Dating on the Cheap: San Diego

On TV, "The Bachelor" might take his dates on helicopter rides and weekend jaunts to Hawaii, but the best dates often require little more than warm hugs and a fun afternoon. These are some of our favorite fun and budget-friendly date spots around San Diego.

Updated: January 04, 2010

Easy on the Wallet


The Pearl Hotel San Diego Hotels

1410 Rosecrans Street, San Diego, CA 92106

Once upon a time, dinner and a movie was a cheap date. These days, your wallet can be empty before you even get to the $4.50 Diet Coke. Our alternative? Dive-In movies at The Pearl Hotel. Various classic, independent, and mainstream films are shown on a poolside projection screen every Wednesday at 8pm. Food is served until 10pm.


Orfila Vineyards

13455 San Pasqual Rd, Escondido, CA 92025

For an afternoon of wine tasting, you don't need to go up to Napa or even as far as Temecula. Orfile Vineyards in Escondido has free daily tours and $8 tastings that include samples of 6 wines. The outdoor patio is a perfect spot for a post-tasting lunch (and maybe a little more wine!).


Turf Supper Club

1116 25th St, San Diego, CA 92102

This grill-your-own steak place is a favorite first date spot for several reasons. One, it's cheap: an 8-ounce sirloin steak is about $8. Two, it minimizes awkwardness: if there's a lull in the conversation, go over to the grill to check on the food. Three, it's convenient: plenty of street parking and not far from downtown if you choose to continue the date at a Gaslamp bar or club.


Whistle Stop Bar

2236 Fern St, San Diego, CA 92104

Get competitive on Gum Drop Mountain. On Tuesday nights, the laid-back South Park bar hosts game nights with Candyland, Boggle, Battleship, and other classic board games. No cover.


Torrey Pines State Reserve

12600 N Torrey Pines Rd, LA Jolla, CA 92037

For a picture-perfect picnic, Torrey Pines is the place to go. In the winter, grab a sweatshirt and start with a seaside hike along the cliffs for a whale or dolphin sighting.


Wild Note Cafe

143 S Cedros Ave, Solana Beach, CA 92075

On the third Thursday of each month, the galleries and shops along Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach stay open until at least 8pm. You'll also find live music, artist receptions, and other extras. For a sweet stop, go to Wild Note Cafe at the Belly Up Tavern to split some peanut butter cup pie or Jack Daniels pecan pie a la mode.