Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary or planning a first date in Orange County, chances are that you need some fresh ideas to expand your dating repertoire. Thankfully, we’ve got the best date ideas in Orange County right here.
From adventurous outings to intimate evenings, this Southern California region is full of memorable romantic ideas for your next date.
Dinner Date Ideas in Orange County
Looking for a dinner-date spot to impress? Here are some of the best eateries in the OC, a mix of hot new spots and old faves.
Tucked into South Laguna lies an inviting beachside cottage that just so happens to be a delicious restaurant. You and your date will feel right at home with AhbA’s breezy, cozy interior and varied menu.
Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens
Get ready for an intimate evening under the stars at Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens. You and your date can enjoy a candlelit dinner filled with the freshest ingredients and best conversation. (Take a peek at these first-date conversation starters if you need inspiration.)
Top of the V
Tell your date to get gussied up for this unforgettable evening. Top of the V is a rooftop restaurant serving Spanish dishes, like paella and traditional tapas. The elegant ambiance and OC skyline is worth making a reservation.
Vietnamese Food in Little Saigon
Where do you go when you want to feel transported to a cozy London pub? The SideDoor in Corona Del Mar, of course. When you walk through the door to this English-style gastropub, you and your love will feel like you’ve been transported across the pond. Dig into fish ‘n chips or filet mignon as you two cozy up to the fireplace.
Fable & Spirit
Fable & Spirit is one of the best options for dinner date ideas in Orange County. Take your new date or forever partner to this restaurant, where you can nosh on Guinness brown bread, heirloom carrots, chicken confit, and much more.
Day Date Ideas in Orange County
With mild weather year-round, the OC offers plenty of days that are perfect for getting out and about with your loved one. Here are some of the best day date ideas in Orange County.
Experience the Magic of Disneyland
The ultimate date idea in Orange County, a day at Disneyland is truly unbeatable. If you’re a California resident, you can usually score discounted tickets throughout the year, making this option a little easier on the wallet.
Eat Brunch at The Beachcomber
This classic destination in Newport Beach is sure to impress longtime residents and visitors alike. Head to The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove for brunch (don’t miss their epic Bloody Mary’s), followed by a lovely walk on the beach.
Explore Balboa Peninsula
Balboa Peninsula is full of so many day date ideas in Orange County. A good itinerary is to, first, grab some poke to go from Bear Flag Fish Co., then head to Newport Beach Pier to dig into your ocean-view lunch. Afterward, head down to Newport Beach for a romantic walk on the sand.
Take the Ferry to Catalina Island
One of the best date ideas in Orange County is just one ferry ride away. Catalina Island, 1.5 hours by sea from OC, is the perfect option for a full day together. Hop on the ferry from Balboa Island, which takes you to the town of Avalon on Catalina. Once there, do some snorkeling, hit some of the hiking trails, or just explore the town. This is one of those OC adventure date ideas that you just can’t miss.
Hike in Crystal Cove State Park
If you and your partner like hitting the trails, head to Crystal Cove State Park, where you’ll be spoiled for choice with nature options. Pay a small parking fee, then take your pick of trails, most of which meander up to hilltops with sweeping views of the Pacific.
Indulge in Something Sweet on Balboa Island
Balboa Island is a lovely place to explore and a wonderful option for a day date. But what draws crowds here is the Balboa Bars at Sugar ‘n Spice, which has been serving up the famous frozen banana treats since 1965. Order two and wander through the quaint seaside streets.
Ride a Duffy Boat at Sunset
When you want to get a second date, it helps to impress with great conversation, delicious food, and a good sunset. Pack a picnic dinner and a bottle of wine and take an electric Duffy Boat for a spin through Newport Bay. You and your date will ooh and aah over the romantic ambiance.
Go Wine Tasting
Take some time to relax and connect with your date over a glass or two of wine. Two favorites in the OC are Orange Coast Winery, an urban winery that sources grapes, and Newport Beach Vineyards and Winery, which has its 3-acre vineyard on site.
Free Date Ideas in Orange County
In a region of the country that is notoriously expensive, it might be difficult to come up with date ideas that don’t cost a pretty penny. But stay right here—we’ve got the best free date ideas in Orange County.
Walk Along the Laguna Beach Cliffside Trail
For a million-dollar view without the expense, take your love to the Cliffside Trail in Laguna Beach, which starts at Cliff Drive and ends at S Coast Hwy and Park Ave. Want to make a really good impression on a first date? Bonus points if you plan your walk at sunset.
See Downtown Disney
If a day at Disneyland doesn’t fit your budget, you can still get that magical feeling at Downtown Disney. While this date idea is technically free, there might be parking fees (and you’ll probably want to buy matching Mickey ears).
Meander through Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve
For a peaceful date in nature that just so happens to be free, plan a walking or jogging date in Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve just north of Huntington Beach. There is a nice trail through the preserve that provides views of native birds and the local landscape.
Take a Drive on the PCH
Plan this quintessential coastal California date when you need a sober date idea and want to go for a casual Sunday drive. From Seal Beach down to San Clemente, the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH to locals) gives drivers beautiful ocean views paired with cute towns along the way. If you and your boo are of a certain generation, consider blaring The OC theme song to make this a cheesy date to remember.
Walk around The Lab
You might not think that walking around a shopping area should be in a list of free date ideas in Orange County, but hear us out. The Lab is a self-proclaimed “anti-mall,” meaning that its space hosts small businesses, cafes, and art galleries. Its indoor-outdoor setting and quirky vibe make this a great place for a successful first date—you and your partner can walk hand in hand, viewing the art installations and creative spaces.
Watch Surfers at The Wedge
Even if you and your loved one aren’t surfers, watching the pros catch waves at the Wedge is a sight to behold. Maybe you’ll even get some inspo for new couple activities you could try together.
Unique Date Ideas in Orange County
Sometimes you want to think outside of the box with your date brainstorming. We’ve compiled some fun date ideas in Orange County that aren’t your ordinary OC options.
Listen to Live Music at Soka Performing Arts Center
If you want to impress your date with some beautiful live music, book tickets for a show at Soka Performing Arts Center. The modern building alone is worth seeing, but, of course, you’ll want to stay for one of the performances, ranging from classical music to opera to jazz and beyond.
Try Glow-in-the-Dark Paddleboarding
If you’ve tried daytime stand-up paddleboarding before and want to level up your skills, take your partner to a glow-in-the-dark version. Pirate Coast Paddle Company offers SUP Glow group nighttime excursions that are truly unique.
Attend Pageant of the Masters
The Pageant of the Masters is a can’t-miss Orange County event. Hosted by the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts, this incredible annual experience (from July to August) is a feast for the senses, with art exhibits, live music, and the Pageant of the Masters, a nightly production with a different theme each year. Book two tickets for a unique date night.
Ride on a Ferris Wheel
Hop on the Irvine Spectrum Giant Wheel, which gives you and your date panoramic views of the city. Whether you choose a daytime or nighttime ride, this fun first date idea in Orange County is sure to spark some romance.
Find Peace in Noguchi Garden
If the daily grind has got you down and you want a peaceful date for you and your partner, explore Noguchi Garden, a compact garden with abstract art installations. Nearby is the Orange County Museum of Art, so you can continue your art viewing there.
Museums and art spaces are great date ideas for introverts—there’s not much pressure to keep constant conversation, but art pieces have a way of sparking new topics.
Night Date Ideas in Orange County
Rounding out our list of the top date ideas in Orange County are the best places to go on a date at night.
Choose Your Own Dinner at Anaheim Packing District
Anaheim Packing District has been a foodie destination for years—and for good reason. It has an amazing selection of eateries, so couples can choose whatever meal fits their fancy and meet in the common spaces to share dinner. There’s even a speakeasy for post-dinner drinks.
Savor Dessert from Paderia Bakehouse
Want some fun first date ideas in Orange County for when you’re short on time? Meet at Paderia Bakehouse in Irvine for dessert and coffee, where you can find anything from delectable cheesecake to melt-in-your-mouth cookies.
Read up on first-date etiquette before you go.
Show Off Your Moves at InCahoots
Pull on your cowboy boots and get ready to have a good time with your dance partner at InCahoots in Fullerton. This country nightclub has line dancing lessons for first-timers, or you can head straight to the dance floor with your love by your side.
See an Anaheim Ducks Game
Boost your adrenaline with your significant other by attending an Anaheim Ducks hockey game at the Honda Center.
Clink Cocktails at the Ritz
Wow your date with sunset cocktails at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. The resort’s bar, 180blu, serves up awe-inspiring views of the Pacific paired with refreshing libations. Grab a table on the clifftop patio and cheers your person—this is an evening to remember.
If you’ve already had the pleasure of finding your person or are still on the search for that special someone, these date ideas in Orange County are sure to up the romance.