Valentine’s Day Ideas in LA for Any Budget

71Above - A Romantic Valentine's Day restaurant option in Los Angeles

Love it or hate it – Valentine’s Day is almost here. Most couples we know tend to do the typical romantic dinner route. Don’t get us wrong — that can be a truly special night. But why pay an inflated prix-fixe menu, when you can do something unique for the same cost? Or less. There are so many options — especially in Los Angeles. Here are our top recommendations to celebrate Valentine’s Day on any budget. And yeah, we still included some restaurant recommendations on this list for those set in their ways. Though, we think these are worth it.

THE CHEAP DATE:

Sundance Theater on Sunset 

Order some champagne and a tasty meal you can take inside the Sundance theater. Each seat has a side table.

You’ll get bonus points from your date by stepping it up from the mega movieplex. Located in West Hollywood, the AMC Dine-In Sunset Theater shows mainstream hits and many lesser-known independent flicks. It’s one of our favorite cheap-o recommendations with reserved plush seating. Plus, you also won’t have to worry about screaming children or iPhone obsessed teenie boppers. This place is strictly 21 years and above – complete with a bar that allows you to take any food or drink purchases into the theater. Tickets cost $14.50 each, but on Tuesday it’s a steal at just $6 each for AMC Stubbs members (free to join).

Self-Guided Biking Tour Along the LA River

Kevin picks up some speed along the mostly empty LA River bike path

Okay, this recommendation is mostly for those adventurous types. It’s also better for a weekend trip (or during the day). Head over to Frogtown (LA’s new buzzy neighborhood) and hit up Coco’s Variety Bike Shop and Prop Rental where you can rent top-quality bikes by the hour. A few weeks back, we rode for 2 hours and paid just $9 an hour.

Watch out for all the ducks that tend to use the bike path as their territory

The trail runs along the somewhat grungy (okay, very grungy) LA River. But the path is paved most of the way and easy to navigate. Our recommendation would be to head South towards Downtown LA (rather than heading North towards the zoo, which runs through a few homeless encampments). Load up your Google maps — selecting the bike path option — and head to one of Chinatown’s hot new outdoor restaurants like Howlin’ Rays (for fried chicken) or Burgerlords (that also has a vegan burger that’s one of the best we’ve ever tasted).

You can park your bikes right along your table as you chow down on regular (or vegan) burgers and fries at the newly opened Burgerlords

On the way back to the bike rental shop, you’ll want to grab a coffee at Spoke Bicycle Cafe right along the bike path.

Challenge Your Date To a Friendly Match of Skee-Ball

Try out the beer flight to get a sense before you buy a full sized pint

More into drinking beer than physical activity? No problem. You’ll love all the custom brews on tap at the Arts District Brewing Co. in the super trendy Arts District in downtown LA. Best of all, they have a variety of games inside including the classic skee-ball machines like you’d see at carnivals or old-time arcades.

It’s skee-ball time!

Just watch out if you’re dating a competitive type. These machines track your score… not that I’d know anything about getting competitive. Or would refuse to leave until I won at least once. Never!

THE MODERATE PRICED VALENTINE DATE:

Catching a Big Musical or Stage Production

The Geffen Playhouse, one of our ultimate favorite theaters in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles 

If your date is into theater, you really can’t go wrong with the productions at the Geffen Playhouse, The Wallace Annenberg Center or the Pantages Theater. The Geffen was the first theater Kevin and I visited in LA. We were expecting something on the level of community theater. Boy, were we wrong! This intimate venue regularly features some of Hollywood’s biggest actors in starring roles (both on stage and in the audience). Check out Goldstar, which regularly offers discounted tickets.

Get Rowdy at a Mexican Wrestling Match

Watch out for the flying wrestlers at Lucha Vavoom

Lucha Vavoom is not for the faint-hearted. Okay, this would be the complete opposite of a quiet night and conventional date night. But it is certainly unforgettable! This is where you’ll find authentic Mexican masked wrestling, comedy, striptease and freak show beyond explanation all under one roof. On Feb 8-9, Lucha Vavoom will present their special Twisted Valentine night at the historic Mayan Theater in downtown LA. We recommend sitting in the cheap seats for this one – up on the balcony overlooking the main wrestling stage. The main floor seating is closest to the action – but you’ll need to keep your eyes open for flying Mexicans that are regularly flung into the crowd. Get ready to catch them – or pack your running sneakers! General admission (i.e. balcony seats) is $40 while ringside is $55.

HEY BIG SPENDER! – IDEAS WHERE MONEY IS NO OBJECT

Dining High in the Sky at 71Above

Main dining room at 71Above

So if you’re dead set on eating out on Valentine’s Day, you might as well go big! Nothing will beat the views from 71Above, located on the 71st floor of the US Bank Building in downtown LA. No matter what night you’re booking, you will need to make advanced reservations and pick your table. There is a variety of seating options, but the best spots are the tables along the floor to ceiling windows. And you won’t get a better view anywhere else — 71Above is considered the highest restaurant West of the Mississippi.

We loved the dining alcove off the bar area, allowing us to sit side-by-side

You’ll pay for your table upfront (starting at $70 per seat), which will be subtracted from your overall food bill. We’ve eaten at a lot of romantic places, but this one will really blow you away. It is a prix-fix menu every night with drinks and desserts as extra. And best of all, the food is just as spectacular as the views. Highly recommended.

Get Even Higher – Birds-eye View of Hollywood

It’s a bird, it’s a plane!

There is something magical about seeing LA from the sky. There is a sparkle that you can’t capture up close. Adventure Helicopter Tours runs a top-notch operation, flying out of Pacoima in the Valley.

Your 30-minute flight will go by in a flash. Why can’t my daily commute be by helicopter everyday?

There are many flight routes, but we’d recommend the 30 minute Hollywood Landmarks tour. It sure isn’t cheap at $169 per person (minus tax). But you’ll get to soar over world famous Hollywood landmarks and have a real adventure from the air.

Seaside in Malibu

You’ll be hard-pressed to find another dining room much closer to the Pacific Ocean than Moonshadows Malibu

There is just something romantic about Malibu. Maybe it’s the lack of people? The crashing waves? Or that it feels worlds away from ANYWHERE since it’s so darn hard to get to. But one way to really impress your date is a special full day trip. First stop, grab a table at Moonshadows Malibu. There really isn’t a bad view – the only way you’d possibly be closer to the ocean would be on a boat! The food is also pretty good, but the big reason you’re here is for that view.

Inside dining room view at Moonshadows Malibu

The outdoor deck is great if you don’t mind a chilly ocean breeze and want to hear the crashing waves

Moonshadows is on the higher price scale (with lunch entrees running around $20-$30), but it’s actually a lot less than many other seaside restaurants nearby. But if you’re a big spender, who cares!

You’ll find mostly Italian pastas and seafood at Moonshadows. But you won’t want to miss the fresh beet salad either

Your day out in Malibu is just starting. After your lunch, you’ll next swing over to nearby Malibu Wine Safaris, an experience like no other. Kevin and I have done every experience on this list, but we haven’t had the opportunity to try out this winery/safari experience. Though, many friends have given it two big thumbs up.

The main winery building on the grounds

During your winery visit, you and your date will board a custom-built open air safari vehicle where you’ll explore the 1,000 acre Saddlerock Ranch filled with zebras, camels, bison and even Stanley the giraffe. Along the way, you’ll also get to taste 6 wines (which I imagine will make the animal spotting even more exciting!).

A variety of wines and snacks

Many of the wild animals come to the ranch to retire after successful careers in Hollywood. And you’ll have a chance to get up close by feeding them carrots and bananas. But just remember, not the wine (for humans only!).

Watch your fingers!

Tours run daily and the ranch also offers a special Valentine’s Day package for $125 per person, which includes wine, chocolate and a 1/2 bottle on the 110 minute tour. They also offer a variety of other packages, with the most basic called the Explorers Tour at $65 per person, which takes 90 minutes and includes complimentary snacks and 6 tastings. For more information, visit their website here.

The custom open-air vehicle that explores the ranch

I feel like I make this same face whenever I see a banana

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Valentine’s Day Ideas in LA for Any Budget
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Valentine’s Day Ideas in LA for Any Budget
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Love it or hate it - Valentine's Day is almost here. There are so many options -- especially in Los Angeles. Here are our top recommendations to celebrate Valentine's Day on any budget.

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