We know. There’s so much to do around here that planning your next date can be overwhelming. Should you try something new or stick to what you’re familiar with? Aiming for adventure or looking for romance? Here are a few Orange County date night (or day) ideas to keep things fresh and fun.
Hit the Trails
Take a guided trail ride on horseback for a romantic country-style date. Want to venture beyond Orange County? Check out Pony Land San Diego. Just south of Downtown San Diego, you’ll ride through the River Valley Nature Preserve with beautiful scenery. They offer a variety of trail ride options including sunset rides, riverbed and jungle rides, and the popular two and a half hour Sea Shore Beach Ride. We did horseback riding on the beach and it was one of the best trail rides we’ve ever been on.
Climb the Walls
While heading up the side of Half Dome might not sound like your idea of a great date, recreational rock climbing gyms are super fun. You’re never too high, all the safety precautions are in place, and there are other people who are new to the sport too. Many gyms even offer other activities like yoga and fitness classes. Opt for taking a class together or participate in the open gym sessions. Check out the offerings at Sender One, Rockreation and Hangar 18.
See the Stars
Take your date to the planetarium to see the stars, explore the solar system, and learn about the mysteries of the universe. The OCC Planetarium is the newest addition to the area, but the Tessman Planetarium is one of our favorite spots (although it is not always open to the public). The small, intimate theaters gets you up close and personal on your journey through the solar system.
On the Water Adventures
Take advantage of Orange County’s waterways and spend some time cruising the harbors or the Back Bay. Dana Point, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, and Sunset Beach all have kayak, boat, and SUP rentals and launch sites. Looking for a day date that includes physical activity? Kayaks and SUPs are for you. Keep in mind that the likelihood that you will get wet increases significantly on SUPs. If cruising the harbor with a picnic lunch sans submersion is more your style, opt for renting a Duffy Boat instead.
Just Hang Out
Take risks. Tackle a new adventure. Every relationship gets stronger when you seek out new things together. I’m guessing you haven’t mastered the art of trapeze, so why not give it a shot. Trying out the trapeze should be on everyone’s bucket list, and SwingIt Trapeze in Anaheim makes it possible for you to cross it off.
The Great Escape
Put those problem-solving skills to the test as a team to solve a selection of puzzles. Will you work together well enough to survive the escape room? If horror movies and scary scenarios are your thing, try the Hex Room at CrossRoads Escape Games, Zodiac Killer at Wild Goose Escape Rooms, or Escape the Darkest Hour: Torture Chamber at Mission Escape Games. Looking for something less fear-inducing? Each location has multiple games so be sure to review the details before you book.
Solve A Mystery
Interactive dinner theater and murder mysteries can be a great date-night adventure for outgoing couples. These entertaining dinner experiences include a full dinner with beverage service and both take place at Orange County Hotels. Check out the Dinner Detective in Anaheim or The Gourmet Detective in Costa Mesa.
More Orange County Date Ideas
Check out the OC events happening this weekend for unique and fun date ideas.
Support a local Orange County Team and enjoy a great day or night out supporting your local Angels or Anaheim Ducks.
Comedy Clubs are excellent for first dates or just a fun night out with your spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend.
Reserve a restaurant with a view of Orange County.
See a concert at many of the concert venues in Orange County including the FivePoint Amphitheatre, Pacific Amphitheatre, Honda Center, Garden Amp and more. There are even many free summer concerts and live music venues to check out.
Indulge yourselves at a bottomless brunch.
Book a day or overnight trip to Catalina Island.
Tour Newport Beach in a Duffy Boat rental.
Buy tickets to the theater or performing arts show.
Cruise off the coast on a whale and dolphin watching cruise.
Go on an illuminated swan boat ride on Rainbow Lagoon in Long Beach. Yes, this is slightly beyond the OC but split the difference is gas cost with a Groupon discount.
Enjoy a one of a kind dining experience at The Hobbit in Orange or the Summit House Restaurant in Fullerton. The Hobbit starts in the wine cellar and then moves to the main room for a multi-course French dinner that changes often. The Summit House Restaurant is an old school dinning experience that specializes in prime rib and classic American fare and has a romantic interior and beautiful outdoor patios. Here are more themed restaurants.
Soar through the sky on a hot air balloon ride.
Visit a farm and enjoy a cookout and tour.
Disneyland sets off an incredible firework display that lights up the night sky right above the rooftop at Fifth OC and the Parkestry at the JW Marriott. Check out of these places to watch without a ticket.
Go to one of the Artwalks in Orange County.
Cruise Newport Beach in style in a Moke rental.
Have a day at one of the many amusement parks in Orange County, LA and San Diego.
Taste wines from the barrel and blend your own wine
Grab the S’mores, firewood and blankets and have a bonfire on the beach.
Go on a haunted tour or ghost walk.
See or catch grunion April through August.
Make a day or night of it and stroll through one of the many great OC downtowns featuring unique boutiques for shopping, a great selection of restaurants, and hot spots for local nightlife.
If you like to ride motorcycles head on over to Cook’s Corner in Trabuco Canyon, a historical landmark since 1926. Even if you don’t own a bike you can still enjoy food, drinks and live music in an indoor and outdoor setting. It’s an experience!
Visit an OC Night market.
Take the train to the Del Mar Racetrack for an exciting day of watching live horse racing.
Check out the craft beer scene via a brewery tour.
Venture out to one of Orange County’s best new restaurants, a celebrity chef restaurant, hidden dining or drinking spot, MICHELIN Guide restaurants or take in the views at a rooftop bar or restaurant.
Put your boots on and go country line dancing.
Cuddling by the fire is pretty romantic. Have a beach bonfire, make s’mores, and take in the sunset. Here’s a list of Orange County beach bonfire locations and information.
Have a blast at a fair or festival.
Book a day at the spa. Schedule a couples massage, facial, or scrub and spend the day relaxing and getting pampered together.
Enjoy a romantic date at home.
Pack a picnic and take in the view. Here’s a list of some of Orange County’s top picnic spots.
Make it educational and visit museum.
Connect in nature. Despite our bustling cityscapes, Orange County has an abundance of excellent trails for hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian use. Check out Irvine Ranch Open Space Preserve for hikes out to Black Star Canyon, Fremont Canyon, and Limestone Canyon, some of OC’s most spectacular natural destinations.
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Heidi Deal is the author of the Newcomers Handbook to Living In Los Angeles & Orange County, and a children’s book author specializing in history and human rights.