Culver City and the surrounding areas have some really romantic and fun places that are ideal for a date. Here are my top recommendations.
1. The Culver Hotel Grand Lobby
I consider the Culver Hotel to be the jewel of downtown Culver City. Completed in 1924, it offers unique history and charm. Famous for housing the “Munchkins” during the filming of “The Wizard of Oz”, the hotel fell into disrepair during the 50’s and 60’s, but was restored to its former glory in the 1990’s. Today you can enjoy great appetizers, drinks, and live jazz bands in its Grand Lobby almost every night at 7:30PM.
After hanging out in the lobby, be sure to go upstairs to check out the Paris-inspired Velvet Lounge Thursday through Saturday after 8PM.
The Culver Hotel is an ideal romantic setting for appetizers or drinks with someone special. It’s a great place to start or end a great date.
2. Downtown Culver City
Aside from the Culver Hotel, the rest of Downtown Culver City ain’t bad either. Check out some of the great restaurants and bars there, or just stroll around.
One of my favorite restaurants there is Akasha, featuring farm-to-table California cuisine.
Last time I had their mushroom salad and roasted chicken. Both very good!
Roasted chicken at Akasha – so good!
This place can get crowded so make a reservation on weekends.
There are plenty of other good dining options! Here are a few more:
- Tender Greens – Known for their salads, but they serve some good steak as well! Very informal.
- Meet in Paris – Small French bistro on “restaurant row” with outdoor seating. Ideal cozy date restaurant.
- Public School 310 – Beer and “bar food”, but really good bar food!
- Hanjip – Korean BBQ, mmmm! But, music is a little loud for intimate dates.
- The Wallace – Next door to Hanjip. Haven’t been there yet, but my Culver City friends rave about this place.
- Kay n Dave’s Cantina – Happy hour specials and much better-than-average Mexican food.
There are many others that I haven’t tried yet! The ones on “restaurant row” on Culver Blvd. are especially romantic, especially if you sit outside.
After dinner, you can get frozen yogurt at Menchie’s, have drinks at the Culver Hotel, catch a movie at the Arclight Cinemas, or see a performance at the Kirk Douglas Theater! Or, just stroll along the pleasant tree-lined streets and people-watch.
Ample parking is available in surrounding parking garages, or sometimes on Venice Blvd.
All of this makes downtown Culver City an ideal and romantic date spot!
I think it’s so amazing that, within walking distance of downtown Culver City, there is a huge hill where you can hike up and get a great view all the way to downtown L.A. The Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook is exactly that.
For a good workout, do the stairs, which dwarf the more famous Santa Monica stairs. For a more leisurely stroll, do the switchback trail. Both lead to the top, where you’ll have a panoramic view of the city. It’s ideal to time it so you reach the top around sunset!
One tip – try to go after it has rained when it will be green and lush. Avoid the middle of the day in the summer because there is very little shade.
4. The Helms Bakery District
The original Helms Bakery opened in 1931. The Helms Bakery District is now a pedestrian area offering some of the coolest furniture stores around. Maybe looking at furniture is the first thing you think of when you want a date idea, but it can be really fun if you’re into this type of thing.
Check out HD Buttercup, a huge furniture showroom featuring some of the most eclectic (and expensive) items around. Perhaps a bit more practical are Scandinavian Designs, La Bella Cosa, Room & Board, and Rejuvenation.
Afterwards, have a beer at Father’s Office, which also has some of the best fries and burgers in town. Don’t ask for ketchup though – they don’t have any!
For something more exotic, check out Lukshon, featuring Asian-inspired noodles in a modern setting. Note they are closed on Sundays and Mondays.
This is a cool bike path along Ballona Creek that takes you directly to Marina del Rey. The Ballona Creek Bike Path is great because the bike lanes are wide and well-maintained, and you avoid traffic lights – it’s a straight shot that weaves under busy streets that cross its path. Round trip, it’s under fourteen miles.
While biking next to a concrete flood control channel might not seem like the most romantic date idea, the view improves as you approach the ocean, and it does have its own kind of charm. It’s definitely one of the most hassle-free bike paths in the city, as you bypass all cars and intersections.
Enter the bike path near the intersection of Jefferson and Duquesne (which is where I took the photo above). Park at the meters on Jefferson, which go up to ten hours. You can also enter near Overland and Jefferson, but parking is harder to find in that area. Check out more hints for the Ballona Creek Bike Path in my article.
Platform is a small but very cool outdoor shopping and dining area tucked away on Washington Blvd, near the Helms Bakery. Yes, it’s a shopping mall, but it’s brand new and, I would say, rather hip and serene, with desert plants and cargo-container-inspired architecture, making it an informal, mellow date idea. I’ve never felt more relaxed at an L.A. shopping mall.
My recommended plan is to start out with awesome tacos with home-made flour tortillas at Loqui, then ice cream at Van Leeuwen. For tea or horchata, go to Boba Guys. For coffee, there’s Blue Bottle. After that, browse the (very expensive) shops and laugh at the idea of buying $500 sneakers.
Caution – one time when we tried to exit the parking garage it was completely backed up and it took us fifteen minutes. Have a good story ready to tell in case that happens! Also, it can be rather expensive, up to $25/day. I’m going to look for alternate parking and post it here if I find it.
7. Cafe Brasil, Bamboo, and Tara’s
These are three really cozy neighborhood and highly recommended restaurants right next to each other on Venice Blvd. They are not technically in Culver City, but very close by.
Cafe Brasil offers steak, chicken, empanadas, black beans, and other Brazilian favorites. Bamboo offers Caribbean dishes. For something a bit more exotic, Tara’s offers Himalayan cuisine, which is similar to Indian.
All offer outdoor seating and lots of charm. Well worth checking out if you want an ethnic dining experience in a cozy setting!
8. Versailles Restaurant
Versailles restaurant offers some of the best Cuban food in Los Angeles. They’re know for their famous garlic chicken served with fried plantains, rice, and black beans. It’s simple fare, but insanely good.
The ambiance may not be the most romantic, but you go here for the food, not the atmosphere. They don’t take reservations and it can get crowded. Parking can be tight as well.
Oh, you might as well forget about meeting anyone else afterwards, because the smell of the garlic and onion will repel anyone who didn’t have dinner with you there. But, that could be just what you want!
9. The Culver City Farmers Market
The Culver city Farmers Market happens every Tuesday from 2 to 7PM. This is not a huge farmer’s market, but it has a good selection nevertheless, and it’s conveniently located right in downtown Culver City.
10. Hidden Garden Thai
Located in a very unimpressive mini-mall on Sepulveda, Hidden Garden Thai has some of the best Thai Food on the West Side, with four-and-a-half stars on Yelp. No, this is not an upscale joint that you would take a date on your anniversary, but you should come here if you simply want really good pad Thai or curry. Prices are reasonable and the food is amazing. Warning – “medium” is pretty spicy, so order carefully!
11. Special Events
Along with the attractions I’ve already mentioned, check out the special seasonal events in Culver City:
- Culver City Car Show – Happens in May and features classic cars from the 50’s along with food and music!
- Free Concerts – Every summer Culver City puts on free concerts at city hall. Google “Culver City free concerts” for more info.
Check out more Culver City special events here.
So, that’s my list! What are your favorite date spots in Culver City? Please comment below! – Brian