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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year's Eve!

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Here's a quick post... Click HERE for a list of things to do today in Los Angeles and Orange County. So much to do on the last day of 2009: FREE fireworks, FREE block parties, cheap bottomless champagne, FREE tidepool tours, and more! Happy New Year's Eve!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

List: FREE Fireworks on New Years Eve

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Start of the New Year 2010 with a big bang!

Annual Holiday Fireworks
Originally uploaded by 365 Cheap Dates

Here are some options in Los Angeles and Orange County (click on each for more info).
a) Downtown Long Beach's NYE Block Party (3 party areas)
b) Citywalk Hollywood next to Universal Studio
c) Downtown Disney next to Disneyland
d) Marina del Rey, 5-min display (more info @FreeFunLA)

Be safe and have fun tomorrow!

Approximate cost of creative date idea = FREE Admission + $5-10 Parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.

65. Champagne Brunch Cruise

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It's like a mini-vacation around the harbor of Marina del Rey.
This is not as cheap as $11 Sunday Brunch & Bowling (see Cheap Date Idea #61), but $35 pp for a 2-hour cruise and brunch buffet with unlimited champagne is not a bad deal for a classy date idea (save $20 each). The boat leaves at noon, which lets you sleep in a bit and make it to the port at Fisherman's Village for boarding at 11:30 AM. Parking is validated for 2 hours.

At the moment, the offer is only available for this Sunday, Jan 3rd. Get your tickets on Goldstar.com by Friday afternoon. By the way, reviewers rated it 3.5 out of 4 Stars. Enjoy!

UPDATE 01/01/10: One more Sunday was added on Goldstar! Get your tickets now for January 10th.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $35 Ticket + $5 Service Fee Per Person.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $110 Total.
Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @GoldstarOC.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

64. Free NYE Block Party & Fireworks

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FREE block parties, live music AND fireworks on NYE?
If you like free and you like variety, Downtown Long Beach will be your place to be on this Thursday. Actually, there will be three different places to be that night, which is expected to attract a crowd of 50,000 party goers.

New Years @ Queen Mary
Originally uploaded by Anthony Lujan

Schedule for New Year's Eve in Downtown LB:
Area-A) 6 PM at the Waterfront.
Area-B) 7 PM on Pine Avenue (at Pine & Broadway): Live cover bands rocking to 60s, 70s, and 80s music, plus The Beatles.
Area-C) 8 PM at East Village Arts District (at 1st & Elm): Live local bands with a beer garden next to the stage.
Area-A) 9 PM a Red Bull stunt driver will attempt to break the world record by jumping his rally car from the Pine Ave Pier to a floating barge in the harbor.
Area-A) 12 AM Not only will the Queen Mary fireworks be going off, but also a LED lightshow throughout Downtown LB. The best viewing spots, besides on the Queen Mary, will be at the Shoreline Village. Some of my old fave restaurants along the waterfront are Parker's Lighthouse and PF Changs. Or you can claim a spot early in the parking lot for an unobstructed view of the fireworks in the harbor. Make sure to bundle up for these outdoor activities.

Settle into one spot or, with a good pair of shoes, try to hit all three party areas. Large screen projections will be showing a live feed of the activities at the Waterfront, including the stunt, so that folks can continue enjoying the bands in the other two areas. Here is a list of walking distance and time as estimated by Google Maps:
Point A to B: 0.9 miles, 18 min.
Point B to C: 0.4 miles, 7 min.
Point C to A: 1.1 miles, 20 min.

Click HERE for more info, directions, public/VIP parking and public transportation ($3 metro day pass may be a safe option worth considering on NYE). Or watch the festivities from the comfort of your own home! The daredevil stunt will be captured on ESPN TV's Live East Coast NYE Show. Whatever you do, have fun! 2 days and counting...

Approximate cost of creative date idea = FREE Admission.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.

Monday, December 28, 2009

63. $20 Bottomless Bubbly on NYE

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Only $20.10 to toast to a New Year in 2010!
This might be the cheapest date idea on NYE: Pourtal Wine Bar in Santa Monica for all-you-can drink champagne in 3 hours for only $20.10 plus tax, which breaks down to about $7 per hour. Heck, that's about the cost of a cheap bottle of champagne!

Toast to a New Year 148/365
Originally uploaded by viking_79

You will have the choice of 3 types of champagne, so try all three or stick to one. I did a quick check online and confirmed that market value of one of the three is at least $13 per bottle. Since no reservations are required, make sure to get there early to find parking (local parking garages are $3 flat after 6 PM) for toasting at 9 PM. The bottomless bubbly ends at midnight, so drink up then take a stroll around the Santa Monica Pier (easy 1/2 mile walk, 2 blocks south, 9 minutes).

The pier area should be quite lively and a popular (and free) place to sober up. By the way, a full moon is expected on New Year's Eve! Actually it's called a blue moon since it will be the second full moon in the same month which happens only every 2.7 years on average. Cheers!

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $20.10 plus tax per person + $3 Parking + Tip.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $47.12 Total + Tip.

Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @GoSantaMonica on Twitter.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

62. The Christmas Carol - Free & Live

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Don't be a scrooge, go support your local theatre group!
Although Christmas has passed again, The Christmas Carol is a Dicken's classic that has been watched over and over. So why not watch it for FREE? Go watch a live performance next weekend at Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro.

Admission is regularly $20 per person, but Goldstar.com is offering free admission + $5 service fee (limit 2) for either Sat. Jan 2nd at 8 PM or Sun. Jan 3rd at 2:30 PM. This play is a family-friendly event, but the $5 tickets for 18 and under are available directly through the venue, not on Goldstar (comes out to the same price as adults anyway). Get your tickets online before the free tickets sell out, otherwise it will be $10 admission + $3.50 service fee (a 50% discount, not free, but still cheap).

Approximate cost of creative date idea = FREE Admission + $5 Service Fee per person.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $40 Total.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

61. Sunday Brunch & Bowling (& $2 Mimosas)

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Think of it as $11 Breakfast Buffet + FREE Bowling + $2 Mimosas!
Bowling is not necessarily my first choice for a date idea, but throw in $2 Mimosas with some bacon and eggs, then it makes it to my list of cheap date ideas, especially for day dates. Concourse Entertainment Center in Anaheim is much more than a bowling alley. With 40 lanes, a full sports bar and grill, and 25 plasma TVs in 42,000 square feet, this place does live up to it's name as an entertainment center. By the way, the website mentions that this "six million dollar facility is ready to cater to your every need..."

World's largest bowling pin
Originally uploaded by photomato

Goldstar.com is currently offering discounted tickets for $11 total per person ($8 ticket + $3 service fee). Only 11 bucks per person?!?! Yesterday I paid more than that for brunch alone! Think of it as Sunday Brunch for a mere $11 with 2 FREE hours bowling + FREE shoe rental. The brunch buffet includes the typical foods: eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, muffins, toast, fruits, juice and coffee. Tickets are available on Goldstar.com for Sundays 9-11 AM throughout the month of January.

To appreciate the true value of this cheap date idea, here's a cost breakdown at full price:
$40 for reserving a bowling lane for 2 hours on Sundays.
$6 for renting 2 pairs of bowling shoes.
Subtotal Value = $46 for 2 people bowling, not including breakfast yet.
$30 breakfast buffet for 2 (estimated).
Grand Total Value = $76 for this cheap date idea.
You can get all of this for only $28 Total!

Other beverages are additional but affordable. Mimosas are only $2 each, while Bloody Mary's, $4. I admit that I'm personally waiting for the Summertime special to come back, "Bowling with Bottomless Mimosas". However, I am not the early bird who catches the worm. If you are like me, then Sunday Fundays (9 PM - Close) may be up your (bowling) alley: $2 games + $2 shoe rental + $2 beers + $2 pizza slices. Have fun!

UPDATE 02/19/10: Tickets are still available for Sunday, Feb 28th (click HERE).

UPDATE 02/28/10: Tickets are available for every Sunday during the month of March (click HERE).

UPDATE 03/22/10: Tickets are available for Easter Sunday Brunch on 4/4 at 10 AM for $15 per person (click HERE). The rest of the Sundays in April are only $8 per person (plus $3 convenience fee).

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $11 per person + $2 Mimosas.
Actual value of the cheap date = $76 Total.

List: Anytime Date Ideas in Los Angeles

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Here is a list of activities that you can do whenever you want throughout the year. Or you can search for date ideas by keywords, such as anytime or daily as opposed to a special event which is date-specific, (or use the handy dandy pull-down tool bar at the top). If you have any date ideas to add, please do kiss & tell in the comments section or via email.
4. Star Gazing at Griffith Observatory
5. Paint Pottery in Your Pajamas
6. 360° Ocean View Aquarium
9. Tapas Tuesdays in Hermosa Beach
10. Adventures at Point Dume Beach
13. Huntington Botanical Gardens
15. Shark Lagoon Friday Nights
16. Champagne, Sparklers & Bubbles, Oh My!
17. More Than A Happy Hour
18. Buona Vita is Buona Anytime
32. FREE at The Getty Center
38. Find Peace at Lake Shrine
50. Farmer's Market in Santa Monica
53. FREE Puppy Play Date
54. Paparazzi Day in Hollywood
55. FREE Improv Comedy Night
57. Tidepools at Abalone Cove

Friday, December 25, 2009

60. 20 Questions or All About Us

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Attention: DIY date idea for bookworms, romantics, and shy types!
"All About Us" is something to do on a rainy (or sunny) day at the comfort of your own home, actually it's DIY (do-it-yourself) anytime anywhere except for a first date. This book makes it not only easier, but also more interesting, than the game we all know, "20 Questions", especially for the bashful types. You might surprise yourself and learn a new thing or two about your partner. Consider this a casual way to document your relationship, even if you have been married for years! Reminisce and laugh over good old times or perhaps realize that there are a few things that you two have been meaning to do or want to do.

Don't feel pressured to fill out every single page at one sitting (or a single date). Have fun with it: light a fire place at home or head to the local park, pour 2 cups of hot cocoa, and break out a pen.  Jump on the current sale, less than 10 bucks online (click HERE). FYI, the book was published 10 years ago and about half of reviewers rated it 5 out of 5 stars. Buy it now, use it right away or save it for a rainy day or better yet, Valentine's Day is around the corner (hint hint).

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $9.32.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

59. Day Trip: Torrey Pines Hiking

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Christmas Eve was a good day for hiking today in San Diego!
California is blessed with places, such as Torrey Pines State Park in the beautiful city of La Jolla (the "Jewel"). This is my first date idea outside of LA and OC! San Diego is usually a quick and easy day trip or weekend getaway, only 1-2 hours drive without traffic depending on where you live in So Cal.

Torrey Pines on Xmas Eve
Originally uploaded by 365 Cheap Dates

You can park for free along the coast on North Torrey Pines Road in the North Beach and South Beach areas (see my photo on right), but you will be competing with the surfers. Otherwise, the Park Reserve offers parking for $10 with 4 available lots, which provide convenient access to the hiking trails. The state park fee includes a free map guide showing the parking lots, trails, and overlook points.

The 6 trails range from 0.5 to 1.2 miles each. Most of the trails are fairly easy except for the two which descend 300 feet in steps to the beach level. If you like a challenge hiking uphill, park at the first lot near the park entrance. Otherwise, you can save your energy by parking at the last 2 lots at the top of the hill. By the way, no food is allowed in the reserve, but picnicking at the beach is ok. This means you can bring water bottles on the trails, but you can carry food to the beach (no eating on the way).

Torrey Pines State Park offers FREE nature walks on weekends and holidays at 10 AM and 2 PM. Park hours are 8 AM to sunset, which varies 4-8 PM (during winter right now it's before 5 PM). I suggest going early or later in the day, especially during summer when it can be hot. If you take Beach Trail or Broken Hill Trail, cool down down at the end of a hike by taking a dip in the ocean. Stick around to enjoy the sunset across a panoramic ocean view by sitting on a bench at one of the many overlook points.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free or $10 Parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

58. Holiday Celebration at LA Music Center - 12/24

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Live music AND dance for FREE on Christmas Eve in Downtown LA.
Tomorrow, Dec 24th, marks the 50th Annual LA County Holiday Celebration, which is supposedly LA's biggest holiday show. The best part is the fact that it's free! Even the underground parking at the LA Music Center is free that day. Come enjoy 6 hours of live entertainment starting at 3 PM inside the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion of the LA Music Center in Downtown LA.

Music Center Tree
Originally uploaded by savemejebus

This Emmy-nominated event features multi-cultural music and dance by 40 different groups from US and other countries, including Japan and Africa. By the way, the best time for photo ops is before sunset for the Walt Disney Concert Hall and after sunset for the water feature (see photo on right). Make sure to bundle up for this outdoor event!

If you are already booked on Xmas Eve, watch the festivities from the comfort of your own home in real-time by one of the many options:
a) on television on channel KCET-TV
b) on the internet kcet.org
c) on the radio KPFK 90.7 FM.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
Kiss & Tell Idea by LA Bargains (@LA Bargains)

Monday, December 21, 2009

57. Tide Pools at Abalone Cove

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Explore nature at the beach = free yet quite romantic!
Abalone Cove Shoreline Park is a hidden gem in The City of Ranchos Palos Verdes right off Portuguese Bend. Here you can find 2 beaches (Abalone Cove and Sacred Cove), tide pools, bluff top viewing areas, 2 long yet easy hiking trails, and apparently fighting hermit crabs (see photo on right).
Sea anemones and star fish are also easily visible from the shoreline, but sadly abalone are nonexistent nowadays. A convenient parking lot is available for a mere $5 unless you can snag a spot along Palos Verdes Drive South and don't mind a 5-minute walk from the neighborhoods.

This place gets my vote for one of the best date ideas because it hits 5-in-1 categories: free, day date, romantic, outdoors and active. The park is open daily from Noon - 4 PM on weekdays and 9 AM - 4 PM on weekends, but is closed for some holidays. Make sure to stick around to enjoy the spectacular view of the ocean and Catalina Island during sunset, which is less than an hour after closing during this time of year. If you were not aware, the best time to go is during low tide, so that the most sea life will be exposed. The lowest tide of the year is expected on New Year's Eve around 2 PM. If you want to learn fun facts and don't mind the trek, take advantage of the FREE tide pool tours at Crystal Cove in Laguna Beach (next one is scheduled on 12/31, see Cheap Date Idea #44).

UPDATE 01/09/10: Point Vicente Interpretive Center offers a FREE monthly 2-hour activity, which includes tide pool tours of of Abalone Cove Shoreline Park. Any parking fees at PVIC are waived for 30 minutes before and after the event. Click HERE for a map of PVIC and more info. The schedule for 2010 include the following tide pool tours:
Feb 27th at 1 PM
May 22nd at 10 AM
Sept 18th at 9 AM
Nov 20th at 1 PM
Dec 18th at 12:30 PM.

UPDATE 04/05/10: "A Los Angeles Love" went on Cheap Date Idea #57 last month (read their blog post HERE).

Approximate cost of creative date idea = FREE + $5 Parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
Click here for map

56. Free NYE Party at CityWalk Hollywood

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Want to enjoy free entertainment AND fireworks under the stars?
Live bands are playing at CityWalk every night during the holidays. Entrance into this entertainment center outside of Universal Studios Hollywood is always free to the public.

Emily Osment
Originally uploaded by Music4mix

Typical band start times are 6 or 8 PM, but CityWalk is open on average til 9 PM this week and 11 PM next week. Check the schedule online for more info, including a list of bands. Parking is $10 after 3 PM (Tip: Get $5 parking rebate for moviegoers). By the way, Santa will be there too every night until 9 PM on Dec 23rd. Even after the holidays, CityWalk Hollywood is something casual to do year round for hanging out, eating and drinking, and watching a flick.

Here's the best part... CityWalk boasts that they offer LA's largest FREE New Year's Eve Party: 2 stages with live bands, 2 large video screens, and fireworks. This special event is 9:00 PM - 12:30 AM.

If you want to make it a full day of fun, buy a day pass and get a full year of the theme park for a mere $69 (best discount for Californians at the moment).

UPDATE 12/28/09: Oops, I meant to mention that fireworks will be going off at midnight at Citywalk Hollywood. Have fun!

Approximate cost of creative date idea = FREE Admission + $10 Parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

55. FREE Improv Comedy Night

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Laughing is good for the soul, especially when it's FREE!
Get free admission at Hollywood Improv through Goldstar.com.

Paul Reiser
Originally uploaded by Digital Kloc Photography
Do hurry since there are 5 more discounted shows for the rest of the month, only two of which are free on Tues 12/22 and Wed 12/30. Goldstar.com does charge a small fee $3-4 per ticket, but that's not bad when Regular Admission is $14. Show times are usually at 8 or 10 PM. As with all comedy clubs, there is a 2-drink minimum, which makes it a good post-dinner date idea. The later the better anyway because metered parking is free in that area after 7 PM. If you can't make it this month, sign up on Goldstar.com to get weekly notifications about new discounts at this comedy club (and other attractions around LA and OC). Have fun!

UPDATE 03/24/10: Get a FREE 4-pack of tickets and call it a double date! Tickets are free but there is a $3 ticket handling fee. You have a few choices this week, but hurry because there are only 50 packs each available. Make sure to sign up for their e-newsletter to receive these freebies directly.
  • Click HERE for Thurs 3/25 at 10 PM (tomorrow), use discount code NL.
  • Click HERE for Sat 3/27 at 7:30 or 9:30 PM, use discount code BLAST.
Approximate cost of creative date idea = FREE Admission + $4 Fee + 2 Drink minimum pp + Free Parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $30 Total Admission.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

54. Paparazzi Day in Hollywood

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Wanna go on a date with Jack Nicholson or Marilyn Monroe?
The one chance that you might have with a movie star will be at the newly opened Madame Tussauds in Hollywood. The conversations might be one-way with the wax museum figures, but it makes for great photo ops!

Jack Cracks Bia Up!
Originally uploaded by vlup2us65
Where else can you have a Kodak Moment with Madonna or Tiger Woods without paying an arm and a leg? Admission at the door is regularly $25 per person or save 10% online anytime for "Priority Access" tickets or get 1/2 off during December through Goldstar.com (only $12.50 pp + $4 processing fee!). The cheapest option for parking is only $2 for up to 4 hours with validation at The Hollywood & Highland Center (an easy 2 minute walk on the same block). For those with a sweet tooth, treat your date to a dessert crepe from the French Crepe Company on the 2nd floor at H&H.

This wax museum makes for a good "day date" anytime (click HERE for more day date ideas). It's open daily from 10 AM til 8 PM on weekdays and til 10 PM on weekends. Your date and you can pretend to be the paparazzi for the day!! Grab your cameras and be silly, why not?

UPDATE 02/08/10: New dates for cheap tickets have been added on Goldstar.com for the next two weeks, Feb 9-21 (unique cheap date idea on Valentine's Day too!).

UPDATE 04/04/10: For a spontaneous date here (AKA last minute), print a $5 off coupon HERE (good for a group date up to 3 couples, expires 12/31/10). Thank you, @dvanderberg and @RobShamTrojan!

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $16.50 per person + $2 Parking + $8 Drink or snack for parking validation.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $60 Total.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

53. FREE Puppy Play Date

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Attention: All animal-lovers out there!
I've heard about a new business for puppy-rentals, but why pay when you can do it for free! Take your date and play with puppies and doggies this Saturday, Dec 19th. Call it a "puppy play date"!
You don't need to own one to find puppy love, but I warn you that you may end up going home with one! Come volunteer through Karma Rescue at one of their pet adoption events, which are held twice per month on Saturdays at 11 AM - 3 PM at The PETCO Store in Westwood. There are plenty of dogs who would love your attention and enjoy your company for a walk. If you love pets but don't have the time (or money), volunteering is the best way to get some puppy love. If you can spare it, donations are always appreciated. Karma Rescue welcomes volunteers of all ages. Check the website for more info and address.

For this particular Saturday, Citysearch LA's editorial team will be helping out for the pet adoption and food drive. If you bring a bag of dog food or treats, you will be eligible to win various prizes and gift certificates (see FaceBook event info).

UPDATE 01/07/10: Mark your calendars for new puppy play dates! Jan 9th, Jan 23rd, Feb 6th, Feb 20th. Check back every month for updates online.

UPDATE 02/18/10: The next event is this Saturday 2/20. Bonus: Order a FREE custom dog leash with the fave photo of your "man's best friend" by 2/19 (click HERE for discount code). Say thank you to @BargainBriana!

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free + Doggie Treats + Good Karma.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.

Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @CitySearchLA

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

52. FREE Disneyland Tickets in 2010

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You heard me, F-R-E-E Disneyland during the whole year of 2010.
All you have to do is donate some of your time for a good cause and then you get to spend a full day at the magical kingdom.

Road to the West
Originally uploaded by beatnikside
The "Give a Day. Get a Disney Day." Program is something fun AND free to do with that special someone. Plus it guarantees at least two dates, right? Don't forget about the bonus points called good karma!

In order to participate in this program, register on Disney's website and select one of the posted volunteer opportunities online (click HERE). Note that I said "some" of your time because there is no specification on the number of service hours, but it is limited to one pass per person for the program. Are a few hours of your time worth $72? Well, that's exactly the cost of a 1-day pass! Just do any one of the listed volunteer activities and receive a voucher for a 1-day pass. For annual pass holders, the voucher is non-transferable but it is exchangeable (see FAQ online).

The first million volunteers get to...

Monday, December 14, 2009

51. Winter Craft Weekend at the Beach

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Ok, that's not a real shark in the photo!
But there are live sharks inside the 3,500 gallon tank at the Roundhouse Aquarium at the end of Manhattan Beach Pier. The aquarium is open all year round, but why not go during Winter Craft Weekend!

Jaws spotted in Manhattan Beach
Originally uploaded by smhyla

This will be a family-friendly event with many activities for kids, but aren't you a kid at heart? Surround yourself here with holiday spirit (and sharks and eels). Don't worry, they won't touch you, but you can touch them... Nothing bites in the "touch tank", at least not as far as I know.

The event is Dec 19-20th at 10 AM til sunset. The City of Manhattan Beach shows their holiday spirit every year by making metered parking free for 3 hours. Get there in the afternoon for the event, then enjoy the sunset by taking a romantic stroll along shoreline or on The Strand (paved path for runners and bikers). Heck, bring your bikes while you're at it! It's an easy 2-mile bike ride south to the twin pier in Hermosa Beach. See Cheap Date Idea #6 for more info about this aquarium. For ideas on other things to do in the area, search this site by city or keyword, i.e. beach (use the search toolbar on the left or the new dropdown menu above). For more shark action, don't miss out on Cheap Date Idea #15.

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

Sunday, December 13, 2009

50. Farmer's Market in Santa Monica

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Looking for something fun and free to do on Sundays?
Head over to the Sunday Farmer's Market in Santa Monica, well known for providing arts and crafts, free live music, and family-friendly activities, including face painting and a petting zoo.

Farmer's Market!
Originally uploaded by 733.

Take this opportunity to buy some fresh vegetables (and fresh flowers for your special someone). Not only will you be supporting local businesses (good karma), but this place will be much more interesting than your local grocery store. Seriously, would you take a date to Trader Joes? I am a fan of TJ, but the Farmer's Market is a step up for a dating venue for some reason. Since the hours are 9:30 AM -1:00 PM, grab your date and then a bite to eat for brunch at any of the yummy food booths.

Entrance into Farmer's Markets is always free. For Sundays only, park for free...

List: Christmas Boat Parades 2009

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Did Santa's reindeers take the day off? Row, row, row your kayak gently down the chimney...
Nah, it's a Kodak Moment captured at last year's Venice Canals boat parade.

Originally uploaded
by indexfinger90230

Grab your date and go admire decked out boats for the holidays for FREE! Find a boat parade near you... Click for more info.
Other options around Los Angeles and Orange County include:

  • Long Beach Parade of 1000 Lights at Shoreline Village - 12/12
  • Santa Barbara Parade of Lights at Stears Wharf - 12/13
  • Dana Point Boat of Parade of Lights in San Juan Capistrano - 12/11, 12/12, 12/18, 12/19

  • Click HERE for more free and cheap stuff to do this month of December. Also, the LA Times online is a good resource for other holiday celebrations. As for specific events around Orange County, check out this other website (click HERE).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

49. Free Disneyland on Your Birthday

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If your birthday is coming up in December, go to Disneyland for FREE!

Mickey Mousse
Originally uploaded by disneymike

Register and fill out the form online and bring your photo ID to the amusement park. While this may not be the cheapest date idea, you save a whopping $72! I hope Disney extends this offer to next year, so that I can go too. Say hi to Mickey for me and Happy Birthday!

UPDATE 12/16/09: If you want to go to the magical kingdom for FREE in 2010, check out Cheap Date Idea #52!

Approximate cost of creative date idea = 1 Free Ticket + $72 Regular Admission + $14 Parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $158 Total.
Click here for map

Friday, December 11, 2009

48. Marina Del Rey Xmas Boat Parade & Fireworks - 12/12

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Wow, a holiday boat parade AND fireworks?? This definitely is "Christmas in Paradise"!
That's the festive theme for Marina Del Rey's 47th Annual Holiday Boat Parade tomorrow, Saturday, December 12th.

Christmas Boat Parade 003
Originally uploaded by Dan Wuh

Make sure to get there before the fireworks show at 5:55 PM, then the parade goes 6-8 PM. Needless to say, there are several boat parades in LA and OC this month, but this might be the only one that is double the fun (including a fireworks display). The only other local fireworks that I know about for the holidays is on Sunday in Manhattan Beach (see Cheap Date Idea #21).

I must admit that this event's website is the most informative out of all! On the website, not only is there a list of the 10 FREE parking lots (no street parking available that day), but also photos of last year's Winners (see photo on right for the "Best Overall" Category) and also recommendations for the best viewing spots. Live music will be playing in Burton Chase Park. Or grab a bite to eat at Fisherman's Village. Enjoy!

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

47. Venice Canals Holiday Boat Parade - 12/13

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Here's another FREE romantic date idea for the holidays!
For the 28th Annual Holiday Boat Parade, decorated kayaks, row boats, canoes and whatever floats will be floating through the Venice Canals along Dell Avenue this Sunday, December 13th, 4-8 PM.

Originally uploaded by photoNiki

This boat parade starts earlier than most, which is perfect timing for enjoying the sunset! By the way, this is similar to the event at the Naples Canals in Long Beach next weekend (see Cheap Date Idea #23). Except the Venice Canals are supposed to emulate the famous canals of Venice, Italy. Ok, it's not Europe but at least you and your date can enjoy a romantic stroll here without the cost of 2 plane tickets!

I've personally...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

46. Redondo Beach Xmas Boat Parade - 12/12

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Here's yet another free thing to do this weekend!
On Saturday, December 12th from 5:30-7:00 PM, decked out boats (and dinghys as shown in the photo here) will be parading between King Harbor Marina and the Redondo Beach Pier (see route map online).

Santa's... dinghy?
Originally uploaded by snehls

This will be the 18th Annual King Harbor Christmas Parade in Redondo Beach. Come an hour or two early to take a romantic stroll along the one mile of waterfront during sunset. But make sure to stake your spot at one of the many restaurants, the Redondo Beach Yacht Club, the breakwalls or anywhere along the piers. Parking is available in the pier parking structure, Redondo Beach Marina and street parking (meters are free during this time of year). The weather bunny is predicting a 70% of light rain in the 50 degrees range, so bundle up (but I'm crossing my fingers that the weather bunny will be wrong again).

While you are having so much festive fun, why not...

List: Ice Skating Rinks in LA & OC

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Here's a list of the ice skating rinks that are open this season! The admission price listed is per person for 1-hour skating session including the skate rental (except it's 90 min in Redondo). Click on the hyperlink for more details about each date idea.
  • 22. Seaside Ice Skating at Redondo Beach (11/10-1/18): $14, open daily until 9:30 PM, where else can you ice skate close to the beach and enjoy the sunset? Enough said.
  • 35. Winterlit Ice Skating in Santa Monica (10/30-2/15): $10, open daily until 10 PM on weekdays and midnight on weekends, this rink is open the longest for the season. UPDATE 01/28/10: This rink has been extended from Jan 31st to Feb 15th! (Valentine's Date Idea, hint hint).
  • 37. LA Kings Holiday Ice Skating (12/3-1/1): $10, open daily until 11 PM (open the latest), Santa visits at least once per day, grand opening this year at LA Live in Downtown LA, rink size: 50' x 70'. UPDATE: LA Live kept it open one more day on New Year's Day.
  • 41. Downtown on Ice at Pershing Square (11/19-1/18): $8 (cheapest rink), open daily until 10 PM, been around 12 years in Downtown LA, rink size: 50' x 90' (largest rink), only rink offering FREE live concert series throughout the season, usually attracts 350,000 visitors per year.
  • 42. Irvine Skate Spectrum (11/1-1/18): $15.50, open daily until 9 PM on weekdays and 11:15 PM on weekends, only rink in Orange County as far as I know.
  • If you prefer one rink over another, please do share!

UPDATE: Actually there are 7 (yes, seven) ice rinks between LA and OC. Thanks for sharing, LA Bargain Hunter! (@LABargains) Click here for more info.
Rink #6: Woodland Hills Ice
Rink #7: Holiday Ice Rink at The Lakes in Thousand Oaks

UPDATE 01/28/10: Correction, there are 8! A new one opens this weekend in Orange County, just in time for Valentine's Day (hint hint). This one is the best because it's completely FREE!
90. FREE Ice Skating at OC Great Park (1/30-2/28)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

45. Light Festival at Griffith Park

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The Welcome Arch
Originally uploaded by RuggyBearLA

If you adore holiday lights, here's another option besides all the boat parades. The Light Festival at Griffith Park runs daily 5-10 PM through the month of December. Avoid traffic by going during the week, Mon-Thurs. However, the walking tour is the best way to see everything while it's vehicle-free during Dec 4-17. The festival will open up to cars on Dec 18-30. For the environmentally-friendly or active folks, you can bring your bike on vehicle-free Mondays, Dec 21st and 28th at 5:00-5:30 PM. Parking is available for free at...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

44. Tide Pools at Crystal Cove

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A Living Flower
Originally uploaded by ladyinpink_1
The lowest tide of the year is expected on Thursday, Dec 31st, at 2 PM. For this special event, you can go on a FREE guided tide pool walk to Little Treasure Cove, the north-most part of Crystal Cove (meet your guide at Pelican Point). What makes this State Park unique and interesting is the free offering of various docent-led tours every month (check the schedule online for updates). You may visit the tidepools on your own at anytime, but why not learn some new things about sea life for free? If the timing doesn't work, don't worry, most of the tours are normally on the weekends.

The activities at this 3-mile "underwater park" in... Laguna/Newport Beach are non-stop: surfing, scuba diving, skin diving, horseback riding (BYOH, bring your own horse), hiking, biking, kayaking, and camping (not beach camping though and not free). If camping is not your cup of tea, there are some beach-front cottages at various rates. Check the website for more information and online reservations (but it's better to call since these are usually booked way in advance). Enjoy!

UPDATE 12/21: If you love tidepools or the OC is too much of a trek, check out Abalone Cove in Palos Verdes (see Cheap Date Idea #57).
UPDATE 01/02/10: Here are some new FREE events for January 2010. Check back for updates on the calendar online.
  • Jan 10th 9 AM Winter at Crystal Cove
  • Jan 16th 9 AM Grey Whale Twalk
  • Jan 17th 3 PM Sunset Photo Walk
  • Jan 24th 3 PM Tidepool Walk to Little Treasure Cove
UPDATE 03/16/10: FREE Events for March: Sunday 3/21 Hike at 9 AM and Sunset Photography Walk at 5 PM; Saturday 3/27 Spring Wild Flower Hike at 9 AM; Sunday 3/28 Tide Pool Walk at 2 PM.

UPDATE 04/16/10: The FREE tide pool walks in April are set for 1 PM on both Saturday 4/24 and Sunday 4/25. Click HERE for the full April calendar of free events.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free + $15 Parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
Click here for map

Monday, December 7, 2009

List: Holiday Events in LA & OC

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For the holiday planners out there, here's a quick summary of things to do this month of December or check out My Google Calendar for date ideas. Happy Holidays!

43. Jump on the Xmas Train, choo choo!

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Wanna be a kid again?
Head over to the Irvine Park Railroad this month (or any month since it's open all year round). The special schedule for the Christmas Train will be daily every day until 8 PM for Dec 11th-23rd. The ticket prices are $8 per person. For the this special event, the tickets are available for purchase online in advance with a one-time service fee of $7.50 or a limited number of same-day use tickets for the end of the day will be available at the railroad (check the schedule online to see if that day is sold out). I suggest going on a weekday after 5 PM for free parking, otherwise it's $3 during weekdays and $5 over the weekends.

Want FREE tickets for next time? Make sure to...

42. Irvine Skate Spectrum (11/1-1/18)

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If any of the 4 ice skating options are too much of a trek (Santa MonicaRedondo BeachLA Live and Pershing Square), then Irvine will be the ice skating spot in Orange County.

Irvine Spectrum Ice rink
Originally uploaded by MOGua
An outdoor tented ice skating rink is set up next to the 108-foot ferris wheel. From Nov 1 to Jan 18th, the Skate Spectrum is open every day in one hour intervals til 9 PM on weekdays and 11:15 PM on weekends with 15 min breaks for re-icing, but check the schedule online for exceptions.. Skating admission is $11 per person and the skate rental is $4.50, while helmets are free. Parking is free and plentiful at the Irvine Spectrum.
After your ice skating escapade, explore the rest of the Irvine Spectrum, a great place for people-watching. One of my fave spots there is...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

41. Downtown on Ice at Pershing Square

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Only $6 for 1-hour plus $2 for ice skate rental, this is THE best deal for ice skating in LA! Downtown on Ice is celebrating it's 12th season at Pershing Square. Even though the rink has been open since Nov 19th, the Free Winter Holiday Festival is next weekend, Dec 12-13th, 11 AM- 6 PM. The festival activities will include: Free Snow Zone for sledding and romping, Free live puppet shows, Free photo moments and more!

The fun does not stop there! Downtown On Ice is the only venue to provide a Free Winter Concert Series at the ice rink: at 8-10 PM on Wednesday through Friday nights, in the afternoons on the weekends, and also during lunchtime concerts on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Check the calendar online for updates.

The rink is open daily until...

Friday, December 4, 2009

40. More FREE Rides at Magic Mountain

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six flags sunset
Originally uploaded by PortugePunk

Get 2 toys and call it a date!
Six Flags Magic Mountain is having their 25th Annual Toy Drive, where they are giving away FREE 1-day admission for same day use in exchange for a new unwrapped $15 toy. Also bring the receipt and leave the price tag on when you show up at the ticket counter. That's not bad at all since the 1-Day General Admission is regularly $55 per person.

Why don't you double the fun and make it a surprise? Go to the toy store, pick up 2 toys, hide them in your trunk, and then drag your date to the amusement park without telling him/her. Of course, make sure that he/she does enjoy thrill rides first of all. Magic Mountain makes for a good "day date" since the park is open 10:30 AM - 6:00 PM, especially with the current cool weather (too hot in that area during summertime, in my opinion). This is not quite the cheapest date idea yet, but...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's Kiss & Tell Time!

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A secret whispered
Originally uploaded by Heart felt

So... What's YOUR best cheap date idea??
As of today, I'm finally caught up on posting between my blog and my Twitter - YAY! So now I'm open to considering new material. A few fellow Tweeters have recently submitted their date ideas, but I'd love to hear more! I'll feature the top ones on my blog with full due credit to you of course. Please describe your date idea in detail, including time, location, cost, and freebies, (or at least provide the website with the key info) then send it to me via email, DM on Twitter, or as a blog comment here. Stay tuned for new creative date ideas...

39. Winterlit Celebration in Santa Monica - 12/5

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Originally uploaded by frentzel

If you haven't been to the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica yet, you should go this Saturday, Dec 5th, for the Winterlit Celebration! Starting at 5 PM, Brian McKnight with radio station 94.7 The Wave will be hosting Santa Monica's tree lighting ceremony as well as providing FREE musical entertainment, including an acoustic set of favorite holiday songs.

Even if you have "been there, done that", Third Street Promenade is always a fun place to go for people-watching, something that won't cost you a dime. Well, parking is only free for...

38. Find Peace at Lake Shrine

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The Green Lagoon
Originally uploaded by QuinTes

Who would have thought that one could enjoy a tranquil lake with swans, trails, lily ponds, rose gardens, waterfalls and a Dutch Windmill without having to leave Los Angeles? Lake Shrine can be your secret spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the city! Actually, this place was loved by the King himself, Elvis Presley. Another tidbit: Gandhi's ashes are stored here near the landmark, the Golden Lotus Archway. Needless to say, bring your camera.

This 10-acre outdoor oasis is tucked away in...

37. LA Kings Holiday Ice Skating

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How often can you go ice skating in California?? Apparently, this year there are 4 options where you can take your date: Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, and now 2 more in Downtown LA (rink #4 is Cheap Date Idea #42). Today, Thursday, Dec 3rd, marks the grand opening for the LA Kings Holiday Ice, located on Nokia Plaza in LA Live, right across from the Staples Center (same location for Cheap Date Idea #30). Boasting a rink size of 70 feet by 50 feet, the capacity is rated for 200 skaters.

The opening ceremony commences at 6 PM, then the tree lighting is 25 minutes after. The rest of the evening includes various performances by singers/bands, Santa Claus, Coca-Cola ice-skating polar bear, the LA Kings mascot, figure skater, skating team, and more. This outdoor rink will be lit up by the 11 giant LED screens, the 75,000 lights that adorn the 50 ten-foot angels, and 150 surrounding trees with 265,400 snowfall LED lights. The best part of this event is that it's FREE and open to the public.

If you can't make it today, the rink will be open daily until 11 PM through New Year's Eve (Dec 3-31). The best time of the day to go is when Santa Claus is in town of course! You can skate with Santa every day at 6:45-7:45 PM, and an extra hour on weekends at 3-4 PM. General admission is a mere $10, which includes 1 hour of fun and skate rental. Get a $1 discount by showing a student ID or a Metro pass. Speaking of which, take the bus into Downtown if you can, otherwise parking is $5 for the first 2 hours and another $5 for each additional 1/2 hour.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = FREE + $20 skating + $5 parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
Click here for map

UPDATE 12/08/09: 2-for-1 "Locals" discount coupon for LA Live ice skating available through local paper (click here for more info)
UPDATE 01/01/10: This ice rink is open for one more day on New Year's Day!

UPDATE 12/02/10: Ice skating is back in season! The price is now $12 for unlimited skating. Other rinks usually limit the time to 1-2 hours, so it's not bad if you love to skate. Click HERE for the schedule and more info. Unless you are not fond of crowds, a good time to go is this Saturday, Dec 4th, for the Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Event. Enjoy this winter sport until New Year's Day!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

36. Dr. Seuss How the Grinch Stole Xmas (11/10-12/27)

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Everyone loves Dr. Seuss, right?
Or if you need some help in getting into the holiday cheer... Or do you simply enjoy musicals and want to share it with a special someone without breaking the bank? You can get you 50% off tickets for this weekend Dec 3rd - 6th to the Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! at Goldstar.com. If you can't make it this weekend, The Pantages Theatre in Hollywood will be producing it until Dec 27th (CLICK HERE and HERE for times and more info). This is not the cheapest date idea, but it's worth seeing according to 296 members on Goldstar (Rating 4.5 stars out of 5). You can grab a bite or wander around Hollywood before or after since the performance is only 90 minutes with no intermission.

UPDATE 12/19: Only $30 per person on Goldstar.com (save $60) next week Dec 21-27.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $30-42.50 per person + $4-8 parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $170-180 total.
Click here for map