So you’re going to take your lover to a fancy restaurant on Valentine’s Day, eh? How original. C’mon people, let’s spice it up a bit. Let’s plan the kind of romantic weekend getaway that your significant other would never have dreamed you’d be clever enough to think of.
This year Valentine’s Day falls on Monday, so that gives you the entire weekend to woo and wow your better half with one of our special Valentine’s Day weekend getaways that will keep you out of the doghouse for months (well, for weeks at least).
VALENTINE’S DAY DINNER TRAINS
Now here’s an idea for Valentine’s Day that you probably haven’t considered: Enjoying a gourmet dinner and wine tasting on a vintage passenger train in the Wine Country. There’s something about riding on a train that oozes with romance, and to ride along with your significant other on Valentine’s Day is all the better.
The Napa Valley Wine Train is running special “Love Train Dinners” February 11th through the 14th, complete with strolling musicians and uniformed wait staff serving gourmet dinners and plenty of sparkling wine to get you in la mood.
Two other dinner trains that are offering a similar V-Day experience are the Sacramento Valentine’s Day Dinner Train and the Sierra Railroad Valentine’s Day Dinner Train out of Oakdale, both of which offer multi-course dinners, scenic views, plenty of champagne, live music, and a rose for the ladies.
WOO AT THE SAN FRANCISCO ZOO
Yes, a Valentine’s Day sex tour at the zoo. How’s that for a unique way to spend Valentine’s Day? In fact, this feast-and-beast tour is so steamy you have to be 21 or over to attend.
Since 1989 animal-keeper Jane Tollini has hosted a sultry zoo tour that explores the sexual and mating behaviors of animals from around the world, including “new positions, new kinky information, ins & out, ups & downs of animal sex, all animals A to Z including U.” It’s a hilarious, educational, entertaining, and highly original way to spend Valentine’s Day.
You can either join in on the romantic afternoon champagne brunch or the evening wild thing dinner, but either way I suggest reserving tickets ASAP as they always sell out. Call 415/753-7236 or log onto www.sfzoo.com for more info.
REALLY ROMANTIC RESORTS
I scored HUGE points by taking my girlfriend on a seaside getaway to the uber-romantic Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa recently, so I can pretty much guarantee you that a Valentine’s Day stay at this Monterey beachfront resort will go over quite well. This year we’ve teamed up with the resort to offer a special Romantic Escape Package for $399, which includes a muy romantico Ocean View room, champagne, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and a $100 resort credit toward dining, room service, or spa treatments.
Two other great ideas for a special (and very affordable) Valentine’s Day getaway are stays at the Larkspur Hotel Mill Valley or Ivy Hotel Napa. For lovers of the outdoors, the Larkspur Mill Valley has put together a Valentine’s package that includes a Deluxe Guest Room, backpack, picnic blanket, map of romantic walking trails in Marin County, and even Prosecco bubbly, snacks, and chocolate-covered grapes (hey, free bike rentals too). At the new Ivy Hotel in Napa they’re offering a special $89 February room rate that includes a plush pillow-top bed, 42” HDTV, rain dome shower head, free WiFi, breakfast, wine hour, and much more—it’s is a phenomenal deal for a Wine Country getaway.
FRESH OYSTERS AND OCEAN VIEWS
This is a romantic getaway of my own invention: Pack a picnic basket with chilled champagne, good bread (Acme or Grace), shallot and vinegar “mignonette” (it’s easy to make your own—give it a try), cocktail sauce, two oyster knives, a pair of plastic wine or champagne glasses, a garbage bag, and some folding chairs. Then hop in the car with your honey and head to Drake’s Bay Oyster Farm at Point Reyes National Seashore.
It doesn’t look like much—just a cluster of wooden shacks and oyster tanks surrounded by piles of oyster shells—but Drake’s is the best place to buy fresh-out-of-the-water oysters by the sack full. Ask the friendly owner give you a quick lesson on how to properly shuck them, drive down to Point Reyes Beach, set up your chairs facing the ocean, pop the cork, and let the oyster-enhanced romance-fest begin. Better yet, book a room at a nearby B&B and make a weekend of it.
VALENTINE’S DAY SAFARI PARTY
There’s going to be a rumble in the jungle this Valentine weekend at the Safari West Wildlife Preserve and African Tent Camp near Santa Rosa. This year marks the 9th anniversary of their Wild Jungle Love Valentine’s Day Romantic Safari, an all-day-and-night adult event that includes a wine and chocolate reception, followed by a safari in an open-air vehicle where you’ll learn intimate details about the mating habits of bongo, giraffe, eland, wildebeest, gazelle, zebra, warthog, cheetah and more (What’s a bongo?).
After the safari it’s time for the humans to get a bit wild and party well into the night with dinner, DJs, and dancing. Overnight packages are available as well, and the high-end tent lodgings they have here are amazing.
If you have your own tips and recommendations on Valentine’s Day getaway ideas that you’d like to share, feel free to add your own comments to our blog below. We’d love to hear from you.