Ditch the Restaurant: 6 Unique Date Ideas In Los Angeles

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Special thank you to Two Bit Circus for inviting us to experience their attractions. All thoughts & opinions are my own.

Can you believe it? We’re already charging full-force into 2019, and before you can even get your life back in order after all the holiday mayhem, before you can even stop to think up a resolution for the new year, you’ve probably already seen it: the Valentine’s Day kitsch. It’s everywhere! Chocolate and balloons and stuffed teddy bears holding hearts that aren’t even FLUFFY. Can we have a moment to collect ourselves before we start to think of another holiday to spend money on, pleeease? Valentine’s Day isn’t my favorite holiday, but around this time each year, my mind immediately turns to dreaming up date ideas. Creative ones too, way beyond the dinner-and-a-movie combo (anyone else find dinner dates kind of boring? I go to restaurants on random Friday nights by myself when I don’t feel like cooking!!).

Since we started dating, Jacob and I actually committed to doing monthly date nights. We take turns taking each other out every month, and there are really no rules except that it has to be a surprise to the other person until the day of, which makes it crazy exciting! In the past nearly 3 years, we’ve covered a LOT of ground in Los Angeles, going on random, awesome dates and discovering new ways to go out that don’t just involve dinner. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it seems like the perfect time to round up some of my favorites. Read on for 5 unique, crazy fun date ideas (for Valentine’s Day and beyond!) in and around Los Angeles, and why I loved each of these dates the most out of everything we’ve done so far.

Updated 7/28/19: this list previously included 5 date night ideas, but we’ve recently started adding more as we continue to find cool things to do in LA!

6 Unique Date Ideas in Los Angeles

1. Cooking Class

BEST FOR: Hands-on Foodies

Where: HipCooks

Rachel Off Duty: Couple at a Cooking Class - HipCooks

If dinner dates are your thing, this is the perfect way to switch things up! Take a cooking class and bond over tasty bites and sips of wine. Last year, we went to HipCooks West LA (there are locations all over LA, as well as Orange County, San Diego, Seattle, and Portland) to take an Argentinian cooking class. In just a few hours, we helped to make – and eat – delicious empanadas, steak with chimichurri, and dulce de leche. There’s tons of classes, from cheese making and knife skills to cajun cuisine and dim sum. The class we took was called ‘Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina!’ and left us ridiculously stuffed. It was amazing.


2. Go on a Hike

BEST FOR: Adventure Seekers

Where: Runyon Canyon, Mishe Mokwa, or Temescal Canyon

Rachel Off Duty: Hiking in Los Angeles

Just outside Los Angeles are a handful of pretty good hikes that serve as the perfect setting for a date. Not too strenuous, no extreme elevation gain that could result in crazy temperature swings, and some seriously stunning views. I like Runyon Canyon because it’s pretty leisurely, close to Hollywood (in case you want to do a hike + dinner + drinks as an all-day date), and has fantastic views of LA. Mishe Mokwa and Temescal Canyon are other great choices, too.

If you are more serious hikers and don’t mind a drive, I also love Mammoth Lakes, Sequoia, Yosemite, and Bishop!


3. Visit a Virtual Reality Circus

BEST FOR: Video Gamers + Friendly Competition

Where: Two Bit Circus

Rachel Off Duty: Date Night in Los Angeles

Located in the downtown Arts District, Two Bit Circus is the world’s first micro amusement park. Jacob loves video games and virtual reality, so when we found out there was a circus in the city where the attractions and ‘rides’ were all immersive, virtual reality or tech-infused experiences, we were intrigued! Imagine a Dave & Buster’s-meets-steampunk-meets Futurama atmosphere where you can play vertical twister, shoot zombies, fly above dinosaurs, navigate through mazes, and float in a raft down a river in search of monsters. Tailored with grown-ups in mind, you’ll also find bookable lounges, wine and whiskey tasting, elevated circus food, 2 fully stocked bars with creative cocktails topped with pop rocks and sherbet, and a selection of local beers on tap. Needless to say, Two Bit Circus makes for a blast of a date night.

If you like a lively atmosphere, go on the weekend when the Circus is open until 1:30 in the morning. Alternatively, if you want to avoid the crowds and get all your first picks on rides, go on a weekday night like we did. We got to do everything we wanted to do in about 3 hours and had a blast doing it.

4. Take a Day Trip

BEST FOR: Travel Lovers

Where: Solvang, Temecula, or Santa Barbara

Pictured: Solvang

If you and your special someone are morning people and you’re okay with getting up early and going for a long drive, there are so many great places to visit outside of LA that are worth making a day trip (and a date!) out of. You can head to Solvang or Temecula for wine tasting, Santa Barbara for quintessential California beach town charm, or Joshua Tree and Palm Springs to get out into the desert. We’ve done all of these as day trips in the past, and while doing a day trip will make for an ultra-long date, this is the perfect way to get to know each other better after you’ve already been seeing each other for a little while!



5. Neon Tour of the City

BEST FOR: Quirky + Spontaneous Romantics

Where: MONA (Museum of Neon Art)

Rachel Off Duty: Museum of Neon Art

Jacob is fascinated by neon art and cool, vintage signs, so last year I did some digging to find the coolest neon-focused activity you could possibly do in all of Los Angeles: a neon lights tour of downtown, also known as the ‘neon cruise.’ This evening tour, led by the Museum of Neon Art, takes you all over downtown and Hollywood to get a glimpse back in time to a period when neon was king. Even if you’ve never thought twice about neon signs or neon art, the tour makes for a super romantic and creative night out, as you’re driven around LA in the open air of a double-decker bus up high among the city lights. When the tour is over, walk down the street to Guisados for the best late night tacos I could ever recommend, or grab cocktails at the NoMad.

6. Go on a Museum Crawl

BEST FOR: Artsy Explorers

Where: California Science Center, LACMA, Hammer, Broad, MOCA, Getty, Getty Villa

Rachel Off Duty: Couple Touring Museums in Los Angeles

Speaking of museums, Los Angeles is full of them, and if you map your day out correctly, you could hit several in one afternoon! My favorite museums for an artsy date are the ones that are interactive and immersive, like LACMA, the Broad, and the California Science Center. You can also head to the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Hammer Museum, or either of the Getty museums if you’re looking for other options that are equally great. In total, choose about 3 museums to round out your date, since you have to also factor in the driving and the parking – anything more than that could get stressful in downtown LA.

Whether you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day idea or something more (like trying out monthly or even weekly date night), the key to a great date idea is to plan something that speaks to your S.O.’s personal interests. And, choosing something that requires you to get out and do something fun and new is the best way to get to know each other better! Have you tried any of these date ideas? Do you have any other must-do recommendations for a fun and creative date idea that I missed? Let me know in the comments so I can try it for myself and throw it in this list!

Happy Feb 14th and beyond. xoxo

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Rachel Off Duty: Ditch the Restaurant: 6 Unique Date Ideas In Los Angeles
Rachel Off Duty: Ditch the Restaurant: 6 Unique Date Ideas In Los Angeles

Hey there! I’m Rachel, a travel writer and a full-time advertising / marketing expert. In 2019, I traveled more than 25 times while working 9 to 5, and since then I’ve committed myself to living a more adventurous life, even if it means bringing my laptop along for the ride.

Are you hungry to travel more, but overwhelmed with how to juggle work and play? You’ve come to the right place!

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