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Archive for the Category "California"

Romantic Getaways in San Diego – Animal Parks Mar 16

My wife and I find romance in many different places. There is a lot to be said for going away to someplace very private and intimate but we also find that places that make you feel young can also be romantic. It is a lot of fun to walk around with your sweetheart and hold hands and experience again the things that you enjoyed when you were young. One of the places that we truly enjoy going to experience this “return to our youth” are zoos or animal parks and we tend to look for those any place that we visit. There probably is no place in the United States that has the quality and variety of animal parks as the San Diego area.

The most well known of the animal parks in the San Diego Area is probably the San Diego Zoo. It has been at the forefront of the zoo experience and breeding capabilities for almost 100 years. There are over 4000 animals at the zoo and the habitats housing these wondrous animals contribute to a very engaging experience. The zoo was the first to use barless, moated enclosures that allow you to view these animals in environments closer to their natural environment. There are animals of all kinds from all over the world including some very rare species. Most people have their favorite animals and you can be assured that your favorite is here somewhere and you will probably find some new interesting ones along the way.

What once started out as a breeding facility for the San Diego Zoo, the Wild Animal Park (about 34 miles North of San Diego outside of Escondido) is favored by some people over the Zoo. There are over 3500 animals and 430 species in the park. The interesting thing about this park is its openness. Animals run together in large areas and it is common to see giraffes interacting with zebras and antelopes (don’t worry, they don’t mix “meat-eaters” with “plant eaters” here) much as they would in Africa. There is an open-air tram ride called “Journey to Africa” which brings you a little closer to the animals. If you want to spend a little more, you can take the “Savanna Safari” to take you even closer and to some places the tram doesn’t cover. If you want to get really close, you can go on a Photo Caravan to visit parts of the park that no one else gets to see but you need reservations. There are also several self-guided walking tours in the park that lets you visit various animals in interesting habitats.

For those of you that love marine life, San Diego has a Sea World. The highlight of Sea World is its shows. The have a show featuring Shamu, the Killer Whale, which is enlightening and inspiring. They also have a nighttime version with lights and rock music called Shamu Rocks. My wife and I enjoy the Clyde & Seamore’s Risky Rescue show which features sea lions and otters which is really funny. There is also a Dolphin Discovery show for those of you who love dolphins.   Additionally, there are exhibits featuring beluga whales, polar bears, penguins, sharks, and manatees which allow you to learn about these animals while you watch them up close. There are new shows and exhibits being added all the time so check your program or the website when you go. For those of you who enjoy amusement parks, you can take a break from the animal watching and take your sweetheart on a rollercoaster, down a lazy river, or in a simulated helicopter ride.

You may be wondering how being in a crowded zoo could be romantic but you can always create your own intimate space wherever you are. I really enjoy “sneaking up” on my sweetheart while she is watching the animals. I come up behind her, put my arms around her, and whisper “I love you” in her ear and give her a kiss on the cheek. She usually returns the favor with a quick kiss. We tend to do this all day and take turns “sneaking up” on one another. At the end of the day, we usually will talk about the enjoyment we had watching the animals and the kids in the parks, but we also talk about who had the best sneaky kiss of the day. Although you may not think of it at first, I encourage you to think of the San Diego Animal Parks or your local zoo for your next romantic getaway.

Romantic Getaways in Santa Barbara Mar 09

If you like to walk along the beach with a view of the mountains, drink fine wine, shop, and walk along streets with intriguing architecture you may want to consider Santa Barbara for your next romantic getaway.

Santa Barbara is only a couple hours drive from Los Angeles but it might feel like worlds away. The attitude is very laid back and courteous which is ideal for a romantic getaway. The beaches are a focal point, but the shops and art galleries that are found throughout downtown are equally as visited. For all of these reasons, Santa Barbara is often called The American Riviera.

The architecture is Spanish-Mediterranean and there is even a self-guided walking tour called the Red Tile Walking Tour of which you can pickup maps at the visitor’s center. Some of the highlights of the tour include the Santa Barbara Courthouse, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. The main street through downtown is State Street and has a variety of shops and boutiques and even has a shuttle if you get tired of walking.

My wife and I always find that for romantic moments, you just can’t beat a walk on the beach. Santa Barbara has some beautiful beaches for all tastes and moods. If recreational activities and people watching is your cup of tea, East Beach is probably your best bet. If you enjoy watching surfers and watching boats going in and out of the harbor, Ledbetter Beach is ideal. But if you are looking for a little more seclusion, Hendry’s Beach may be just right for you. All of these beaches have beautiful gold-sand beaches lined with palm trees and adequate surf. As a side note, those of you who love art and the water, you may really enjoy the Arts and Crafts Show that takes place every Sunday along the Santa Barbara waterfront. Finally, the sunsets in Santa Barbara are breathtaking and many locals and visitors gather on the waterfront every day to watch the sun go down.

Santa Barbara also has a lot of options for those of you wanting to look for those romantic moments on the ocean. There are whale watching tours that take place from December to March (your best bet to see whales on land would be from Shoreline Park) and there are a variety of other boat tours including some to the Channel Islands and others of the shoreline. If you are looking for a little more romance and seclusion, you can rent sailboats or take a cruise on a 50-foot Catamaran called the Double Dolphin.

If you and your sweetheart are wine lovers, Santa Barbara is the place for you. There are a lot of great vineyards in the area and a variety of ways to see them. There are bus tours, bicycling tours, private tours, and also self-guided ones. The wineries provide beautiful scenery and tasting of a wide variety of wines. The Santa Barbara wine country was actually a large part of the 2004 Oscar winning film Sideways and you can even pick up maps of the actual filming locations.

There are numerous fine romantic restaurants in Santa Barbara which combine ambiance, wonderful food and service, and world class wine lists to make for a very special evening. Some of these romantic restaurants include BouchonAldo’s Italian Restaurant, Seagrass, and Blue Agave. There is also a Melting Pot and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse if you are looking for some familiar romantic restaurants.

There are several romantic lodging options in Santa Barbara whether you want to stay by the beach or closer to downtown. The nice thing is that whichever you choose, the downtown and the beaches are just a relaxing stroll away. For those of you looking for a romantic retreat where money is no object, you may try the Four Seasons Resort if you want to be closer to the beach or The Canary Hotel or Simpson House Inn if you want to be closer to downtown. Some other lodging options close to the beach that aren’t as pricy include the Casa Del Mar Inn, Franciscan Inn, and Hotel Oceana.

For couples looking for a romantic getaway to a beautiful oceanfront town with a relaxed atmosphere and a wide variety of choices for lodging, dining and activities, Santa Barbara may be just the place for you.