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Six Post-Pandemic Dating Ideas

June 14, 2020

Pandating, Part 2

Have you had enough of sitting at home? Ready to go out again? This article outlines some of the current options.

In Part 1 of this article, I shared some general guidelines about going on dates in the post-pandemic environment. Now, let’s look at some specific date ideas. (Just like Part 1, this applies to both singles and couples).

Since all states and counties have their own rules, the overall situation is rather complex. But there are some commonalities: right now, outdoor dates are the safest bets. And generally, this means: shared activities. Here are a few ideas:

1. Botanical Gardens

The Huntington, San Marino

Here in Los Angeles County, we are blessed with some of the world’s most interesting gardens, such as the The Huntington, The Arboretum, the South Coast Botanical Garden, Descanso Gardens, as well as many smaller ones. They are allowed to be open, but they limit the number of visitors, which makes them even better for dates. They have restrooms and convenient parking areas, and (usually) concessions and food. Some, like the Huntington Library, even have a cafe, a tea room, and restaurants (check for restrictions).

Walk around, take pictures, sit down at the benches or in the grass – there’s plenty to do and talk about on a date!

Caveat: To limit the number of visitors, there are reservation systems in place now. Please study this on the respective web sites and call ahead! Also, be sure you understand the opening hours, as they may be different from regular hours.

2. Beaches

Santa Monica Beach

What could be more romantic than a walk at the beach? You can do that now at many of California’s beaches – but make sure to do your research before a beach date. While walking is generally allowed, sitting down or picnicking may not be.

Caveat: Many of the beach parking lots are currently closed, so be sure to have a parking strategy. Beach cleanup and trash pickup have not been kept up, and many of the public restrooms are closed. 

3. Public Trails

Topanga State Park, Santa Monica Mountains

Walking, hiking or biking can be great dating activities. Luckily, most trails are available again.

Caveats: Same as with beaches. In addition, some of the trails are getting quite busy, especially on the weekends. Make sure you know where to park, and be aware that in California, parking fees may be due even when parking alongside an access road. (For such places, you need to get the parking permits online or at ranger stations).

4. Parks

Balboa Park, San Diego

While many (but not all) parks are open, not all activities are allowed. For instance, if your date includes a picnic, please make sure to research if the park of your choice allows it. It might be a good idea to go and see the location for yourself before you invite someone on a date. (Are the restrooms available and clean? Are there vagrants in the park? Is the park well maintained? Are the trash cans emptied?)

5. Drive-In Movie Theaters

Paramount Drive-In, City of Paramount

While indoor movie theaters remain closed in most densely populated areas, an old-fashioned alternative could be fun right now: Drive-In theaters used to be a fad from the 1950s. They then faded away until there was a resurgence in the 1980s. Sadly since then, many have been replaced by real estate developments. Due to the Coronavirus, they are currently experiencing another revival. According to the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association, there were 305 local drive-in theater options across the United States as of October 2019. 

Here are some in California:

City of Industry: Vineland Drive-In Theatre
Paramount: Paramount Drive-In
Concord: Solano 2 Drive-In
Imperial Beach: South Bay Drive-In
Lakeport: Lakeport Auto Movies
Montclair: Mission Tiki Drive-In
Riverside: The Rubidoux Drive-in
Riverside: Van Buren Cinema 3 Drive-In
Santa Barbara: West Wind Drive-In Theatre
Sacramento: Sacramento 6 Drive-In
San Jose: Capitol 6 Drive-In

Caveat: You are not doing the “social distancing” thing if you are in car together, but if your date is a member of your household or otherwise safe, you are good to go. To be safe(r), plan on staying in your car, bring your own food (where allowed) and avoid the public restrooms.

6. Outdoor Sports

Los Angeles Country Club

If you spent time learning an outdoor sport such as tennis, golf, pickleball, tennis, archery or shooting – here is your chance to shine by inviting your date to join in your hobby. You’ll be the instructor! Most of these types of facilities are open again (yes, with restrictions – you probably guessed it). Not all require club membership, and some are available and open to the public.

Los Angeles Country Club

Caveat: Besides the prerequisite skills, you’ll also need to provide the equipment and have the necessary patience to introduce a newcomer. But with the right person, this shouldn’t be a problem!

Regardless of whether it’s a first date, a date with your boyfriend or girlfriend, or a date with your wife of 60 years: At Catch we feel that inviting someone on a date constitutes an implicit promise to show the other person a good time. This requires effort and care. 

When our agency sets up dates for clients, we can do the necessary research on their behalf. If our team is not already familiar with the location, we inspect it beforehand or talk to the management to sniff out potential pitfalls.

If you are planning your own date, think of it as a production. Don’t just leave things to chance. (For example, some venues accept neither cash nor swiped credit cards right now, but want contactless methods of payment). Try to foresee what would make your date happy, plan for it, and prepare for contingencies. Especially in these crazy times, we cannot emphasize it enough: think it through, email and call ahead, make reservations. In short: do your homework!

On the plus side, just about anything that gets your love interest out of the house for something fun is most likely to be welcome now. As matchmakers, we deal with odds. And your odds of getting a “yes” when asking someone out are now better than ever!


The author, Katie Chen is a professional matchmaker and relationship expert. She is the owner of Catch Matchmaking Inc., a boutique dating and relationship agency in Los Angeles, California.

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