In addition to 70 miles of coastline, an exciting city center and dramatic desert vistas, San Diego serves up a bevy of unique activities to ensure a romantic dream vacation. From surfing off sun-drenched beaches to sailing on the sparkling Pacific, San Diego offers enough diversions to keep the most active couple enthralled. For those preferring more sedate forms of romance, the region offers luxury spas, decadent dining and sunsets that simply must be seen to be believed.
San Diego’s coastline is dotted with romantic locales that draw couples with promises of midnight strolls on the beach and perfect sunsets.
- La Jolla, “the jewel” of San Diego, sits like a picture-postcard village, nestled along seven miles of gently curving Southern California coastline providing a setting that is tailor-made for romance. Intimate and charming, La Valencia Hotel has been the place to stay in La Jolla since its opening in 1926 when it became a romantic hideaway for many of Hollywood’s elite. Just steps from the Pacific Ocean, the hotel overlooks breathtaking La Jolla Cove and is fondly known as “the Pink Lady of La Jolla” for its recognizable pink exterior and distinctive mosaic-tiled tower. www.lavalencia.com
- Located just north of La Jolla, the coastal village of Del Mar is known nationally and internationally for the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and its premier horseracing track, founded by Hollywood legend Bing Crosby. Del Mar is popular for its beautiful beaches, upscale shopping, elegant restaurants and world-class accommodations like the L’Auberge Del Mar Resort & Spa. Reopened in June 2008 after a $26 million renovation, L’Auberge is a relaxing, luxury beach-style resort featuring a fashionable new restaurant and wine bar, new pool deck and bar, private cabanas and white pearl-bottomed pool and luxury spa. A private path leads from L’Auberge to miles of pristine beach, sandy coves and crashing waves. www.laubergedelmar.com
- The seaside village of Coronado offers couples an enchanted island escape. Situated across sparkling San Diego Bay from downtown San Diego, the island’s elegant gardens, mansions and small-town quaintness combine to make the “Crown City” a seaside paradise of true relaxation, romance and recreation. The landmark seaside Hotel del Coronado has enjoyed more than 120 years of legendary history and romance. With its red peaked roofs, classic Victorian architecture, sun-drenched beach, moonlit ocean views and spectacular setting, the Del became famous as the backdrop for the hilarious adventures of Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in Some Like it Hot. A National Historic Landmark, the hotel was renovated in 2007 with the addition of the luxurious Beach Village, a wine and chocolate tasting room, brand new spa and launch of the hotel’s signature 1500 Ocean restaurant. With these amenities and 26 acres of beach, the hotel offers endless opportunities for romantic interludes. www.hoteldelcoronado.com
San Diego is dotted with luxury resorts that offer couples the option to snuggle up against a gorgeous green backdrop of rolling hills and rugged valleys while enjoying some of the region’s best service and most stunning romantic retreats.
- The Grand Del Mar opened in October 2007 amidst the serene Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve in the foothills between Del Mar and exclusive Rancho Santa Fe. Incorporating design elements from Italy, Morocco, Portugal and Spain, the resort features 249 luxury guest rooms and suites with private balconies and golf course views. The grounds, rooms and public spaces are all immaculately crafted to create an atmosphere of over-the-top romance and luxury. These features are evident in Addison, the resort’s award-winning signature restaurant and San Diego’s only AAA Five Start dining experience, a full-service spa, equestrian center and a private, on-site wedding chapel. www.thegranddelmar.com
- Located in La Jolla on the 18th hole of the Torrey Pines Golf Course, site of the prestigious 2008 U.S. Open, the Lodge at Torrey Pines offers couples the chance to unwind amid Craftsman-style elegance. The resort’s 175 luxury guestrooms are meticulously designed to complement the pristine beauty of the area’s Torrey Pine trees and sandstone formations, while evoking the romance of a bygone era. A full-service spa offers therapeutic treatments based on marine and botanical products, and couples can dine in the resort’s acclaimed restaurant, A.R. Valentien, where fresh farm-to-table cuisine is served. www.lodgetorreypines.com
Downtown San Diego has a bevy of romantic hotels to tempt city chic couples whose idea of romance skews more towards eclectic shopping, exciting dining and decadent nightlife.
- THE US GRANT, opened in 1910 and built by Ulysses S. Grant Jr. to honor his Civil War hero father, reopened in 2006 after a $52 million renovation as a member of Starwood’s prestigious Luxury Collection. The 11-story hotel boasts original, one-of-a-kind works by noted French artist Yves Clement above the bed in each room as well as the Grant Grill, the perfect spot for a romantic dinner. Here, luxury and romance meet at an upscale urban retreat just steps from the hustle and bustle of the historic Gaslamp Quarter. www.usgrant.net
When it’s time for lovebirds to venture from the nest, San Diego offers a wide range of romantic activities and experiences. From smooth sailing to thrilling rides in the clouds, following are a few San Diego offerings that have couples swooning:
- Couples can rise above it all, floating up to 3,000 feet on a clear day, and drift through the clouds in a hot air balloon ride while sipping champagne and enjoying the panoramic views. Due to favorable wind conditions and unique geography, San Diego’s North County is among the few places in the world where a balloon can fly both at sunrise and sunset. California Dreamin’ offers daily sunrise and sunset flights above the Del Mar coastline and picturesque Temecula Valley wine country. www.californiadreamin.com
- Riding the air currents in a motor-less sailplane above San Diego’s rustic backcountry is an uplifting and unforgettable experience. Lovers can reenact the romantic silent soaring of Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair while gliding over the rugged California hillsides. San Diego’s Sky Sailing offers breathtaking two-person flights above Lake Henshaw, Warner Springs and Palomar Mountain. www.skysailing.com
- Sailing or yachting on the Pacific Ocean off San Diego provides a view of one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. From the south side of Imperial Beach to the northern coastal city of Oceanside, San Diego County offers a variety of breathtaking, white sandy beaches and dramatic cliffs along its 70 miles of coastline.
- Lovers in the mood for a romantic evening can enjoy an elegant horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter or neighboring Seaport Village with Cinderella Carriage. www.cinderella-carriage.com
- Couples can opt for a gentle cruise in a private gondola through the enchanting canals and waterways of the Coronado Cays. The Gondola Company offers one-hour cruises that include complimentary hors d’oeuvres or dessert plate, blankets, an ice bucket and wine glasses. The couple just brings their favorite beverage. www.gondolacompany.com
- Located just 45-minutes north of downtown San Diego, the award-winning wineries of the Temecula Valley Wine Country offer couples the romance of the vineyards. Some wineries stand atop hills and provide sweeping views of the valley, while others are set off winding dirt roads; almost all offer wine tastings and tours that are sure to set the mood for love. www.temeculacvb.com
- Romance is in full swing aboard nightly dinner cruises on San Diego Bay by Hornblower Cruises and San Diego Harbor Excursions. Couples board a luxurious three-level boat for a night of delicious dining and dancing underneath the stars and against a backdrop of the sparkling San Diego skyline. www.hornblower.com www.sdhe.com
DINNER FOR TWO
San Diego’s restaurants offer unforgettable cuisine in settings that are sure to quicken the pulse of any couple. Following are a few of the region’s most romantic dining rooms:
- Overlooking scenic La Jolla Cove, George’s at the Cove features executive chef Trey Foshee’s creative regional cuisine in an atmosphere of modern elegance. Foshee’s cutting edge and ever-changing menu can be enjoyed in three of the restaurant’s settings: the first-story California Modern featuring an elegant dining room, the bistro-styled George’s Bar and the rooftop Ocean Terrace, spanning spectacular ocean views. www.georgesathecove.com
- When money is no object, Bertrand at Mr. A’s penthouse perch offers lovebirds sweeping views of downtown San Diego, San Diego Bay and Balboa Park. The restaurant’s chef serves up food with contemporary French flair against a backdrop of white linen and fine crystal in the region’s most prestigious dining room. www.bertrandatmisteras.com
- A local landmark since 1941, The Marine Room is nestled along the sand of La Jolla Shores. The changing tides and dramatic waves crashing against the restaurant’s windows provide the perfect backdrop for executive chef Bernard Guillas’ sophisticated dishes like maple smoked bison carpaccio, thyme-rubbed free range veal tenderloin and lemon verbena lobster tail. Chef Guillas was recently inducted into the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France, becoming the only chef in San Diego to join the ranks of the 204 Master Chefs from around the world. www.marineroom.com
- Located in the ultra-exclusive enclave of Rancho Santa Fe, the refined fare at Mille Fleurs has been winning awards for more than 20 years thanks to the marriage of great ingredients and classic European techniques. The charming setting, evoking an elegant Old World cottage, provides the perfect backdrop for an intimate, romantic rendezvous. www.millefleurs.com
Happy happens in San Diego. For more information on romantic San Diego escapes, including exciting vacation packages and valuable coupons on attractions, dining and more, visit the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Web site, www.sandiego.org. In San Diego, visit the International Visitor Information Center, located along the Embarcadero at the corner of West Broadway and Harbor Drive in downtown San Diego (619-236-1212), and the La Jolla Visitor Center, located at the corner of Herschel Avenue and Prospect Street in La Jolla.