Ideas for romance on the coast
People pay big money to come all the way to Orange County for romantic getaways.
For those of us who live here and have year-round access to the 42 miles of coastline, we sometimes forget about beautiful ways to enjoy the beaches and harbors.
With Valentine's Day – yes fellas, it's Thursday – here are a few tips for you and your loved one to take a romantic mini-getaway to the coast.
On the cheap:
Just taking a nice stroll along the sand as the sun goes down would be romantic enough for most days of the year, but you might want to make an extra effort on Valentine's Day or this weekend to celebrate.
People often forget about the hundreds of fire rings along the coastline during the winter season, and what more romantic way than to curl up next to a warm fire for a cuddle on a chilly night at the beach. You can find plenty of rings along Bolsa Chica and Huntington State Beach this time of year. The only real cost is the parking fee, a bundle of firewood, and whatever you want to roast over the flame. And there's nothing more romantic than taking a stroll along the sand under the stars with the waves crashing in the background before you call it a night.
If you want to do a mini-getaway, check out one of our beachfront campsites like Doheny State Beach or San Clemente State Beach. It's fairly inexpensive for an overnight, at about $45 a night. Weekends fill up fast, but if you can get off work mid-week, there are plenty of spots at both locations on Thursday night. Pitching a tent for the night will no doubt make you feel miles away from your everyday life in O.C. To book, go to reserveamerica.com
If you want something more active, try stand-up paddle at one of the three harbors along the O.C. coast. It's a great way to bond while gliding along the water, and if neither one of you has done it, watching each other try to keep balance could make for a good laugh – especially if one of you slips into the chilly water! Make sure the winds are down so you don't spend the afternoon struggling too much. Huntington, Newport and Dana Point harbors all have places you can rent boards that range from about $15 to $20 an hour.
Splurge a bit:
You don't have to go all the way to Venice to experience what it's like to be on a gondola, cruising along the waterways and relaxing with a loved one in your arms.
The Gondola Company of Newport is a one-hour cruise that will surely impress your partner. The company even does fun things like surprise kidnappings from one of the harborside restaurants, a "message in a bottle," or if you're ready for it, a marriage proposal. They come with a basket of bread, cheese, salami, sparkling cider and glasses. Cost is about $85, but rates do increase for holidays, and there might be only a few slots open the next few days. Information: gondolas.com
If you're closer to Huntington, Sunset Gondola also offers tours, and you can pick from $80 for 40 minutes for two people, $110 for an hour, or $140 for an hour and a half. Valentine's Day rates will cost you $120 for one hour. Information: sunsetgondola.com
If you don't want some dude singing Italian music in your ear while you're trying to enjoy a romantic afternoon alone with your loved one – rent a Duffy boat for the two of you, or bring a few other couples along for the ride. You have full control of where you go in the Newport Harbor, and can bring some snacks like chocolate-covered strawberries or champagne for a toast. Or you can drive the boat up to one of the restaurant docks and splurge on a meal with a harbor view. Rates are $85 Monday through Thursday for an hour, and $99 Friday through Saturday. Information: duffyofnewportbeach.com