Ditch the dishes, throw on that special outfit in the back of your closet, and hit the town because it’s Valentine’s Day! San Diego is the ideal city for a romantic day with your lover — from the ocean to the wineries to the food, there is something special for everyone in this gorgeous city, and often at a discounted price.
1. Take to the seas.
Why date in San Diego if you aren’t going to take advantage of the beautiful ocean? Take a romantic gondola ride through the canals of the Coronado Cays and pretend you’re in Venice, Italy! Other than a birthday or a wedding anniversary, how many other opportunities are there to take a Gondola ride? Valentine’s Day is the best time for a romantic boat-ride for two. Order some wine and a charcuterie plate and you’re ready to sail! The Gondola Company is taking reservations for Valentine’s Day now and they provide blankets on every ride, but who cares if it gets cold, that’s just another reason to snuggle up with your lover. If gondolas aren’t your thing, you can also opt for a good old-fashioned boat cruise. There are many dinner boat cruise companies in San Diego like Hornblower Cruises and Events, which has luxe ocean liners that can fit hundreds of guests, or pack a picnic and rent your own private yacht through Bay Cruises as you shuttle around the San Diego Bay. You can also take a trek back in time by stepping aboard the Bahia Belle, an old-fashioned sternwheeler which departs from Mission Bay’s Catamaran Resort.
2. Go for a stroll in Little Italy.
Play tourist in your own city with a nighttime stroll through Little Italy’s Piazza della Famiglia as you take in the sights and sounds and momentarily feel transported to Europe. For dinner, stop off for authentic Italian fare at Mimmo’s Italian Kitchen or Ristorante Illando or try one of the newer fine dining establishments like Born & Raised, which serves up old-school glamour and fine steaks, or Juniper & Ivy, a place for new American cuisine in a gorgeous industrial setting. Afterward, keep the romance flowing with a wine tasting at Pali Wine Co. Winery Tasting Room or slows things down at a casual cool brewery like Ballast Point Tasting Room or Little Italy’s Loading Dock.
3. Relax with a couples massage.
Treat yourself and your partner to a magical night of pampering and relaxation. There are many options for couples massages in San Diego, from luxury hotel spas (Spa Pendry at the Pendry Hotel in the Gaslamp area is first class), to intimate boutique spas (locals rave about Spa Kingston in Banker’s Hill), to something more grab and go (Massage Thai Way would be the perfect place to hit up for a quick massage before or after dinner). The key to a great couples massage is to arrive early and let the calming spa vibes wash over you — this isn’t the time or place to rush in and out.
4. Explore the wineries.
Many people don’t know that San Diego is home to over 115 wineries! There’s nothing more romantic than some wine flights at an intimate boutique winery followed by a stroll through the vineyard. Head to La Jolla for the San Diego Beer, Wine & Spirits Tours, which takes you to four different wineries via the coaster train. Bernardo Winery is a popular spot set on expansive rustic grounds that some have compared to a little village in Italy. Others like the intimate tasting room at San Pasqual Winery at Seaport Village for its sweet harbor views.
5. Get drinks in a secluded speakeasy.
You can go to a bar any night of the year, but save the speakeasies for the special occasions. Cache in Hillcrest is a French-style speakeasy hidden behind a faux walk-in freezer inside Tacos Libertad. The Cat Eye Club tiki bar is located inside Mexican restaurant The Blind Burro in the East Village. False Idol is another hidden tiki bar tucked inside the restaurant Craft and Commerce in Little Italy. Noble Experiment is found through a door near the bathroom inside Gaslamp District-restaurant Neighborhood. And Fairweather is a rooftop speakeasy quietly hiding in plain sight on top of Rare Form delicatessen. Plus, there’s something super sexy about cuddling up in a secret location.
6. Get a little adventurous.
Adventurous and thrill-seeking couples might want something a bit more daring than the traditional dinner and movie. Head on down to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for a thrilling daytime adventure. Modeled after a real-life safari, you can explore the “African Plains” or “Asian Savanna” in the back of a caravan or by zip-line if you’re feeling extra spontaneous. This would be a great daytime date idea that can turn into an evening affair because on Valentine’s Day they are hosting a romantic four-course gourmet meal for couples that includes an animal presentation and a no-host bar. If animals aren’t your thing, head to nearby Carlsbad for a hot air balloon ride with Sky’s The Limit Ballooning Adventures. These hour-long flights include a glass of champagne for an added touch of romance.