Fun First Date Spots in Long Beach

If a new year has you thinking about pursuing a new relationship, it also means you’ll be heading out on some first dates. Fortunately, you’ll be first dating in Long Beach where options varying from romantic to active to hilarious are not only numerous, but often closely situated, making for more interesting and memorable dates. Places to eat? Of course. But there are places to move about, scoot a boot, swing a club or stroll and shop, all of them designed to entertain and impress. And isn’t that what dating is all about? No, seriously, we’re asking … you know, for a friend.

An Artsy Evening

Start at one of the city’s most unique wine bars; unique for being physically connected to the iconic Art Theatre as well as because Art Du Vin (2027 E. Fourth St.) specializes in offering a curated menu of natural, organic, biodynamic wine, which may sound a bit science-y, but is actually delicious and a ready topic as both wine and conversation flow. Afterward, make the five second walk to the entrance of the Art Theatre (2025 E. Fourth St.), one of Southern California’s best locations for international, independent film and documentary films as well as special events. The theater was completely renovated during the pandemic and now boasts more legroom and improved sound system. If the film triggers some thoughts, you might head back to Art Du Vin or one of the many other eateries and drinkeries on Retro Row to discuss.

Shoreline Sweethearts

The city’s most popular walk/hike/bike/skate path ribbons itself on the city’s beaches from Shoreline Village to Belmont Shore. It’s flat, easy to navigate and offers so many sites and diversions ready made for conversation, laughter or, in the case of one of Long Beach’s awesome sunsets, quiet moments that can go a long way in progressing a relationship. If you want to cycle, you can always rent some from Wheel Fun Rentals (429 Shoreline Dr.). Afterward, think of grabbing some refreshment. Saltwater Deck (2630 E. Ocean Blvd.) offers an opportunity for dining/drinking right on the sand. You also might think of heading up the stairs at Junipero Avenue and grabbing a table at Claire’s at the Museum (2300 E. Ocean Blvd.). A great restaurant located on the campus of the Long Beach Museum of Art, Claire’s serves an innovative menu and offers some of the best views of the beach, ocean and Queen Mary in the city. A great spot for gazing, whether at the view or each other.

Uptown Vibes

If you’re looking to lend a little country cool to your first meeting consider meeting up in Uptown Commons at the counter of Main Chick (6600 Atlantic Ave.). This place makes some of the best hot chicken in the city, with heat levels ranging from low-grade Naked, to infernal Supreme. You can get great Mac N’ Cheese or creamy coleslaw to accompany and take the edge off if necessary. Eat in the Commons, well, common space, amid all the energy and fun. When you’re done, drive about 10 minutes to Cowboy Country (3321 E. South St.), one of Southern California’s last true honky tonks as well as one of its largest. Its 15,000-square-feet includes three dance floors, two full bars, a pool room and lots of live musical performances. Of course, line dancing is a major element here and they offer lots of line dance lessons, allowing you and your date to connect over learning a new move, perhaps the first of many.

Virtual Golf

Words are sometimes come hard on a first date. How many times can you ask someone what their favorite food/movie/Muppet is? It’s great to have something to do, and Birdie’s N’ Brews (90 E. Fourth St.), located in Downtown Long Beach, is a great one-stop location that allows you to play, talk and get to know each other at your own pace. Its two golf simulator bays can be rented for up to six people. The simulators allow you to hit real golf balls – they supply the golf clubs – on a virtual driving range or while virtually playing 9 to 18 holes at some of the world’s most hallowed courses – Pebble Beach and St. Andrew’s, for instance. If you hit a bad shot, you don’t have to chase it, just have a chuckle and show that you can laugh at yourself – a very attractive quality. Once you're done swinging, relax in the lounge area while watching sports on TV, playing board games and/or enjoying some of the craft beer, hard seltzer and cocktails Birdies N’ Brews serve.

Laugh It Up

Head to the Laugh Factory (151 S. Pine Ave.) and allow the professionals to keep the two of you laughing. Featuring some of today’s top stand-up comedians – Thursday through Saturday – you can have a little something to eat and drink while getting your laugh on. The Laugh Factory is located on the edge of The Pike Outlets (95 S. Pine Ave.) and is a minute or two walk from the Auld Dubliner (71 S. Pine Ave.), one of the city’s most popular pubs. It’s a great place to have dinner before the show as well as a great place to share a nightcap afterward as you discuss your favorite comedians and jokes. Auld Dubliner strives to be a genuine pub, so it not only has terrific Guinness but terrific food, as well as a full cocktail menu.

Shop and Stroll

A good deal of first dating occurs on the weekend and, fortunately, Long Beach has a near-uninterrupted slate of weekend stroll, shop, art and music events. Perhaps the best known is First Fridays, which, as the title suggests, occurs the first Friday of every month in Bixby Knolls. It happens on Atlantic Avenue between Burlinghall Drive and Carson Street, and features stores, boutiques and restaurants offering special deals as well as many local artists setting up tables to display their handiwork. There’s also a live band on virtually every corner. Something similar happens on Fourth Street’s Retro Row – between Temple and Cherry avenues – every Fourth Friday. Fourth Fridays also features live music, discounted merch as well as pop-up shops and lots of meandering locals, which make for great people watching.

About the Author
Steve Lowery