People say the holidays are about family, but we happen to think they’re also about romance—it is the most magical time of the year, after all. With all the Christmas lights, cuddle weather and adorable date options, it’s the perfect time of year to keep the spark aflame, or to get a new one started. So break away from the Christmas movies for just a bit to head out on one of these seasonal dates.
1. Enchanted: Forest of Light: We’ve dubbed it the most stunning holiday display in L.A., and honestly, the romance factor here is high. Walking through Descanso Gardens on a regular day is ripe for romance, but at night when the garden is lit up throughout, it really ups the ante. There are eight illuminated installations around the grounds, from luminescent forests to free-standing hands-on art pieces, making for a romantic and fun evening.
2. Ice skating in Downtown L.A.: There are plenty of ice skating rinks around, but there are two outdoor rinks open right now that are especially romantic. Pershing Square’s Downtown on Ice and L.A. Live’s holiday rink are both surrounded by Downtown L.A.’s skyscrapers, creating a glowing setting that you won’t get at most of the other rinks. Plus, being located in Downtown means there are plenty of restaurants and bars nearby for a bite to eat before a spin around the rink and a nightcap afterward.
3. Drink up at a holiday-themed bar: Grabbing a drink at a bar is a go-to date idea, but it doesn’t often lend itself to much romance. So this holiday season, instead of just taking your date to any old bar, take them to Westbound‘s Miracle on Santa Fe. Every inch of the Arts District spot is decorated for the holidays and there are holiday-themed libations on the menu. So you can still partake in your favorite date activity, but in a romantic holiday wonderland.
4. Venice Beach Canals: Walking through the Venice Beach Canals is always romantic, but when the bridges and houses are decorated with Christmas lights and garland, it’s even more swoon-worthy. Plus, taking a walk through the canals when it’s cooler outside means plenty of time for hand holding, cuddling up to keep each other warm and good conversation.
5. Sunset Beach gondola: Everyone knows about the Venice Beach Canals, but in Sunset Beach—a few beach towns south of Venice Beach—there’s a slightly lesser-known canal system. Much like Venice, homeowners along the Huntington Harbour decorate their houses for Christmas, amping up the romance factor of an evening stroll. The Sunset Gondola company offers leisurely gondola rides around the canals, and will provide you with a blanket, wine glasses and an ice bucket—you’re allowed to bring your own food and drinks with you—for a night to remember.
6. The Grove: Normally we wouldn’t recommend dealing with the Grove’s crowds on a date, but when they make it snow in L.A.—every night, at 7 and 8pm during the holiday season—it turns into the perfect romantic outing. They also have live entertainment, Santa’s Cottage and holiday decorations throughout the shopping center. Sip on hot chocolate, enjoy a unique L.A. experience and maybe even get some shopping done—or use this time to hint at what you want your significant other to get you as you walk by the store windows.
7. Chill: If your date is a sucker for the holidays, this is the ultimate date spot. Chill at the Queen Mary is a winter wonderland, with an all new Alice and Winterland attraction, ice skating, a North Pole Village, carolers and more. And when you’re over the holiday cheer, you can head onto the former cruise ship for a bite to eat or a beer. And hey, if things go well, maybe you can snag a room!
8. Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade and Ring of Lights: Find a spot along the bay and settle in, cuddle up and watch the festive boats pass by. You can pick a a seat along a public beach or one of the many restaurants along the harbor for your viewing pleasure. This is such a popular event that the parade takes place over five nights (Dec 14-18), starting at 6:30pm.
9. L.A. Zoo Lights: A trip to the zoo is always a fun date, but over the holidays the L.A. Zoo turns into a magical place for L.A. Zoo Lights. No matter how many times you’ve been to the zoo during the day, you’ve never experienced it like this. The amount of lights used for this event, which takes place through Jan 8, is incredible. And if you want a bit more of an adult experience, go on Dec 8 or 15 when there are VIP Happy Hours taking place.
10. Take a day trip to Mount Baldy: You can enjoy snow—the real kind—by driving up to Mount Baldy, which is about an hour away from DTLA. Make a snowman or dine at Top Notch Restaurant & Bar. If the resort’s runs are open, you could even head down the slope on some skis before warming up together after your day outdoors.