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5 date ideas in L.A. that won't break the budget

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Living in L.A. can get expensive when you're single and dating. So where do you go to have fun, get to know someone, and avoid spending a fortune?

It's not easy, especially when you're dining out. Even a drink at a nice bar can run $15-20. But there are plenty of alternative, fun options that won't put a huge dent in your pocketbook. And yes, these include dining options.

Two words: food trucks. If you have a favorite food truck, you can follow it on Twitter or Facebook to see where it will be, but otherwise, most popular areas like Abbot Kinney in Venice have food trucks making mouth-watering meals every night of the week. Plus, it gives you a chance to walk around the neighborhood. CoolHaus and The Dosa Truck are my personal faves.

Outdoor Movie Night. Whether you like the backdrop to be a cemetery in Hollywood or a high school stadium in Santa Monica, outdoor movies are a great and inexpensive date night - and with a better ambiance than comedy clubs or theatres. Check out local listings for the summer's screenings.

Happy hours. If you want to meet for a drink, then plan for a happy hour. Some bars offer all-night happy hours on Mondays when things are slower, like Copa d'Oro in Santa Monica with $5 cocktails and appetizers during happy hour, offered all night on Mondays and from 5:30 - 8 p.m Tuesday through Saturday.

Make it dessert. Why not meet for something a little more creative than a coffee, but in the same price range? Dessert offers several cool options, including maple bacon and red velvet doughnuts at Nickel Diner in Downtown, a brownie sundae at Milk on Beverly Blvd, shaved ice cream at Blockhead's Shavery, or Sprinkles' cupcake ATM in Beverly Hills.

Live music. Lucky for us, there are plenty of great (and free) options here in L.A. See indie bands at It's a School Night at Bardot in Hollywood, or check out the outdoor concerts at California Plaza during the Grand Performances series. If you're into the club scene, you can catch a free poolside performance by artists on the rise during the Mondrian Sessions at Skybar.

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