Valentine’s Day can be a tough holiday for couple’s seeking to bask in the glow of love. You’d think the hard part would be over once you’ve actually managed to make that love connection, but when it comes to planning for this special day, many people feel the need to come up with a unique gesture that expresses the magnitude of their feelings. No pressure! And while you can definitely book early and drop mega bucks on a fancy restaurant, a dozen overpriced roses, or some chocolates that definitely aren’t on the diet, wouldn’t you rather skip the traditional hallmarks of the holiday and try something that’s off the beaten path (so to speak)?
So this year, rather than rushing to get that perfect reservation, consider planning a little road trip down the California coast, complete with romantic playlists for your MP3 (the modern mix tape) and stops that include rose petals on the bed and chilled champagne. Here are a few tips to plan a trip your honey is sure to love.
At this time of year you’ll definitely want to avoid the cold and stormy northern roads, so fun in the sun on California’s southern coastline is a great way to go, and a cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway (1) starting in San Francisco and ending in San Diego is just the ticket for a relaxing and romantic road trip.
Start your adventure in San Francisco by renting a convertible. Does it get any better than touring the coast with the top down? Then pick up some sourdough bread and a few chocolates in Ghirardelli Square and take a punt out on the pond at the Exploratorium. Spend a leisurely day picnicking at Golden Gate Park, riding the trolley, sampling fresh fortune cookies at Golden Gate Fortune Cookies in China Town (try the almond cookies, too), and then spend the night in Union Square (where a bevy of inexpensive establishments look down on the bustling titular square).
In the morning, head around the corner for some amazing breakfast at Dottie’s True Blue Café; the lines get long later in the morning, so go early! Then hit the road, stopping in Monterey for a stretch and a snack at vegan-friendly Café Lumiere (try the Chai) before continuing on to the quaint town of Cambria for a stay at El Colibri Hotel and Spa (set up spa appointments ahead of time if possible). You’re just a few miles from the historic Hearst Castle, so spend the day taking tours to see how old Hollywood lived and played (paper-man Hearst was famous for his exclusive parties). Then tour the town on foot (it’s just a couple of blocks) stopping at kitschy antique stores and art galleries galore. Finish off the evening with dinner at the Black Cat Bistro (reservations advisable) – the Rabbit Liver Pate is a must, and ask for a local wine pairing from one of the many area vineyards.
The next morning you’ll continue south, with a stop for lunch at Nobu in Malibu for some world-famous sushi (and practically guaranteed celebrity sightings). Or if you like your seafood cooked, try Paradise Cove Beach Café for some tasty fried calamari and tables on the sand. Continue on to Venice Beach for some fun and funky shopping on the boardwalk and a stay at the Venice Breeze Suites, an ocean-side hotel that has swanky, modern rooms with amazing ocean views (starting at $265/night).
Wake up to some Intelligentsia (coffee, that is…the locals swear by it) and you’re off on the last leg of your journey (San Diego, here you come!). A couple of days in “America’s Finest City” simply won’t be enough to catch everything, but if you want to hit the highlights try a tour of Balboa Park (thanks to sunny weather you might even see a few roses), hit the San Diego Zoo (peacocks greet you at the entrance and it only gets better from there), hit the trendy shops at the Wharf, and head to the Gaslamp District in the evening for some fantastic food and drinks. And don’t forget to book a boat tour – dolphins and whales are prevalent at this time of year and a little hand-holding while you listen to a whale song will make for the perfect finish to this indelible romantic road trip.
About The Author: Evan Fischer is a contributing writer for Used GMC Engines where GMC engines are shipped nationwide every day