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