By Chloe Mulliner, on December 4, 2019

Date Ideas in San Diego

Whether you’re in a new relationship and looking to keep things flirty, or you’re spicing up your tried-and-true commitment, San Diego is the place to do it. This sunny city is vibrant year-round, offering amazing date ideas around every corner.

If you’re the kind of couple that enjoys being outside, you’ll find plenty of ways to soak up the SoCal sun. Rather explore the artsy side of town? You’ve come to the right place. Whatever your romantic style, allow us to help you explore some of the countless fun date ideas in San Diego.

What are the best first date ideas in San Diego?

Mission Beach Boardwalk at sunset, overlooking the Pacific Ocean--a great place for a San Diego date.
Via DesiDrew Photography/

Even if you’ve been dating for a little while, there’s still room for more “firsts”! Taking your first vacation together is a big one, too. Luckily, there are tons of amazing ways to celebrate a first date on your first vacation to San Diego. Whether you want to explore the arts and culture or would prefer to revel in the city’s natural scenery, you’ll find tons of cute date ideas in San Diego.

Mission Beach Boardwalk

Mission Beach

For the quintessential SoCal first date, make your way to Mission Beach Boardwalk. With the sand and sea on one side and restaurants, bars, and shops on the other, your date just planned itself. Take a stroll along the boardwalk—look out for the scooters and bicycles that zip around!—and make your way down to Belmont Park. Brave the Giant Dipper—California’s oldest wooden roller coaster—and treat your honey to a Dole Whip ice cream (pineapple soft serve), which is a local favorite.

Balboa Park

Balboa Park

Other awesome first date ideas in San Diego include a trip to Balboa Park. You could definitely lose track of time in this 1,200-acre urban park, where you’ll come across gardens, museums, theaters, and even the zoo. When it comes to museums, pick your poison—there are so many to visit. If you’re in the mood for a Balboa Park art museum, stop by the Museum of Photographic Arts, Timken Museum of Art, or the San Diego Art Institute. You’ll find plenty of fascinating exhibits at some of the best museums in Balboa Park, such as the Fleet Science Museum and the San Diego Museum of Man.

South Bay Drive-In Theatre

South Bay

If you’re kind the couple that loves to go to the movies, then shake it up a bit with a date at the South Bay Drive-In Theatre. Yes, just like the ol’ days, you can drive up to the lot and tune your radio into the movie playing on the screen. You can bring lawn chairs or make a cozy nest in the back of your car with pillows and blankets. The theater even has an old-school snack bar where you can stock up on popcorn, candy, and soda. As an added perk, admission lets you watch two movies back to back on the same screen, which makes it one of the best cheap date night ideas in San Diego.

Hornblower Cruise

Broadway Pier

If the two of you want to enjoy the coast without getting your feet wet (or sandy!) then we’ve got the perfect San Diego date idea for you. Head to Broadway Pier and board one of the Hornblower cruises. This cruise line offers short and affordable one- to two-hour cruises that take you on a tour of the harbor…but they also feature more elaborate options like the Champagne Jazz Brunch Cruise and the Nightly Dinner Cruise. It’s a great way to explore the coast and get to know more about America’s Finest City.

What are some special occasion date ideas in San Diego?

Green grassy hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Kate Sessions, a great place for a San Diego date.
Via LauGSmith/

All right, it’s time to take it up a notch. If you’re looking for date ideas in San Diego that are full of romance, allow us to help.

Red Spade Theatre

Old Town

If you’re going for the wow factor, get tickets for a show at Red Spade Theatre in San Diego. You’ll be captivated and blown away by the magic and illusions that occur on stage. Sebastian, the magician, promises to put on a show-stopping performance that will leave you with your jaw dropped. Come discover the magic!

San Diego Symphony

Downtown San Diego

Dress in your best and attend a San Diego Symphony concert at the Copley Symphony Hall. You’ll find all sorts of afternoon and evening performances throughout the year. Get tickets for a show and let the symphony be the soundtrack to your date night in San Diego.

Kate Sessions Park

Pacific Beach

No one ever said you had to spend a lot of money to have a romantic evening in San Diego. For a low-key but special date night, pack a picnic and set up at Kate Sessions Park for the evening. Fly a kite or toss the Frisbee around until the sun sets. From this grassy patch, you’ll enjoy sweeping views of Mission Beach and the Pacific Ocean below.

What are the best date night restaurants in San Diego?

Bright-colored wildflowers at Anza Borrego Desert, a great place for a date near San Diego.
Via Peter Lundgren/

We don’t doubt your cooking skills, but sometimes date night calls for a night out on the town. Leave it to the professionals and allow one of San Diego’s local chefs to whip up something for two.

Juniper and Ivy

Little Italy

You can’t go wrong with reservations at Juniper and Ivy. This restaurant is at the top of everyone’s list—yes, even locals’! The amazing industrial décor rivals the delicious menu. Order a round of cocktails and some shared plates, like the oysters and pearls, grilled peaches, and herbed gnocchi. And that’s just to start!

Mister A’s

Downtown San Diego 

Head on up to the twelfth floor to discover the elegance and charm of Mister A’s. This restaurant serves up some serious views of the city skyline and harbor with a side of some of the best cuisine in town. Before showing up, be sure to check the restaurant’s dress code—they’re serious about maintaining its classy vibe.

Island Prime

Harbor Island 

When it comes to San Diego, it’s all about the waterfront views. At Island Prime, you’ll dine right above the water while overlooking the San Diego Harbor. (Look for the Coronado Bridge in the distance!) You’ll find surf, turf, and everything in between on the menu. But whatever you do, save room for the Key lime pie.

What are some romantic day trips from San Diego?

A silhouette of Island Prime on the water with the sunset in the background--this is a great restaurant for a San Diego date.
Via sumikophotos/

You could certainly spend all your time in San Diego and never run out of things to do, but don’t miss some of these nearby cities—they make for great romantic day trip ideas.

  • Los Angeles: Malibu? Santa Monica Pier? Sunset Boulevard? Need we say more? Hop in the car and head north or take the Pacific Surfliner train for a pleasant ride along the coast.
  • Temecula: A day of wine tasting makes for a perfect romantic retreat. You’ll find more than 40 wineries in Temecula, just north of San Diego County.
  • Anza-Borrego Desert State Park: For a more rustic getaway, drive east to this lovely desert landscape. Hike the trails and camp overnight. As an added bonus, visit during the spring to witness the colorful wildflowers during the Super Bloom.

It’s time to celebrate your love in San Diego. Whether it’s a special occasion or just because, this city is the ultimate place to plan your next date. Before your trip, reserve your San Diego hotel or bundle all your travel needs with a San Diego vacation package.

Header image attribution: Via aceshot1/