some natty wine and tinned fish from nearby Rapido or Tilda, go a little bigger with a pickup from Honey Hi or Valerie, or best of all, support the local street vendors along Echo Park Avenue, like Alejandra’s Blue Corn Quesadillas. Stroll around the park, feed the ducks and turtles, maybe do some fishing if that’s your thing, and then go for a ride on the iconic Swan pedal boats, which even light up at night.

California African American Museum
California African American Museum

Canoodle over culture at a museum

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Various Locations
LA has an impressive collection of museums, many with new and exciting exhibits to help you show your date (or at least let you pretend) that you’re the cultured type. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures features 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 Portable Universe, with ver 400 works of indigenous Colombian artwork which are designed to foster cross-cultural and inter-generational dialogue. 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 a new solo exhibition by Takashi Murakami, and you can sign on for hour-long exhibition, garden, or architecture tours at the Getty Center, all happening daily right now.

Stroll Smorgasburg

Ongoing
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ROW DTLA
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.

Earle's on Crenshaw
Earle's on Crenshaw

Eat your way through LA’s most iconic foods

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Various locations
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.

LA hiking
Unsplash/Zachary Staines

Plan a picnic at the top of a mountain

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Various
It may be hot and smoggy at ground level in the summer, but if you get up and out into the mountains you’ll be able to smell the romance in the air between you and your special someone. Sure, Runyon is right in the middle of the city, but that’s where everyone’s going on Saturday morning. Mix it up and seek some adventure outside the city. Want to brave the wilds of Topanga Canyon? Snag sandwiches from Cricca’s and choose from any number of nearby trails. To get high on the Westside, try the Los Liones trail, a seven-mile-plus climb that rewards you with endless ocean views at the top. But first, hit up coffee shop goodboybob for a perfect cortado and a travel-friendly chapati wrap to power you up the trail, and maybe a pastry or two to reward yourself at the top. Looking for more under-the-radar treks? Check out one of these secret hikes or go for a waterfall adventure.

The Original Los Angeles Flower Market
The Original Los Angeles Flower Market

Feel the flower power 

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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.

Santa Monica beach bike trail
Joshua Resnick/Shutterstock

Take in the ocean breeze along The Strand

Free
Pacific Palisades to Torrance
Maybe a hike sounds a little dusty and hot, the kind of thing better suited to a hangout than a date; then how about some breezier exercise? A bike ride along The Strand, also known as the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, can take you from the Palisades all the way down the coast to Torrance, a mostly flat and crisp cruise with plenty of places to pull over and hang out, for some booch, some seafood, or sea life.

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Lizbeth Scordo is a food and lifestyle writer who will be out tonight and every night for the rest of her life. Follow her on Instagram.
Ben Mesirow is an Echo Park native who writes TV, fiction, food, and sports. At one time or another, his writing has appeared in The LA TimesLitroMcSweeney’s Internet TendencyLos Angeles Magazine, and scratched into dozens of desks at Walter Reed Middle School.