No shade on a coffee date (I’ve gone on many great ones!), but you could do that anywhere. When living in a place people select as their honeymoon destination, the pressure’s on to pick a date destination that will make you and your sweetie feel like all those twitterpated critters in Bambi. To help you find an extra-special Valentine’s Day outing, we rounded up 20 date spots in San Diego that take advantage of the county’s gorgeous landscapes and fun activities.
Balboa Park is chock-full of date possibilities, thanks to its wide variety of museums, gardens, and dining options. Learn something new together at the Nat, take a romantic stroll through the Japanese Friendship Garden, or simply lay out a picnic on one of the park’s relaxing grassy knolls.
South Bay Drive-In
All those teens in the 1950s can’t have been wrong: There’s something quite intimate about a drive-in movie theater. South Bay Drive-In shows up to six flicks on three screens, seven days a week. Cuddling up in the comfort of your own car while watching a story unfold is a classic date activity that has stood the test of time.
Up the adrenaline next date night with a trip to Belmont Park. The iconic Mission Beach amusement park is packed with heart-pounding thrill rides (which science says can turn up the heat in your relationship), plus fair games where you can charm your cutie by winning them a prize.
Living Coast Discovery Center
If you and your sweetie are animal lovers, head to the Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista, a zoo and aquarium home to a range of majestic critters from sky and sea, including falcons, octopi, and sea turtles. Stop by the touch tank to give sharks and rays a gentle pat.
Coin-Op Game Room
Mix up your usual date night plans with some old-school arcade enjoyment. Coin-Op Game Room offers a vast number of pinball, fighter, and classic games at their Gaslamp and North Park locations. Challenge your date to a game of skee ball or Pac-Man—loser buys the next round of drinks!
You can find an abundance of farmers markets across the city almost any day of the week. They’re a great place to wander hand-and-hand, scoping local produce and buying ingredients to make a fun, fresh lunch together after.
Jam Out at a Concert
Music has a way of bringing people together, making concerts a great date spot for you and your boo. San Diego is home to numerous music venues, including The Rady Shell downtown, Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay on Shelter Island, The Observatory in North Park, and Chula Vista’s North Island Credit Union Amphitheater.
If your date night takes you to East County, pop by Coin Haus in La Mesa. The arcade bar features self-serve taps and retro games, making it perfect for a cool and nostalgic outing. You can also team up with your main squeeze or double-date with friends at Coin Haus’ weekly trivia night.
Eco Boat Rentals
Tired of meeting for drinks? Try something new: Eco Boat Rentals in Point Loma offers great day and evening boating opportunities. I personally enjoyed taking their pedal boat for a ride during the afternoon, laughing along with my husband as we tried to keep our pedaling in sync. You can also check out their nighttime “glow ride” option to take in the lights of San Diego’s skyline from the water.
There’s no shortage of studies proving that couples who laugh together are happier, so head to one of San Diego’s many comedy clubs and improv shows to get the giggles with your beloved. For newer duos, a comedy show allows for some unpredictable fun and can help relax any date nerves and butterflies you may have.
Whether it’s a first date or your weekly couples night, the romantic outing options at Liberty Station are endless. You can enjoy a luxury cinema experience at The Lot or have a friendly mini golf competition at Tapper Mini Golf. Round out the evening with dinner at Liberty Public Market.
The Gondola Company
Kick the romance up a notch with a relaxing cruise courtesy of The Gondola Company. Couples can take in the stunning views of San Diego’s favorite peninsula (not island!) while floating down the canals of Coronado Cays. To make the date night extra special, add on the company’s wine and dessert package.
La Jolla Playhouse
Get all dolled up and treat your date to a show at the La Jolla Playhouse. The performing arts theater puts on a variety of plays and musicals that can spark conversation during intermission and after curtain call.
Rooftop Cinema Club
A trip to the movies is a quintessential date night activity. Take it to the next level with Rooftop Cinema Club, an open-air experience at the Manchester Grand Hyatt featuring new flicks and older classics. The city views, theater snacks, and personal headphones offer a more immersive viewing opportunity.
Kayaking in La Jolla
If you really want to bond with your boo, try something adventurous that requires a little teamwork. Kayaking around the waters of La Jolla really fits that bill—plus, you’re likely to catch amazing views of sea lions and tiger sharks.
Punch Bowl Social
Gaslamp Quarter hotspot Punch Bowl Social is a great place to bring a date, as endless opportunities for fun are right at your fingertips. Cap off ten frames of bowling at Punch Bowl with a menu full of late-night bites, comfort food, and cocktails.
The Pearl Hotel
Let me grab my swimsuit probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think “movie night”—unless, of course, you’re headed to The Pearl Hotel. The Point Loma lodging’s Wednesday Dive-In movie nights in the pool often include cult classics, as well as the opportunity to dine at the onsite restaurant.
San Diego Zoo
At the San Diego Zoo, you and your date can spend hours peering at elephants, orangutans, and other fascinating creatures. For a new fling, it offers plenty of time to chat and get to know each other. For those in an established relationship, it’s a great place to spend quality time together and have some wholesome fun.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
Are you and your honey outdoorsy? Then Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve may be right up your alley. The expansive reserve offers breathtaking environs, multiple trails to explore, and access to Torrey Pines State Beach.
One of my personal favorite San Diego date spots is Sunset Cliffs. There’s nothing quite as romantic as a beautiful sunset, and the extraordinary scenery the area showcases can’t be beat. If you want to make the trip there extra special, pack a light picnic and settle in to watch the sun dip below the horizon.