The Cheapest California City for a Date Night

The most romantic day of the year - Valentine’s Day - is just around the corner on Feb. 14. So, cue the bunches of roses and charming cards to put a smile on your loved one’s face. Since this celebration of love is pending, we wanted to take a break from California sports betting and look into how much it really costs to go on a date in each California city, year-round.

To find out what this looked like for each city, reviewed Numbeo data, which collects the average cost of a meal, a bottle of wine, the starting price of a cab, and the cost of a three-mile cab trip. After analyzing the data, which California cities are the cheapest (and the priciest) to wine and dine in?

Learn our key findings below.

The Cheapest Cities in California For Date Night

We can reveal California’s five cheapest date night cities! Whether you’re heading out with your other half to celebrate an anniversary or taking your crush on a romantic first date, here are the most affordable spots to head to.

1. El Centro

The winner of the cheapest city to date is El Centro, costing as little as $62.75 on average for a starting cab fee, a cab ride for three miles, a tasty meal, and a bottle of wine from a local store. El Centro’s not only the cheapest dating city, but it costs just $40 for you and your other half to enjoy a meal out here. And this is $28 less than the U.S. average ($68), which is even more of a reason to make El Centro your go-to dating location.

A bottle of wine here costs the most out of the top five cheapest Californian cities, though, at $15. So, it’s probably more cost-effective to order wine with your meal than enjoy a night in with a store-bought bottle. A three-mile cab ride will only cost around $3.75 in El Centro, too, so you’re not paying over the odds for traveling.

2. Eureka

The second cheapest dating city in California is Eureka, costing $73.25 when every date-night factor is considered. In fact, it’s just $50 for a meal for two, and $12 for a bottle of store-bought wine, which is thriftier than the cheapest city, El Centro! Although, the starting fare of a cab in Eureka is around $4.50, which is higher than any other in the top five most affordable date cities, aside from Stockton, costing $5. 

3. Santa Ana

Up next was Santa Ana, coming in as the third-cheapest Californian city, thanks to its small fee of $3 for a cab starting price, which was the lowest out of the top five, and a meal costing love birds a small price of $50.

Overall, it’ll cost couples around $75 for a date here. Surprisingly, though, Santa Ana is the city where you’ll pay the most for a three-mile cab ride, setting you back a whopping $12, which is nearly a quarter of the price of the romantic dinner you’ll be sharing that evening. 

So, finding alternative transport might be a good option if you’re choosing this area as your top dating location. 

4. Fresno

The fourth cheapest Californian city is Fresno, where dinner with your beloved will see you laying out just $60, which may be pricier than El Centro, Santa Ana and Eureka, but still costs less than the U.S. average of $68.

Overall, you’ll be spending an average of $80.35 on a date in Fresno, and couples will spend less on wine here, too, when compared with other cities in the top five. A bottle costs $9 in this location, so whether you spend Valentine’s Day at home or in a restaurant, you won’t be shelling out a wad of cash for the privilege.

5. Stockton

Last but not least amongst the most affordable cities is Stockton, taking the fifth spot, costing an average of $80.50 for you and your beloved to enjoy a romantic night together, which is still likely to be cheap(ish) on Feb. 14.

In Stockton, it’ll cost you $60 for a meal for two and $11 for a bottle of wine. So, Stockton is still a pretty affordable area to take your crush, partner, or spouse.

The Most Expensive California Date Night Cities

As well as finding California’s five cheapest date night cities, we looked into the most expensive spots. So, what are the priciest locations to head to for your first date, or take your significant other?

1. Santa Barbara

The most expensive spot for a date in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day is Santa Barbara, with a date costing an average of $166.48 in total. A romantic meal here will set you back $130 – yikes, which is almost double the amount of the U.S. average ($68).

So if you’re taking your love here, make sure you save ahead of the date, especially on Valentine’s Day, when prices are expected to rise. Buying a bottle of wine here will cost you a startling $17.  And an average three-mile cab will be around $14.98, which is only slightly cheaper than a store-bought bottle of wine in this city!

2. Santa Rosa

Second up on the most expensive Californian city list is Santa Rosa, at an average of $124.93. A meal for you and your other half will cost $100, a bottle of wine will see you shelling out $15, and a three-mile cab ride is around $9.93 for you and your date to ride home in!

3. San Clementine

The city of San Clementine came next, being the third most expensive location to take your date. Here, it costs $122.74 on average for a romantic date overall, with a bottle of wine costing a massive $19.99 from a local store – wow. So, the price of a meal for the two of you might cost a high price of $87.50, but it’s probably cheaper to dine out and order a bottle of wine to share, rather than plan a cozy night in with store-bought wine!

Lastly, a three-mile cab ride will see you laying out $10.95 in San Clementine, which is the second cheapest ride home out of the most expensive California cities, with the first being Newport Beach ($4.50). 

4. Newport Beach

Speaking of, the coastal city of Newport Beach is another expensive dating city if you’re heading out for romance in California, costing $118.80 in total. Dinner for you both will cost $95 overall, which is only set to increase when Valentine’s Day rolls around.

As for a bottle of wine, this will see you spend an average of $15, but this is the city where you’ll spend as little as $4.50 on a cab ride. It may be expensive for a meal, then, but the end of the night will see you spending a lot less than the other top five most expensive dating cities!

5. Sonora

Surprisingly, you’ll spend the same amount on a three-mile cab ride in Sonora ($14.98) as you would in Santa Barbara, which was the most expensive Californian dating city overall! So, Sonora may be fifth on the most expensive dating list, but you’ll want to find an alternative way of getting home this Valentine’s Day. Or, it’s worth dating in other cities offering cheaper cab fares!


Sourced from Numbeo, all data acquired is accurate as of January 2023 and represents the average cost of a restaurant meal out for two, a bottle of store-bought wine, cab starting costs, and a three-mile cab fare in each Californian location. Costs in each city are subject to increase over Valentine’s Day. 

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