Unconventional first date ideas around San Diego


It’s time to ditch the same ‘ol dinner and a movie schtick for first dates. With the popularity of social media and internet dating sites, guys and gals expect more than ever for those first sparks of romance and love from the start. Luckily, America’s Finest City has a plethora of first date options for every type of personality.

Craft beer lovers

In the land of over 140 craft breweries, a tour and tasting is an ideal match for first dates in San Diego. While numerous options abound, one of the most popular is the tour at Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido. With gorgeous, vacation-like outdoor terraces and gardens, plus a wide range of housemade, local, national, and import brews, it’s a match made in beer heaven.

1999 Citracado Pkwy, Escondido, 760.294.7899,

Athletic types

Red-faced panting and sweating in a spin class might not be the sexiest option. Instead, show off the guns at a rock climbing gym for a fun and intense workout date. Head to Vertical Hold for one-day guest passes, with the option to add belaying and climbing lessons. Insider tip: Dress appropriately guys and gals, no need in showing off the goods before it’s time.

One-day passes are $17, with $7 gear rental, climbing lessons are $30. Discounts available for military, fire, police, first responders, and students.

2074 Hancock St., Mission Hills, 858.586.7572,

Artsy types

Take a romantic stroll through Balboa Park and admire the Churrigueresque architecture, numerous outdoor sculptures, and art museums including the free Timken Museum of Art. Then pop into The Prado for $5.50 happy hour cocktails, and bites ranging from $5-8, for a perfect San Diego afternoon date.

1549 El Prado, Balboa Park, 619.557.9441,

Wine fans

With urban wineries popping up all over town, wine tasting is an inventive and convenient date idea anywhere around the county. LJ Crafted Wines in La Jolla is a great place to try for a beautiful coastal option. Located just a few blocks from the beach, the tasting room stocks wines made from Napa grapes, cheese and gourmet plates to share, and growlers for take-out plans. With any luck, a heart-skipping date can lead to lovebird walks along the beach. Fine more urban wineries around town here.

5621 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla (858) 551-8890,

Outdoor types

Nothing is more beautiful and romantic than overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. With a variety of easy- to moderate-trails, it’s a great way to gauge physical fitness and a love for the outdoors. If complaining ensues, dump the date stat. If romance blooms on the bluff, continue the courtship with a happy hour drink right down the street at Seasalt Del Mar.

Torrey Pines: 12600 N. Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla,

Seaalt Del Mar: 2282 Carmel Valley Rd., Del Mar, 858.755.7100,

Cowboys and cowgirls

Cue the romance as Beach Rides of San Diego takes couples on private horseback rides through the Tijuana River Valley and sandy beaches. Choose from a variety of packages, ranging in price from $50 per person for a one hour riverbed tour to the exciting Private Swim Adventure for more experienced riders at $150 per person, with options in between. Girls, don’t forget the cowboy hat and flowy dress for Insta-worthy moments. PACIFIC sent blind daters Jessica and Ian there to find love on the back of a horse for the June 2017 magazine.

2606 Hollister St., Imperial Beach, 619.947.3152,

Go retro

Why sit in a restaurant in awkward silence when competition is so much more fun? Go old school dating with a round of bowling at Tavern+Bowl in East Village. Happy hour runs 3-7 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close Monday through Friday, and includes bar specials like $5 premium pints, wine, and Espolon margaritas, and half-off select appetizers. If South County is your hangout preference, they have a location there as well.

930 Market St., East Village, 619.677.2695; 881 Showroom Pl., East Lake, 619.565.2695,