Make a Date
WEB-EXCLUSIVE: Here are 50 Orange County-centric date ideas to help romance a first date or help you fall in love all over again.
Whether it’s your first date or your 50th, it’s never easy coming up with a new date idea. So when we wanted some tips on the best date ideas for Orange County, we went to our most credible source: you. Here, Coast readers share their favorite local date ideas.
1. Ruby’s Shake Shack
The Crystal Cove landmark has date written all over it. Not just because of its scenic location on Newport Coast but also because of its famously delicious date shake.
949.464.0100 :: rubys.com
2. Couple’s Massage at Spa Gaucin
Spa Gaucin at St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa offers different massage packages for couples, like the Love Retreat that includes a 90-minute Mediterranean massage and 20-minute Chardonnay bubble bath for two.
949.234.3367 :: spagaucin.com
3. Saturday Famers Market
Take a cue from some of OC’s culinary chefs who shop the Old Towne Orange Farmers and Artisan Market each Saturday for organic fruits and vegetables for their Saturday night dinner specials. Pick your produce from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and use it to prepare a meal together.
4. Beach Bonfire
Beach bonfires are an Orange County tradition and as any local knows, it doesn’t get more romantic than a crackling fire and the sound of the ocean. Many Orange County beaches, like Corona Del Mar State Beach have fire pits available year round.
5. Angels Baseball
Take them out to the ballgame at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, home of The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Enjoy a hotdog and a frosty beer while you both root for the home team. (Opening game is April 6.)
714.940.2000 :: losangeles.angels.mlb.com
6. Brunch at Break of Dawn
Brunch date? Boring. Brunch date at Break of Dawn? Anything but. With items like wine poached eggs and crème brulee French toast, this Asian-fusion breakfast/lunch spot in Laguna Hills will break you out of your brunch rut.
949.587.9418 :: breakofdawnrestaurant.com
7. Moon-lit Paddle Boarding
Stand-up paddle boarding is even more fun at night. Try out the latest fitness trend together under the stars with Pirate Coast Paddle Company even providing glow sticks. Day and sunset paddle excursions are also available.
714.600.8454 :: piratecoastpc.com
8. Wine Tasting at Laguna Canyon Winery
California is home to some of the best vineyards around but you don’t have to go to Napa to enjoy them. Laguna Canyon Winery hosts a wine tasting the first Friday of each month from 6-9 p.m. Sample wine as well as delicious food and live entertainment. Reservations required.
949.715.9463 :: lagunacanyonwinery.com
9. An Afternoon at Bowers Museum
Spend an afternoon getting cultured at Bowers Museum in Santa Ana. Besides exhibits that are always changing, there are also lectures and tours. Afterwards sit down to lunch in the museum’s California Mission-style courtyard at its restaurant, Tangata.
714.567.3600 :: bowers.org
10. Duffy Ride in Newport Harbor
Cruise Newport Harbor in an electric Duffy Boat at sunset. The Duffy Electric Boat Company can provide you with a refreshment platter or you can pack your own picnic to bring on board.
949.645.6812 :: duffyofnewportbeach.com
11. Fishing at Irvine Lake
You don’t even need a fishing license at the privately owned and operated Irvine Lake. Settle in lakeside or take a rental boat out on the water for a relaxing day of hooking trout, catfish and carp.
714.649.9111 :: irvinelake.net
12. An Evening at Segerstrom Center for the Arts
Start with a cocktail at Leatherby’s Café Rouge inside the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall before taking in a play, dance performance or musical at one of the center's many venues, including Segerstrom Hall and Samueli Theater.
714.556.2787 :: scfta.org
13. Great Park Balloon
Take to the skies in Irvine at the Orange County Great Park’s big orange helium balloon and see Orange County’s landscape from 500 feet up in the air.
866.829.3829 :: ocgp.org
14. Gondola Cruise
Enjoy soft romantic music or even singing by your gondolier at your request as you drift dreamily through Newport Harbor with Gondola Adventures, Inc. You’ll also get a complimentary bottle of sparkling cider or water that can be upgraded to wine for a fee.
949.646.2067 :: gondola.com
15. Cooking Classes at Blackmarket Bakery
Black Market Bakery in Irvine is always offering innovative classes to improve your cooking skills and teach you new techniques. Choose from a wide range of workshops, including learning to make rustic pies and tarts, artisanal breads, pastas, and more for a date night that is good enough to eat.
949.852.4609 :: blackmarketbakery.com
16. Day Hike on Laguna Beach Trails
The two of you have seen the ocean from the shore, but now see it from the hills. There are trails for every level of hiker, including Valido Hiking Trails with several steep climbs or the more leisurely Toovet Hiking Trail, all with rewarding views.
17. Bowling at Bowlmor Lanes
Get your bowling shoes on and hit the lanes together at Bowlmor. This standard date idea gets an upgrade at Bowlmor in Tustin with plush booths, a full bar and menu items like the Jersey Boy filet mignon.
714.258.2695 :: bowlmor.com
18. Lunch at Sol Cocina
This waterfront restaurant is a great place to relax and dine on fresh Baja cuisine. Grab a table on the patio for two and sip on raspberry Serrano margaritas as the sun goes down.
949.675.9800 :: solcocina.com
19. Surf City Nights
Each Tuesday night from 5-9 p.m., Main Street in Huntington Beach closes down for Surf City Nights. Explore international food booths, arts and crafts for sale, a farmers market, and live entertainment.
714.536.8300 :: surfcityusa.com
20. Live Music at House of Blues
Grab a bite or drink at the House of Blues Restaurant before catching big name live acts at this venue in Anaheim’s Downtown Disney.
714.778.2583 :: houseofblues.com
21. The Rooftop Lounge
The Rooftop Bar and Lounge atop La Casa del Camino in Laguna Beach is a favorite for local couples. And with fresh fruit mojitos and breathtaking views, we don’t blame them.
949.497.2446 :: rooftoplagunabeach.com
22. Whale Watching in Dana Point
Share the exhilarating experience of seeing whales up close in Dana Point Harbor. Two-hour excursions depart three times a day to spot gray whales from November to April and blue whales from May to October.
949.496.5794 :: danawharf.com
23. Walk through Back Bay
Take a leisurely stroll on the Back Bay Loop Trail, a 10.5-mile hike with scenic stops at Upper Castaways Park and educational centers like the Back Bay Science Center at Shellmaker Island.
949.644.3309 :: newportbeachca.gov
24. Hornblower Dinner Cruise
Dinner and dancing is one thing but dinner and dancing on a yacht is another. Hornblowers’ Starlight Dinner Dance Cruise out of Newport Beach is a three-yacht cruise with a four-course dinner and a DJ and dancing.
888.467.6256 :: hornblower.com
25. Bike Trail Excursion
Put the pedal to the metal along OC Parks biking trails. From Caspers Wilderness Park in San Juan Capistrano to Peters Canyon Regional Park in Orange, chances are there is a trail nearby you can cycle together.
714.973.6865 :: ocparks.com
26. Tide Pool Excursion at Crystal Cove
Wade through the tide pools at Crystal Cove State Park at Reef Point or Pelican Point and check out sea anemone and urchins, hermit crabs and more.
27. Movie at UltraLuxe Anaheim
Watch the latest blockbuster at UltraLuxe theater at Anaheim GardenWalk. Settle into the high-back reclining chairs while you order food, drinks and even beer and wine.
714.399.0305 :: ultraluxeanaheim.com
28. Catalina Island
A day trip to nearby Catalina Island is a popular date choice with endless possibilities. Hop on the Catalina Express and in about an hour you’ll be on the island discovering Avalon, for hiking, fishing, golfing, kayaking, cycling, or simple beach lounging.
800.481.3470 :: catalinaexpress.com
Spend the day at the happiest place on earth. Go on rides, share a Dole pineapple whip outside the Enchanted Tiki Room and end the day looking up at the fireworks, in each other’s arms.
714.781.7277 :: disneyland.disney.go.com
30. Laguna Beach Art Walk
The first Thursday of each month you can see artist demonstrations, exhibition openings and music from Laguna Beach’s talented local artists and craftsmen from 6-9 p.m.
949.683.6871 :: firstthursdaysartwalk.com
31. Balboa Island
Ride the ferris wheel, take the ferry, check out the bars, and restaurants, but whatever you do, don’t forget to get a chocolate-dipped Balboa Bar from Dad’s Donut and Bakery Shop in Newport Beach.
32. Late Night Happy Hour at Wildfish
Happy hour is closer to the midnight hour on Sunday and Monday at Wildfish in Newport Beach with happy hour going all night long. Get half-off regular price appetizers, $6 martinis and wines by the glass.
949.720.9925 :: eddiev.com
33. Horseback Riding at Irvine Park Railroad
Giddy up on a one- or two-hour trail ride at the Irvine Park Railroad. Choose from guided horseback tours, and Western, English and Dressage riding lessons.
714.997.3968 :: irvineparkrailroad.com
34. Golf at Pelican Hill
Reserve a tee-time at Pelican Hill to play a round of golf at one of Orange County’s most beautifully scenic courses.
949.467.6800 :: pelicanhill.com
35. The Laguna Playhouse
Touted as, “Not just another night out,” you both can enjoy a fantastic play in an intimate setting at The Laguna Playhouse nestled on Laguna Canyon Road.
949.497.2787 :: lagunaplayhouse.com
36. The Muzeo
Located in Anaheim, The Muzeo hosts three traveling exhibitions a year, bringing shows to the area that you might not see otherwise. Come discover them for yourself.
714.956.8936 :: muzeo.org
37. 3Thirty3 Waterfront
This local spot right on the water is perfect for night or day, from brunch on weekend mornings to a lunch of gourmet sliders and even late-night plates, any time is a good time for spending some time together at 3Thirty3 Waterfront.
949.673.8464 :: 333nb.com
38. Dancing at Landmark
Dance the night away at Landmark Steakhouse in Corona del Mar, where you can always count on a full house of bold and beautiful locals in the lounge, on the patio or in the leather booths. Bottle service and VIP services are also available.
949.675.5556 :: landmarknewport.com
39. Antique Shopping in Old Towne Orange
Hunt for treasure at Old Towne Orange’s many antique shops. Even some of the stores themselves are antiques since the historic district is the second largest concentration of historic buildings in the region. Take a break in one of the area's many restaurants; a beer at Haven Gastropub or Mexican food at Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen.
40. Fullerton Ballroom & DanceSport Center
Perfect your moves together at this dance center in Fullerton. Take a group class or a private lesson in everything from ballroom to zumba fitness.
714.525.5155 :: fullertondancesport.com
41. Downtown Santa Ana Art Walk
On the first Saturday of each month the artist lofts in Santa Ana’s art district open house. You’ll also find arts and crafts for sale on the street as well as food trucks, live entertainment and more.
714.547.6100 :: downtown-santaana.com
42. A Walk on the Beach
This may seem too obvious, but don’t underestimate the romance of holding hands as you walk along any of Orange County’s beautiful beaches.
43. Beer Tasting at The Bruery
So you know your wine, but have you got a handle on beer? Educate yourselves on the ever-expanding world of craft beer at The Bruery Tasting Room in Placentia, open Friday through Saturday with a selection of seasonal and year round craft beers on tap with snack options provided by local food trucks.
44. Knott’s Berry Farm
Ride on Knott’s Berry Farm's many rollercoasters and other attractions before dining on Mrs. Knott’s famous fried chicken at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant. And don’t forget the slice of boysenberry pie.
714.220.5200 :: knotts.com
45. Javier’s in Crystal Cove Promenade
Settle in next to one of the patio fireplaces or grab a seat at the cantina and get cozy. The scene is always lively and the margaritas are always delish.
949.494.1239 :: javiers-cantina.com
46. Orange County Museum of Art
Discover all this visual art museum in Laguna Beach has to offer by way of lectures, films and exhibits. And don’t forget, each second Sunday of the month is free.
949.759.1122 :: ocma.net
47. The Observatory
After a brief hiatus, Galaxy Concert Theatre in Santa Ana returns as The Observatory. And you’ll still find some of the best local bands and musicians in the county performing. You can also check out more intimate performances in the Constellation Room located inside The Observatory.
714.957.0600 :: observatoryoc.com
48. Crescent Bay Point Park
A favorite secret spot of locals, Crescent Bay Point Park is a secluded look-out point in Laguna Beach. If you’re both up for a stroll, take the flight of stairs down to Crescent Bay Beach to enjoy one of the county's best beaches.
49. Dinner and a Movie at the Irvine Spectrum
The Irvine Spectrum Center has plenty to offer by way of dining options, from old standbys like The Cheesecake Factory to more unique choices like Cucina Enoteca. Then watch a flick.
949.753.5180 :: shopirvinespectrumcenter.com
50. Cocktails at Mesa
Come in for a nightcap at Mesa at The Camp in Costa Mesa. The retractable roof allows you to sip under the stars and if you come in Tuesday through Thursday, you can groove to whatever the DJ spins.
714.557.6700 :: mesacostamesa.com