Great Date Ideas in and Around San Diego

The breathtakingly beautiful La Jolla Shores
The breathtakingly beautiful La Jolla Shores | © frank mckenna / Unsplash
San Diego is a city full of great date spots. Sure, the spectacular coastline helps, but there are also lots of chic, stylish neighborhoods to explore and find that place that you and your date will remember for years to come – or keep coming back to. Impress a new flame or show a long-term partner how much you love them with these top San Diego spots for romance, all recommended by Culture Trip’s on-the-ground local insiders.

Red Tracton's

Restaurant, Diner, American, $$$

Head to local favorite Red Tracton’s in Del Mar for an all-American evening of steak, seafood and strong martinis. Portions are generous and, with numerous awards for San Diego’s finest steakhouse, you won’t go wrong with a serving of their prime rib. The Del Mar racetrack is just over the road, making Red Tracton’s a perfect way to finish off a day at the races with your date. Alternatively, call in after a romantic evening stroll along the coastline or make them feel special with a luxurious lunch date – Cutlure Trip’s local insider recommends the French dip sandwich. Recommended by local insider Lauren Rogers

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Bencotto

Restaurant, Italian, $$$

Little Italy is filled to the brim with decent Italian restaurants (naturally). Impress your date with a night at super-stylish spot, Bencotto Italian Kitchen. Interiors are low-key but super-elegant, and their fresh pasta is absolutely to die for – the squid ink fettuccine and house bencotto (pink pancetta) sauce gets rave reviews from locals. Complete your date with a pre/post-dinner stroll through Little Italy’s shops and cafes, perhaps meandering your way towards the seafront for a beachside sunset. Recommended by local insider Lauren Rogers

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JuneShine Ranch Tasting Room

Bar, Cocktails

Looking for unusual date ideas? Hard kombucha is a drink that you and that special someone might not have tried before. It’s made from fermented tea and honey and various fruits, and has the same alcohol percentage as a strong beer (6 percent), while offering the health benefits of a probiotic. JuneShine is a favorite local brand – take a tour of their ranch to learn more about what it is and how it’s made, with plenty of opportunities to sample different flavors. Recommended by local insider Lauren Rogers

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Sevilla Restaurant and Tapas Bar

Restaurant, Spanish, Tapas, $$$

Is there anything more classically romantic than a table for two with tapas and a bottle of good wine to share? Treat your loved one to an evening of Spanish flair at the Sevilla Restaurant and Tapas Bar in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. A stone’s throw away from many of the city’s major attractions, a trip to Sevilla is a great way to end a day of sightseeing. Add a little extra spice to your night by staying for live music or a flamenco show, and take advantage of their enticing late-night menu. Recommended by local insider Hebah Bukhari

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La Jolla Shores

Park

No list of San Diego date spots would be complete without mentioning La Jolla Shores. This stretch of famously lovely sandy beach is, admittedly, a popular attraction, but you can avoid the daytime crowds with a sunset stroll or early morning walk. Take a picnic, or continue to one of well-heeled La Jolla’s many restaurants for an evening meal or breakfast out. Recommended by local insider Hebah Bukhari

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San Diego Dinner Cruise

Natural Feature

Local operator Hornblower offers a nightly dinner cruise that certainly ticks that ‘something special’ box for an anniversary or big-occasion date. You’ll be welcomed onto your spacious yacht–restaurant with a glass of cold champagne and treated to a three-course meal made with local, seasonal produce while cruising around San Diego Bay. With views changing with each course and a business casual/cocktail dress code, it’ll be a night both of you remember for years to come. For a slightly more informal (but no less remarkable) date, check out their brunch cruise options too. Recommended by local insider Hebah Bukhari

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These recommendations were updated on July 13, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.