Dinner and a movie may pass muster in some cities, but in Los Angeles with its near boundless opportunities for fun, you ought to be able to do better when it comes to choosing your date activities.
Whether it’s visiting museums, historic landmarks, learning unusual skills, or even just walking around the city (such a novelty!), the reward of sharing new experiences together is impossible to quantify.
To that end, this list is for when you want to step up your dating game a notch while staying on budget, learning new things about L.A. and, hopefully, building a stronger relationship in the process.
[RELATED: 17 Delicious Spots to Go on Date Night with an L.A. Foodie]
1. Visit Point Fermin Park
What’s great about this San Pedro park is that while can roam the grounds and enjoy the amazing ocean view, you can also check out nearby attractions including the 12-feet tall, 17-ton Korean Bell of Friendship and a historic lighthouse built in 1874.
The park is well known for hosting free events throughout the year including a car show and summer season of Shakespeare By The Sea, and it’s perfect for beachcombing and checking out the tide pools (when it’s low tide, of course).
Point Fermin is also adjacent to the now famous Sunken City of San Pedro, a collection coastal ruins abandoned during the 1920’s. While it’s currently illegal to trespass to enter the area (it’s surrounded by iron fencing), there has been talk of potentially opening it up to the public in the near future, so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime you can at least catch a glimpse of the six-acre former bungalow community from beyond the fence.
There are also several hiking trails and a nature center at the White Point Nature Preserve that may be worth your time if you’re in the area.
2. Day Trip to Mount Wilson Observatory
If you need to get away from the fast-paced city life hit the road and just cruise down Angeles Crest Highway to this famed L.A. observatory. It’s open April 1 through November 30 you can tour the grounds- or pay $10 for a two-hour tour led by a docent- or enjoy the starry sky through one of their telescopes.
The mountainous road, that at its peak reaches altitudes above 7,000 feet, is one of the highest roads in SoCal and ad adventure onto itself. If you’re feeling extra adventurous you can also hike to the observatory, just be prepared for a workout but rest assured there will be food waiting for you courtesy of the Cosmic Café.
3. Learn Some New Tricks Together
Chances are you’ve thought how cool it would be to do stunts worthy of Cirque du Soleil at some pint but quickly disregarded the idea. Good news, we’ve got you covered. The aptly named Cirque School offers Cirque 101 classes for $25 each where you can flex those muscles attempting static trapeze with the help of an instructor.
If you want to tap into your inner Katniss or Hawkeye (or prep for a zombie apocalypse) Pasadena Roving Archers and Woodley Park Archers offer a free class for first-timers.
For some other skill based date ideas, check out this fun list of places to learn unusual things in Los Angeles.
4. Spend a Day With Flora and Fauna
Take a walk on the wild side without leaving the city. The Wildlife Learning Center is home to more than 70 different species of rescue animals so you can make your acquaintance with a bald eagle, pet a tiny fennec fox, and meet their famous blind owl with starry eyes.
If you’re interested in marine life the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, though relatively small, is home to 100 species of marine life including horn sharks, swell sharks, sting rays, and moon jellies.
Not all adventures require high-energy activities, breakaway from the hustle and bustle at the Lake Shrine, a Hindu temple with a beautiful garden with waterfalls, fountains, and yes, swans. It’s the nature you’ll find while on a hike but without the work plus it’s free to public with the bonus of free parking (score).
Get more information on wildlife sanctuaries in L.A. via this list we put together.
5. Hike as a Couple
Those looking for a place to hike that offers something a little different than the usual trails don’t have to look far. Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park offers a history trail tour of the petroglyphs left by the Tataviam Native American tribe and also has a free visitor center with live animals (snakes, tarantulas… the usual desert suspects), and features one of the most famous rock formations in California. It’s also where films like Star Trek and Blazzing Saddles were shot so those with good memory might recognize some of the sights.
For those seeking something a little more arduous there’s the Shipwreck Trail, a rocky trail that leads to what is left of the SS Dominator, a freighter that ran ashore on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in 1961. It’s about a one-a-half-mile trek to the wreck but it’s not just about the destination because the journey itself has some great views of the ocean.
If you want a real challenge, the Bridge to Nowhere (East Fork Trail) is 10 miles round trip and includes streams, rocky terrain, and you’re likely to get lost but that’s part of the fun. The star of the show is obviously the 120-foot bridge and you can follow the dirt path or, for more of a challenge, take the river path and take a break in one of their swimming holes.
For more ideas on hiking together check out this list of best SoCal hikes to do as a couple.
FYI: This is the only place in California where you can bungee jump. It’s not part of this list as it’s not cheap but it’s worth knowing if you want to save up for it. Also, this trail is known for flash floods and high water levels during the winter so it’s best to wait for some sunshine.
6. Get Physical
Stoney Point is an ideal (and picturesque) site for rock climbing but if you prefer an indoor experience check out L.A.Boulder which houses 18 foot walls and more than 11,000 of climbing terrain all accessible with a day pass. If you’re looking to try something new visit Sand Dune Park, home to – you guessed it- a sand dune that’s 100 feet high. Even if you can’t make it all the way to the top you’ll have a memorable time trying and you can then head over to the beach to cool down.
Note: Reservations are required.
7. Check out Homes Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
The prolific architect has several homes spread out throughout L.A. made with concrete, a choice specific to the city, with designs he reserved for California. Whether or not you’re an architecture buff it’s hard not to appreciate the amazing and unique talent of one of the greatest and most famous architects.
The Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Park, his first L.A. project, and the Anderton Court Shops, his last, are open to the public while Ennis House, known as the “little palace”and the largest of his L.A. houses, is open 12 days a year to the public but you can still view the exterior any time and it’s well worth the trip.
Bonus: Wayfarers Chapel was designed by FLW’s son, Lloyd Wright and is known for its glass structure and setting surrounded by trees.
8. Explore the City on Foot (Or Two Wheels)
Walking in L.A. is like driving in N.Y., you can do it but most don’t so just strolling the streets of the city and noticing things you haven’t before is an adventure onto itself.
The L.A. Conservancy offers various walking tours that include visiting the Victorian homes in Angelino Heights and learning about historic DTLA.
Downtown L.A. Walking Tours has six different themes (including holiday lights and haunted tales) so can learn about the early days of L.A. from Olvera Street to Chinatown Gateway or visit locations made famous in films.
If you want to speed it up while still enjoying the sites L.A. has not one but two bike riding clubs you join. Midnight Ridazz allows you to set up your own ride and route and they have groups in the SFV and L.A.
Meanwhile Passage Ride has themed routes from the Koreatown Crit to Veni Vidi Vici.
9. Fun in the Sun (and Water)
Lover’s Cove in Catalina is a popular spot for snorkeling with a kelp forest, the famous orange Garibaldi fish, and a slew of other inhabitants. You can rent snorkeling gear or bring your own and the fish are notoriously unafraid so bring food and prepare for the onslaught. You can also rent a pedal boat at the recently restored Echo Park Lake for an hour (cash only) or ride a hydrobike in Long Beach along the Rivo Alto Canal in Naples Island.
For more ideas for water activities check out this list of 11 Totally Fun Things To Do in L.A. If You Love Being in the Water.
10. Get Artsy
Exploring the art scene in L.A. can spark some interesting conversations and there’s something for everyone’s taste. The Broad is a new contemporary art museum and the latest art craze in L.A. The major attraction is Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room (on display through Sept. 2016) which usually has a wait time that’s several hours long but sign up early and check in later in the day as some people don’t show up. The collection is extensive and impressive (2,000 artworks) and it’s free, though reserved tickets are recommended.
Many museums have free days while others are always free including the Hammer Museum, the Annenberg Space for Photography, the Getty Villa and Getty Center, and the MOCA Pacific Design Center. Whether you’re an art lover or can’t understand the fascination with Rothko, the eclectic mix of art means you’re bound to find something you’ll like if not love.
Lovers of stuff off the beaten path can check out the Museum of Jurassic Technology, the Museum of Neon Art and the Bhagavad Gita Museum.
For more ideas we have compiled a handy list of ALL the free museums and museum days in Los Angeles.
What adventurous L.A. date ideas would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!