If you’re going on a first date with someone you don’t know very well, picking the right kind of place to go to is critical.
Many lists recommend a movie for a first date, but I think that is a terrible idea (unless you also do something else). The problem is that you can’t talk and get to know each other. Same for loud concerts.
True first dates, where you don’t know each other very well, have special requirements in addition to the obvious stuff like being fun and romantic.
Things to Consider When Choosing a First Date Activity
The first thing that is important in a first date location is safety. It should be somewhere public and safe. It should also offer an easy way to exit if one of you decides it isn’t working early on. Thus, a two-hour wilderness hike far away from civilization is not a good first date idea.
It should be somewhere quiet enough where you can have quality conversation, but also interesting enough to give you something to talk about if you run out of things to say. Thus a movie or loud concert are not good first date ideas, unless you also do something else.
A first date should also be informal and not cost an arm and a leg. On the other hand, there should be other interesting stuff in the area to allow you to extend the date should things go well.
Finally, the logistics (parking, traffic, etc.) should be easy so they don’t put a damper on your time together.
For my list, I assumed you are going on a true first date, where you don’t know much about each other but would like to know more through conversation and interaction in an interesting location, with the option to prolong the date if things are going well.
So, without any further ado, here are my top ten first date ideas in Los Angeles!
1. Coffee at Urth (or other non-chain coffee house)
Grabbing coffee is probably one of the most common first date activities, and for good reason. Coffee shops are safe public places where you can spend lots of time having good conversation.
Rather than going to one of the big chains, I like going to a coffee shop like Urth Caffe. Although you do have to line up to order, once you’ve ordered a waiter brings the coffee your table. This is nice on a date. Plus, I like the ambiance and their baked goods are incredible! Urth has a locations on Melrose, in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Downtown LA, Pasadena, Laguna Beach, and Orange.
This is not the only good date coffee house around! Find one near you that has charm, good coffee, good service, and other interesting things to do nearby.
2. A Museum (LACMA or other)
I think a museum is one of the best places to go on a first date. They offer plenty of opportunity for conversation (albeit quietly) along with artwork to talk about when you run out of things to say. There are so many great ones to choose from in the Los Angeles area including the Norton Simon, Getty, and many more.
I like LACMA in particular because it has so much to see, not only in terms of art, but also the grounds and the adjoining Tar Pits. There are also special events like salsa dancing and concerts. If things are going well, you can go on to the Grove, have a meal on Third Street, or see some vintage cars at the Peterson Automotive Museum across the street.
3. Downtown LA
Downtown LA is one of my favorite areas of the city to explore. You’ll find great restaurants, quirky bars, and historical landmarks, many of which are within walking distance of one another. One of my favorite destinations is Grand Central Market. From there you can check out Angels’ Flight and re-create the scene from “La La Land”, or check out the Bradbury Building where the original “Blade Runner” was filmed. During the day you can go to the top of LA City hall for a great view of the city. I also love the Last Bookstore. See my full list of Top Downtown LA Date Ideas.
4. The Arts District
Right next to Downtown LA is the Arts District, a great area for an interesting walking date. Check out the galleries at Hauser & Wirth, then have lunch or dinner at Manuela. Or, grab a pie at Pie Hole, then a beer at Angel City Brewery! Read my full article on why the Downtown LA Arts District is a great area for a date.
5. The Grove / Fairfax Farmer’s Market
Yes, it’s crowded and a bit touristy, but The Grove / Fairfax Farmer’s Market is still one of my favorite places to go with someone special. Although the fountains at the Grove are pretty cool, I like the vintage feel of the Farmer’s Market, with almost too many food options. I also like reading about the history of the Farmers Market, as well as seeing the vintage gas station out front! Read about more mid-city date ideas.
6. Your Local Farmer’s Market
Farmers markets are usually charming and fun in a low-key way. The ones I’m familiar with are the ones in Santa Monica and Culver City. Find one in your area that is close to a good restaurant, so you can transition to that afterwards if things are going well.
7. Santa Monica Pier / Ocean Avenue / Third Street Promenade
Santa Monica has gotten really touristy and the traffic can be bad, but it’s still great place to walk around on a date if you can get around the traffic and parking issues (or take the Metro). Read about my top Santa Monica date ideas.
I recommend parking at one of the parking structures on Second or Fourth streets, then spending time on the Promenade or walking on the pier and Palisades Park on Ocean Avenue. There are many great restaurant and bar options around there – read about them here. Not to mention, the surroundings are pretty nice!
8. Your Favorite Neighborhood Bar
Do you have a fun local bar “where everybody knows your name”? Or, maybe you’d like something more impressive like one these amazing vintage bars? LA has lots of great rooftop bars, dive bars, trendy bars, you name it!
9. Old Town Pasadena
This is a popular area and can get pretty crowded during peak periods, but I still enjoy spending time here. There are some great restaurants and it’s fun just to walk around. Hang out here after visiting the Norton Simon. Check out my full list of Pasadena date ideas.
10. Other Charming Neighborhoods Near You
You might not need to go far to find a charming date area. There are many charming neighborhoods that are perfect for a first date in the LA/OC area. some examples are downtown Culver City, Larchmont Village, Atwater Village, Silverlake, Manhattan Beach, Long Beach, Anaheim, Glendale, Burbank, Sherman Oaks, Los Feliz, Venice, and Huntington Beach.
That’s my list! Have you been to any of these? What are your tried-and-true great first-date spots in LA? Please comment below! – Brian