Let’s face it: many Angelenos are transplants, trying to catch their big break. If you’re a starving artist, or just living on a tight budget, these date ideas won’t skimp on fun—and won’t break the bank.
926 Broxton Ave.
Westwood, CA 90024
Great for a first date and open late, this ice cream/cookie shop is frequented by UCLA’s co-eds and is so popular that the line wraps around the corner. You’ll have time to chat, you’ll see if your date can order under pressure, and best of all, you’ll only spend $1.75 per ice cream sandwich. If the date goes well, there are plenty of bars and coffee shops in the area.
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Open every day except Monday, the Getty Center is not only free (okay, on-site parking is $15), but it has a wealth of exhibits showcasing art, photography, pottery, and more. Plus it offers an epic panoramic view of L.A. If the date’s going well, you can split an appetizer at the restaurant for a not-astronomical price—if not, just enjoy the artwork, architecture, and incredible gardens.
3rd Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Between Broadway and Wilshire, Santa Monica’s Third Street is closed off to car traffic, allowing pedestrians to stroll alongside an impressive array of shops and restaurants. Besides the obligatory cup of coffee (and perhaps parking), you don’t have to spend a dime, unless you want to tip one of the nightly street performers lining the street. You’ll see dancers, singers, balloon artists, contortionists and a lot of interesting people. Plus, Third Street is beach- and pier-adjacent.
4989 Sepulveda Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
You really can’t go wrong with a first date that involves mini golf and batting cages. You may have to contend with a few rug rat birthday parties, but this throwback kid-at-heart date is always a winner — and the first round of mini-golf is $6.50, with each additional round just $3. Twenty-five pitches in the batting cages cost $3, and the arcade is a great place to get rid of your spare change.
6925 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
You may remember it as Grauman’s, but this recently renamed theater is still the same place you can measure your hands and feet to those of all the celebrities cast in concrete outside. Admire the Chinese architecture, take a walk along Hollywood Boulevard, or go inside the theater for a show.
4089 Lincoln Blvd.
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
As far as dive bars go, this one is tops. There’s an extensive menu that goes beyond your typical fried fare, with most dishes under $10 plus equally cheap drinks. Best of all, on Thursday nights, Brennan’s offers turtle racing between 9 and 10 PM. It’s a unique venue, and it’s within walking distance of the harbor if you’re in need of a quiet respite—or a kiss goodnight!
1646 N. Las Palmas Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
3655 Cahuenga Blvd. W.
Universal City, CA 90068
This decades-old family-owned restaurant is not the most intimate place to get to know someone—in fact, it’s downright noisy. But the kitschy Italian venue offers what so many of those stuffy 5-star restaurants lack: ambiance. In between serving up mouthwatering antipasto salads, pizzas and pasta, your waiters and waitresses sing showtunes—and sing them quite well. Small pizzas are as cheap as $13 and most shareable main courses are under $20.
443 N. Vineland Ave.
City of Industry, CA 91746
Kick it old school at the Vineland Drive-In. Although it’s a little off the beaten path, for just $9 per person this theater is cheaper than most, and you can watch a triple feature from the comfort of your cozy car—that’s just $3 per movie! Bring your own snacks and you won’t pay a cent more.
Ocean Front Walk
Venice Beach, CA 90291
Whether you grab a Frisbee, bring your roller blades or wait until sunset for the hippie-style drum circle, Venice Beach is an incredible place to people watch with your date. Check out the vendors’ artsy wares and grab a corn dog or a smoothie—whatever you do, it’s possible to get away with a memorable date here for $10 or less, especially if you’re lucky enough to score free street parking.
125 Paseo De La Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Walk the eclectic brick-lined path of historic Olvera Street downtown. This colorful California State Historic Landmark is a great place to admire old architecture, shop for souvenirs and sample some authentic Mexican food along the way—you can’t go wrong with a fresh churro!
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