It’s tough to ignore the glitz, glitter, and glamor of the big city. A night on the town in LA can put a huge dent in your wallet. But enjoying time with your paramour doesn’t have to cost you a lot of green – if you get out and enjoy the greener parts of the city. Here are five fun date ideas around Los Angeles that won’t break the bank.
1. Trail Hikes
Fresh air, fragrant flowers, and open trails help romance to blossom in the Los Angeles sunshine. Hop on a bike, take a hike, ride a horse, or just enjoy a leisurely stroll through LA’s public trails.
Hiking together is a perfect way to learn each other’s likes and dislikes. Smaller hiking trails such as the Devil’s Punchbowl or San Antonio Falls are easier and less physically demanding. Bring your dogs for a play date – but watch out for fleas and ticks in grassy areas.
2. Pack a Picnic
Along with a good supply of water, pack a picnic basket with breads, meats, cheeses, sweets, and a bottle of wine (don’t forget the corkscrew!) There are plenty of less demanding trails in and around the Los Angeles area with places to stop.
Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area (4100 S. La Cienega Boulevard) is a short 2-mile walking stretch. Head left to a “fire road,” past Autumn’s Peak and Christine’s Point. From there, check out the scenery of Downtown, Century City, and the distant San Gabriel Mountains. On your way back, visit Doris’ Japanese Gardens. Admission is free and parking is just $6.
Caballero Canyon (4040 Reseda Boulevard) is nearly 1 ½ miles with an elevation gain of about 560 feet. Spreading tree canopies and birds will keep you company while walking that unpaved stretch of Mulholland Drive. Striking colors of fall foliage are waiting.
Fryman Canyon Park (8401 Mulholland Drive) is a loop of about 2 ½ miles. Drop your car off at the Wilacre lot, start with the paved mountain trail, and then veer right toward the Valley. The hillside has a few benches for resting. Bring your dog(s) along for a nice leisurely stroll.
3. Explore a Waterfall
The reward at the top of Escondido Falls is well worth the 3 ½ mile hike to the top. Yes, you could head down to Escondido Canyon Park, but why not enjoy some quiet time near the waterfall.
If you like chasing waterfalls, there are also the Eaton Canyon Falls in Pasadena, Sturtevant Falls, about 20 miles from downtown LA, and Santa Ynez Falls, which is a difficult hike, but only about half a mile.
4. Public Gardens. Source
Few things say “romance” better than a dozen roses. But why spend a fortune on flowers for your date when you can enjoy thousands of flowers for just a few dollars?
Los Angeles Arboretum & Botanic Garden. Located on North Baldwin Avenue, just across from Santa Anita Park, this botanical garden features coral bells, columbine, monkey flowers, and many floral varieties noted on the bloom calendar. Depending on the season, bird species that flock to the gardens may include orioles, jays, woodpeckers, and hummingbirds. Admission is $15, but students can get in for just $11.
James-Irvine Japanese Garden is on San Pedro Street in the Japanese-American area of Los Angeles. The 170-foot waterfall enhances the surrounding greenery. An all-day ticket is just $12.
Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden is a short car ride from LA and worth the trip! Its various natural habits include coastal prairies, chaparral, dune, woody, and wetlands. Open from dawn until dusk (except on Fridays when they close from 9 am to 1 pm), there is no entrance fee, but this nonprofit does accept donations.
5. Beach Party
Nothing says “free” like a day at the beach. Beaches along Santa Monica Bay — 69 of them, in fact — are an easy ride from LA. Plan a visit to Marina Del Rey, Redondo Beach, El Segundo, or Hermosa Beach. Pacific Palisades, Playa Del Rey, and Venice Beach are scenic spots for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing. Get a bit more active with a stroll down the Santa Monica Pier.
Whether you prefer a quiet walk in the woods or an action-packed adventure, the best part of spending time with your partner is the intimate and personal connection. When it comes down to it, it’s all true – some of the best things in life are free.
Brandon Michaels is a freelance writer and landscape designer from the mountains of California. In all his work, his goal is to get people off their couches and into nature. He loves all things natural: gardening, hiking, even feeding his local raccoons.