10 Fantastic Date Ideas San Diego Has to Offer

couple with bike at the beach

San Diego is more than warm weather, craft breweries, and Legoland. Yes, these things are great, but there is more than that, and if you don’t stop to dig around, you might miss out on a lot of really amazing date opportunities. “Dinner and a movie” is all well and good, but sometimes you need to mix it up to keep things fresh, or to start things out in an exciting new way.

Ready to get dating? Try these 10 great San Diego date ideas. Froim parks to restaurants, these are the ideal tips to help you when you’re looking for more romantic things to do in San Diego.

1: Balboa Park

Okay, so this isn’t exactly fitting the unique San Diego date ideas promise since it’s a popular park, but it definitely deserves to be on every list of romantic things to do in San Diego. If New York City has Central Park, then San Diego has Balboa Park. This 1200-acre park was ranked in 2003 as one of the Best Parks in the World, and it’s easy to see why. There is plenty to do here, from museums like the Museum of Man and Mingei International Museum to food trucks and lounging on the grass to watching street performers or admiring the architecture. There really is something for everyone here, making this one of the top date ideas San Diego has to offer. And special bonus for the dog lovers out there, this park is very dog-friendly, so feel free to bring them along on your date. It might help your chances!

2: La Jolla Coast Walk Trail

For those looking for more picturesque flora and fauna, the La Jolla Cove walk will definitely do the trick. This date idea will be especially fun for the early-risers and for those who enjoy a casual hike. Located just 15 miles north of downtown San Diego, this idyllic location is perfect for a short romantic getaway. The hiking trails are lined with sandstone and wildflowers and offer breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean all year long. Keep your eyes tuned to the horizon and you might get lucky enough to catch a glimpse of gray whales and bottle-nosed dolphins. There are plenty of hikes to choose from, many of which are less than two miles and take only about an hour to explore. Don’t forget to pack some sunscreen!

3: Bertrand at Mister A’s

If you want the spectacular views without any of the physical exertion, there’s no place better than Bertrand at Mister A’s. Located on the twelfth floor, this restaurant overlooks the bay and the nearby airport to give you the best views of the city. When the weather permits, the outside patio area will leave you and your date in awe, whether you’re seated on the side facing the numerous skyscrapers or situated so that you can look out over the bay. Yes, the meals may be on the pricier side, but it wouldn’t have the distinction as one of the most romantic things to do in San Diego if the food was anything less than impeccable. Make sure to go a bit early so that you can beat the crowds, but definitely stay to catch the sunset if you can. Also, be aware that there is a dress code, so keep things business casual to avoid any problems.

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4: Embarcadero

A must-visit when it comes to San Diego, the Embarcadero stretches towards the Broadway Pier on San Diego Bay and is a great place to take a date. Indulge in any of the fine restaurants or just take a casual stroll along the water. If you’re looking for first date ideas in San Diego, this is the perfect place to get to know someone new. The floating Maritime Museum of San Diego offers a fascinating look at historic ships from around the world, including the oldest active sailing ship, the Star of India. If you’d rather board a ship, Flagship Cruises & Events gives daily one- and two-hour narrated harbor tours and seasonal whale watching adventures. There tends to be an event or activity planned at the park every weekend, so check their website to see what’s coming soon.

5: The Pearl Hotel’s Dive-In Theater

No, that’s not a typo. This “Dive-In Theater” features a movie and a pool. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, “The intimate screening area features a surprisingly fun ambience thanks to the décor of palm trees and hammocks reminiscent of a remote paradise.” This free weekly event is one of the more unique San Diego date ideas, one that partners of all ages and backgrounds are likely to enjoy. Offering up a wide and eclectic selection of films from The Big Lebowski to The Godfather, this “cinema social” is a great place to shake up the routine of dinner and a movie, or to start things off to a fun start from the very first date. Reservations are highly recommended as it can be difficult to find a table unless you arrive early.

6: Grotto Climbing & Yoga

Of all the date ideas San Diego singles enjoy, many include doing something active. Why not take a break from hiking or jogging and instead go bouldering? It’ll make for a great date story to tell later, and you’ll have plenty to talk about, whether you’re experienced in this kind of thing or it’s your first time trying it. There are different paths for each skill level, so don’t worry that it will be too much to handle, and they change the paths every few weeks in order to keep things fresh, which means you can build a routine that you and your date can enjoy without it getting stale anytime soon. Best of all, physical activity releases endorphins that decrease stress and increase happiness, so don’t be surprised if a special connection occurs between you and your date.

7: Gaslamp Quarter

All San Diego natives will already know this, but for any newcomers or visitors, the Gaslamp Quarter is the hub of a wide variety of restaurants and bars that cater to all kinds of tastes. There is bound to be something here for everyone, whether your date has any dietary restrictions or is a full-on meat eater, or whether you want a quiet, calm evening or a crowded bar with lots of energy. Best of all, everything is within walking distance, so if you’re feeling spontaneous or change your mind, you can easily change things up in order to keep the date going strong. Check out their website to see all they have to offer. For those who don’t like crowded areas, it might be best to avoid Friday and Saturday nights and instead visit the Gaslamp Quarter during the week.

8: Orfila Winery / Bernardo Winery

Wineries are an excellent choice if you’re looking for romantic things to do in San Diego. There’s just something about fine wine and rustic charm that sets the right mood for a great date. Based in Escondido, Orfila Vineyards & Winery offers beautiful views and flavorful wine with daily tastings in their boutique winery. The experienced staff is available to make recommendations and to answer any wine-related questions you or your date might have. Alternatively, you can also go to Bernardo Winery, another excellent choice. There are plenty of trees to offer shade during the summer days, perfect for a picnic or to sip and stroll around the open areas, and sometimes there might even be a band playing during the weekend. It gives off a small town vibe with the shops and restaurants scattered about. Unleash your inner oenophile with the delicious wines from either vineyard, and both you and your partner are sure to have a memorable date.

9: Harper’s Topiary Garden

This is an entry that even most locals might not know about. This little garden may not have the scope of bigger botanical gardens, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in charm and quirkiness. You and your date are sure to have a good time checking out the different shapes that have to be seen to be believed. As a bonus, this is the perfect opportunity to get a photo of the both of you which shows that you are a fun couple. Combine this with the Balboa Park date idea above if you’d like to prolong the date with more things to do.

10: La Jolla Kayak

For the more aquatic among you, this is one of the best date ideas San Diego has to offer. Even if you’ve never done something like this before, the instructors at La Jolla Kayak make things easy for newcomers and those with more experience. You’ll get a great tour of the shore, with the guides giving informative and light-hearted lectures about the buildings on land and the wildlife in the sea, such as sea lions and leopard sharks. If you want to add another dimension to this adventure, you can bring along some goggles and snorkels and dive into the water. This will make for a memorable date that will give you plenty of things to talk about for the many dates that will likely follow.

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