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Recession dating 101: cool dates on a dime in L.A.

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In hard economic times, we cut out the things we enjoy the most, mostly the things that require us to leave home.  But  date night need not be a costly venture, even if you live in pricey Los Angeles.  So, get yourselves off the couch and get out there to enjoy all the free, or next to free, adventures the big city offers.  Here's five fun date ideas that will get you out of the house without depleting  your bank account. 

1.  Live the vida loca at Baja Cantina – (Venice, just blocks from the beach on Washington)
Chill out on the Cantina outdoor patio for happy hour.  From 4-7pm weekdays, enjoy 16 menu items under 5 bucks, $3 beers, and $4 margaritas.   Free chips and salsa all night long.  If you like margaritas, you’ll love theirs, but careful, the bartenders tend toward the long pour with the tequila.  Local bands play on Wednesday evenings.  Get there early and grab a seat by the outdoor fire pit.  Cozy.  Moonlight strolls on Venice Beach are free too.  For more information:  http://www.bajacantinavenice.com/index.html

2.  Get your Getty On:  (off the 405, near Sunset)
Transcend as you ascend high above L.A. to the Getty Museum where admission is free.   A complimentary tram will transport you to the top of the city where the Getty Center provides international art collections, stunning architecture, miles of meticulous gardens and an astounding view.    So many collections to explore from  photography to sculpture, impressionist paintings to French landscapes.   Choose from many free tours including the architectural and garden tours which are fascinating.  At any point you can relax and picnic in the large open grassy area.  Light fare is available for purchase.   For current exhibitions and complimentary tours, visit http://www.getty.edu/    Parking is $15 per car but is free after 5pm on Saturday when the Getty hosts “Saturdays Off the 405” free outdoor concerts all summer.  Closed on Mondays.

3.  Take me out to the ballgame (Dodger Stadium Elysian Park near downtown L.A.)
Forget watching the game on TV, head to the ball park and enjoy the howling crowd with a Dodger dog and peanuts.  Or bring your own snacks to save $20.  Travelzoo is offering discount tickets starting at just $7 plus a $3 order fee for games against the Miluakee Brewers and the Atlanta Braves  August 9 - 13 (including a Friday night and a Sunday afternoon game).  To buy these cheap seats go to:  www.travelzoo.com and type TZOO in the promo box.  For a full game schedule: http://mlb.com/schedule/index.jsp?c_id=la

4.  Take a hike up Topanga to Will Rogers State Park- (Santa Monica Mountains)
Trails and trees are plentiful in the hills that sit above Hollywood.  May I suggest an out of the way trip up Topanga Canyon where a two hour intermediate walk leads to glorious views all the way to Malibu, the Santa Monica pier and across the way to downtown.  Remember to pack a blanket, a bite to eat, and your favorite beverage to share.  You’ll want to sit and stay a while once you get up top.  For a simple inexpensive gourmet lunch to bring along, stop at Gelsons deli where a  freshly made sandwich of your choice plus two sides is only $9.49.  Or try one of their lunch bags built for two.  Peppered Filet Mignon Panini is pretty tempting.  For information on Topanga and trail details:  http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=629 

5.  Downtown Art Walk (Downtown L.A. - second Thursday of every month)
An enchanted urban evening.  Stroll through artists showing their wares, live musicians and a cool vibe where locals and tourists meander the downtown streets.  This is a great way to discover the downtown gallery scene with a personal map to guide you.  Admission is free.  Make note:  Free wine tasting offered before the walk at Seven Restaurant and Bar 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.   Tasting presented by a different wine maker every month.  Next art walk and free tasting is August 13.  For more info and an art walk map:  http://www.downtownartwalk.com/   For more info on Seven restaurant:  http://www.sevenrestaurantbar.com/
 
Have some fun cheap date ideas of your own?  Would love to hear from you.

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