Postcards & Passports

100 Date Ideas in San Diego (or anywhere)

This post was most recently updated on July 9th, 2019

Looking for some creative date ideas? If you’re anything like me, you dream of going out on a fun date with your husband, but have a brain freeze every time you try to come up with date ideas. You know there must be something to get you out of the rut of just sitting in front of the TV, or even worse, ignoring each other while using your personal electronic devices. And besides, it’s so good for your relationship to have together time. After all, you wouldn’t be together now if you hadn’t started out dating! I’ve put together a list of 100 date ideas, with the help of lots of friends, that everyone can benefit from.

Whether you’re in San Diego (where I am based), or anywhere else in the world, I’m sure these date ideas will inspire you to plan some fun activities to rejuvenate your relationship! Many of these date ideas are completely free. You can adapt them to your own location, whether at home or traveling. If you have children to consider, you can ‘go on dates’ even if you can’t afford a babysitter!

I’ve divided the date ideas into three categories:

1. No money to spend, including no money for a babysitter

2. Money for a babysitter, but no money for anything else

3. Money for a babysitter and a fun date

Date Ideas For No Budget at All

So what can you do when you’re stuck at home with your children? Well, there are ways to change it up, and even some tricks for “escaping” from your children for a short time.

  • Have the kids watch a movie and go in another room or in the backyard (they earn a treat if they get along and don’t interrupt you).
  • Trade babysitting with another couple (be flexible about kids’ bedtimes or go on early evening or daytime dates)
  • Ask your parents or other relatives to help with babysitting
  • Trade a service for babysitting (for example, teach music lessons, cooking classes, sewing lessons, etc.) My husband used to teach piano lessons to a teenage neighbor girl who then babysat for us while we went swimming every evening.
  • Go for dates during the lunch hour when the kids are in school (pack a picnic lunch and meet at a park close to work)
  • Take your family to a friend’s home; let all the kids play together, or put the kids to bed there, and then play games, BBQ, or watch a movie with your friends.
  • Put your children to bed early, then…1)watch a movie–be sure to take turns choosing movies, 2) prepare a meal or dessert together – light candles to make it more romantic, 3) play card or parlor games, 4) barbecue on the patio, 5) set up a tent in the backyard and watch a movie on your laptop atop sleeping bags and cushions, 6) plan a couples getaway or family vacation, 7) do genealogy research or scan photos and family mementos to FamilySearch, 8) work on a service project, 9) build something together, 10) read a good book to each other, 11) watch favorite music videos on YouTube, 12) turn on some good dance music and do the cha-cha-cha!, 13) watch dance tutorials on YouTube and then try to learn the new dance steps together, 14) watch travel videos on YouTube and discuss future travel dreams, 15) learn a foreign language with Duolingo or something similar, 16) paint or other craft project, 17) snuggle up in front of the fireplace with hot cocoa and talk about something other than the kids, 18) watch family movies or slideshows of family photos and relive your memories, 19) play the piano/guitar and sing songs together, 20) put together a jigsaw puzzle, 21) paint matching T-shirts, 22) make chalk drawings on the sidewalk or patio, 23) play balloon volleyball in the backyard, 24) carve animals or designs out of soap, 25) watch the sunset, 26) paint a room, 27) wash your cars and have a water fight, too (!), 28) make holiday decorations or gifts for others, 29) give each other back rubs, 30) make cookies and take them to a neighbor (and doorbell ditch!), 31) be a kid again: play jacks or hopscotch or jump rope, 32) Watch a sports game together – eat hot dogs and cheer for your favorite team. Make bets on who will win and choose a fun prize for the winner, 33) make homemade ice cream together, 34) Play the Newlywed Game, and see how well you know each other. Here are some fun questions you can use, 35) make a video of how you met and fell in love — your children will love it! 36) make marshmallow guns and have a marshmallow war, 37) play Twister!, 38) enjoy a bubble bath for two 😉
Here are a few date ideas to help you “escape”:

39) Camp in your back yard overnight (just the two of you)

40) Set up a “picnic” in your living room — spread a blanket and eat dinner out of a picnic basket while listening to your favorite music or while watching a travel video. Cheese & crackers, fresh fruit, and sparkling cider are perfect!

41) Driveway theater: put kids to bed, grab baby monitor and sit in your car in the garage or driveway with laptop & warm blanket, sodas, and big bowl of popcorn. Enjoy a movie via DVD, Netflix, Hulu, etc. You can even wear your pajamas!

42) Romance on the rooftop – climb on the roof with blankets, radio, and snack – talk, snuggle, and listen to music!

Date Ideas With Money For a Babysitter and Nothing Else

43) Go to Art Nights (Liberty Station and Oceanside have them on the first Friday of every month)

44) Go for a walk along the beach or at a park (Best Five San Diego Beaches)

45) Build a beach bonfire and enjoy the sound of the waves

46) Go for a hike (At the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Extension, you don’t even have to pay for parking, and you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the beach below)

47) Pack a picnic dinner (love these chocolate cinnamon picnic cakes in a jar!) and eat at a park or the beach

48) Go for a drive (San Diego has a beautiful 59-mile Scenic Drive route)

49) Check community schedules for free movie nights at parks in the summer (Here’s a  schedule for San Diego summer movies – I’m sure your community has them, too)

50) Attend wedding receptions (be sure to dance together if you have the chance!)

51) Explore a new neighborhood (find the suspension bridge in Banker’s Hill or the two houses that look like boats in Encinitas, or the home with all their hedges shaped like landmarks from around the world (Harper’s Topiary Garden) or the home with shell sculptures in the front yard in Pt. Loma)

52) Be adventurous! Go bicycling, kayaking, boogie-boarding, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, rock-climbing, or sailing. Borrow what you need from friends if you don’t have the equipment you need.

53) Play at a playground – swing on the swings, play frisbee, jump rope, draw with chalk on the sidewalk, go down the slides – be a kid again!

54) Play lawn darts, croquet, badminton, tennis, shuffleboard, etc.

55) Go for a free lawn bowling lesson in Coronado; Call (619)319-5509 to make an appointment for the free lesson at the Coronado Lawn Bowling Club

56) Go to art galleries (there are a lot in La Jolla and more at Liberty Station)

57) Fly kites on the beach or at a park

58) Go to Balboa Park (free things include the Spanish Village, the Timken Museum, the Botanical building, exploring gardens and trails, Spreckels Organ Pavilion to hear organ recitals, riding the green trams, watching buskers, etc.

59) Do a photo scavenger hunt and take photos from a pre-determined list. Here’s a photo scavenger hunt my husband and I enjoyed at Liberty Station.

60) Drop in on someone who could use a visit

61) Go to the library and check out books and read (the Rancho Bernardo library has a stone fireplace in their reading room!)

62) Explore a hotel or resort, just for the fun of it (Paradise Point Resort on Vacation Isle in Mission Bay has tropical gardens, lagoons, and an 81-step observation tower)

63) Sail a model boat in the Model Yacht pond on Vacation Isle (Mission Bay)

64)  Go where your hobbies take you and explore! (comic store, hardware store, ham radio store, Hobby Lobby (!), Best Buy for electronics, IKEA or Pier One for home décor inspiration, etc.)

65) Look for street art; here’s a guide to street art in San Diego, an art tour of UCSD, and another art walk we took in Provo, Utah.

66) Take a self-guided walking tour (free at

67) Drive around and explore different parks in the area (find a new park to take your children to on another day)

68) Romantic date night: Take the kids to Grandma’s house; pick up groceries and flowers, bubble bath for wife while husband prepares dinner and then serves by candlelight. Then dance in the living room, watch a fire in the fireplace, or listen to favorite music and snuggle.

69) Go to a Farmer’s Market – there’s one in Little Italy every Saturday morning. Get free food samples, enjoy the music and people-watching, too. Oceanside has a sunset market on Thursday nights, and Poway also has one on Saturday mornings.

70) Bike, run, or walk at Lake Miramar or around Coronado

71) Visit the Penasquitos Preserve, tour the historic ranch adobe and hike to the waterfall  

72) It’s okay to just park your car at a beautiful lookout site and make out!

73) Look for special events like this ‘Salsa Under the Stars’ at The Headquarters in downtown San Diego, My husband and I just discovered last night! It happens again July 20th and Aug 17th!

Date Ideas When You Can Afford to Pay

74) Go to a movie (the most cliché date ever, but still fun, especially if you share popcorn and hold hands!)

74) Attend a play, a musical, a concert, or a dance recital

75) Go out for dinner, lunch, or dessert; if you’ve run out of things to talk about without mentioning the kids, pair up with another couple and go out to eat.

76) Go out for cheese-tasting or olive oil tasting

77) Go shopping at thrift stores together (my personal favorite is Valley Thrift in Escondido — be sure to get cash before you go, because it’s cash-only)

78) Attend festivals (Festivals we’ve attended include a Greek festival in Cardiff and a Polish festival in Pacific Beach) They always have good food to buy, dancing, or other performances, and fun costumes, cultural information, crafts for sale, etc.

79) Take a culinary tour or a history tour (explore your own city)

80) Go rock-climbing

81) Go the Reuben H Fleet science museum for cheap IMAX movies on Friday nights

82) Take a tour (hop on-hop off bus, group walking tour, etc.)

83) If you’re old enough to have grandchildren, it’s really fun to take them out on a date with you. It always gives a new perspective, and it’s fun to see each other interact with your grandchildren in different ways, PLUS it gives their parents a chance to go on a date, too.

84) Attend a lecture on an interesting topic (Here’s a schedule of lecture and educational events in San Diego) My husband and I once attended a lecture by the son of the first sherpa to ascend Mount Everest — it was fascinating!)

85) Go to a Karaoke Bar and sing your heart out. Try a duet song together, just for fun!

86) Take the bus downtown and then ride the trolley – be a tourist in your own town

87) Go to stationery or drugstore and choose cards for each other. Go to a fast-food place and order sodas, fill out the cards and then give them to each other.

88) Go to the San Diego County Fair. Use a Groupon or grocery store special for the first visit, then buy their $5 coupon books at the fair that have free admission coupons in them, so you can return a second time. Even if you just go for the concerts at night, it’s a lot of fun. If you’re not in San Diego, I’ll bet there are county fairs somewhere near you, too!

89) Ride the water taxi from downtown San Diego to Coronado Island

90) Rent bicycles in Pacific Beach or Mission Bay. Groupon often has discounts

91) Choose a San Diego neighborhood you don’t know well, select a restaurant for dinner and pick something from the top ten things to do (on TripAdvisor) in that neighborhood. (Try Oceanside, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Little Italy, Del Mar, Claremont Mesa, etc.)

92) Get gourmet gelato or ice cream and get a giant scoop! (Try Bobboi’s in La Jolla or Lappert’s Hawaii on Scripp’s Poway Parkway)

93) Go to the tide pools at Cabrillo National Monument. You only pay for parking, and you could spend hours exploring all the sea life in the tidepools. There are also some small tidepools at Sunset Cliffs.

More Expensive or Special Occasion Date Ideas

94) Attend the opera or a Broadway musical

95) Take a painting class together. We really enjoyed the one we took at Pinot’s Palette at Liberty Station. I came home and proudly hung up my painting in my office! It was a lot of fun to be creative with my husband, and while we do not drink alcoholic drinks, the craft sodas they had were AMAZING!

96) Go on a helicopter or hot air balloon ride — pricy? Yes! But so worth it. The tour I took of the coastline from Oceanside and back was absolutely breathtaking! Take a sunset tour for a very romantic ride.

97) Go on a gondola ride (even if you’re not in Venice!). You probably know you can ride gondolas in Las Vegas at the Venetian. There are also gondola rides in Kansas City and in San Diego, near Coronado. My husband and I were lucky enough to catch a great deal with Groupon and go for half-price!

98) Go on a Hornblower Cruises dinner cruise. You can dress up (or not) and enjoy a gourmet meal, fresh air on deck, and the most incredible views!

99) Splurge for a show-stopping dinner and views. Top of the line restaurants with incredible views in San Diego include the Marine Room, Mr. A’sGeorge’s at the Cove, and Jake’s Del Mar. You’ll definitely want to dress up for any of these restuarants!

100) Your own special memory-maker. Go to a place with special memories for the two of you — where you proposed, where you first kissed, where you were married, places you visited on your honeymoon. If those places are too far away now, do your best to recreate the experience. The key is to relive the experience and remember the feelings.

How to Make it Happen

Seriously, it does no good to search for great date ideas if you do nothing to make them happen. Plan ahead and line up your babysitters if necessary. Take turns planning dates, so you each get to choose what you do sometimes. Make dating a priority; what you don’t schedule won’t happen. Budget for your dates, and don’t let that money get used for anything else! The more you invest in your relationship and having fun together, the happier you’ll be. Creative date ideas are just a start. Once you make the commitment to date regularly, great things will happen!

Date Ideas


7 thoughts on “100 Date Ideas in San Diego (or anywhere)

  1. Heather

    What fun suggestions! My favorite stay at home date is watching a movie and enjoying a cheese plate with fruits. Mmm! Thanks for all the brand new ideas, too!!

  2. Sandy N Vyjay

    So many date ideas! And I love the fact that you have categorized them as well. It is amazing that there are so many ways to have a date right at home. I thought camping in the backyard a great idea. Of course getting away to an exotic destination may not always be possible for various reasons and these ideas would come in so handy.

  3. Elaine Masters

    How sweet it is! What a creative post and I love the way you organized this. I’m always learning things about my home town and wish my partner were a better dancer (self professed) so we could go to Salsa Night.

  4. Alouise

    These are some great date night ideas. I love how you organized them by budget. I’m sure any couple (especially those with kids) will appreciate a date night. That salsa under the stars looks like a lot of fun.

  5. Stacey

    What a list!! Although I don’t have children (or married), I just told my boyfriend a couple weeks ago that we should visit San Diego after traveling abroad. He said like, “but there aren’t so much to do in San Diego.” This list would give me a better idea what to do, and I am glad that you included one that is for on budget or no budget even. Thanks!

  6. Lara Dunning

    That is a ton of date ideas! Great idea including types of dates for budgets. I just saw a show on Torrey Pines and I so want to go there now. Looks so beautiful! I’d also love to try parasailing, but that is pretty pricey.

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