The dinner-and-a-movie date is a classic component of the American courting ritual, but sometimes that shit gets old. You're tired of movie theater popcorn and crowded Friday nights at the restaurants you really wanted to try. You and your partner need to do something different.
Whether the two of you are in the mood for a late-night date or a daytime excursion, there are options that don't involve climbing over people to find your assigned seats in a dark theater. Check out our 10 suggestions below and start planning your next date night.
1. Geeks Who Drink
Ready to test your teamwork skills? Join a Geeks Who Drink challenge. This nationwide series of pub quizzes tests your knowledge on everything from television to history, making it a good way to get to learn each other's strengths. You'll need to work together and develop a good strategy if you want to aim for the prize, especially when you head into the more difficult rounds. Teams range from one to six players, so you and your date won't need to bring in others if you want to play. However, it's also a good spot for double dates. There are multiple L.A.-area venues that host Geeks Who Drink quizzes, so check the website for dates and locations. Also, be on the lookout for occasional special trivia events that focus on a single subject, such as Game of Thrones or Star Wars. geekswhodrink.com.
2. Bootleg Bombshells
Townhouse and the Del Monte is a century-old Venice bar with a basement that once served as a speakeasy. Head here on a Wednesday night and make your way downstairs for the Bootleg Bombshells burlesque show. This weekly event is free and casual; you won't need to get as dressed up as you might for a burlesque show in a theater. In addition to the core group of performers, Bootleg Bombshells brings in special guests for their shows. The lineup is mostly female, although rising boylesque star Tito Bonito hosts and dances here as well. Townhouse and the Del Monte, 52 Windward Ave., Venice. (310) 392-4040, townhousevenice.com or bootlegbombshells.com.
3. Take your dogs out together
For the dog lovers who recently found human companions, maybe it's time for your pooches to meet. Plan an afternoon at a local dog park, such as the Boneyard in Culver City or Sepulveda Basin Off-Leash Park in the San Fernando Valley. If you want to stroll amongst shops, head over to the Village at Topanga and, if you're ready to grab a drink, try Blue Dog Beer Tavern in Sherman Oaks. Check our roundup of dog-friendly hangouts for more ideas.
4. Topanga Vintage Market
Ready for Sunday morning shopping? Head to a swap meet or flea market. Topanga Vintage Market, held at Pierce College, takes place on the fourth Sunday of the month and is a good spot for couples to browse and dig. It's a small flea market that's easy to roam, so you don't have to stress about getting there as soon as the gates open. The vibe's very hippie — on my recent trip, I spotted a booth selling tie-dye T-shirts — and relaxed. Whether you and your partner are looking for furniture or vintage magazines, you'll find lots to see and discuss while you're here. Topanga Vintage Market at Pierce College (use the Victory Boulevard entrance). (310) 422-1844, topangavintagemarket.com.
5. Korean Bell of Friendship and Bell Pavillion
If you're in the mood for a leisurely drive, cruise from Palos Verdes to San Pedro. You'll find some great views as you're traveling through the peninsula. While you're here, find your way to Angels Gate Park and visit the Korean Friendship Bell. Inspired by the Bronze Bell of King Sondok, this large and beautiful piece was made in Korea and brought to San Pedro on the occasion of the United States' Bicentennial. There are bell-ringing ceremonies several times a year, but on an ordinary day, you'll want to get up close and check out the detailed craftsmanship as the hilltop wind blows against your neck. Korean Bell of Friendship and Bell Pavilion at Angels Gate Park, 3601 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro. (310) 548-7705, sanpedro.com/sp_point/korenbel.htm or laparks.org/dos/reccenter/facility/angelsGateRC.htm.
6. Griffith Observatory
Few activities are as romantic as stargazing. If you want to watch the night sky twinkle with your love, Griffith Observatory is the obvious place to do this. In addition to the telescopes available during operational hours, the observatory hosts regular events to turn the public's eyes toward the heavens. Star Parties go off once a month and allow observers to chat with folks from a few different astronomy groups. There are also the monthly Sunset Walk & Talk hikes. For those with a deeper interest in the skies, All Space Considered is a free event on the first Friday of the month, focusing on space-related news. Griffith Observatory, 2800 E. Observatory Road, Griffith Park. (213) 473-0800, griffithobservatory.org.
7. The Mission Inn
The Mission Inn is massive, ornate and bears a history that goes back to the 1800s. While you could certainly book a room here, you can also visit for an afternoon or evening. The Mission Inn Museum provides tours of the famed Riverside hotel, which can give visitors the chance to see parts of the building that aren't open to the public. There is also the Under the Stars series of tours, which include dinner at the Mission Inn Restaurant before the evening stroll. Visit during the holiday season for the annual Festival of Lights. The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, 3649 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside. (951) 784-0300, missioninn.com
8. Aquarium of the Pacific
Long Beach's Aquarium of the Pacific might sound like a strange addition to a list of date spots. It has more of a reputation as a family-oriented space, so it can be off-putting for grown-up couples to be in a place overrun by children. But the aquarium does host events where adults can observe sea life alongside other adults. Shark Lagoon Nights, typically held on Fridays, are free and feature live music in addition to the chance to meet the Aquarium's shark and ray residents. On other evenings, adults can take advantage of discounted entry to visit, listen to guest speakers or join in other events. Aquarium of the Pacific, 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach. (562) 590-3100, aquariumofpacific.org.
The Getty may have stunning gardens and LACMA may have a bounty of collections to explore, but El Segundo's ESMoA is a fun space to hit up on a date. It's small, so you don't have to plan to spend a day here. Whether street art or photography, the exhibitions are unconventional. In fact, the ESMoA refers to each show as an “experience,” and the walls here can be so filled with art that there is an immersive quality to a trip here. As a bonus, ESMoA is walking distance from tiki bar Purple Orchid, which is a very good place to get a cocktail. ESMoA, 208 Main Street, El Segundo. (424) 277-1020, esmoa.org.
10. Dress up and attend a ball.
L.A. parties aren't always casual affairs. In fact, every once in a while, you'll find a really good reason to don a gown, formal menswear or an over-the-top costume. Take Labyrinth Masquerade Ball. This annual, summertime event requires guests to dress formally (with a mask) or in full costume for a two-day party that mixes interactive theater with a Carnival-style ball. Where Labyrinth takes much of its inspiration from fairy and goblin tales, the Edwardian Ball is derived from the creepy works of Edward Gorey. This annual party doesn't have a dress code, although many people will get all dolled up for the event; it features circus-style performances and more. Since both Labyrinth Masquerade Ball and the Edwardian Ball are annual, and don't always take place in the same location, check their websites for further information. labyrinthmasquerade.com, edwardianball.com