I may go to school in the frigid city of Evanston, Illinois, but my heart will always be in sunny LA. In the 19 years that I've lived in the City of Angels, I've fallen in love with a number of places that are so beautiful, delicious, or intimate they are practically built to set people up. I thought I'd share the love and give you the inside scoop on the best first date spots in Los Angeles to put you one step closer to finding your SO.  

1.) Grand Central Market

To kick off the list, we've got Grand Central Market, an iconic eatery located in the center of DTLA. It's packed with food vendors and even a grocery store in the middle of the hall. I'd highly recommend Eggslut or Sarita's Pupuseria for your main course and then splitting a sundae at McConnell's before heading over to one of the many museums (my favorite being the Broad) in close proximity to GCM.

2.) Cafe 50's for Some Nostalgia

When I think of the perfect first date, I tend to fantasize about sitting in one of those famous red and white leather booths from a 50's diner, sipping in unison on a massive milkshake with a bright red cherry on top (haven't thought about this a lot or anything). Sadly, finding one of these love-inducing diners nowadays is a rarity, which is why places like Cafe 50's ought to be treasured. This restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard serves up homestyle southern fare like cinnamon banana french toast for breakfast and country fried chicken for lunch. Bop by for a late brunch in this fun, kitschy environment that's perfect for a playful and memorable first date.

3.) Picnic at Echo Park

California seems to be suffering from a perpetual drought, but you'll forget about that when you visit Echo Park, a scenic, luscious green space in the middle of the city. With a sprawling lake, grand fountain, and blossoming lotus flowers, the park sets the perfect scene for an afternoon picnic. Find a shady spot and enjoy that nice, warm breeze that reminds you love is always in the air in LA. 

4.) Lost Spirits Distillery

For all you whiskey and rum aficionados, I've got a first date spot that's right up your alley. For just $37 a person, you can take a tour of Lost Spirits Distillery, which has been hailed a "boozy theme park for adults." This two-hour walking tour guides guests through various themed rooms to witness Lost Spirits' innovative, experimental distillation process. Plus, it's in the Arts District, meaning you don't have to go all the way to Napa for a sip of high-quality alc.

5.) Gelato at Gelateria Uli

Los Angeles is one of the best foodie cities in the world, especially when it comes to desserts. However, Gelateria Uli ought to be your go-to first-date spot. Grab some small-batch, artisanal gelato or sorbet to cool off as you explore other sites the city has to offer like the Last Bookstore and Pershing Square, or eat your frozen treats right then and there in the vibrant, welcoming storefront.

6.) Hike to the Griffith Observatory

I live just under five miles from the Observatory, but it was only when I watched La La Land that I realized the stunning view that this LA landmark offers. This first date excursion might be best for a couple that is already somewhat familiar with one another, but a morning hike that culminates in watching the sun rise against the DTLA skyline could surely light a spark between strangers. Plus, just a few miles away from Griffith Park is Silver Lake, which Forbes dubbed the most hipster neighborhood in LA. It's a brunch lover's paradise, filled with delectable spots like Sqirl, Square One Dining, and Little Pine. Nothing says romance like brunch.

7.) Electric Dusk Drive-In

One of the few items on my LA bucket list that I've yet to check off is seeing a movie at Electric Dusk Drive-In. If you've ever seen Grease (and really, who hasn't), you know that outdoor  movie screenings offer the perfect setting for romance: setting up blankets in the back of your car, sharing popcorn (yes, you should reach for the bucket at the exact moment your date does), and watching classic films like ET or Home Alone. Danny may have struck out with Sandy at their drive-in movie, but if you can put the moves on a bit more slyly then he did, you'll leave your date hopelessly devoted to you

8.) Coffee at Civil Coffee 

"Wanna grab a cup of coffee sometime?" is practically the most boring way to ask someone out, but the cool, hipster vibe of many of the coffee shops and cafés in LA will surely compensate. Civil Coffee in Highland Park is the perfect place to break the ice due to its spacious and relaxed environment, addictive pastries, and strong cold brew. Plus, it's near Highland Theatres, so if you find yourself staying close to closing time (Civil Coffee closes at 5 pm), relocate for a $6 movie.

9.) Smorgasburg LA

If you've never heard of Smorgasburg, it's essentially a food-for-all hosted every Sunday from 10 am-4 pm at the Alameda Produce Market. Delicious options include Donut Friend (great for vegans), IG famous pineapple rice bowls from Shrimp Daddy, and decadent fried chicken from Rooster Republic. If the date goes well, when you split the wishbone you'll both be wishing for the same thing...a second date, of course. What were you thinking? 

10.) Dinner & Drinks at L&E Oyster Bar

L&E Oyster Bar's daily happy hour from 5-7 pm could not come  in more clutch for a fancy first-date option at a discount. Cocktails are $4 off, and a dozen oysters (an aphrodisiac) can be split for just $30. It's a very classy and trendy spot to get to know your date and make a good impression.

11.) The Original Farmers Market

Some people like walks on the beach or lying under the stars (and you can do both of these things in LA), but my dream date involves getting dolled up and heading to a cute farmers market. The Original Farmers Market in the Grove is probably my favorite in LA because it's ginormous and very glamorous. It's located in the Fairfax District in LA, an upscale neighborhood with great shops and restaurants. You might even spot a celeb or two while you're trying out the fresh produce.

12.) Late-Night In-N-Out Run

I couldn't write an article about the best first date spots in Los Angeles without including In-N-Out, aka the pride and joy of SoCal. With most locations open until 1 am, it's the perfect spontaneous first date. Honestly, sometimes there's nothing I'd like more than for my crush to text at 11:30 pm craving burgers and animal-style fries. The perfect date? Drive-thru and #2s outside while looking up at the stars and splitting a vanilla shake. 

Having reservations about asking out that cutie you've been eyeing for a while? Why not make a reservation instead? Ask them out on a date and take them to one of these romantic first date destinations in Los Angeles. I wouldn't mind an invite to the wedding.