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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

145. FREE Long Beach Harbor Cruise

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Free harbor cruise = Classy day date idea!
Enjoy a free 90-minute cruise around Long Beach Harbor in May to September. Free online reservations may be made one month in advance starting on the first work day at 8 AM. For example, tickets for the May cruises will be available on April 1st. Even though I lived in LB, I've never heard about this until now. The Port of Long Beach offers these free harbor tours every year!

Long Beach
Originally uploaded by KM&G-Morris

Parking is conveniently located at Dock 9 at Shoreline Village in Downtown Long Beach. The first 2 hours of parking is validated for $1 with every additional 20 minutes at $2. When you get back to shore, hang out at the Shoreline Village for drinks and apps. Parker's Lighthouse restaurant has an awesome view, very romantic but it's not a cheap date. The Yard House is always a hot spot, especially for happy hour, but reservations are highly recommended.

For more fun on a boat, check out these other date ideas:
UPDATE 04/01/10: Tickets for Saturday, May 1st, at 10 AM are already sold out, but you can sign up for stand by online. The capacity is 110-120 per boat. Tuesdays at 2 PM on 5/11 and 5/25 are open. The website says there is a limit of 6 tickets per tour, but only 5 tickets may be selected per reservation online (you can also call 562-590-4121). Click HERE to get your free tickets.

UPDATE 04/22/10: A new cruise date has been added to the schedule for Wednesday, May 19th. Click HERE to get your free tickets NOW.

UPDATE 04/27/10: Cruise tickets become available on the first work day of the month. For June, that will be Monday, May 3rd, at 8 AM sharp! Also, only one group reservation may be made by an individual each year, meaning you can only go once per year. That is unless, your date signs up for it next time and drags you!

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free + $1 Parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $46 Total (when compared to other cruises).
Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @EverythingLB

144. Free South Park Screenings - 4/3

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Watch South Park on a big screen for FREE with friends!
If you've got a crazy sense of humor or simply enjoy "free" things to do, then don't miss the FREE screenings of the South Park (yes, the cartoon) at the Going Green Film Festival on Saturday night 4/3. The festival runs all Easter weekend, April 2-4, at WGA Theatre in Beverly Hills in case you want buy tickets online to partake in the rest of the activities. For the free screenings of South Park, click HERE to reserve your tickets online.

By the way, this is a great idea for a group date, so get free tickets for your friends too. This is absolutely free, no processing fee. Laugh together while watching back-to-back episodes of South Park on a 33-inch x 16'inch full-size screen with 540 other folks. Sure you can be a couch potato and watch this at home, but then it wouldn't be a cheap date idea, would it?

The show time is 8:45-10 PM but get there early since it's first come, first serve on the seats. Make sure to carpool, not only to be environmentally friendly, but also to save money on parking: $3-5 at the parking garages. Some street parking is available around Writers Guild Theatre.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free + $3-5 Parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @TheLAScene

Monday, March 29, 2010

143. Mad Hatter Tea Party

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It's like being Alice in Wonderland at The London WeHo!
What a wonderful idea! Mad Hatter Tea Party is such a classy yet fun date idea in the Boxwood Cafe at The London Hotel in West Hollywood. Due to overwhelming popularity, this special menu will be extended through the month of April. Enjoy scrumptious desserts and tea (see photo on right by @TheLondonWeho) at 3-5 PM daily (yes, even on weekends!).

On weekdays, stay for the "After Five" Happy Hour at 5-7 PM. Enjoy $5 champagne or sake, $5 bites and even $5 valet parking with validation. This is a great deal especially for a high-class hotel lounge in West Hollywood. The Mad Hatter Tea Party and the After Five Happy Hour make for good group date ideas too!

I've been to The London Hotel for a friend's birthday and a networking event, but definitely want to come back for the Mad Hatter Tea Party. I wonder if people dress up like in the movie... My fiance and I were Mad Hatter and Alice for last Halloween (see our photo), hmm...

UPDATE 03/31/10: Just found out the cost is $28 per person. Not quite cheap, but it is a unique experience. Call 310.358.7788 for reservations.

UPDATE 05/31/10: There's a new Happy Hour at The London, see Cheap Date Idea #187.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $5 Valet Parking + Food & Drink.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @TheLAScene & @TheLondonWeho

124. Anza-Borrego Wild Flowers Photos

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As requested, I finally uploaded my photos from Cheap Date Idea #124: Hiking in Anza-Borrego for wild flowers (see slideshow below). Actually, it was a FREE date idea (besides the cost of gas to get there). Click HERE for more info. The wild flowers are expected to bloom until April 12th. If you miss it or simply love flowers, check out The Flower Fields on Cheap Date Idea #117. These are great day date ideas, especially if you love hiking or photography. Joshua Tree is also a good date spot. I'll have to find and upload my photos from last Spring (future date idea!).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

142. Horseback Riding Tours $12.50

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This is an easy & romantic way to explore Griffith Park.
Sunset Ranch Hollywood can take you and your partner all around Griffith Park to enjoy scenic views of the LA basin, the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island. These guided tours are normally $25 for 1 hour or $40 for 2 hours. The ranch is open daily 9 AM - 2:30 PM but the best deal is on Tuesdays, breaking down to only $12.50 per person for 1 hour with BOGO coupon (print HERE). All day rides are first come, first serve.

Cowboy at Sunset
Originally uploaded by Wrayne

For something more special, the 2-hour Sunset Ride is $60 (reservation only). For another $25, enjoy the Sunset Ranch BBQ event on April 17th. This is not quite the cheapest date idea, but it's not bad for a romantic evening of 2 hours of horseback riding, music, food and fun. This could be a good group date idea too, especially for a birthday.

Afterward, continue the fun by hiking through Griffith Park (Cheap Date Idea #78) or star-gazaing at the Griffith Observatory (Cheap Date Idea #4).

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $12.50 Per Person.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $50 Total.
Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @SoCalCoupons

Friday, March 26, 2010

List: FREE Date Ideas in LA & OC

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Ok, there is no free beer (this time), but there is free wine tasting and so much more this weekend!

So many FREE things to do tonight 3/25:
AND more free things 2 do tomorrow 3/26:
What else can you ask for?

141. Free Wine Tasting in Malibu - 3/27

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A wine tasting + live music = cheap yet classy date!
Malibu Family Wines is hosting a release party at Saddle Rock tomorrow, Saturday, March 27th 3-6 PM. Enjoy complimentary wine tasting of the newly released wine as well as live music. This event is completely free, but reservations are required. Click HERE for more info.

Originally uploaded by MalibuFamilyWines

When you are done tasting, double the fun and head to Malibu Creek for a FREE sunset concert (see Cheap Date Idea #134). Bring a picnic or pick up take out on the way there. Or click HERE for other cheap date ideas in the Malibu area. Malibu is just a nice quick and easy getaway spot in LA without the cost of a plane ticket. Have a great weekend whatever you do!

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

140. Last Friday on Main Street, Santa Monica

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Santa Monica is a cool place every day, especially on the LAST Friday.
The City of Santa Monica started a new tradition this year, Main Street Last Fridays. On that one day of every month, shops and restaurants/bars on Main Street stay open later than normal and hold special events. Here's a highlight: @TrunkShowLA will be offering complimentary cocktails while a DJ is spinning PLUS 10% off the entire store on 3/26 at 6-9 PM. If that's not enticing enough, click HERE for a complete listing of participating venues and special discounts.

While you're in the neighborhood, come earlier and check out the pier on Cheap Date Idea #84. Or double the fun and head to FREE Friday Night Skate Night in Santa Monica (see Cheap Date Idea #91).

As for parking, FREE bike valet is being offered at this event. Some merchants are offering extra special discounts for the environmentally-conscious bikers too! Otherwise, there are plenty of parking lots in the area with a flat rate of $3 after 6 PM. If you miss it tomorrow (sorry for the late notice), but luckily you can mark your calendar for next month. TGILF.

UPDATE 03/26/10: For more info about the free cocktail party today at the LA Trunk Show, click HERE for their Facebook event page.

UPDATE 04/27/10: LA Trunk Show will have complimentary drinks and a DJ again this Friday, April 30th, at 7-10 PM. There will be a food truck too! I won't be able to make it this time, so take pics for me!

UPDATE 04/28/10: Per @SMMainStreet: World Cafe's Happy Hour runs 11:30 AM - 7 PM, plus live music all night long.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free + $3 Parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @TheLAScene & @TrunkShowLA

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

139. FREE Movie Screening: Date Night - 3/26

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Watching movies is a typical date night idea, but it's a good one when FREE.
Now here's a cheap date night idea: Watch the upcoming new movie, Date Night, for FREE! As of this moment, the show time on Saturday night is already sold out, but there is still some availability on Friday night at 6:30 PM at The Landmark in West LA. Click HERE to get your 2 free passes before it's gone. Otherwise, mark your calendar for the release date of April 9th.

User registration is required to get the free movie passes - it's quick and easy, I promise. In order for me to get this out to my fellow cheap dates (you!), I'm keeping this short and sweet. Now I just need to find myself a "cheap date", since my man won't be back in time. That's too bad because he loves Steve Carell from The Office.

UPDATE 03/24/10: As of this moment, this event is now sold out. Parking is free but click HERE for directions and more info about The Landmark.

UPDATE 03/26/10: A few more free passes have been released for tonight's showing, get yours now by clicking HERE.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = FREE.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $22 Total.
Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @LAscreenings

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

138. Irvine Park Railroad Easter Eggstravaganza

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Train rides, paddle boats and tandem bikes, oh my!
Both kids and adults can jump on the train at the Irvine Park Railroad every day of the week starting at 10 AM until 5 PM on weekends and 4 PM on weekdays. Train tickets are normally $4 per person, but click HERE to print a buy-one-get-one (BOGO) coupon. Bring a date and enjoy the 12-minute train ride through the Irvine Regional Park. Other fun things to do here year round are:
  • Paddle boats for $12/hour
  • Tandem bikes for $15/hour
  • Horse rentals for $40/hour
  • Orange County Zoo for $2 per person
  • Free walking/hiking (7 trails, 1-4 miles each, see wild flowers too)
For this season, you can also enjoy the Easter Eggstravaganza, open daily until April 3rd because it's closed on Easter Sunday. Admission is free but the family-friendly activities are $4 each, which include an Easter egg hunt (kids only), moon bounce, hay ride, cookie decorating (and eating), and carnival games. Bring a camera to take a silly photo at the free picture stands.

Parking is $3 on weekdays and $5 on weekends. Click HERE for  and more info. Check the website for other fun activities throughout the year.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $4 Train ticket w/BOGO coupon + $3-5 Parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $13 Total.

Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @DealsDiva and @AAASoCalNews

137. Holy F*ck FREE Comedy

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No joke, it's 100% free to laugh here, no 2-drink minimum either.
Come enjoy 2 hours of free laughter tonight at the Downtown Independent in Downtown LA. If you miss it, Holy F*ck is there every other Tuesday at 8-10 PM. Come early and enjoy a drink beforehand (optional). Beer and wine are $4-6 each. I haven't been here yet, but it is on my list of cheap date ideas to do! But seriously, it's free! Comedy shows are also a great idea for a group date, especially when it's free.

Street parking is free and easy after 6 PM on Tuesdays. For the line up and more info, click HERE. For directions and venue info, click HERE. If you love cheap laughs, then you should also check out: Cheap Date Idea #114 at UCB Theatre or Cheap Date Idea #92 at Universal CityWalk.

UPDATE 04/05/10: Tomorrow's free comedy show is 9-11 PM on April 6th.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = 100% Free.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @LAhappenings

Monday, March 22, 2010

136. FREE Movie: Hot Tub Time Machine

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Free movies = great group date idea!
Get your 2 free tickets for the advance movie screening of Hot Tub Time Machine. Based on reviews, this comedy is worth watching for free.

As of this moment, tickets are still available for various locations across the US, including:
  • Tues 3/23 in San Diego
  • Wed 3/24 in San Diego and Burbank
  • Thurs 3/25 in Orange
Click HERE to register and print your 2 tickets. A special request can be made for groups of 10, so make it a group movie date night! New advance screenings always become available across the US, so check the website for one near you. Hurry and get your free tickets now!

UPDATE 03/23/10: The 3/25 showing in Orange is sold out BUT tickets are still available for TOMORROW in Burbank.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $21 Total.
Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @FreeIsMyLife

135. Ben & Jerry's FREE Ice Cream Cone Day - 3/23

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I scream, you scream, we all scream for FREE ice cream!
Tomorrow is Tuesday, March 23rd, which means Free Ice Cream Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's. Click HERE to find a B&J ice cream shop near you (this is not limited to LA or OC). No coupon is required. Just walk in anytime between Noon-8 PM for a tasty treat. Every year, Ben and Jerry celebrate their birthday on 3/23, so mark your calendar for next year. Or simply become a FaceBook Fan to get a future automatic reminder/invitation.

Ice Cream Kiss
Originally uploaded by neverbeengroovy

I don't know if 3/23 is freebie day, but you can also grab a free pastry with a paid drink (coffee or tea) at Starbucks before 10:30 AM or while supplies last. Click HERE to download and print the coupon.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $6.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

134. FREE Acoustic Concert, Malibu Creek - 3/27

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Free concert with sunset and starlight = Romantic cheap date!
On Saturday, March 27th, 5:30-8:30 PM, enjoy free acoustic performances by several artists, including Natalie Nicole Gilbert, at Malibu Creek State Park. The outdoor stage will be opened up to the crowd where you are invited to bring an instrument and share a song. To hear music samples, RSVP, and get more info, check out the Facebook event page. Reservations are not required but appreciated. Feel free to invite friends and make it a group date!
Originally uploaded
by Natalie Nicole Gilbert

Malibu Creek State Park is located in the Santa Monica Mountains. The address for the park's main gate is 1925 Las Virgenes Road, Calabasas, CA 91302. Parking next to the site is $12, or find free parking on Mulholland Drive if you don't mind a 3/4 mile walk.

This spot is great for a day date too! We actually have been here before because I recognized the M*A*S*H site. Yup, this is the film set for the old TV show series, MASH. We plan on going again for more hiking and outdoor rock climbing before the concert. Next time I also want to check out the rest of the park, including Century Lake. For hiking trail maps, camping and other info, click HERE.

Wooden benches surround the outdoor stage and a bonfire will be lit. For your comfort, picnic blankets and lanterns or flashlights would be nice. Based on a 10-day forecast, sunshine is expected with a high of 75, but after sunset at 7:11 PM, the temperature will drop to a low of 47, so bundle up. There will be a break if you want to mix and mingle or break out a picnic for dinner. No alcohol is permitted, but coffee, hot cocoa and tea will be provided. The concert will rap up by 8:30 PM, so that leaves time to continue the fun!

UPDATE 03/24/10: Click HERE for Google Map for easy directions. Thanks, @remywriter!

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

Thursday, March 18, 2010

133. FREE Wine Tasting Tweetup

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You are cordially invited to the Napa Valley Vintners Tweetup Tasting in Los Angeles on this Sunday, March 21, 2010, 6:30 - 8:30 PM, at BottleRock in Culver City. This event is completely free but advance online reservations are required requested (click HERE). Not only will wine tastings be provided for free, but also appetizers, so arriving early, or at least on time, is probably a good idea. Although this is a networking event per se, why not bring a date (optional) and enjoy it together!

6 years of Merlot
Originally uploaded by .craig

I personally have not attended one of their events, but their first event was in Napa last Friday, 3/12. According to their Facebook page, Napa Valley Meetup was founded on 01.01.10. After doing a quick search on Twitter, there is some chatter about the event, so people do attend and tweet about it. I actually heard about this through a tweet yesterday, but can't call recall who tweeted it. I tried searching the tweet, to no avail. Feel free to retweet this and share this cheap date idea!

UPDATE 03/19/10: I received an email update about the event: Reservations are requested, meaning that you can show up at the door and sign in (or save time by registering now online to print out your ticket). They request that everyone use #TasteNapa when tweeting about the event. Not sure if I am going to make it yet, but I am sure it will be fun. This may not be the most romantic date, but heck it's free wine AND apps!
Event: Napa Valley Vintners TweetUp Tasting - Los Angeles
Date: Sunday, March 21, 2010 from 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM (PT)
LocationBottleRock 3847 Main Street Culver City, CA 90232-2619

UPDATE 09/13/10: Napa Vinters is back! Come join for a free TweetUp Tasting next Tuesdays on Sept 21st at 6-8 pm at Bottle Rock in Downtown LA. Online RSVP is highly encourage and super easy (click HERE).

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

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

132. Cheap Movie Date Night = $10 Total

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Wow, movies CAN be a really cheap date idea!
And I'm not talking about DVD movies either! Watching movies are not usually a cheap date idea anymore.... Except a few special secret spots offer movie tickets at ONLY $2-3 per person ($5 for 3D). Boy, I don't remember movies being this cheap even when I was a kid! So you might say, "Sure, the movie tickets might be cheap, but the food and drink add up to a pretty penny." Well, how about 10 bucks total for a Movie Date Night? Yes, only $10 for 2 movie tickets, 2 popcorns AND 2 sodas. That's one for each of you, no sharing required, even though it's more romantic that way in my opinion.

Here is a list of the special secret spots for cheap movie theatres:
(1) 4 Star Cinemas in Garden Grove
  • $3 every Tuesday and Thursday all day 11 AM - 9 PM
  • $5 for 3D, only 2 bucks more on Tuesdays and Thursdays
(2) Regency Theatres every day at multiple locations
  • $3 EVERY day ANYTIME in Huntington Beach or Ventura
  • $2 before 6 PM at the Pasadena location (even on weekends, AKA matinee)
  • $3 after 6 PM in Pasadena
  • $10 Total for the Movie Date Night Special on Wednesday nights only after 6 PM in Pasadena or Ventura
  • Click HERE to find a Regency Theatre near you
In order to be more affordable, the films typically have been out for awhile in theatre. But now you can watch The Hurt Locker, award winner of 6 Academy Awards, and don't have to wait for it on DVD. I personally recommend Sherlock Holmes and It's Complicated playing at Regency Theatres. I might have to drag my man to see Alice in Wonderland in 3D (which is still a fairly new release) for only $5 at 4 Star Cinemas. I don't think anything can beat this deal besides a free movie like Cheap Date Idea #125. Enjoy!

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $3 pp or $10 Total for the Movie Date Night Special.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $16-40 Total.
Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @OCDeals & @mamimaria

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

131. Saturday Nights at The Getty

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The Getty + FREE concert = Classy date idea!
The Saturday Nights at The Getty is happening again on April 17th. The free concert starts at 7:30 PM, just in time for the sunset (7:27 PM to be exact). ...So why not come a bit early, wander the art exhibits and then enjoy from the gardens overlooking Downtown LA? That's Cheap Date Idea #32! Parking is normally $15 but it's free after 5 PM every Saturday. Refreshments are available for sale at the concert. If my memory serves me right, a glass of wine was $7 each. Click HERE for a music sample of the band, Michachu and the Shapes. I don't personally go for the music itself, but it's just something to do and great for a group date. This could be a first date idea too.

Dancing 퀸
Originally uploaded by wukaiyuan

Admission is free, but advance reservations are required. You can make reservations online or by phone starting Tuesday, March 23rd at 9 AM (I'll send out a reminder, but mark your calendar now if you want to go). These events happen about once per month during spring and summer and always sell out in advance. Feel free to check the calendar online for upcoming events. If you love The Getty Museum, check out The Getty Villa in Malibu (Cheap Date Idea #96).

UPDATE 03/24/10: Sorry, this event is already sold out as of yesterday.

UPDATE 05/23/10: There's a line up of free concerts starting May 2010 (I shall blog about it soon). Even when there is no free concert, Saturday evenings are the best time to go to the Getty because parking is free after 5 PM and it's awesome view of the city at sunset from the gardens area.

UPDATE 07/08/10: Saturdays off the 405 (AKA free outdoor concerts) are back! Enjoy it on Saturdays now through August. Check out the schedule online. Free admission, no reservations required, but make sure to come early because it gets full!

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

130. FREE St. Patrick's Day Festival - 3/17

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Tomorrow is the only day of the year it's ok to drink green beer!
The weather will be beautiful tomorrow to hang out outdoors for the FREE St. Patrick's Festival inside Nokia Plaza at LA Live in Downtown LA. If you are lucky to not work, come check out the free live music between 11 AM - 3 PM. All the bands will be "irish-inspired" to help set the jolly mood on St. Patrick's Day. If you have never been to LA Live, it's a cool place to hang out and people watch.

Stay into the evening or simply pop in after work to watch a free boxing match (7-10 PM). Enjoy more green beer at the beer garden. For maps, parking and more info, click HERE. For something bigger to do, check out the shamROCK Block Party in San Diego tomorrow (see Cheap Date Idea #118). Or simply stay at home and put green food dye into your own beer. Be safe and have fun whatever you do!

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

Monday, March 15, 2010

129. Hollywood Bowl Summer Concerts

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Outdoor concert + picnic = Good combo for a classy date idea.
Even if you don't love classical music, the Hollywood Bowl is always fun to do during the summertime. The last two times I went to the Hollywood Bowl, it was for a rendition of Looney Tunes in 2006 with my now-fiance (the symphony played lived with cartoon snippets of Bugs Bunny and the singing frog, see my photo below) and Star Wars (yes, Star Wars!) in 2008 with friends (but my fiance would have loved this). I guess it's that time to go again since it's 2010. This date idea is fun to do more than once every two years though; the dates are coincidental. The Hollywood Bowl is perfect for a one-on-one romantic date as well as a fun group date idea.

The Hollywood Bowl is open all year long, but the first lineup for the summer is the Playboy Jazz Festival on June 12-13th at 2 or 2:30 PM. The cheapest tickets are $20 per person with a convenience fee of $7 per person. This is not the cheapest date idea yet, but stay tuned for discounts through the venue itself and Goldstar. Supposedly tickets can be as cheap as $1, probably for bench seats last minute on weeknights. Fourth of July weekend is a good time to go too if you love fireworks. Bugs Bunny is coming back in mid-July! It's not all Beethoven and Mozart, the concerts include music from Beetles, Sting, Abba, Dave Matthew and more.

Doors open as early as 4 hours prior to the show, so pack a picnic- wine and cheese, nothing fancy unless you want to splurge. I love pouring myself a glass of bubbly when the symphony starts playing! Parking is limited at the Bowl. I've done it both ways: on-site parking and public transportation. On-site parking is ok if you get there early, so that you don't get blocked in. However, nothing beats public transportation being easier and cheaper, only $5 for a pre-paid round trip unless you carpool with a group. Check the website for pick up locations near you.

UPDATE 05/21/10: Get discounted tickets for Sunday, June 13th, via Goldstar.com: $16.25 + $6.50 = $22.75 Total per person.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $22.75 pp + $5 Transportation.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $67 Total.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

128. Escondido Waterfalls

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Hikes are ok, but waterfall hikes are awesome!
Hiking in California is a day date idea good for anytime, but the best time for hiking with waterfalls is during springtime or "rainy" season. As you can see in the photo on the right here, the Escondido Waterfalls were quite amazing last month. I'm not fond of rain but it does provide 2 good things: waterfalls and rainbows. Unfortunately (depending on how you see it), no rain is expected in the next 10 days in the Malibu area.
the top fall
Originally uploaded by Gabriel Gets

According to Yelp reviewers, this is a 4.2-mile hike round trip at easy-moderate difficulty with half of the trail covered in concrete. That is unless of course you are the adventurous type and want to scramble to the top of the falls. The trail head starts 1 mile from the parking lot and then go left at the first split. Also, don't stop at the first waterfall (50-feet lower fall), because the 150-feet upper waterfall (biggest one of Santa Monica Mountains) is up ahead. Plan to spend at least 2 hours or more here, but I'd make it at least a half-day trip.

I think I have been here a long time ago (there are a few in Santa Monica Mountains), but it was during summertime, so I need to go back again for the waterfalls (hint hint to my man if he is reading my blog). I was originally going to blog about a fellow Tweeter's suggestion, Millard Canyon Falls, but learned that it was closed down until the Fall 2010 due to mudslide damage (future date idea!). I did discover an interesting website that is all about waterfalls, World of Waterfalls. This site covers different parts around the world and even has a section dedicated to Southern California AND a personalized Google Map for local waterfalls (click HERE). If Escondido Falls is not within reach, check out that site for other hiking spots near you.

For maps and reviews of Escondido Falls, here is a list of resources at your fingertips:
As with all outdoorsy date ideas, make sure to bring sunblock, bottled water, sunglasses, a hat and a camera (that's optional, but how can you not at this panoramic spot?). Obviously, proper shoes would be smart for crossing the creek a few times and trekking through muddy trails during rainy season and. Packing a picnic would be a romantic yet practical thing to do for this date idea. Have fun!

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

Friday, March 12, 2010

127. Grunion Run 2010

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This is something worth doing at least once...
The grunion are back to spawn on our California beaches again, like they do every March - August (closed season is April and May). These silvery fish are up for grabs in 2-hour windows around 11 PM - 1 AM on designated days. If you have never done this before, it's worth checking out at least once. When I was a teenager, we went and caught them for dinner in San Diego. It's not my cup of tea, but I can say that I've been there, done that.

Originally uploaded by
Birch Aquarium at Scripps

For a learning experience, come out earlier at 8 PM at the (almost) semi-monthly events at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium on: 3/17, 3/31, 4/30, 5/15, 5/28, 6/14, 6/28, 7/13, and 7/27. Click HERE for the schedule and more info, including some videos showing the laying and hatching of the eggs. CMA does charge $5 per person or you can hit one of the beaches on your own for free, but Cabrillo Beach is supposed to be a good spot.

Watching this spectacular act of nature is free, but technically anyone over 16 years needs a fishing license if you "fish" with bare hands and take your catch home. Since it's still nippy out, make sure to bundle up and bring a flashlight and a camera. Waterproof shoes or boots would be good too. For more aqua adventures, check out the free tide pool tours (click HERE) or go on Cheap Date Idea #6. If San Pedro is too far from you, the grunion are running up and down the coast, so check it out a beach near you.

UPDATE 03/30/10: RSVP is not required, but you can on Cabrillo Aquarium's Facebook page for tomorrow's event 3/31 8-11 PM, click HERE.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $5 pp at CMA but FREE otherwise.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

126. FREE Beehive Festival - 3/13-14

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Playing laser tag at a charity event can be a fun date idea!
The Beehive Expo and Fair is a 2-day charity event this weekend at the OC Great Park in Irvine. No, there will be no bees there, as far as I understand (the beehive represents family, I believe). The fun starts at 10 AM each day, ending by 7 PM on Saturday 3/13 and 5 PM on Sunday 3/14. This family-friendly festival will be full of free activities and live entertainment, including carnival rides, laser tag, arts & crafts and expo booths by 200+ vendors. Click HERE for a list of vendors and more info.

Originally uploaded by visit my site 

majedphotos.com V2

General admission is FREE with 2 cans of non-perishable food (or $5). Sounds like a good excuse to do some "spring cleaning" of your kitchen pantry, no? All donations go to the Second Harvest Food Bank. Although normally free, parking at the OC Great Park is $10 for this special event. Click HERE for map and directions.

While you're down at the park, enjoy a free helium balloon air ride too (see Cheap Date Idea #11).

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free Admission w/2 cans per person + $10 Parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @dippindotwoman

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

125. Alice in Wonderland for FREE

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A movie date CAN be a cheap date idea!
You are cordially invited to a FREE film screening of the new Alice in Wonderland in 3D for this weekend, courtesy of Walden University. The passes are good for the first show time at 11 AM either on Saturday 3/13 or Sunday 3/14 at LA Live in Downtown LA. You must RSVP either by phone 310.733.6072 (correct) or by email to maya.gaddie@waldenu.edu. Include your name, phone number, first and last name of your guests, and then wait for your confirmation via email and phone. For more info, click HERE.

Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Originally uploaded by Lillipops_

Tickets for 3D matinee are regularly $13 per person! Since it is first come, first serve on the seating as always, come early. Without movie ticket validation, parking is $5 for the first two hours and then another $5 for every half hour thereafter. FREE movies are a great group date idea too, so pass this onto your friends (re-tweet or email)!

UPDATE 03/12/10: As of yesterday, I learned that the tickets are all taken. No additional tickets can be purchased for the 11 AM showing in case you wanted to bring extra friends. However, there is a wait list. I'm not able to go, but I was able to transfer my tickets to a fellow Tweeter. There is a high chance that people on the wait list will be able to go. Good luck.

UPDATE 03/16/10: If you missed the free movie last weekend, the next best cheap date idea is to see it for ONLY for $5 right now on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4 Star Cinemas in Garden Grove! Yes, ONLY $5 in 3D! Click HERE for more info about this deal by @OCDeals. If you have already seen Alice, check out the other movies available at $3 on Tuesdays and Thursdays (click HERE).

Approximate cost of creative date idea = FREE Admission + $5 Parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $31 Total.
Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @TheLAScene and @Downtown_LA

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

124. Anza-Borrego Wild Flowers

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The flowers are here, the flowers are here!
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a nice day trip, less than 3 hours away from LA/OC. The blooming season for the wild flowers is short, so make sure to go before the end of March (UPDATE: blooming expected til at least April 12th). Take advantage of the great weather and go on a hike too. When we go on our "cheap date", I want to go on the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail, which leads to a waterfall and the 3rd largest palm oasis in California. If you want to stay longer, camping is available. Click HERE for directions and more info.

Since the park is open from dawn til dusk, leave early in the morning to beat LA traffic and enjoy the flowers all day. The visitor center is open 9 AM - 5 PM every day through the end of March. As with all outdoors activities, bring plenty of bottled water, a hat, sunscreen, sunblock and a camera. For a day trip, pack a picnic or pick up something to eat on the way, because there's not much available at the desert.

If you miss Anza-Borrego in March or simply adore flowers, check out the Flower Fields in Carlsbad (see Cheap Date Idea #117), which is open through May. For more ideas on spring trips, check out Sunset Magazine's list online.

UPDATE 03/22/10: Not only is admission FREE, parking is FREE too! I just went to Anza-Borrego last weekend on Saturday 3/20. The wild flowers should be blooming for at least 2 more weeks. It took exactly 3 hours with no traffic when we left at 9 AM from Huntington Beach. I found out that this is the only State Park where you can camp anywhere you want without a permit or reservation (but if you want running water, this is not for you). This is a really cheap date idea! Although the visitor center may close at 5 PM, you should stay past 7 PM in order to enjoy the sunset with a 360-degree panoramic view at Fonts Point. Parking was a bear at noon, but just drop off a friend to pick up a flower map while you do a loop around the parking lot. If you've got a 4WD vehicle, take it so that you drive into hard-to-reach areas, thus avoiding the crowds. I'll post my photos from our trip soon.

UPDATE 03/29/10:  Click HERE to check out my photo slideshow from our trip to Anza-Borrego. The wild flowers are expected to bloom until April 12th, so go before it's too late!

Approximate cost of creative date idea = FREE Admission + FREE Parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @snellsrv & @AAASoCalNews

Monday, March 8, 2010

123. DIY Homemade Treats

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Attention, dog lovers or the Martha Stewarts with a soft spot for animals!
Here's a DIY date idea... Make homemade doggie treats! As a date, go the grocery store together, pick up the necessary ingredients and then work your magic in the kitchen. That is unless, your kitchen pantry is already stocked. Per @IslandDogGear's suggestion, try out one of the many FREE recipes online (click HERE).

Even if you don't have a "man's best friend", you two can bake some and take it to a local dog shelter. Or better yet, volunteer at Karma Rescue's pet adoption events (see Cheap Date Idea #53 for more info). The next events are scheduled for March 20th and 27th. I'm sure you two will make some new best friends with these homemade treats.

However, if you want to bake something for human consumption, try out Cheap Date Idea #112: Williams-Sonoma offers FREE Technique Classes. The next few are part of a baking series, where cookies are the next one on Sunday morning of March 14th. No matter what you do, be creative and have fun with your partner!

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Minimal for baking ingredients.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless + Good Karma.
Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @IslandDogGear

Sunday, March 7, 2010

122. Kayak though Naples Canals

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You don't have to go to Venice to enjoy a romantic day date on the water.
Enjoy a romantic excursion around Naples Canals, a hidden gem in the City of Long Beach. At Kayaks on the Water, the rentals are $8 per person for either a single or a double kayak.  If you are a newbie or simply want to be romantic, take a double kayak. Or make it a group date and race with friends on single kayaks. I've done it both ways and prefer a double so that I can "share" the work of paddling, if you know what I mean.

With weather permitting, Kayaks on the Water is usually open every day at 9 AM until 1 hour before sunset in April-September and then only on weekends for the rest of the year. The rental is 1 hour minimum and then prorated thereafter, so go at your own pace and simply row yourself back whenever. In my opinion, 1-2 hours is plenty of time unless you take time to admire all the waterfront homes and stop off at one of the 6 allowed spots for restaurants, Starbucks, Jamba Juice and even an ATM. Tip: Pack a small picnic with bottles of water.

Kayaking is a fairly easy to moderate outdoor activity within the harbor here (except when it's a bit windy). Note: This is NOT ocean kayaking, so you don't have to worry about waves and besides these kayaks are too hard to flip over anyway. There is one rule: you have to know how to swim even though everyone is required to wear a life vest. Recommended attire is anything you don't mind getting a little wet in: a swimsuit, board shorts and flip flops/water shoes. Some other helpful items would be a waterproof camera, sunglasses, sunblock, a hat, a ziplock bag for your keys and valuables, a towel, and dry clothes for changing afterward. Metered parking is limited to 2 hours, so come earlier to find free street parking in the neighborhood.

When we went kayaking years ago, there was a nice little surprise on our aqua-adventure: Jellyfish! In a special cove area, those amazing creatures floated right up next to our kayak (just like in the photo on the right here). According to Kayaks on the Water, you can touch these seasonal "moon-jellies" because they do not sting. Heck you don't need to go to an aquarium for sea life: see jellyfish in Long Beach, then go whale watching in Dana Point (see Cheap Date Idea #120). If you enjoy the Naples Canals, check out the ones in Venice on Cheap Date Idea #47. For the land lovers who prefer to stay dry, Meetup offers many outdoor activities, such as free group hikes on Cheap Date Idea #78, or check out FREE Shark Lagoon Nights on Cheap Date Idea #15.

UPDATE 05/14/10: A fellow cheap date "kiss & told" me that they enjoyed Cheap Date Idea #122 on Wednesday, click HERE to see JDB's blog post with photos.

UPDATE 05/21/10: For the folks in Orange County, free kayaking demos are available once per month on Saturday mornings in Newport Beach, click HERE for details.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $10 per person.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $30-32 Total.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

121. Persian Festival of Norouz - 3/7

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It's officially Spring Season tomorrow!
To celebrate this special moment of vernal equinox, join in the Persian Festival of Nrouz on Sunday, March 7th, at The Bowers Musuem in Santa Ana. Museum hours are 10 AM - 4 PM daily except for Mondays and a few holidays. For this particular festival, the celebration will be held Noon - 3:30 PM. Spend your Sunday afternoon immersing in Persian culture, including traditional Persian dance, music, food, art, face painting, etc. General admission is normally $12 per person but it's completely free tomorrow. The event is family friendly and a casual day date idea for a group.

2009 Iranian Festival
Originally uploaded by matunos

If you can't make it this Sunday, come back on the first Sunday of every month in 2010 for FREE admission courtesy of Target. The festival theme changes every month. Here's a quick list for the rest of this year, but check the website for details about each event.
  • April 11 Silk Road Festival
  • May 2 Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival
  • June 6 Pacific Islands Festival
  • July 18 Americana Festival
  • August 1 Native American Festival
  • September 5 Indian Festival of Lights/Diwali
  • October 3 Italian Festival
  • November 7 Mexican Day Festival
  • December 5 International Holidays Festival
Parking is $2 on the weekends, but nearby meters and limited street parking may be available. While we're at it, mark your calendars for the sister event, Mehregan (Persian Festival of Autumn) in Costa Mesa during early October (future date idea!). By the way, the Persian tradition calls for wearing new clothes or Persian folk outfits. Also, the belief is that whatever a person does on Norouz will affect the rest of the year. Enjoy!

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free Admission.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $24 Total.
Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @mamimaria

Friday, March 5, 2010

120. Festival of Whales Dana Point

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Did you know grey whales migration from Alaska to Mexico is over 5,000 miles?
Being proud that 40-50 whales pass them every day, the City of Dana Point wants to celebrate with the public by hosting the Annual Festival of Whales. In a nutshell, this event is family-friendly and nice for a casual day date idea.

The fluke of a whale as it dives
Originally uploaded by B℮n

It will be a "whale" of a time with tons of activities (paid and free) organized for the next two weekends (March 6, 7, 13, and 14), including a parade, street faire and more. Here's one interesting romantic activity: take a 30-minute sailing ride with your partner (up to 3 people per boat) and learn how to steer and sail for a mere $15 per sail boat. Free shuttles from the nearby parking lots are available all day during the events 10 AM - 4 PM. Check online for a complete schedule of events and shuttle map.

Unfortunately, there is a 60% chance of rain tomorrow and Sunday, but the weather is expected to be perfectly sunny next weekend (click HERE for the 10-day weather forecast of Dana Point). Hopefully the parade won't be rained out tomorrow. I'd mark your calendars for doing this cheap date idea next weekend due to the weather, but maybe the weather bunny will change it's mind again. If you would rather go on a whale watching excursion to see the whales up close and personal, check out the half-price tickets on Cheap Date Idea #66 (click HERE). Have fun!

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

Thursday, March 4, 2010

119. Chinese Lantern Festival - 3/6

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Something cultural AND free = cheap date idea!
If you missed out on last month's Golden Dragon Parade and Lunar New Year Festival (Cheap Date Idea #107), you have another chance for some cultural diversity on this Saturday, March 6th. The Annual Chinese Lantern Festival is an event that always marks the closing of the Chinese New Year Festivities.

With 7 hours filled with FREE entertainment starting at noon, the list is too long to post here. To highlight a few, there will be various stage performances by folk dancers, acrobats, magicians, as well as several arts and crafts booths. You and your partner can do face painting... Or how about try the art of lantern-making or origami? It may look easy but I bet it won't be. Make sure to stay for the closer: The Silver Dragon Parade! Check the website for a map and complete schedule.

Of course, the one day that it is expected to rain has to be on the day of another festival and parade. Stay tuned for weather updates on Saturday. Maybe we will get lucky like we did for the Golden Dragon Parade/Lunar New Year Festival and the Long Beach Mardi Gras Festival. The festival's website does not give any indication about going on rain or shine though. Stay tuned...

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

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

118. shamROCK Block Party - 3/17

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Do you like block parties and live entertainment?
Then the shamROCK 2010 will be the place to be on March 17th, Saint Patrick's Day. The block party starts early at 4 PM and run through midnight. I think it lasted longer when we went since this Irish holiday fell on a weekend. In addition to general admission for the block party, the wristband gets you into 20+ local bars and clubs at no additional cover charge. We had fun simply roaming the streets between the 3 stages filled with live music by various bands and DJs. This is not the cheapest date idea because it can add up, but it's something worth experiencing at least once.
ShamRock Block Party
Originally uploaded by 365 Cheap Dates

Advance tickets are available online for $20 per person with a $2.50 service fee or you can avoid that fee by paying cash at Irish pub/restaurant in downtown San Diego called The Field. Tickets go up to $25pp (cash only at the doors) on the day of the event. With the event falling on a Wednesday, I doubt that this event will pull a crowd of 20,000+ this time, but I'd still buy tickets in advance to avoid the lines. Bring extra cash for the beer gardens and food booths. I suggest taking the trolley into the event to avoid the hassle of parking. Bonus: They are offering the designated driver program again: FREE rides home anywhere in SD County to anyone with a ShamRock wristband. We personally got a hotel so that we both can fully enjoy the evening. For more St. Patty's Day activities in San Diego, check out SanDiego-Romantics.com.

For a weekend festivity that's more casual and local in LA, check out Cheap Date Idea #116 in Hermosa Beach on Saturday, March 13th. Have fun whatever you do!

UPDATE 03/11/10: Save $3 online with discount code ROCK or buy tickets in person for only $15 at The Field today 4-6 PM.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $20 pp + $2.50 fee pp.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $40 Total.
Kiss & Tell Date Idea by @sdRomantics

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

117. Carlsbad Flower Fields are open again!

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Who wants a dozen flowers when you can enjoy a whole FIELD?
As of yesterday, the famous Carlsbad Flower Fields are officially back in season. This work of nature is worth the 1-2 hour drive to the northern part of San Diego, perfect for a day trip or day date idea. The 50+ acres are available for the public's enjoyment every day of the week 9 AM - 6 PM through Mother's Day (Sunday, May 9th). According to the FAQ section, the best time to go is mid-March to mid-April, but blooming is dependent on the weather conditions, as you know. Although this is an outdoor event, no pets and no smoking are allowed on the grounds. Tip: Check the 10-day weather forecast online before making the trek.

Various events are scheduled for the next 2 months, which are included with the cost of admission (AKA FREE). Check the website for details, but here are some highlights:
  • 4/10 Bluegrass Day with live music
  • 4/10-4/11 & 4/17-18 Arts & Crafts
  • 4/18 FREE Canon Macro Photography Workshop
Tickets are available online for $10 with no service fee. However, AAA members can save $1 at the door. Parking is always free. For a short thrill, the wagon ride through the fields is another $5 per person (see photo on right). But I personally enjoy strolling along the rows and rows of flowers and think it's good for your body and soul (hmm, sounds like a milk commercial).

By the way, last year there were 2-for-1 coupons available at the local libraries in Carlsbad (Georgina Cole Library Branch and Dove Library). I'm in the process of finding out if new coupons are available for 2010. This would make it a really cheap date idea! If you absolutely love flowers that much, the season pass is worth the $20, where the break even point is only 2 visits.

A camera is a must here. The last time I went was before I had a digital camera (about a decade ago), but it's definitely worth going to visit again! Maybe next month at one of the special events... This place not only is picturesque in itself, but also serves as a perfect backdrop for a Kodak Moment with your sweetheart (see second shot on right). Enjoy!

UPDATE 05/03/10: Click HERE to print a BOGO coupon (2-for-1), so now it's a really cheap date! Remember that the last day is Sunday on Mother's Day.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = $10 per person.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = $20 Total.

Monday, March 1, 2010

116. St. Patrick's Day Parade - 3/13

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What are YOU doing on Saturday, March 13th?
Every year, the city of Hermosa Beach hosts a St. Patrick's Day Parade with family-friendly festivities FREE to the public. The start time is 9 AM but the parade doesn't start til 11 AM on the corner of Pier Ave and Valley Drive. This is an easy day date idea by the beach... Just perfect for a picnic, so don't forget a beach blanket and sun block. Oh, and wear something green!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Originally uploaded by .Bradi.

Parking can be tricky due to all the street closures on Pier Ave, Valley Drive and Hermosa Ave, so make sure to arrive early. Street parking is available without permits since it's not peak season unless you are lucky to grab a meter, but that's only good for 3 hours. There is also a free parking lot behind the skate park on the south side of Pier Ave Click HERE for the event flyer.

The festivities wrap up around 2 PM. To continue the fun, check out South Bay Events website (click HERE) for a run down on local bars celebrating that day in Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach.

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

List: Cheap Date Ideas in February

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'Tis the start of a new month, so here's a list of date ideas from February...

342/365 : February!
Originally uploaded by