Valentine's Dates in L.A. That Won't Break the Bank

From comic book nerds to music fans, there are romantic places in L.A. for every lover

"Here's looking at you, kid." | Photo courtesy of "Casablanca," Facebook
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Celebrating Valentine's Day doesn't have to break the bank. L.A.'s wealth of cultural institutions, outdoor spaces and events makes it possible to find some reasonably-priced ways to spend the day or evening with your date. Below, we've tailored options according to interests. You'll find ideas to nerd nights out on the town, day trips for nature lovers and even a few options for whiskey drinkers here.

Film Geeks

Batmobiles on display in the Batcave at Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood
Batmobiles on display in the Batcave | Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood

One of the seminal movies in the modern superhero film genre, "Batman" is celebrating its 30th anniversary this fall. Directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader and Jack Nicholson as the Joker, Batman was a cultural phenomenon that spawned three sequels and won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction. Bat-fans can imagine themselves wearing the Dark Knight's cowl when they book the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood, which includes a visit to the "Batcave" and its exhibition of Batmobiles and other famous vehicles from the film franchise.

3400 Warner Blvd, Burbank 91505

Here's looking at you, American Cinematheque! One of the most romantic movies of all time, Casablanca is screening at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica on Valentine's Day. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman lead an all-star cast that includes Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet and Conrad Veidt. Winner of three Oscars, for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay.

1328 Montana Ave, Santa Monica 90403

Scum & Villainy Cantina
Scum & Villainy Cantina | Instagram by @theminniemuffin

What began as a Star Wars-centric pop-up is now an all-inclusive geek hangout. Located in Hollywood, Scum &Villainy Cantina is a cosplay-friendly bar with themed drinks like Wretched Blue Milk and Scoundrel's Delight, with nerdy events that range from podcast recordings to karaoke nights. Wednesdays are dedicated to Geeks Who Drink Pub Trivia. There's no cover to play or just hang.

6377 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood 90028

Architecture Lovers

Lobby of the Los Angeles Theatre in Downtown L.A.
Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Theatre, Facebook

Cinespia presents a Valentine's Day screening of True Romance in one of the city's grand old movie palaces. The Los Angeles Theatre was the final such venue built on Broadway. Today, the building, which was designed by S. Charles Lee and opened in 1931, is considered a landmark.

Directed by Tony Scott with a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino, True Romance stars Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette as a 1990s version of Bonnie and Clyde. The cast also includes Dennis Hopper, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken, James Gandolfini, Michael Rapaport, and Bronson Pinchot. There will be DJ sets before and after the film, a grand ballroom, full bars and specialty cocktails. Tickets are $30. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., film starts at 9 p.m. Dress up in "your Valentine's best" for the photo booth and more Instagrammable moments – cocktail, movie inspired, truly romantic looks. Valid ID required for cocktails.

615 S. Broadway, Los Angeles 90014

Exhibit at A+D Museum
Exhibit at A+D Museum | Instagram by @certified.daddy

Located in the Downtown L.A. Arts District, the A+D Museum is a small institution dedicated to exploring the world of architecture and design. Their hours are limited - on Wednesdays its open from 2-6 p.m. - and it's worth a stop if you're planning on a Valentine's lunch date and stroll to explore the Arts District murals. $10 suggested donation for entry.

900 E. 4th St, Los Angeles 90013

The Rotunda of the Central Library in Downtown L.A.
The Rotunda of the Central Library | Photo by Candice Montgomery, Discover Los Angeles Flickr Pool

Downtown L.A.'s landmark Central Library is a massive art-filled building marked by architecture that points to both the city's past and present. The library offers free daily docent-led tours. On Thursdays, the tour starts at 12:30 p.m. and lasts about an hour. The library itself is open until 8 p.m. and there are guides for you to tour the library on your own.

630 W. 5th St, Los Angeles 90071

Music Lovers

Upstairs at the Ace Hotel in Downtown L.A.
Upstairs at the Ace Hotel | Photo courtesy of blakespot, Flickr

On Valentine's Day, the Ace Hotel in Downtown L.A. presents Love Looks Like Fire at Upstairs, the hotel's rooftop bar and event space with unforgettable city views. Taking place from 6pm to 10pm, Love Looks Like Fire features artist Janet Levy presenting her own artwork, a book pop-up designed by Iván Martínez, and movement performance choreographed by Melissa Schade. There's no cover and the venue is 21+.

929 S. Broadway, Los Angeles 90015

Naomi Greene playing the harp
Photo courtesy of Naomi Greene, Facebook

The Echo is hosting a tribute to French musician Serge Gainsbourge, featuring a live orchestra, DJ set by Décadanse Soirée, harp performance by Naomi Greene, and paintings by Jeffrey Vincent Parise. Tickets for this 18 and over event are $8 in advance and $10 day of show.

1822 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles 90026

Heaven or Los Angeles at Zebulon Cafe
Photo courtesy of Zebulon Cafe

Located in Frogtown, Zebulon Cafe presents Heaven or Los Angeles: My Bloody Valentine's Day, a Cocteau Twins + My Bloody Valentine-inspired dance night. The ethereal music will be spun by DJs spun by Olive Kimoto and Paige Emery. Zebulon will be transformed into the romantic prom you wish you had, complete with a My Bloody Valentine themed kissing booth, while the iconic Angelyne brings you on a ride in her famous pink corvette.

2478 N Fletcher Dr, Los Angeles 90039


Bikers on the L.A. River Bike Path
L.A. River Bike Path | Photo courtesy of Joséphine Runneboom, Discover Los Angeles Flickr Pool

The Glendale Narrows section of the L.A. River is ideal for day-trippers, with its access to both equestrian and bike trails and multiple parks along the route. Head to the Los Angeles River Center for an exhibit on the river's history and to the River Garden Park for picnicking. If you're biking, look out for Spokes Bicycle Cafe along the L.A. River Bike Path for coffee and a bite to eat. Spokes also offers bike rentals and has a repair shop on site.

Sunset at White Point Beach
White Point Beach | Photo courtesy of L.A. County Dept. of Beaches & Harbors

White Point Beach is a hidden gem in San Pedro with access to tide pools and lots of hiking options. You'll actually have to hike down the bluff to access the beach itself. Across the street is White Point Nature Preserve and Education Center, home of an old Nike Missile site and hiking trails.

1799 W Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro 90731

SuihoEn (“Garden of Water and Fragrance”)
SuihoEn (“Garden of Water and Fragrance”) | Photo courtesy of *PhotoByJohn*, Flickr

Located next to a water reclamation plant in the Sepulveda Basin, SuihoEn: The Japanese Garden is actually three gardens tucked into a 6 1/2 acre space. Willow, ginkgo, weeping peach and cherry blossom trees are among the natural beauties you'll find inside this romantic outdoor space. On Wednesdays, the garden is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and docent tours are available with a reservation. Admission is $5 ($3 for seniors). There's a no food or beverages policy at the garden, but you can picnic at nearby Woodley Park.

6100 Woodley Ave, Van Nuys 91406

Whiskey Drinkers

Seven Grand in Downtown L.A.
Seven Grand | Photo courtesy of 213 Hospitality

Seven Grand made its mark in Downtown L.A. with whiskey. It's the bar's specialty - they even have a Whiskey Society for drinkers who want to partake in tasting events. It's also home to Bar Jackalope, the tiny 18-seat bar-within-a-bar with a whiskey menu that includes unusual finds. While Seven Grand's extensive whiskey list and cocktail menu can be high-end, their budget-friendly Happy Hour runs until 8 p.m. on weekdays and cocktails are only $6.

515 W. 7th Street, Suite 300, Los Angeles 90014

Tasting room at Greenbar Distillery
Tasting room | Photo courtesy of Greenbar Distillery, Facebook

If you're planning on moving your Valentine's date to a weekend before or after the holiday, head to Greenbar Distillery. These makers of organic spirits such as Slow Hand Whiskey, offer tours and tastings on Fridays and Saturdays. You'll have to reserve a spot in advance and tickets are $12 per person.

2459 E. 8th St., Los Angeles 90021

Ramirez Liquor in Boyle Heights
Ramirez Liquor | Instagram by @ol_dirty_blanco

For those who don't want to deal with Valentine's Day crowds, but would like to enjoy a nightcap, there's Ramirez Liquor. This massive Boyle Heights shop is filled with beverage choices, including an ample selection of whiskey ranging from big brands to small batch operations for any budget.

736 S. Soto St, Los Angeles 90023