A student’s guide to Valentine’s Day in L.A.

Single, taken or on a journey of self-love? Here’s a list of ideas to make this Valentine’s Day one you’ll never forget.

Heart-shaped image made of pink, red and white m&m's

Los Angeles is not a very romantic city; no one writes novels about a love affair in this city. Nonetheless, people fall in love here and guess what, people celebrate Valentine’s Day here, too.

Extravagant gestures and dates can be a bit costly for USC students, and L.A. is already unforgiving in its cost of living. Luckily, this list of ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend includes affordable, fun and, most importantly, unique events and locations to grab a bite, party with friends and — of course — take Instagramable photos.

Looking for a place to eat? There is food galore in Los Angeles! While some eateries require a bit of a drive, others are just down the street.

Piazza di San Valentino

A romantic getaway to Italy this weekend seems a bit unlikely for the average college student. Luckily, Los Angeles is known for being a hub of different cultures and foods anyone can immerse themselves in. This event features Sardine in Los Angeles, which will host a pop-up restaurant this Saturday at 5 p.m. with brick oven pizza, Italian cocktails and music. Stroll around the plaza and visit the pop-up flower shops, wineries and restaurants that will make your date feel like you brought them to Italy. The cost of the event varies based on the experience you choose to embark on, but the preliminary experience is $35, definitely more affordable than a flight to Rome.

27th Street Bakery

Baked goods are the key to someone’s heart, and no, that doesn’t mean you have to become a chef in less than a week. Located 10 minutes away from campus, this locally-owned bakery has plenty of pies and other Louisiana-styled cuisines for you to choose from. Whether you dine in or order pick up, the widely renowned sweet potato pie will be a score for Valentine’s Day.

Perch L.A.

Looking for a scenic view of downtown with some great vibes? Perch LA is the perfect fit. A quick ride to DTLA from the USC campus, Perch LA offers French cuisine. If you think this is for you, be sure to make reservations because availability fills up quickly.

Valentine’s Vegan Fair

If you or your date this year is vegan — as a former vegan, a fate I wish on no one — it can be difficult to find a place to accommodate their diet. This weekend, buy $15 tickets and head over to Canyon Road for a food fest that is entirely vegan. With a handful of vendors and rescue pets to gush over, this will be the most animal-friendly fest to make your vegan partner fall in love instantly.

Pressed for time? Coffee can still be romantic without the need to sit for more than an hour through a full course meal. Maybe dinner is too much of a commitment, especially for your holi-date from Tinder.

Crumbs and Whiskers

Not up for a night on the town? Hit up Crumbs and Whiskers to hang out with some of the most adoptable cats in town. Is it just me, or is that definitely a way to live out your Taylor Swift “Lover” dreams? Maybe grab a coffee or pastry while you’re there, too. Prices vary on how long you spend with your furry friends from $25 for 30 minutes to $45 for Valentine’s date night.

South L.A. Cafe

Located in (you guessed it) South L.A., this Black-owned, family-owned cafe is known for its affordable healthy food and coffee. If you’re not down to commit to a long or far away adventure this weekend, the cafe is located 10 minutes from campus and the proceeds go toward a non-profit — South L.A. Cafe or SLAC, started by shop owners Velia and Joe Ward Wallace — focused on fighting for equity through coffee, community and connections.

OK, now the part of the listicle we’ve all been waiting for: Parties

Anti-Valentine’s Party

Want to be bitter with other singles this weekend? Santa Monica has the perfect event for you! This Saturday, starting at 10 p.m., the pier will be open to all singles and anti-consumerism folks who want to listen to music and mingle with friends instead of hastily finding a date this Valentine’s season. Starting at $15, this 21-and-up party is sure to be the most anti-Valentine’s, Valentine’s Day event on this list.

Big Gay Party presents Valentine’s Extravaganza

You’d think it would be easier to have an iconic gay love story in Los Angeles; unfortunately, that is not the case. However, the city does a good job of always finding a reason to gather the LGBTQ+ community in one room. Open to anyone more than 18-years-old, the extravaganza will be hosted at Los Globos on Sunset Boulevard this Saturday at 9 p.m. With tickets varying from $10 to $20, this could be a great opportunity to party with fellow gays and theys and watch the show-stopping Lady Gaga-inspired drag performance set.

UnplugdLA Sessions Valentine’s Day Edition

What better way to find your very own love song than during a live music event in L.A.? Hosted on Valentine’s Day, this UnplugdLA session will begin at 8 p.m. in the Bourbon Room in Hollywood and has a plethora of live music hosted by Johanna Freeman. Tickets start at $20 for those who are 21 and up with both table service and cocktail hour, making for a fun night with great vibes to sway to.

No matter how unlovable Los Angeles may be, there are plenty of spots and events to hit up for all audiences, whether you have a long-term partner or a ride-or-die friend group to celebrate with this Valentine’s Day.