The first date never has been a low-pressure endeavor. That’s why Guide offered a great-dates sampler in 2010 (click here to read it). But the ante has been upped since, so here are seven more to consider. Out with the cliche, in with the creative! If your initial meeting was mediocre, remember: It’s never too late for a do-over.
Take a Hike
Part of Crystal Cove State Park, El Moro Canyon is an undeveloped valley east of Newport Coast that offers miles of trails leading to stunning ocean views. (All-day parking is $15.) Opt for a relatively easy 3½-mile outing, or the more arduous 8-mile trek. Afterward, treat yourselves to lunch or dinner at The Beachcomber just steps from the sea. Need other trail options? Our October “Great Hikes” issue has nine more. Check them out at orangecoast.com/hikes. Crystal Cove State Park, 871 N. Coast Highway, 949-494-3539; The Beachcomber, 15 Crystal Cove, 949-376-6900, thebeachcombercafe.com
Taste the O.C. Lifestyle Saturday mornings are a great time to release your inner foodie at Costa Mesa’s OC Mart Mix. Grab a Kyoto Iced Coffee ($4.50) from Portola Coffee Lab and wander around the eclectic shops. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, check out the farmers market and food trucks that gather in the parking lot from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Purveyors such as Chomp Chomp Nation and Seabirds are crowd favorites. 3313 Hyland Ave., theocmartmix.com
Sail a Duffy
Newport Harbor is best seen from the water. At $99 an hour, a Duffy offers some privacy and you’ll score points for the romantic setting. Stop by A Market to select a few picnic items before you go. Duffy Electric Boat Rentals, 2001 W. Coast Highway, 949-645-6812, duffyofnewportbeach.com; A Market, 3334 W. Coast Highway, 949-650-6515
Rent a Segway
Sign up for an outing ($80 per person for a 1½-hour tour) in Huntington Beach and you’ll have miles of sand to explore. Then head to the third block of Main Street to put your name on the waiting list at Pizza Lounge. Slip onto the patio at Main Street Wine Co. at the same address and sip California varietals while you wait for a table. GW Tours, 120 Pacific Coast Highway, 657-464-9137, hbsegwaytours.com; Pizza Lounge, 301 Main St., 714-374-0200, huntingtonbeachpizza.com; Main Street Wine Co., 714-969-7400,mainstreetwinecompany.com
Explore Historic San Juan Capistrano
Orange County is rich with historical train stations, none more storied than San Juan Capistrano’s. The tracks are within walking distance of the 18th century mission and Los Rios Historical District, the state’s oldest neighborhood. There you’ll find Ramos House Café, which turns out contemporary takes on classic American fare. Mission San Juan Capistrano, 26801 Ortega Highway, missionsjc.com; Ramos House Café, 31752 Los Rios St., 949-443-1342, ramoshouse.com
Walk the Line
Don your cowboy hat and boots and head for the dance floor. At The Ranch Restaurant and Saloon in Anaheim, you can swing your partner for just $5 before 8:30 most nights. This state-of-the-art dance hall includes a 40-foot stage and plenty of live acts. And you can snack on some of the county’s best beef sliders. 1025 E. Ball Road, 714-817-4200, theranch.com
Dinner and a Movie Redux
This 21st century spin on the classic first date is perfect for film-lovers. Island Cinema in Newport Beach takes movie-going to a new level with food options such as chicken chipotle paninis ($8) and lemon crumb bars ($5.50). How about a glass of prosecco ($8) delivered to your seat while you watch a flick? 999 Newport Center Drive, 949-718-4382, shopfashionisland.com/movies
illustration by Kim Rosen
This article originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of Orange Coast magazine.