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Monday, November 30, 2009

List: Date Ideas for October

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Just a simple outline of the cheap date ideas for the first month of 365 Cheap Dates: October 2009. If a date is specified, then it's either a one-time or annual event. Simply click on any date idea in the list below for more details. Or look up date ideas by date on my Google Calendar or by location on my Google Map or by any key word (see Google Search tool bar on the left or key word cloud at the very bottom). I'll send out reminders on my Twitter for upcoming events when the dates get closer, such as the FREE tickets to The Huntington Botanical Gardens. If you want to share some of your cheap date ideas, I'd love to hear it!

34. Bonfire at Aliso Beach

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Originally uploaded by joshua_d

A cheap yet romantic date idea...
Aliso Beach Park is one of the bonfire locations that have remained open in California. This flat sandy beach in Laguna Beach is user-friendly: convenient on-site paid parking lot, restrooms, picnic tables, bonfire pits, except it's BYOFW (bring your own fire wood). Duraflame log could run you about $10 and don't forget the matches! I suggest hitting the beach in the early afternoon so you can claim a bonfire pit and set it up before sunset, but you can hang out until closing at 10 PM. Some other free things to do: bring a football, explore the tidepools, wander on the hiking trails, pack a beach blanket and a picnic basket, and don't forget the...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

33. Long Beach Turkey Trot - 11/26

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I'm still catching up between my Twitter and my blog, so this event has passed and gone. On the bright side, you have 365 days to train for the next one! The Long Beach Turkey Trot is more of a fun charity event than a competitive race, so this is a date idea for people who are active and have a good heart. There are no timers for this 5K/10K run/walk because the $10,000 is donated, but you can see race time on a race clock at the end. To provide some motivation at the finish line, about 400 FREE holiday pies are randomly given away (pumpkin, apple, oh my!). And don't miss the Chicken Chucking Championship!! You can enter the contest for free and try to beat the 2006 champion record of 120-foot throw. Where else can you go on a run/walk near the beach? Save the date for next year, Thanksgiving 2010.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $25 pp early registration + Free parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless + good karma.
Click here for map

32. FREE at The Getty Center

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Getty Center Reflection Pool
Originally uploaded by EncinoMan
Mr. Getty wanted the public to enjoy art for free, so why not? Don't worry if you don't know anything about art, because The Getty offers various tours for free, including a Collection Highlights Tour at 1:30 or 4:00 PM. I suggest going on the garden tour on a nice clear day. Being on top of a hill, the museum offers a great vantage point for a panoramic shot of Los Angeles. Admission is free and reservations are no longer required. The Getty Center is open daily until 5:30 PM except for Saturdays til 9 PM and closed on Mondays. If you have already done the tours, then the best time to go is after 5 PM on Saturdays to enjoy the sunset view from the garden (and FREE parking). Just something cultural and free to do once in awhile...

UPDATE 12/7: If you've got little ones, check out the schedule online for family friendly events.
UPDATE 01/28/10: The Getty is offering new concerts in 2010 called Saturday Nights at the Getty, but advance reservations are required (click HERE), which become available about one month before the event. The next event on March 27th will be available to the public starting February 25th.

UPDATE 05/12/10: Leonardo da Vinci is on exhibit now through June 20th. The best time to go is on Saturdays after 5 PM so that you can enjoy FREE parking as well as the awesome sunset from the Getty gardens with a panoramic view of The City of Angels.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = FREE Admission + $15 parking (or free parking after 5 PM on Saturdays).
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
Click here for map

Saturday, November 28, 2009

31. Medieval Times Dinner Show

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Originally uploaded by Joits

Medieval Times is something fun and different to do at least once. Where else can you go to watch knights jousting while feasting on finger-licking food? Yup, literally finger-licking as in no spoons and no forks provided. As of now until Dec 3rd on Sunday thru Thursday, the Buena Park Castle is offering a special deal of $25 per person with discount code 25EB11, which is even better than the 2-for-1 birthday deal. This may not be the cheapest date idea, but Regular Admission is $56 plus tax per person. The dinner show is 2 hours of entertainment with a 4-course meal and a non-alcoholic beverage, typically starting at 7 PM except for Sundays 3:30 and 6:00 PM. For those who cannot make it before Dec 3rd, $32 discount tickets are available on Goldstar.com. Enjoy!

UPDATE 01/01/10: More cheap tickets available on Goldstar.com for every night in January 2010.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $25 + tax per person.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $122 total.
Click here for map

Friday, November 27, 2009

30. FREE USC vs UCLA Viewing Party - 11/28

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What's the next best place to see the USC vs UCLA game tomorrow besides at the LA Coliseum? Come watch it for FREE on a 22' x 44' screen (AKA Jumbotron) on Nokia Plaza at LA Live. The USC vs UCLA Crosstown Showdown starts at 2 PM. Although it may be a "tailgate party", no outside food and drink are permitted. Fortunately, there will be a beer garden and also live music entertainment. If you haven't been yet, LA Live is the new entertainment complex right across the Staples Center that opened almost 2 years ago to revive Downtown LA.

While you are down there, continue the fun and...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

29. 100-Foot Xmas Tree and More (11/22-12/25)

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Flyin' high
Originally uploaded by andy castro

As I'm catching up between my blog and Twitter, some events have passed and gone, such as the Annual Tree Lighting Celebration at The Grove this past Sunday, Nov 22nd at 7:30 PM. Thankfully, the 100-foot tree may be enjoyed every day for the rest of the year. Cheap Date Idea #17 is also something fun to do at the Grove. Parking is free for 2 hours with validation from particular stores, then $3 thereafter. Besides the water feature, the other landmark is the trolley, like a San Fran cable car, that circles this upscale shopping center. Unfortunately, it's down for repair at the moment, but check online to find out when the free rides start up again. Even if you have been here before, the water feature "dances" to all-time favorite holiday tunes during this time of the year. Santa will be in front of Barnes and Noble every day until Christmas Eve. Extra bonus: free dance performances on Fri-Sun at 7 and 8 PM until Dec 21st. Lots of fun stuff to do at The Grove with a great vibe every day of the year, not a bad place to go for a first date, I must say. Have fun!

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free + $3 parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
Click here for map

Back in the blogosphere again!!

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Hopefully for good this time :). Thank goodness for Twitter http://Twitter.com/365cheapdates, which has kept my blogaholicism under control. It will take some time for me to repost my Tweets here. Happy Thanksgiving to all, especially to those who helped unlock my blog!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I'm back online, yay!

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After 9 days, Blogger finally confirmed my blog was not a splog (spam) and unlocked it. So now I have to play catch up between my blog and my Twitter. Many thanks to my e-hero, Nitecruzr!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, November 15, 2009

28. MB Holiday Open House - 11/18

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Merry Christmas!
Originally uploaded by Dan90266

On this Wednesday, Nov 18th, the streets will be merry in Manhattan Beach for their 15th Annual Holiday Open House and 20th Annual Pier Lighting. Live entertainment starts at 5 PM, the pier lighting ceremony at 7 pm, and the festivities come to a close at 9 PM. Carolers and musicians will be strolling the streets to spread the cheer. Of course, Santa and his helpers will be at the pier for photos. The local stores typically provide some kind of beverage or tasty treats for free, which you can enjoy while they decorate their store front windows for the competition. Besides your date and yourself, bring an unwrapped toy for the annual toy drive. Ho, ho, ho!

P.S. If you can get there before sunset, check out the Roundhouse Aquarium on the pier (more info at previous Cheap Date Idea #6).

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free + parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
Click here for map

Saturday, November 14, 2009

27. Free Yoga Is Good - 11/15

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Yoga head stand
Originally uploaded by 365 Cheap Dates

Are you active? And want to do something active (AND free) for a date? Even if you are a newbie to yoga (beginner level), this is a perfect opportunity to try something new. Lululemon Athletica offers free yoga classes weekly at various locations, including The Americana at The Brand, which opened last year in Glendale. Bring your date and your own yoga mats to The Green (right next to the water feature) on Sunday mornings at 9:30-10:30 am. Parking is free for the first hour and then $3 for the second hour with validation. Afterward, treat yourself to Pinkberry or Jamba Juice, then cool down by window shopping at this high-end retail center. For the upcoming Sunday 11/15, stick around to enjoy the free musical entertainment on The Green at 3-6 PM. If Glendale is too much of a trek, Playa Yoga in Hermosa Beach is another good place to try out for newbies (Levels 1/2). Namaste.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = FREE + $3 Parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $40.

Friday, November 13, 2009

26. Free Magic Mountain - 11/25

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Originally uploaded by PortugePunk

Donate a full bag of food in exchange for an admission ticket to Magic Mountain, valid for use on the day before Thanksgiving, Nov 25th. Not a bad deal, especially when theme park normally costs $55 each! The LA Foodbank has made this possible with KISS FM and Magic Mountain for the past 7 years now. This is your opportunity to show off your philanthropic side! Clean out kitchen cabinets at your place, your date's place, your mom's, your work, your neighbors, whoever you know has a good heart (and a full kitchen). If you can't make it to the park on Turkey Day, you will have another chance during Magic Mountain's Annual Toy Drive in December (see upcoming Cheap Date Idea #40).

Approximate cost of creative date idea = FREE + $15 Prepaid online parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $125 Total + Good Karma.
Click here for map

Thursday, November 12, 2009

25. Free Movie Screening - 11/16

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Barn Owl
Originally uploaded by Stevie-B

Chapman University is providing a free screening of the movie, Close Encounters Of the Third Kind, on Monday, Nov 16th, at 7 pm, playing at The Folino Theatre in the City of Orange. It's first come, first serve, so get there early to claim your free tickets and seats. This movie is based on some true facts but it looks too scary for me. At least, it gives your date a good reason to hang onto you. Have fun!

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $20.
Click here for map

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

24. Newport Beach Boat Parade (12/16-12/20)

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Yacht Christmas Tree
Originally uploaded by FrogMiller

The City of Newport Beach is throwing their 101st Christmas Boat Parade. This one is bigger than the one in Naples (see yesterday's post, Cheap Date Idea #23), but you can do both since Newport's is 5 days long, 12/16-12/20, running 6:30 - 9 PM every night (check online for the schedule and route) Newport Beach can get quite congested, so going during a weekday may be more enjoyable.

UPDATE 12/20: For the grand finale on Sunday, free fireworks go off at 9 PM near Balboa Pier.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free plus parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

23. Naples Xmas Boat Parade - 12/19

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Originally uploaded by raudog

Besides taking a gondola ride around the canals of Naples, every year everyone flocks to admire the decorated boats and homes (this year on Saturday, Dec 19th, starting at 6 pm). Naples Island is next to Belmont Shore in Long Beach. The parade will pass by the 2nd Street bridge and continue along Alamitos Bay Marina. Make sure to get there early to avoid traffic and claim your spot on the bridge or canal. Bundle up because it will be chilly by the water. This is definitely a nice romantic (and free) thing to do around the holidays. If you want to catch dinner or a gondola ride beforehand or during the parade, you will want to make reservations ASAP. Enjoy!

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free.
Actual cost of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
Click here for map

Monday, November 9, 2009

22. Ice Skating at Redondo Beach (11/10-1/18)

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Ice Skating at the Beach
Who ever thought that we could ice skate at sunset by the beach?? Well, the City of Redondo Beach did! Today is the first day of the 2nd Annual Seaside Skating Season (Nov 10th to Jan 18th). You can buy tickets for $14 pp, which provides 90 minutes of fun including skate rental, at the Seaside Lagoon or online. Don't worry if you can't ice skate, because they offer lessons on site. Parking is available at King's Harbor for a flat rate with validation from the skate admission. The ice rink is open daily even during the holidays til 9:30 pm or later. The best time is to go an hour before sunset. Have fun!

UPDATE 01/09/10: During the 50th Anniversary Celebration on Jan 9th at 10 AM to Jan 10th at 11 PM, save $5 on ice skating (so ONLY $11 pp) by showing a $10 or more receipt dated in December or January from any of the King Harbor restaurants or businesses. Thanks to @CenterdinLA for sharing!

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $14 Per Person.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
Click here for map

Sunday, November 8, 2009

21. MB Holiday Fireworks Festival - 12/13

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Annual Holiday Fireworks
Originally uploaded by 365 Cheap Dates

Come join the crowd at the Annual Holiday Fireworks Festival at Manhattan Beach Pier on Sunday, December 13th. The streets are blocked off for the Snow Park to open at 4 PM and the live bands to play music at 5 PM. Claim your spot on the Strand walkway along the beach before the fireworks display starts at 6:30 PM. The event is open to the public and the parking meters are free during the holidays in Manhattan Beach, but come early or take a cab to beat the crowd. Bundle up because it can get nippy at night during this time of the year!

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
Click here for map

Saturday, November 7, 2009

20. Sand Snowman Contest - 12/12

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Originally uploaded by TexturaObscura

Yessirree, Hermosa Beach hosts the Annual Sand Snowman Contest! This must be how Californians compensate for missing seasons. On the bright side, sand snowmen don't melt, so we can thoroughly enjoy our works of art (until high tide, that is). On Saturday, Dec 12th, 9 AM - Noon, check in before 8:45 AM to claim your spot on the beach and start sculpting at 9 AM. Pull out supplies from your closets (nothing new!): shovels, towels, scarves, mittens and accessories for your sand snowman. Also, don't forget your camera to have your photo taken with Surfing Santa! Metered parking usually starts at 10 AM but is free for 3 hours usually during the holidays. After the contest, reward yourselves to a nice brunch at Martha's on 22nd Street (be prepared to wait a bit, especially if you want a spot on the outdoor patio with a peak ocean view). You and your partner in crime have a little over a month to design your Mr. (or Mrs.) Sandman. Good luck!!

Approximate cost of creative date = Free plus brunch is optional.
Actual value of the cheap date = Priceless.
Click here for map

Friday, November 6, 2009

19. Annual Hermosa Tree Lighting - 12/3

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Downunder Christmas
Originally uploaded by jayspost

Since the holidays get busy, I'll be posting about upcoming events so you can mark your calendars (and plan your date nights in advance). On Thursday, Dec 3rd, 6-8 PM, the Hermosa Beach Mayor will be lighting the 25-foot tall Christmas tree at the Hermosa Beach Pier. In addition to live music, a special visitor will be arriving directly from the North Pole! So bring your cameras to capture this holiday moment! TIP: The parking meters are normally free for 3 hours during the holidays. Come earlier to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate at Cafe Bonaparte in the Hermosa Pier Plaza, which offers outdoor seating with an ocean view (a casual way to sneak in a sunset moment with your date, hint hint).

Approximate value of creative date idea = Free plus $7 for hot chocolate.
Actual cost of the cheap date idea = Priceless.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

18. Buona Vita is Buona Anytime

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Buona Vita is my personal favorite Italian restaurant in Hermosa Beach for any occasion, whether it's a first date, your 365th date night or even a group birthday dinner. This cozy restaurant is popular especially during summer time, so the atmosphere is always lively during weekdays and weekends. Since it's first come, first serve, put your name down on the wait list, if there is a wait, then take a quick stroll on The Strand walkway to admire the sunset on the beach.

The menu is quite reasonable (see online), especially after a $25 gift certificate from Restaurant.com, which you can buy online right now for ONLY $4 instead of the regular $10 each. The discount code "harvest" expires on Nov 5th (yes, tomorrow, so I posted this a half-day early), but gift certificates have NO expiration date in the state of California. The minimum food purchase is $50, so you can spend as little as $25 out of pocket. That easily covers appetizer, salad, 2 entrees, and dessert. The best part is that there is no corkage fee at Buona Vita, making it a favorite among the locals to no surprise. TIP: Trader Joes is a fantastic place for picking up a good bottle of wine for about $6-10. Another TIP: Park behind the "Skate Park" about a block away for free or try to find a spot in the neighborhood for free during off-peak season (double check the street signs). Have a buona time!

UPDATE 12/11/09: Sale on Restaurant.com, buy a $25 gift certificate for only $2! Use discount code SHARE until 12/14/09. Metered parking is free for 3 hours during the Christmas holidays in Hermosa Beach.

Approximate cost of creative date idea= $2-4 Gift certificate + $7 Bottle of wine + $25 Dinner.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $70.
Click here for map

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

17. More Than A Happy Hour

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Fountain at The Grove
Half-off wine bottles!! Yes, 50% discount. That sure is something to cheers about every week on Thursdays and Sundays til midnight. It's more than a Happy "Hour" at The Whisper Restaurant and Lounge at the Grove! After enjoying your bottle, take a romantic stroll next to the nearby "dancing water feature", which is like a mini version of the Bellagio Fountains in Vegas (don't forget your camera!). If you haven't had the pleasure of going yet, The Grove is a high-end shopping center with a lot of foot traffic even during weekdays. Reviews on Yelp.com noted that The Whisper was great for drinks and appetizers, especially on the outside patio for people watching. Side note: Watch out for Hulk Hogan this Thursday, Nov 5th, because he will be at that Barnes & Noble for his book signing. Cheers!

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $20 depending on the bottle.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $40 depending on the bottle.
Click here for map

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

16. Champagne, Sparklers & Bubbles, Oh My!

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Bristol Farms offers something more than a simple wine tasting. For a set price ($23 plus tax), they serve you while you sit at a table and enjoy 6 wine tastings PLUS a light meal (bread, soup or salad, and a main entree with one or two sides, AND a dessert). Considering the value, this may not be the cheapest date idea, but perhaps a first date idea. You can't order any more or any less (besides a tip), so sticking to a budget will be easy. Depending on the location, the wine tastings are on either Tuesdays or Thursdays starting at 5:30 or 6 PM for 2 hours, with the theme changing every week (see schedule online). Please note that the wine tastings will end in 2 weeks but will resume after the new year. The last one of the year sounds fun, "Champagne, Sparklers, and Bubbles, Oh My!" on Thursday, Nov 12th, in Manhattan Beach or Redondo Beach or their other 6 locations. Due to the limited seating, advance reservations by phone is a must. If you're not a wine enthusiast, this is an easy way to try a few different ones locally without making the trek to Napa.

UPDATE 01/0710: Wine tastings will resume in February 2010, so check back for the schedule online.

UPDATE 06/02/10: The wine tastings are on sale right now with buy one and get one for 1¢ (yes, one cent), so that's $23.96 plus tax for two tastings with a light meal (or ~$12 pp). Reservations required.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $12 Per Person + Tax.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $80 Total Minimum.
Click here for map

Monday, November 2, 2009

15. Shark Lagoon Friday Nights

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Baby Shark Eggs
Originally uploaded by 365 Cheap Dates
Get up close and personal with the ocean's ultimate predator!! The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach is hosting a FREE Shark Lagoon Night on every Friday 6-9 PM. Not only will you see all kinds of sharks, but also TOUCH the bamboo sharks (bring your camera!). A live band performs every week, with this Friday night, Nov 6th, being jazz music. A snack and beverage bar is onsite, but I suggest going right before dinner when it opens at 6 PM or stop by after dinner. There are plenty of eateries and things to do nearby at The Pike or on Pine Street.

UPDATE 01/07/10: As of today, the calendar shows it's free EVERY Friday night through May 7th.

UPDATE 01/28/10: @AquariumPacific informed me that this event is almost every Friday. I see that the current schedule shows that the last Friday of the month in January 1/29 and February 2/26 have been replaced by "Night Dive".

UPDATE 04/27/10: If Fridays don't work for you, get 2-for-1 admission anytime thru May 19th with this BOGO coupon (print HERE). REMINDER: LAST free Shark Lagoon Night on the calendar is May 7th!

UPDATE 10/01/10: Free Shark Lagoon Night is back for the rest of 2010! It's almost every Friday, so check the online calendar. Thanks to @matthewdiluzio for the reminder! Click HERE for the schedule.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = FREE + $7 parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $48 total ($24 per regular admission ticket!).
Click here for map

New Tool: Google Calendar for 365 Cheap Dates

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In addition to checking out 365 Cheap Dates by chronological list format (my blog) and by location or region (my Google Map), now you can plan your cheap dates by another tool, my Google Calendar!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

14. FREE Helium Balloon Rides

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Great Park - Great Pumpkin
Originally uploaded by Kelson

Not hot air balloon, but rather helium balloon. Free every day on Thursday to Sunday, 10 AM - 3 PM and 7 - 10 PM, at Great Park in Irvine. You and up to 25 others can enjoy the beautiful landscape of Orange County at 500 feet in the air. Dress warmly or bring a blanket to cuddle. Good to call in advance about flight conditions (click here for website). Happy flying!

Approximate cost creative date idea = Free.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $148 pp for 1-hour hot air balloon rides for comparison.
Click here for map
Kiss & Tell Date Idea by Mrs. Roberts