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Sunday, February 28, 2010

115. Wine & Dine for Only $10-20

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Going out for a nice dinner is not usually a cheap date but...
I was strolling through the Fashion Island Shopping Center in Newport Beach on Friday with my best friend when I discovered one of the best "cheap date" dinner date ideas! My friend just informed me that the French 75 turned into Brasserie Pascal here. If it's anything like the French 75 in Burbank, the ambiance here is classy and the food, delicious. New menu options were recently introduced at a price point ($10-20), which is quite reasonable for a French Bistro. The best part is that this special is good anytime, any day of the week, any time of the day!

Cheap Date Idea #115
Originally uploaded
by 365 Cheap Dates

Where else can you get Surf & Turf for $20 per person!! Or you can "settle" for a filet mignon (or halibut or a specialty crepe) AND an appetizer or dessert- 2-course meal for just $15! One of you can get the appetizer with your entree and the other, dessert, then split it, or go for double the dessert. Every entree comes with fixed sides. There are at least 3 choices for each course. My best friend has personally tasted the filet mignon when it was part of the $10 menu and confirms that Brasserie Pascal is a great cheap (yet classy) date spot.

I took a photo of the meal-deal ad (see right), but check out the full menu online (click HERE). Reservations are available online through either their website or on OpenTable.com. Actually, this is good deal for large birthday parties or group dates, because the bill is easier to split with set prices. The restaurant must have picked up on this because the one limitation in fine print is the $15 deal is not good for parties over 6 guests. By the way, parking at Fashion Island is free and plentiful.

Looking for something more casual than dinner? Check out their happy hour 4-7 PM on weeknights (website says 5-7 PM, but I called to confirm that it does start at 4 PM). For a mere $5, you have the choice of several champagne cocktails, some house wine as well as all well drinks. Based on Yelp reviewers, the "Pascal Patchwork" sampler tray for 2 more people is worth it at $10 per person. I'm definitely going to ask my significant other to come back here with me!

UPDATE 05/11/10: The Le Parfait Deal is back for the months of May and June. For a mere $10, enjoy 3 special meals almost any time any day except for dinner on the weekends (after 5pm on Fri-Sat and after 4pm on Sunday). I'm not talking about sandwiches either, but rather 2 sides with a main entree of grilled filet mignon, sauteed halibut or plat du jour (French for chef's daily special). I'd love to come here on a weeknight for a nice early dinner during happy hour (hint hint if my better half is reading).

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $10-20 per person + tax + tip.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.

Kiss & Tell Date Idea by Mrs. Roberts

Thursday, February 25, 2010

114. Cheap (& FREE) Laughs at UCB Theatre

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Cheap date = cheap laughs and it's BYOB!
For a whole $1 (or 4 quarters), you can laugh with (or at) Jeff Garlin from Curb Your Enthusiasm (see photo on right) on Sundays at 6 PM at the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) Theatre in Hollywood Hills. Bring cash and get your tickets same day, but the shows have been known to sell out fast. Making advance reservations are highly recommended. For "Jeff Garlin's Combo Platter", you can pay online through paypal as soon as the line up is announced, usually 1-3 days in advance (Thurs-Sat).

FREE shows are available at 7:30 PM on Sundays and Tuesdays. Unfortunately, reservations are not accepted for these free shows, so plan to get in line early (30-45 minutes is recommended). Otherwise, UCB Theatre offers at least 3 different shows every day of the week for a mere $5 or 8. As for the paid shows, improv on Wednesday nights at 9:30 PM looks hilarious where they randomly select 2 people from the crowd to publicly examine their Facebook pages. Needless to say, this particular one is not for the shy folk out there.

The doors usually open 15 minutes beforehand, but come early to get seats as this place is on a first come, first serve basis. Beer and soda are available in the lobby for $1 each. Here's the best part: It's BYOB. Yes, you heard me: NO corkage fee and NO 2-drink minimum here unlike all the comedy clubs, so this is truly a cheap date! As for parking, valet here is cheap at $5, not a bad deal for Hollywood. If you want more cheap laughs, check out Cheap Date Idea #92.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $1 on Sundays, sometimes Free, otherwise usually $5 or $8 per person + $5 Valet Parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @LAhappenings

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Submit Your Cheap Date Idea!

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113. The Spazmatics 80's Band - 2/26

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Who doesn't love the 80's??
I've personally seen and loved The Spazmatics twice on last Halloween in Long Beach and on New Year's Eve in Las Vegas (see my photo on right). Depending on which generation you're from, 80's music is simply fun. It's even more fun with a live band! Not to mention that that their personality and attire help magnify their stage appearance. I don't personally dress up like the band does, but don't let me hold you back from doing so. Heck, make it a group date and dress up as your own 80's band!

Get FREE admission through Goldstar with a small convenience fee of $3.50 per person. The Spazmatics will be at The Waterfront Restaurant & Concert Theatre in Marina del Rey this Friday at 9 PM. Doors open at 8:30 PM, so arrive early to claim a spot (standing room only). Tickets are available online until 5 PM on the same day. If this Friday won't work, check back on Goldstar for future concert dates and other cheap date ideas (it's FREE to sign up).

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free Admission + $3.50 Fee pp.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $27 Total.

112. FREE Cooking Classes

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Learning something new together can be thrilling.
Williams-Sonoma offers complimentary Technique Classes every Sunday. Class size is limited, so make sure to call in advance to reserve two spots. The start time is 10 AM at the South Coast Plaza store in Costa Mesa, Orange County, but call the one near you to confirm their schedule. There is one more class scheduled for February called Incredible Eggs on 2/28, then the theme switches to Baking Series in March.

Mocha Chocolate Souffle
Originally uploaded by lilpuddles
  • 3/7 Simply Souffle
  • 3/14 Cookies
  • 3/21 Cakes & Cupcakes
  • 3/28 Pies & Tarts
After class, follow up with a second date where you both show off your new found skills at home. Grocery shopping may seem like a mundane task, so why not make it part of your date and do it together! This is a great opportunity for DIY (do-it-yourself) and something to do indoors. While you're at it, pull out your favorite boardgames because it's perfect weather for Game Night! Better yet, invite your friends over and impress them with your culinary masterpieces. In exchange for your homemade souffles, kindly ask them to bring over some beverages (Trader Joe's offers wines under $10). Or pick another tasty dish from one of the many free recipes online at Williams-Sonoma. This is a combo anytime date idea (cooking class and game night), good for first dates, group dates and date nights for couples. Enjoy!

UPDATE 03/02/10: Bad news: The Simply Souffle class at the South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa is FULL for this Sunday, March 7th. Good news: Due to the overwhelming popularity, this store is offering the same classes on Thursdays now. Call now to reserve your spot in the Simply Souffle class for TOMORROW Thursday 3/4 at 6 PM.

UPDATE 04/02/10: Click HERE to view the current month's schedule and then call the Williams-Sonoma near you to reserve a spot for you and your partner.

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

Monday, February 22, 2010

111. Free Museum Day at MOCA

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Museums are always a classy cultural date idea.
Not to mention it's something easy to do, especially when it's FREE. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) on Grand Avenue is free to the public on Thursday evenings, 5-8 PM. Please note that this is separate from The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, which is also located in Downtown LA but on North Central Avenue. Say thank you to Wells Fargo for saving $10 pp. If Thursdays don't work, get 2-for-1 admission by taking the metro, but the museum usually closes early at 5 or 6 PM even on the weekends (closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays). In case art is not your forte, take advantage of the free conversational tours of the current exhibits, which is available every day at various hours, including Thursday evening at 5, 6 and 7 PM (see schedule online).

Museum of Contemporary Art
Originally uploaded by jshyun

Parking is $9 flat rate at the parking garage at the Walt Disney Concert Hall with MOCA validation. Click HERE for directions and more info. Make the most of your date by arriving earlier to enjoy the outdoor water feature in the center of the LA Music Center Plaza. This spot makes a great photo op, especially at sunset, or wait until later for some nighttime romantic shots at the water feature. For ideas on what else to do here, the LA Music Center offers suggested itineraries online, which mention a FREE 1-hour tour of Walt Disney Concert Hall. Whether or not you appreciate music, the architecture is worth admiring. Come back during summer and the holidays to enjoy FREE concerts in the plaza, such as Cheap Date Idea #58.
Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free Admission + $9 Parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $29 Total.

Friday, February 19, 2010

110. FREE Cabaret Show at UML

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Burlesque dancing with live music is fun to watch, especially when it's free!
Upper Manhattan Lounge (UML) is a classy spot in Manhattan Beach, about 1 mile north of the pier area. When you walk into this joint, you feel like you stepped into a high-end Hollywood lounge, but you're still by the beach in the South Bay. Dress to impress, but you don't have to be on a guest list or have the "look" to get in unlike some hot spots in Hollywood.

Cabaret Show at UML
Originally uploaded by 365 Cheap Dates

For the Cabaret Show, the girls come out once every hour starting 8:30 PM (3 shows per night) and dance to the tunes of a live band. For this burlesque dancing, some pieces of clothing come off, but the lingerie does stay on, so no worries for the bashful types like me. The themes for the shows change off and on, i.e. new latin-themed nights, "Salsa Cabaret", will be coming with happy hour and food/drink specials in April-June. Right after the 10:30 PM show, a DJ starts playing and the stage extension retracts in order to open up a small dance floor. The crowd (mostly female) is welcome to jump on stage to show off their dancing skills... maybe get a taste of the bar and beads to swing around like in my photo here (but the bouncers may stop you).

There's no cover charge before 9 PM, otherwise it's $10 pp for boys and girls alike. I personally like going early in order to avoid the line and use the money toward drinks. Speaking of which, drinks are not cheap at UML, but the entertainment makes up for that, in my opinion. Street parking is free in Manhattan Beach after 8 PM (double check the signs) if you are lucky to find a spot on Highland Avenue. Otherwise, there's a small metered parking lot across the street (Rosecrans Ave) or a paid parking lot behind that. If you can't make it tomorrow, the cabaret show is usually every Saturday, sometimes Friday too.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free Admission + Drinks.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

List: Cheap Dates Ideas at Tide Pools

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To answer a Fellow Tweeter's question, what's my favorite cheap date idea?
I'd have to say that my fave ANYTIME date idea is tide pool exploration. Reason: I love discovering new creatures, like the Wavy Turban at Crystal Cove (see my photo below) and seeing what else my partner can find (yes, we are a bit competitive). Moreover, because it's F-R-E-E (usually) and anyone can do it anytime. Well, almost anytime, but it's better at low tide, speaking of which... Saturday, February 27th, marks the winter low-tide, which is expected to be a very popular day for tide pool exploration up and down the coasts.

It's staring at me!?
Originally uploaded by 
365 Cheap Dates
Here's a list of tide pool areas that are offering tours next weekend. Click on each cheap date idea for more info, especially for parking suggestions and an updated schedule of tours..
44. Tide Pools at Crystal Cove: 2/27 2 PM in Newport Beach/Laguna Beach.
57. Tide Pools at Abalone Cove: 2/27 1-3 PM in Palos Verdes.
75. Tide Pools by Cabrillo Marine Aquarium: 2/27 1-2:30 PM in San Pedro.

Other options include Doheny State Beach: 2/27 1-4 PM in Dana Point (click HERE for more info).

Tips: Wear comfy shoes and pants (or shorts, if you like) that you don't mind getting wet and bring a towel to wipe down before getting back into your car. Water bottles, hat, sunglasses and sunblock would be helpful too.

If you know of any other tide pool tours in different areas, let me know! So I now throw the question back to @JasonWheeler and you, "What's your fave cheap date idea?"

109. Long Beach Mardi Gras - 2/20

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Didn't make it to Fat Tuesday in New Orleans or San Diego?
Well, the party is on again this Saturday, February 20th, in Downtown Long Beach, which is much closer than NOLA or SD (see Cheap Date Idea #106 for next year). This event is more family friendly if that's a factor for you. Mix and mingle around Rainbow Harbor at the Aquarium of the Pacific (see Cheap Date Idea #15), Shoreline Village and The Pike. The Long Beach Mardi Gras will essentially be a huge block party like the one on New Year's Eve (see Cheap Date Idea #64). (Tip: Make sure to wear comfy shoes.)

The FREE entertainment runs all day (Noon - 6 PM) with about 10 live bands and DJ's at various stages between the 3 areas, fire dancers, mask/bead making, carnival games and more. Best of all, the parade starts at 3 PM. Check the website for a detailed schedule of events at each location. Although these activities end by 6 PM, the party does not stop there! Pre-sale tickets for the Mardis Gras Concert are available online for $15 pp. No parking information appears to be available at the moment, but check the info listed on Cheap Date Idea #64.

This weekend will be hopping in LA with another FREE huge celebration, the Golden Dragon Parade on Saturday and the Lunar New Year Festival on both days (see Cheap Date Idea #107). If you enjoy the Long Beach area, check out FREE Shark Lagoon Nights (Cheap Date Idea #15). By the way, the weather bunny has changed their mind, rain is not expected til Tuesday, so have fun outdoors this weekend!

UPDATE 02/19/10: Rain is expected to start tonight and should end by tomorrow noon, just in time for the event. Have fun!

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free Admission.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
Kiss & Tell Idea by @yelp

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

108. Wii, Karaoke, Guitar Hero Nights, What Else?

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Don't be a couch potato at home, so come out and play!
Wii Nintendo is not just for kids! Playing games with your partner can bring out the competitiveness and hopefully teamwork spirit between the two of you, especially when playing against other couples. After investing some money into the gaming system itself (AKA capital), then it's a FREE date idea after that. Invite friends over for a group date night.

Or better yet, head out to Barney's Beanery for some fun on a weeknight. There are 4 bar locations from which to choose across Los Angeles: West Hollywood (WeHo), Burbank, Santa Monica (SM) and Pasadena. These make for good late date night since the start time is usually 8, 9, or 10 PM (check their Google Calendar online for updates at each specific location). One of these weekly themed activities should tickle your fancy:
  • Bingo Night - Something easy to do on Mondays in WeHo
  • Comedy Night - Laughing is always good for the soul on Mondays in Pasadena.
  • Wii Sports Night - Feel like you are IN the game with their 10-foot wide big screen on Tuesdays in SM (Wii Sports game include bowling, tennis, golf, baseball and boxing)
  • Karaoke Night - Perfect for serenading your partner on mostly Wednesdays everywhere, sometimes Sundays and Tuesdays
  • Trivia Night - Show off your useless knowledge on Wednesdays in Burbank and Thursdays in Pasadena
  • Guitar Hero Night - Make it a group date night on Thursdays in SM
If weeknights are "school nights" for you, Happy Hour either on weekdays at all locations OR Weekend Happy Hour at the original WeHo Barney's (yes, every Saturday and Sunday!) may work for you, always 4-7 PM. Keep yourself entertained with air hockey tables, pool tables, foosball tables, arcade games, shuffleboard- what else can you ask for? By the way, I've never seen an extensive menu like the one at Barney's Beanery. Seriously, there is something for everybody's palette, plus breakfast is served 24/7!

Or if you prefer to stay at home altogether, try the couple's challenge by EA Active. Click HERE for more info. Thanks to @normzrib for sharing the DIY cheap date idea.
    Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free Admission + Food & Drinks
    Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    107. Golden Dragon Parade - 2/20

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    Celebrate the Chinese New Year in China Town.
    The actual day of the Chinese New Year was yesterday on Valentine's Day but the festival will be held this upcoming weekend on both Saturday and Sunday starting at 10 AM and running all day, but the 111th Annual Golden Dragon Parade is only on Saturday afternoon, 2-5 PM. Some day, I'd love to check out the Chinese New Year celebration in China, but it's a much more affordable (AKA cheap date) to partake in the festivities in China Town of Los Angeles. Think of it as a cultural date idea, something more creative than a movie-and-dinner date (like Cheap Date Idea #101).

    This might be obvious, but you don't have to be Chinese to celebrate, although the crowd will predominantly be Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. Over 110,000 individuals are expected to be lined up for the parade, so make sure to get there early for parking and claim your spot along Cesar Chavez and Broadway. Click HERE for a downloadable map and more info. Taking public transportation may be worth considering. We might make the trek this year, so maybe we'll see you there! Except the weather bunny is expecting some rain this weekend, which would put a damper on a parade... Stay tuned for a weather update closer to the weekend.

    UPDATE 02/18/10: The weather bunny changed it's mind, no rain is expected until Tuesday, so come out and play this weekend in LA!

    UPDATE 02/19/10: Rain is expected to start tonight and end by noon tomorrow, just in time for the parade. Have fun!

    Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free.
    Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
    Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @EyeSpyLA

    Sunday, February 14, 2010

    106. Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp - 2/16

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    You don't have to go to New Orleans to celebrate Fat Tuesday.
    Join the block party on Tuesday, February 16th, 6:00 - 11:55 PM, in part of Downtown San Diego, called the Gaslamp District. Mardi Gras is a great event for people watching (bring your camera). This is not the place to be for any bashful types and definitely not a first date idea, but it does work for a group date for those looking for a crazy time. I'm personally not into the bead tradition, so bring your own if you got 'em.

    Marty Gras masks
    Originally uploaded by Marilyn M

    The 2 parades are are scheduled for 7:30 and 10 PM on 5th Avenue. In between, enjoy live music outdoors at various stages and lounges. Just to name a few... Check out the G Street Skate Fever where experienced skaters will be showing off their tricks and dance moves on skates.The Market Street Cirque (AKA circus) will also be lively with performances by aerial acrobats, fire eaters, puppets and more. Don't miss out on Carnivale Alley on Island Avenue, where you can play some carnival games with all proceeds going to charities. The complete list of performances and showtimes is available online.

    Buy advance tickets online for $15 per person ($16.78 Total after convenience fees) in order to avoid the long lines. For this large event, parking may be a nightmare but thankfully there are several options, including taking the San Diego Trolley. Click HERE for directions, maps and tips. Needless to say, arrive early, dress warmly and wear comfy shoes. Have fun and be safe.

    UPDATE 02/15/10: Advance tickets are still available online today for $15 but the price goes up to $20 tomorrow on the day of the event. If you miss it this year or want more fun, save the date for March 8, 2011.

    Approximate cost of creative date idea = $16.78 Total per person.
    Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
    Kiss & Tell Idea by @HappyHourMagOC

    Friday, February 12, 2010

    EVERY day should be Valentine's Day!

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    I've got several reasons for the delaying the new cheap date idea today... Busy unpacking (just moved in with fiance), was in the middle of tidying up the place before he returned from an overseas business trip, am feeling under the weather (maybe bad allergies, but still healthy enough to blog), but more importantly, I feel like there's a lot of pressure (out of no where) to come up with some good cheap date ideas for this Hallmark Holiday. Don't get me wrong, I've been accumulating a list of things to do for this weekend (just search by keyword Valentines or pull down the menu bar), BUT now I'm up against the date.

    I selected this particular photo (see right) to show that V-Day (yellow flower) may be the big day of the year, but EVERY day (smaller white daisies) should be Valentine's. Heck, that's the very reason why I'm writing this blog in the first place, especially since it doesn't have to always cost you a pretty penny, hence the name 365 Cheap Dates. Yes, you can go the extra mile on Sunday, but don't let stop there. Check back with me here at www.365cheapdates.com for new cheap (and FREE) date ideas every day. Stay tuned.... In case I'm MIA this weekend for my surprise V-Day getaway trip (meaning no internet access if my fiance has his way), Happy Valentine's Day!

    P.S. You don't have to spend a fortune this weekend, just make sure to do something different from the norm, case in point: dinner and movies (that is unless you go see the new flick, Valentine's Day because that's what your significant partner wants to do). Whatever you do, focus on your sweetheart and you (shut off the cell phones and laptops, that even includes me). I'm not trying to be mushy, but rather practical.

    List: Cheap Date Ideas for V-Day

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    Still looking for something cheap, or better yet free, on V-Day weekend in Los Angeles or Orange County? See the growing list below. New date ideas are added every day, so check back on www.365cheapdates.com. Feel free to kiss & tell about your favorite date ideas too!

    A picture means 3 words
    Originally uploaded by smhyla

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    105. V-Day Philanthropy: The Love Pick

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    Find love in the orange grove...
    If you have a heart for philanthropy, take your sweetheart on a fruit-picking trip! Food Forward organizes volunteering events on various days, mostly Sundays, but check their blog online for updates and details. The mission is to donate freshly-picked oranges to local food pantries. I've personally volunteered at the LA Food Bank where we packaged canned foods into boxes for families, but this event sounds much more entertaining.
    Love At First Orange.
    Originally uploaded by orangebabe_

    The event details (time and location) vary because it depends on the property who is donating their fruit from their backyards. As for Valentine's, the theme this year is the "Love Pick". Meet at 10:30 AM at Franklin Canyon Orange Grove (near Coldwater Canyon). Due to the limited number of volunteer spots, you must RSVP via email at Carl@FoodForward.org. Since the orange picking ends at 12:30 PM, pack a picnic beforehand and enjoy lunch at the orange grove. Since you'll be working under the sun, make sure to bring bottles of water, sunblock and sunglasses. This is definitely a casual date idea, so wear jeans, a hat and comfortable clothes.

    If you can't make it this Sunday, check Food Forward's blog and Twitter for a list of upcoming volunteer events. Besides the free events, they do hold special paid events. For a mere $20 on Saturday, March 6th, join a field trip for a huge orange pick and BBQ. Take the Juice Fruit Express bus to Bakersfield for this all-day event, which includes, not only the bus ride, but also food, drinks and refreshments for the day. Click HERE for more info.

    Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free.
    Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless + Good Karma.
    Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @TheLAScene

    104. Shoot Arrows like Cupid for FREE

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    Ok, maybe not like Cupid, but try out archery for FREE.
    Every Saturday morning 9-11 AM, the Pasadena Roving Archers offer a beginning archery class. No reservations are required, but it's first come, first serve. Rise and shine to arrive early by 8:15 AM in order to get fitted for your bow and arrow. The first class (with safety and orientation) is free and then if you end up loving it, then you can sign up for their 6-week Basic Archery Instruction Program for a small donation of $5.

    Archery in the UK
    Originally uploaded by 365 Cheap Dates

    Learning something new with your partner can be a thrilling experience- even if you have absolutely no hands and eye coordination like moi. My man and I tried it when we were in the UK. However, I was not thrilled at first due to possible embarrassment that my arrow would go way off target into the big black hole called a forest. To my (and his) delight and surprise, I hit the bulls eye! Let's just say, bragging rights are priceless.

    If you are looking for a unique date idea, I'd say archery has got to be at the top of the list. Here's a better idea: make it a surprise date! Wake up early on Saturday, grab coffee and bagel on the way, and shoot arrows for 2 hours. What else would you be doing on a Saturday morning? Besides sleeping in like me... You may or may not hit the bulls eye, but you are bound to come away with some funny or crazy moments. Bring your camera!

    UPDATE 02/11/10: PRA wrote back to me with more info... Wear comfortable layered clothing (but fairly fitted on top, not loose) and closed-toe shoes (no flip flops). Plus bring sunscreen and bottled water. Allow enough time to find the place the first time, especially since parking and equipment run out quickly. Have fun!

    Approximate cost of creative date idea = FREE.
    Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
    Kiss & Tell Idea by @TiffanyRhodes

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010

    103. Ballroom Dance Lessons

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    Ballroom dancing can be a cheap yet classy date idea!
    Even if you have 2 left feet, come join the other brave folk on Wednesdays evenings (7-11 PM) through the Santa Monica Bay Woman's Club. The $10 admission (probably cash only) includes a quick dance lesson 7-7:40 PM, so make sure to show up on time! 40 Minutes may sound quick, but you have the rest of the night to practice your new moves. No partner is required, because you'll find plenty on the dance floor. Better yet, grab your partner and learn how to Tango together! Or how about Salsa, Swing, or Cha Cha? A new dance is featured every 1-3 weeks with lessons starting from the basics and building each week. By the way, you can go on any Wednesday night, but don't miss out on the 1st anniversary party on March 3rd (check website for details).
    ballroom dancing
    Originally uploaded by captain byrne

    Be prepared for 4 hours of fun: wear comfortable shoes, bring bottled water for yourself and your partner (light snacks are provided). $10 sounds quite reasonable for a 40-minute lesson immediately followed by 3 hours of putting it to good use. More importantly, there's plenty of room for 2 left feet here on the 3,000 square foot ballroom dance floor. With that much space, I'd assume that the air conditioning in here is sufficient. If you're already an expert, 10 bucks seems to be a pretty good deal for 4 hours of fun. As for parking, there are several parking lots in Santa Monica for a $3 flat rate after 6 PM (click HERE for parking map).

    Learning some dance moves could create a spark (for new couples) or re-ignite a flame (for old couples). This could be something fun to do as a group date too! If anything, at least this active date idea gets you off the couch. Heck, ask your significant other afterward for one-on-one dance sessions (just a tip for a follow-up date). The last time I did tango lessons, all the guys were sweating bullets, making it difficult for me to hang onto my partners. Despite that one not-so-positive detail, dance lessons are a great way to meet people, if that's something you want. No matter who your partner is, think of this cheap date idea as a self-improvement project. Ballroom dancing is a skill that's handy whether you're single or married.

    Approximate cost of creative date idea = $10 Per Person.
    Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
    Kiss & Tell Idea by @YoSantaMonica

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    102. Naked at the Museum Scavenger Hunts

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    This adults-only Valentine's activity is rated PG-13.
    ...Just in case you or your significant other are the bashful type. More importantly, no a priori knowledge about art or nudity is required to participate, but be prepared to tackle witty, tricky questions. Watson Adventure's sets up fun hunts such as this one at major cities across the US, including LA and San Fran within California. Check their website for times and locations.

    Originally uploaded by polaroid-girl

    Admission to the Getty is normally free, but tickets for the event are available online for advance purchase at $22 per person (no tickets at the door). If you have plans already on Valentine's Day, there are actually 3 scavenger hunts planned that weekend: Saturday, Feb 13th at 1:00 and 4:30 PM as well as Sunday, Feb 14th at 1:00 PM. Parking is $15 as normal at the Getty. Unfortunately, the 4:30 PM hunt just misses the free parking which starts at 5 PM on Saturdays. For those having fun at 1 PM, stick around to enjoy the spectacular view of the city from the garden area at sunset, always a Kodak Moment.

    The hunts are set up for teams of 2-6 people, so it's good for a date, double date or a group date. If you two go on your own, this is a good opportunity to meet other couples. For another cultural date idea, check out the other museum, Getty Villa in Malibu (see Cheap Date Idea #96). Or if you prefer for dates that are more active than cultural, check out the other V-Day scavenger hunt on bikes (Cheap Date Idea #94). Or if your V-Day weekend is already booked, other fun-theme hunts are on the calendar at LACMA, LA Zoo, Santa Monica and more locations in LA (see schedule online). Whichever scavenger hunt you two do, it's bound to be a classy and cultural day date! Have fun.

    UPDATE 02/14/10: There's a different themed scavenger hunt rotating through locations in LA almost every Saturday (see the schedule online through June 2010), typically costing $20pp.

    UPDATE 03/08/10: The next scavenger hunt is scheduled for this Saturday, March 13th, at LACMA. Click HERE to buy tickets or see the schedule for other upcoming hunts.

    UPDATE 04/05/10: The scavenger hunts for Saturdays in April are posted (click HERE): Santa Monica Pier on 4/10, The Getty Museum on 4/17 and Natural History Museum on 4/24.

    Approximate cost of creative date idea = $22 Per Person + $15 Parking.
    Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
    Kiss & Tell Idea by @watsoncavhunts

    Sunday, February 7, 2010

    101. $30 Date Night at The Grove

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    As we all know, dinner & movies are not really cheap dates.
    Well, The Grove is making it more affordable with this special deal, $30 Date Night on weeknights (Mon-Thurs). At $30 per person, you get a 3-course meal for two, movie passes for two, and complimentary valet parking for you (which means pick up your date and carpool).

    I Love Popcorn
    Originally uploaded by Daveblog

    Bring your appetite since a 3-course meal is from start to finish: an appetizer, a main entree, and a dessert. The menus are available online for the 7 participating restaurants, which include places such as The Cheesecake Factory and Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro.

    For a current listing of the movies showing at the Pacific Theatres at The Grove, click HERE. I personally recommend...

    Saturday, February 6, 2010

    100. Active Date Ideas on Valentine's Day

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    Looking for something active to do on Valentine's Day?
    Go on a FREE hike in Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Beach at 9 AM on 2/14 (or also go on the other Sundays, 2/7 and 2/27). Meet at the El Moro Visitor Center (PCH inland at stoplight School-State Park). Parking is not cheap though at $15. Make sure to bring enough water (and sun block) for the 3-5 miles. The schedule online is updated every month for new activities, including FREE tide pool tours (see Cheap Date Idea #44).

    If you prefer to stay in LA, how about a FREE yoga session at Lululemon in El Segundo. Make sure to get there early before it starts at 9:30 AM on Valentine's Day. ...Or make it an on-going date on almost every Sunday (2/7, 2/14, 2/21, check calendar online for updated schedule). Parking at the El Segundo Plaza is easy and free. I suggest bringing a bottle of water, a small towel, and your own yoga mat. Snacks are usually provided after the class, so you can socialize for a little bit afterward. If El Segundo is too far for you, check the website for a Lululemon near you for their calendar of events.

    Looking for other things to do on that Sunday? Click HERE for a growing list of cheap and free things to do on V-Day in Los Angeles and Orange County.

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

    99. 1/2 Off Cirque du Soleil Kooza

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    Wow, only $20-30 pp for Cirque du Soleil in California?!
    Cirque du Soleil is not the cheapest date idea, but it can be a cheap yet classy date when it's buy one get one (BOGO) free, especially when the performance comes to your neck of the woods. Consider it saying yourself two plane tickets to Las Vegas (even though I do think "O" Show at the Bellagio Hotel is worth doing at least once in your life).

    kooza contortion
    Originally uploaded by maimerd

    The regular admission price for the Irvine show is $60-100 per person depending on the seating level. At this moment, tickets as cheap as $30-32.50 pp are available online for Thursday 2/11 through Valentine's Day. There are typically two show times per day at 4 or 8 PM, except on that Sunday it's at 1 or 5 PM. Going to a performance on Valentine's Day for $32.50 each is not a bad deal in my opinion. Please note that there is a $8 convenience fee per person and a one-time $5 e-ticket fee, so the fees do add up. Parking at the OC Great Park for this event is $10 cash.

    While you're at the OC Great Park, take advantage of the other FREE things to do, including ice skating (see Cheap Date Idea #90) and helium balloon rides (see Cheap Date Idea #14).

    If you can't make it to the Irvine showing this month, Kooza moves down to San Diego next month. Right now, you can buy advance tickets online for weekdays between March 2-12 for as cheap as $20 pp!! If you can make the trek, then this can be quick getaway for a cheap date idea. Check back later on the website for updates about the parking situation at the Del Mar Fair Grounds in San Diego. By the way, I do believe that you have to buy your tickets for the March shows by Valentine's Day.

    UPDATE 03/10/10: Additional discounted tickets are available via Goldstar.com for almost every day during March 14-28.

    UPDATE 03/22/10: Discounted tickets are still available for the last weekend at the San Diego location, 3/25-28, as low as $27 per person.

    Approximate cost of creative date idea = $30 pp in Irvine or $20 pp in San Diego + $8 Convenience Fee pp + $5 E-ticket Fee + $10 Parking.
    Actual value of the cheap date idea = $151 Total.
    Kiss & Tell Idea by @SparkOC

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    98. FREE Hawaii at The Grove

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    Hawaii is not a cheap date, so let the island paradise come to you for FREE!
    The Grove is a cool hang out place anytime of the year, but even more so when this upscale shopping center is transformed into a tropical paradise on Saturdays throughout this month of February. Free activities and entertainment will be running Noon - 7 PM, such as listening to live Hawaiian music, learning how to hula dance, "making your very own flower lei, creating unique palm frond crafts, getting a temporary Hawaii-inspired tattoo, and sampling coffee and flavors of the islands".

    Old Lahaina Luau
    Originally uploaded by 365 Cheap Dates

    A different tropical island will be featured every Saturday. Click HERE for more info about specific activities and entertainment on each day.
    • Feb 6th - Kauai (Bonus Entertainment: Stay longer to enjoy the 80's music in the park 6-9 PM).
    • Feb 13th - Maui (photo on right is from my last night on vacation here).
    • Feb 20th - Big Island.
    • Feb 27th - Oahu.
    Hawaii can be a pricey vacation, so consider this a day trip or island-hopping. Admission is free to the public, while parking is also free for the first 2 hours with validation, then $3 thereafter.

    While you're there, don't miss out on the Kodak Moment in front of the mini-Bellagio-like "dancing" water feature (free hourly show). For more fun, take a free quick ride (6 minutes for 1/4 mile) on The Grove Trolley, which runs back and forth between The Grove and Farmer's Market. For lunch, the brazilian BBQ is my absolute favorite at the Farmer's Market. Pampas Grill is not the sit-down/all-you-can-eat type, so it's more affordable. This Farmer's Market is open every day, different from the local weekly farmer markets. All of this makes for a good day date. Enjoy!

    UPDATE 06/02/10: The Islands of Hawaii are back in LA!! Come enjoy Oahu and the Big Island on June 5-6th, while Kauai and Maui on June 19-20th. This time you will have two choices of paradise at either The Grove on June 5th and 19th at Noon - 6 PM or it's new sister location in Glendale, The Americana at Brand, on June 6th and 20th at 1 - 6 PM. Click HERE for event details. Aloha!

    Approximate cost of creative date idea = FREE + Validation for parking.
    Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
    Kiss & Tell Idea by @TheGroveLA & @SharingAloha

    Wednesday, February 3, 2010

    97. 100¢ Cocktail Night at The Edison

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    $1 Cocktails + FREE Burlesque Show = Cheap yet classy date!
    If you are going to be a "cheap date", then do it at The Edison in Downtown LA on Wed-Fri 5-7 PM. Cocktails normally cost at least 10 bucks each in LA, but during Happy Hour that's equivalent to a whopping 10 drinks at $1 each. Heck, you can afford to show off to your date by offering a free round to strangers at the bar. The best day to go is on Thursdays, so you can stick around to view the FREE burlesque show at 8:30-11:30 PM (2/4, 2/18, 3/4, etc.) or every other Thursday dance to the tunes of a DJ. The website does not quite say how long the "Centennial Celebration Cocktail Hour" lasts, but it's on the calendar through April 2010.

    I normally don't blog too much about Happy Hours for cheap date ideas, but The Edison is a classy spot to take a date. When I went with my girlfriends, we were surprised by a snake charmer who came out for a free performance, but I don't know how often that happens. Needless to say, I definitely want to go back again with my man. The ambiance here is incomparable with fancy and weird lighting decor (the place is named after the guy who invited light bulbs). If you call for reservations in advance, you can grab a bite to eat there too, but be forewarned that it's not cheap here ($25 minimum per person).

    This upscale lounge/restaurant (don't forget to dress to impress) is a cool place to go anytime of the year on Wednesdays-Saturdays, but it will be open for a special event on Sunday of Valentine's Day at 7 PM. On-line tickets are going for $20, which include admission that day as well as one free martini. Valet parking is always $9 unless you are lucky enough to find a street meter.

    UPDATE 03/30/10: The price has jumped from 35-cents to $1, but that's still not bad for a cheap date! Thanks @dateonadime for the update!

    UPDATE 05/13/10: Yay, the 100¢ cocktail happy hour and free burlesque show are on The Edison calendar through the month of July 2010.

    Approximate cost of creative date idea = 100¢ Drink + Tip + $9 Parking.
    Actual value of the cheap date idea = $40 Minimum.
    Kiss & Tell Idea by @RecessionistaLA

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    96. The Getty Villa in Malibu

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    Museums are always a classy idea, even when it's FREE!
    If you've enjoyed The Getty Center in Los Angeles (see Cheap Date Idea #32), then you have to check out The Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, near Malibu. Of if you simply appreciate architecture and gardens, then this spot is for you. The art is interesting, but I personally love just strolling around the estate weaving in and out of the fancy statues and fountains. The weather was perfect when we went as you can tell by the photo here.

    The Getty Villa is a great day date idea anytime throughout the year (including Valentine's Day, hint hint) since the museum is open daily 10 AM - 5 PM except Tuesdays. Admission is always free but reservations are required by internet or phone (click ). It's also a good group date idea, but you have to call in for your reservation if more than 15 people. Parking is not cheap ($15), so carpool if you can or take the Metro.

    Just like The Getty Center, various free tours are provided at the Getty Villa, so check the schedule online to plan your visit accordingly. I recommend going on the Architecture and Gardens Tour, but you can easily wander about on your own if you prefer. During the month of February at 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM (including Valentine's Day), The Villa is offering free Glass-Handling Sessions if glassmaking peaks your interest.

    While you are up in this part of town, make it a full day of fun and stop by Lake Shrine for free too (Cheap Date Idea #38).

    Approximate cost of creative date idea = FREE + $15 Parking.
    Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    95. FREE Laguna Beach Art Walk

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    Looking for something cultural and FREE to do in the OC?
    Head over to the Laguna Beach Art Walk on the first Thursday of every month 6-9 PM. This coming Feb 4th marks the 12th Anniversary of this ongoing event. For this particular Thursday, come an hour earlier at 5 PM for a reception at the Inn at Laguna Beach (see details on website). Check online for an updated schedule, a shuttle map and a complete list of participating galleries.

    If you finish up early but want to continue having fun, light up a bonfire nearby before the beach closes at 10 PM (see Cheap Date Idea #34).

    Approximate cost of creative date idea = FREE.
    Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
    Kiss & Tell Idea by @OCdeals

    List: Date Ideas for January

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    Outline of creative date ideas posted this past month...