Let’s face it, dating (especially for guys) can get real expensive, real fast. Even just doing your standard dinner and a movie 4-5 times a month would put a strain on any normal college student’s budget. To make matters worse, when you start focusing on how much money you’re spending rather than keeping your attention in the moment on who you’re with, it takes away from the experience of the date itself.
So instead, why not have the forethought to plan an awesome day that doesn’t break the bank?. Why not show your date that you’ve put real thought and effort into what you want to do? She (or he) will be happy you’re so considerate, and you’ll save some bucks by picking fun and free (or nearly free) activities you can both enjoy together.
In short, have a plan. Girls love guys who have plan.
But where to start?
Well, as the title may imply, below I have compiled a list of great activities ideal for a low budget so you won’t have to worry about who will pay. These suggestions will save you the shame of having to look through your couch hoping to find some quarters and nickels that may have gotten lost over the years, and your date will enthused because you’ve decided to take him/her somewhere different than just the same old haunts.
Win-win, right? Right!
When it comes to doing more for less Griffith Park is one of he L.A.’s greatest treasures. For one thing, you can take a nice hike at the Griffith trail (more on hiking later), where you will find yourself surrounded by nature and wilderness. Also the Griffith Observatory is FREE and if you would like to see a live show at the Sameul Oschin Planetarium, it is only $7 dollars per admission or $5 for students!
A Day in Santa Monica
For a nice hot day how would your date enjoy a day at the beach? Or enjoy a walk around the pier? Perhaps, if you and your date have time, you could also go to the Camera Obscura where you can appreciate the art of photography. Or maybe you’d like to attend special Twilight Concert series during summer as well. Or maybe you just want to take a stroll on the promenade. The truth is Santa Monica has tons of awesome things for you to do. Check the list below for an awesome rundown of additional ideas.
The boardwalk is almost like a carnival where you can find a variety of diverse personalities and attractions. You could also join the drum circle if you are walking by, you will not be able to miss them! Venice beach is just one of those places where both you and your date could enjoy the sunset. Maybe if you both are into fishing, at the Venice pier, you can share some laughs and good vibes while catching fish. You can also people watch artists/ musicians/ surfers and be sure if the freak show is open at Venice that day to check them out and be ready to be wooed. Entrance is only 5 dollars!
How about a cliché photo at the HOLLYWOOD sign at the Griffith Trails? As I said before, this trail also connects to the Runyon Canyon Trails, which you can take a free yoga session at, with donations encouraged, before starting your hike at the Runyon Canyon Trails.
Runyon Canyon Park– 2000 North Fuller Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046
If you’re near the San Gabriel Valley, take a hike on the Eaton Canyon Falls Trail and enjoy the waterfall at the top (the lower falls, not the one that is off-limits now). You could even bring a little picnic and enjoy a snack once you reach the falls area.
Eaton Canyon Trail – 1750 North Altadena Drive, Pasadena, CA 91107
If you like the waterfalls and looking for a bit more challenging hike? You can also check out Sturtevant Falls. Take pictures while hiking up! There are cute little cabins and the final view will be worth it all. Even take your dogs!
To get there from the 210 Freeway take the Santa Anita Ave exit and drive north (towards mountains) to Chantry Flat. This road becomes Santa Anita Canyon Rd. Turn right on Chantry Flats Rd.
Remember a National Forest Adventure Pass is required ( This can be purchased at big 5 stores or the ranger station, day passes are only 5$)
Go to the Getty!
Going to the Getty Museums (either the Center of the Villa) is a great way to spend a day and makes for a wonderful date if you want some gorgeous scenery and wonderful art to spark your conversation.
Admission is always FREE! Take a picnic in their gardens and enjoy the nature and beauty. Parking here is $15, perhaps carpool and enjoy the museum with a group date to offset the parking cost fee.
Admission is free BUT you must make reservations! Parking as well is $15, so same group-idea applies 😉
Visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and enjoy modern contemporary and abstract art and exhibitions. Check out the days with FREE ADMISSION and take pictures with the famous Urban Lights located in the entrance to the museum. Also during summer they have free Jazz concerts on Fridays.
5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
The first Thursday of the month is free but you must call for reservations at 800-838-3006 for more information on how to get tickets click on link. Or enjoy the café, no reservation necessary.
Instead of buying your date roses, take your date to the rose garden at the exposition park (unfortunately the Rose Garden closes every year from Jan 1- March 15).
But, there are other attractions located at the Exposition park such as the California African American Museum and Admission is free or you can take your date to the California science center and check out their exhibitions (also free!).
There is also the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, they have free admission days on first Tuesdays of most months.
700 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90037
The Museum of Jurassic Technology
The fee is $8 for adults and $5 for full time students, and it’s sure to be one of the strangest experiences you’ve ever had in a “museum.”
Make sure to check out their rules regarding taking pictures, before going, and definitely make time to visit their Tula Tea Room, serving complimentary Georgian Black tea and cookies (perfect place for an interesting discussion for your date after you take in all the weirdness).
9341 Venice Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232
El Matador State Beach
If you like long walks on the beach, well this is the spot. One of the most beautiful beaches in L.A. with large rocks and caves that this beach has to offer many come to take family pictures etc. It’s a great place to get to know someone and not as crowded as the other beaches.
32100 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA 90265
See more: The Ultimate Guide to the Beaches of Malibu
Hanging Out in Hollywood
Spend the day with the stars, here you can walk the sidewalk of Hollywood boulevard and see more than 2,300 bronze stars that have been emblazoned with names of famous personalities, that have made their mark in a certain way or another. Go to Larry Edmunds Bookshop and participate in book signings and films. Eat hotdogs from the carts. YUMMM!
Coffee and Conversation
Forget about those big chain coffee places like Starbucks and The Coffee Bean. Los Angeles has many unique and cheap places that you will love and who knows maybe even become regulars with your date.
What better place to get to know a person than sipping hot coffee or tea on a chilly morning/night or even just on a nice day.
Holy Ground Coffee & Tea
This place has a great outdoor seating so make sure to enjoy the nature even with rain this place will be great to have a nice conversation and not expensive at all.
Maybe this place will help you with that connection you and your date are missing. This place has nice seatings in the patio, they are closed Sundays but opened from 6:30 am to 9 pm everyday. They also have special events, sometimes they have live performances.
This place is open pretty late and they have a billiards table that is accessible with purchase, to play it is $1.00 not so bad compared to other Billiard places. The drinks are also very affordable and date friendly atmosphere.
Why? Take some sandwiches to the park and watch the sunset on top of the hill at Barnsdall Park? They also has farmers market every Monday, so maybe you can grab something to eat there instead. There’s even live Opera performances on weekends sometimes.
4800 Hollywood Boulevard,
Los Angeles, California 90027
There are many free shows in L.A. to go… The Echo, The Observatory, The Getty, Bootleg… check out an ongoing list over at ohmyrockness.com so you know what’s coming up.
Also, on Sundays The UCB has comedy shows for free that you can come and enjoy with your date also the Bang Bang $5 on Thursdays at 8:30. Plus here’s a list of at least 9 other free L.A. comedy shows you can check out.
What are some of your favorite cheap date ideas in Los Angeles? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!