San Diego has more than its share of natural sites, activities, museums, and activities that are perfect for a day or an evening out with that special someone.
Instead of reverting to the mundane dinner and a movie on date night, why not try some of these romantic activities that are so perfect for couples that you’ll wonder why you didn’t try them before.
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1. Stroll Through Balboa Park
You don’t have to be a tourist to enjoy one of San Diego’s most famous attractions. Balboa Park has plenty of romantic things to do no matter what time of the day or night you go.
Spend time at one of the museums or grab tickets to a play at the Old Globe Theater for an artsy date. Walk hand-in-hand through the beautiful gardens and early 20th-century architecture.
Pack a picnic lunch with your favorite foods and find the perfect spot in a secluded section of the park away from the crowds after spending time on the hiking trails. You can spend the whole day here are a couple.
2. Take a Date to San Diego Zoo or Safari Park
Believe it or not, plenty of couples enjoy spending a day at San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park together.
Impress a date by booking one of the tours with up-close animal encounters and lunch or dinner at Albert’s, the fine dining restaurant at the Zoo. Or, simply enjoy visiting your favorite monkeys, lions, koalas, or whatever else suits your fancy without a little one tugging at you.
You can also sleep under the stars with the sounds of resident animals nearby at the Safari Park during a Roar and Snore Safari.
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3. Sip Suds at a San Diego Microbrewery
Tasting your favorite craft beer or one you have wanted to try is the perfect date idea for an evening where you want to relax at one of the city’s many microbreweries.
Show up on your own and enjoy the atmosphere or go on an organized brewery crawl. Some establishments have live music and food trucks, making your date night even more fun. Check my list of San Diego breweries if you’re not sure where to go.
4. Go Wine Tasting in San Diego County or Temecula
If you’re more inclined towards wine, one of the most romantic things to do in San Diego is to go wine tasting. Temecula is full of wineries, that you can spend a full day or two touring and sipping. (Two is better so that you can spend the night at a winery inn.)
If you’re not up for a drive, you can find plenty in San Diego County. San Diego’s oldest winery, Bernardo Winery, has a wine tasting room, shops with hand-crafted items, spaces for special events, and a full restaurant named Cafe Merlot if you want a meal. Couples who want to make a night of it can book into the nearby Rancho Bernardo Inn.
If making a day of it is more your speed, consider going on guided tours of local wineries so you can leave the keys to someone else while making special memories.
5. Book Date Night in the Gaslamp Quarter
Even the name Gaslamp Quarter evokes a sense of romance, making an evening stroll there holding your partner’s hand one of the easier San Diego date ideas. This area is filled with one historic place after another.
But couples flock to the area for its wine bars, restaurants, clubs, and speakeasies like Noble Experiment. You can make date night here as inexpensive or as expensive as you want.
Add a bit of fun by taking the Murder Mystery Tour here or by capping the night off with a movie at Theater Box, a deluxe cinema with Instagram-worthy desserts from its Sugar Factory.
6. Walk Along the Embarcadero to Seaport Village
The pedestrianized Embarcadero along the San Diego Bay is another great romantic destination in San Diego for couples. The many parks in the area are perfect for picnics and scenery. You can even pick up a picnic in nearby Little Italy at Mona Lisa Foods or one of the many popular restaurants.
Along the way, you’ll spot pieces of public art like the (controversial) Unconditional Surrender statue near the USS Midway Museum. Download the one-mile self-guided art tour to see other pieces scattered along the Embarcadero.
If you’re hungry, stop at the new Portside Pier for some pub fare or gelato. Those who just want to admire the view can snap some pics and rest on the second-floor viewing deck.
If you keep heading south you’ll wind up at Seaport Village, another stop for some shopping, snacks, and even kite flying. Behind, this entertainment area you’ll find The Headquarters and another popular date night restaurant — Eddie V’s.
Seaport Village is also the embarkation point for the Old Town Trolley Tour, which is a great way to scope out other romantic things to do in San Diego as the tour takes you through city attractions like the Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, Balboa Park, and even over to Coronado.
7. Cruise San Diego Bay
There’s no better way to see America’s finest city than from the deck of a boat. You’ll have several options for romantic sailing date ideas, including a casual daytime harbor cruise with drinks or a more formal dinner cruise,
Sunset cruises are among the most popular as you and your special someone can spend time viewing the city skyline at night. Popular options include Flagship Cruises & Events and Hornblower Cruises. Enjoy the antics of seabirds, sea breezes, and picturesque downtown San Diego.
Make sure to steal a smooch with your sweetie under the Coronado Bridge as legend says doing so will bring good luck.
8. Go on a Gondola Ride
Who wouldn’t love a romantic evening cruising down the canals of Venice with soft music playing? Although Venice is on another continent thousands of miles away, The Gondola Company brings the experience to San Diego.
Cuddle up under a blanket with your special someone as you cruise through the canals of Coronado Cays. Bring a bottle of wine and add ambiance with the services of a musician.
Choose from a private ride or a gondola for up to six, making it a great San Diego for couples on a double or triple date. Reservations are required.
With the bay on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, a gondola ride is sure to become one of your more memorable outdoor activities.
9. Hike Torrey Pines State Reserve
Getting away from it all makes for some of the best romantic things to do in San Diego and there is no better place than Torrey Pines State Reserve.
Spend a few hours walking along the rocky cliffs of the San Diego coastline and watch colorful gliders cruising through the sky.
Hike one of the trails or relax on the nearby beach (if you hike down to the beach, remember that you have to hike back up).
10. Catch the Sunset at Sunset Cliffs
One of the top romantic date ideas is to watch the sunset from the top of Sunset Cliffs.
No matter what time of the day you come here, you and your special someone will revel in the natural beauty of this west coast attraction.
Located just south of Ocean Beach, Sunset Cliffs is named for its craggy bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The cliffs are popular year-round for lovers who want to watch the sun sink into the surf.
However, make sure to get to the park early as both locals and tourists flock to this area to witness the fiery colors.
11. Visit La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove is the ideal date spot because of its sheer beauty. It’s one of the most photographed places in all of San Diego. From here, you can take a leisurely walk along the picturesque shoreline north or south (though you’ll likely stop to see the antics of the resident sea lions).
Walk south to the Children’s Pool where the La Jolla seals rest on the beach (with pups between December 15 – May 15), passing smaller more rustic, and less crowded beaches like Shell Beach along the way. If it’s low tide, be sure to walk out on to these smaller beaches to explore tide pools.
Walk north up to The Cave Store (maybe taking a pit stop into Sunny Jim Sea Cave) to enter Coast Walk Trail. The seaside trail hugs the coastline, with panoramic views of the La Jolla Underwater Park, all the way to La Jolla Shores Beach, one of my favorite walks.
You can start or end your adventure with mimosas and brunch at Brockton Villa, a restaurant located in one of the remaining historic beach cottages. Or pack a picnic to enjoy in one of the green Belvedere huts along the coast or on the grass at Ellen Browning Scripps Park.
12. Relax on La Jolla Shores Beach
You can actually choose from a variety of activities on this popular beach.
Talk a long morning walk together followed by breakfast in La Jolla Shores. Spend a typical Southern California beach day here enjoying the sunshine and ocean swimming.
Pack a picnic and watch the sunset. If you’re lucky, you can grab one of the fire pits for warmth and s’mores.
Grab a photographer and snap photos as a couple near Scripps Pier at golden hour (popular).
If it’s the summer months (ideally July and August), go snorkeling with the leopard sharks. You can also take a couples surfing or SUP lesson — so much fun for an active date.
13. Plan a Romantic Dinner Date Night
Make reservations at one of the San Diego restaurants that are popular for date night. The Marine Room in La Jolla Shores is set in the sand. At high tides, waves crash up onto the windows (you can book their special high tide dining events). During any time of the year, though the sunsets and views from the restaurant are spectacular, paired with their fine dining seafood menu.
Mr. A’s is another top choice for San Diego couples looking for anniversary ideas. The modern American restaurant boasts a romantic ambiance and panoramic views of downtown, including airplanes landing at the airport.
AR Valentien inside The Lodge at Torrey Pines is another date night favorite with its warm California craftsman decor, views over the 18th hole at Torrey Pines, farm-to-table menu, and fireplace.
14. Book a Beach Roast at Hotel del Coronado
You don’t have to spend the night at Hotel del Coronado (though if you do, remember to use my perks) to enjoy the resort. Book dinner at sea-to-table Serea restaurant, then take a sunset walk along the beach.
Finish the evening with one of the hotel’s daily roasts. They’ll set up a private beach bonfire and chairs for you on the beach, complete with s’mores and other delights from a limited menu (including adult beverages).
15. Spend the Night in a Romantic Hotel
Take a vacation or staycation by booking into some of San Diego’s most romantic hotels. Top choices include: