Romantic and Fun Southern California Date Ideas

If you’re looking for the perfect date idea in SoCal, rest assured there is plenty to choose from! The following list includes several romantic and fun Southern California date ideas if you’re looking to shake things up in the relationship and make new memories!

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Whether you’re looking to impress on a first date or you’ve been married for years, there are always ways to stand out from the crowd and create experiences either of you won’t soon forget. Here are several of the best date ideas if you’re located in Southern California!

1. Wine on the Water, Newport Beach 

Take a drive to Orange County along the PCH to Newport Beach and the Balboa Peninsula. Newport is one of the best places to visit if you love cruising on the water. There are quite a few options if you want to rent a boat or a tour along the peninsula. A few to consider are Newport Harbor Boat Rentals, Newport Beach Harbor Wine Cruise, and Gondola Adventures.

It’s a good idea to check ahead of time to see what they offer in terms of drinks and desserts—or if it’s a bring-your-own delights situation. If so, pack a romantic picnic, sit back, and enjoy the ride!

Tip: Check the whale migrations and plan a trip to Newport when they are migrating. This is fun date idea that brings out the inner child in anyone as you travel up and down the coast looking for marine wildlife.

Seals on a buoy off of Newport Beach.

If you don’t want the evening to end there, consider looking for a local outdoor concert to enjoy live music or search for other live shows in the area. You’ll both have so much fun on your adventurous evening out!

2. Unwind and Dine in Luxury, Ojai Valley

This romantic date idea will take a short road trip to Ojai Valley. It’s one of our favorite ‘small’ towns in California. It’s charming, surrounded by beautiful trees and peaks and feels like you’re hours away from the hustle and bustle of LA.

You might even want to consider staying the night at Ojai Valley Inn. They offer a spa menu full of relaxing and nourishing treatments such as massage therapy and body polishes. Nothing will help rejuvenate you both like some self-care and relaxation together.

Hotel recommendation

Ojai Retreat & Inn

This beautiful inn is nestled in among trees on a beautiful property with individual rooms. It feels tucked away and secluded, making it a favorite spot for a quick romantic weekend getaway. We love their continental breakfast and outside seating nook.

For dinner, consider the romantic The Ojai Ranch House restaurant. It offers an ambiance like no other, with its tall bamboo surrounding the dining area. It’s surprisingly romantic and calming. There’s also plenty of wine tasting in the area, as well as great bike baths and bookstores to explore, so you won’t be short of fun things in the area to explore.

3. Visit a Quaint, Historic Danish Village, Solvang

Really want to get out of the country without leaving the state? Taking a road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway to Solvang is the ultimate unique date idea!

View of Solvang from the street with iconic windmill in the scene.

The town is best known for its Danish-style architecture, cute shops, and wineries. Whether you want to enjoy a local coffee shop, get ice cream, or shop along Mission drive, there are plenty of fun things to do once you’re there. You can even go grape stomping! There are definitely a lot of adorable photo opportunities, given the unique architectural backgrounds too. Quaint places to consider staying the night are the Mirabelle Inn, Wine Valley Inn & Cottages, or Vinland Hotel & Lounge

Tip: Go early in the day and pop into the Danish bakeries for authentic treats!

Pastry counter at an iconic bakery in Solvang.

4. Explore Speakeasies Across the City, Los Angeles

Experience a date night like no other with a romantic night out on the town exploring the best bars and lounges in Los Angeles: speakeasies. Yes, they still exist, many in fact! Whether you only want to visit one a weekend for a series of romantic date ideas, or explore a few in one night, here are several you can check out: Bathtub Gin, No Vacancy, Adults Only, Blind Barber, Davey Waynes, and The Varnish at Coles in Downtown Los Angeles.

Tip: I highly recommend going right when they open to get the best spots because once the clock strikes 10 pm, there will be a line to get it at certain locations!

One of the most romantic things you can do in LA is cuddle up with your love in the corner of a dark lounge and enjoy the ambiance! Spending quality time together doesn’t always mean you have to be alone in a room. Sometimes that can look like being in a busy bar too. The most romantic part is that you two only have eyes for each other.

5. Cinema Under the Stars, San Diego

Movie nights don’t always have to be in the comfort of your own home. Consider checking out Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills, San Diego! This is the perfect place to go if you both share a love for the classic films of stars such as Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, and Humphrey Bogart.

If you’re looking to make it a day trip, visiting downtown San Diego and the iconic Balboa Park beforehand is a great way to spend the day. There you will find over 16 museums, gorgeous gardens to walk through, and the San Diego Zoo!

6. Explore Botanical Gardens & Beaches, Santa Barbara

Head to visit the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. There you will find an array of beautiful native plants to admire and spectacular views. If you’re a nature lover, you’re going to have a good time appreciating all this nature conversation has to offer! After, you can drive to one of the many beaches along the coast and watch the sunset.

Bring a picnic or visit one of the many local fine dining establishments—especially the restaurants along the water if you’re fond of ocean views. Santa Barbara also offers various tasting rooms and wine tours to rival Napa! You won’t be lacking in things to do in this beautiful beach city!

7. Peaceful Relaxation in the Desert, Palm Springs

Palm Springs is the perfect setting if you’re looking to get away from the city. Escape the noise and explore Indian Canyon hiking trails and footpaths. This lush oasis offers picnic tables for you to enjoy your lunch as well as plenty of photography opportunities. After a long day, you can pamper and self-indulge at the Parker Palm Springs Yacht Club Spa.

Once you’re at peak relaxation, enjoy a night at Talavera Palm Springs. They have 11 hacienda suite options—all gorgeous with Spanish and bohemian-influenced decor. They’ve even compiled a helpful local city guide if you can manage to get out of bed!

8. Hiking around Hollywood, Los Angeles

The Hollywood Reservoir is truly a hidden gem of the city. Countless people don’t even know it exists because it’s nestled away in the Hollywood hills. It’s a great place to go if you love to be outdoors, to be active, and love a good view.

Just Google ‘Hollywood Reservoir Trailhead’ for starting directions, drive up those windy roads, and you’ll easily be able to find local parking. Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as this is a 3.5-mile walk around the lake, and offer a wildly different view of LA than overlooking the Pacific Ocean at the Santa Monica Pier.

It will give you and your date plenty of time to get to know one another or simply spend time enjoying each other’s conversation and one of our personal favorite romantic date ideas.

View of the Hollywood Bowl at the top of the seating area with distant iconic Hollywood sign in the peaks above.

When you’ve finished, you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the Hollywood sign across the lake. Nearby you will also find the Griffith Observatory. If you’re looking for even more views, you can hike (or drive) there as well! Be sure to stop at Jerome C. Daniel Overlook, above the Hollywood Bowl for iconic views of LA.


When is the best time to visit Southern California?

Southern California is known to have beautiful weather all year round. However, if you had to choose, March to May and September to November are your best bets if you’re looking to avoid smog, large crowds, and higher prices.

During these months, the air is cleaner and the weather is milder, making it perfect for sightseeing and outdoor activities. Best of all, the temperatures are still comfortable without being too hot or cold!

Where are some hidden gems in Southern California?

If you’re looking for a little peace and quiet, why not check out Solvang? This quaint Danish-style village is located in the Santa Ynez Valley and offers something unique to experience. Or hop on over to Catalina Island—it’s only an hour away from Los Angeles and a great place to get some sun and explore the island’s many outdoor activities.

For some desert adventures, head to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park—it’s the largest state park in California and offers plenty of hiking, biking, and camping opportunities. Big Bear Lake is another great destination for outdoorsy types with its lakeside campgrounds and nearby skiing slopes. Idyllwild and Julian are two of the most popular mountain towns in San Diego County and offer a mix of art galleries, wineries, hiking trails, and cozy cafés.

What are some must-try dishes in SoCal?

Southern California is a paradise for food lovers, offering top-notch dishes from all over the world. Some of the must-try local favorites include Baby Back Ribs at Phil’s BBQ in San Diego, the famous Strawberry Donut at The Donut Man in Glendora, The Original #19 Pastrami Sandwich at Langer’s Deli in Los Angeles, and the Secret Menu At In N Out. So if you’re looking for some delicious eats in SoCal, these dishes are definitely worth trying!

Pack Your Suitcase…

Which romantic and fun Southern California date idea sounds most fun to you? Let me know in the comments below! Looking for the best places to stay while there? Check out the following relevant articles!

More Romantic California Getaways

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