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5 Couples' Retreats

Jul 02, 2010 06:17AM ● By Style

Photo Courtesy of Hotel Solamar.

If your kids are either out of the house or signed up for a million activities this summer, it’s time for you and your sweetie to rendezvous for some much-needed rejuvenation without the worry of finding kid-friendly zones and the constant use of anti-bac gel.

This month, sit back, relax and let Style take you on a couple-guided tour of five not-that-far-away destinations perfect for exploration, relaxation, romance and adventure with your closest companion, and we spill the secrets to find some of the best spots for sizzling summer getaways.


Romantic Route:

To shoot straight down to San Diego take I-5 South for approximately 500 miles and you’re there; or book an easy flight out of SMF.

Sweet Dreams:

Hotel Solamar. A hip luxury pet-friendly hotel immersed in the dynamic energy of downtown San Diego is the perfect contemporary setting for the vibrant couple seeking sun-and-sea attitudes in a modern-chic surrounding, such as that of the Historic Gaslamp District in San Diego. This boutique-style Kimpton Hotel offers an ideal destination for leisure lovers and lovers alike. The hosted wine and appetizer happy hour every evening is a fabulous treat to either end your day or start your night!

Table for Two:

Café 222. Act like kids again and you’ll flip for the 222’s Green Eggs and Spam…it’s unbelievably good! Or, try their Pumpkin Waffle featured in Gourmet Magazine.

The Cowboy Star. Every good glass of red wine deserves a great steak to savor alongside. The 40-ounce Porterhouse for Two should do the trick.

Jsix. Offering “slow food” inspired cuisine – you can tell they put a lot of love in each of their dishes…especially their Handcrafted Burger or the signature Chicken & Dumplings.

Hash House A Go Go. If you both burned way too many calories burning up the dance floor the night before, you’ll want to get your fill here. And, I do mean fill. The portions are gar-gan-tuous, meaning one plate could feed a small family. But, the thing is, their Sage Fried Chicken with Bacon Waffles is so good, I could never share.

Activities Amoré:

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Get your hearts racing with a little good ole fashioned horse betting! Bring your fancy hat and get dressed up to enjoy the excitement of blind faith.

The Old Globe. Nothing says romance like a night at the theatre. Take in a performance and get lost in make-believe.

San Diego Zoo. Find your wild sides at the wildest spot downtown. A zoo of all zoos, the San Diego Zoo does not disappoint and will get you up-close-and-personal with everything from hippos to gorillas.

Guilty Pleasures:

Whether you want a Smoked Salmon Hash Benedict or great Veggie Pizza, you can get the ultimate midnight snack at Brian’s 24.

Splurge on a spa treatment at Rock Spa at Hard Rock Hotel San Diego.

Savor “Sinful Petit Desserts” and cheeses at Karen Krasne Extraordinary Desserts.


Romantic Route:

A little under five hours, this trip via the automobile is a pretty quick trip, with 200 of the total miles spent cruising on I-5 South. Stop along the way and wine taste in the now-expansive Paso Robles wine region ( You can also pick up great bites to eat to pair with your vino.

Sweet Dreams:

Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort. Here, restful sleep can be reached in moments at this property where nature meets luxury. In one of the Resort’s King Suites, you’ll get a secluded location with no car access (you get a golf cart ride to the suite door), and your own private balcony with hot tub using pure mineral water indigenous to the area.

Table for Two:

Gardens of Avila Restaurant. Cross forks and spaghetti kiss when you order the tasty and fresh Pasta Pomodoro (add chicken or shrimp for a little more protein); or spice up the night with the Grilled American Lamb Sirloin at the restaurant on the property of the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort. Surrounded in the beauty of nature, the dining experience will leave your body feeling not only peacefully relaxed, but satisfied from food not missing anything.

Pete’s Pierside. It’s not always all about  the linen quality of the white table cloth. Sometimes you just want good unpretentious food…like authentic fish tacos. Order their Mahi Mahi Tacos, or just about anything on their handwritten menu board, and you’re sure to be more than surprised. The low price, hodge-podge lawn furniture dining patio is barely noticeable when you’ve got the best view in town from the Pier at Avila Beach. 3 Pier, # 3, Avila Beach.

Activities Amoré:

Couple-Guided Hikes. Take the self-guided hikes with your partner and enjoy an “adventure filled with spectacular vistas.” Sycamore has trails right from the property for all levels of hikers; from one and a half miles to six miles in length, all of the trails offer phenomenal ocean views and/or coastal access, and plenty of places to sneak in a smooch.

Wine Exploration. Take a little side trip and get out to taste the region’s wines. A stop at Alapay Cellars in downtown Avila Beach ( will yield some of the best of the area; also enjoy both local art and local wine at the Morovino Tasting Room inside the Haub Art Gallery in Avila Beach.

Guilty Pleasures:

Go Nuts! Doughnuts, that is. Swing by Sunshine Donuts for a tasty confection any time of day or night. Offering everything from the Frosted Devil’s Food and Maple Bars to French-style doughnuts and custard- and jelly-filled varieties. The only thing that could ruin the moment is not bringing cash; they don’t accept credit cards. 195 Higuera Street, SLO.

Tranquility for Two. Enjoy this partner-necessary massage treatment featuring side-by-side, therapeutic full body integrative massage. Follow it up with one of the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort Wellness Center’s “wine therapy” body treatments.

Just Dance. Pretend like no one’s watching and move to some great dance music, including classic hits, rock ‘n’ roll and cover bands spanning the decades – there’s something for everyone at Harry’s Nightclub & Beach Bar. At this joint you can let your hair down for the live music seven days a week.


Romantic Route:

Just 25 miles south of San Francisco, this is another pretty quick car ride, taking no more than 3 hours from most areas in our region; be sure to bring cash for the bridge toll!

Fall “Inn” Love:

For couples who like to unwind B&B-style, Half Moon Bay Inn, situated in the heart of downtown Half Moon Bay, is an award-winning boutique inn built in 1932 and recently renovated to preserve its Spanish Revival architecture. Definitely European-feeling, this downtown historically-rich and richly adorned property exudes romance and attention to detail. The innkeeper, Jamie, is so inviting and warm – you instantly feel taken care of.

Table for Two:

Sandwich your Love. Infamous for their fall-in-love sandwiches, San Benito Deli at the San Benito House offers simple compilations that are straightforward and even better shared. Voted “Best Sandwich in Half Moon Bay…you can bet it’s for good reason. Sandwiches come on your choice of homemade whole wheat, French or olive walnut.

Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. Enjoy a much-adored love potion at this hotspot dive for both locals and visitors. With a great patio for seaside dining any time of day, the Brewery – producing top-quality Mavericks Beers & Ales in addition to hearty local cuisine – is the place to order the Yucatan Ceviche and beer-battered, deep-fried artichoke hearts.

Sam’s Chowder House. Enough said – get the chowder here. And, rumor has it – Sam’s Baked Oysters Rockefeller have been known to make sparks fly. sams

Activities Amoré:

Coastal Elegance Tours. Experience the beauty of the Pacific Coast up close and personal…on a bike! Hitch up with CET and experience several eco-culture cycling tours featuring rides for all skill levels through only the must-see spots. Look out for the local wildlife!

Sea Kayaking. Whether you’re an adventurist or a low-key leisurist, there’s a kayak exploration waiting just for you. Half Moon Bay Kayak Co. offers paddling among the harbor seals, seabirds and other marine sanctuary wildlife in protected Pillar Point Harbor.

Harley Goat Farm Tour. Who says cheese isn’t sexy? The goats here may not be runway ready, but they sure are cute and fun to pet! In addition to learning how a dairy runs and cheese-making techniques, a visit to these award-winning goat cheese purveyors will have you and your honey appreciating the simple things in life…not to mention four delicious varieties of goat cheese fresh for sampling. They even have goat milk skincare products!

Guilty Pleasures: 

Get your garlic on. Literally. Take in the sights, sounds and tastes of all things garlic at the Great Garlic BBQ on July 31, 2010, happening at the La Nebbia Winery/Obester Winery in Half Moon Bay.

Indulge in prized pastries at Moonside Bakery & Café in Downtown HMB. The shelves are beautifully adorned with a wide variety of cakes, tarts, pies, and pastries for every imagination. You’ll be giving sweet kisses all day long after a visit here.


Romantic Route:

Located at 2505 W. Turner Road in Lodi, California – Wine & Roses is easily accessible via automobile, just 35 miles south of Sacramento and 90 miles east of San Francisco.

Sweet Dreams: 

A fairytale Setting. Situated in the heart of San Joaquin Valley’s wine country and surrounded by seven acres of scenic, tree-viewing beauty and brilliant botanical gardens, you’ll discover rustic luxury (Garden Rooms) and modern Zen (Spa Rooms), and rich detail (Signature Suites) at Wine & Roses Hotel, Restaurant & Spa. Your beauty sleep is sure to flourish after just one night here. For couples, the hotel boasts two packages fitting for Cinderella and her prince; check our the “Rediscover” and “Rendezvous,” both of which include wine tasting, four-course seasonal dinner for two with sparkling wine greeting, and a “quickstart” gourmet continental breakfast.

Table for Two: 

Wine & Roses Restaurant. Dine in style in either the historic dining room or outdoors on the veranda amidst flowering nature...and taste California cuisine at its finest paired with local, award-winning wines. This is the perfect opportunity to re-live your honeymoon. Order The Bride (Chambord, pomegranate juice and Champagne) to start your evening soiree, follow that with their Fresh Dungeness Crab Salad, and Sea Bass Nicoise for a night you’ll want to savor again and again.

Lodi Beer Company. Re-visit your college days with some great brews, but take it up a notch with the food at this joint. Give the Grilled Alaskan Salmon, Baked Macaroni Cheese, or the Skirt Steak a go…and you’ll be dizzy-in-love…with the “bar food.”

Activities Amoré:

Taste of Lodi. Happening every year, the last weekend of September (Sunday, September 26), enjoy the premier food and wine event of the year. Experience the offerings of over 40 award-wining Lodi wineries, food selections from some of the area’s finest restaurants and caterers, wine seminars, chef demonstrations, and live music. If you can’t make the event, you can certainly “taste” Lodi year-round at over 60 wineries.,

Farmers’ Market Chef Tour. Learn from the pros, and you and your sweetie will be picking the best melon at the market in no time. The W&R chef will host a tour of downtown Lodi Farmers’ Market every Thursday, 5:30-6:30 p.m., through September 23. Reservations are required; call 209-371-6117.

Guilty Pleasures:

Nothing beats chocolate and vodka, especially when they’re combined on vacation! So if you’re putting that detox diet book back on the shelf, this should be the first thing you order on your arrival at W&R – The Mocha Martini! Blended lusciously with vanilla vodka, Godiva liquor, Kahlua, Frangelico and espresso – expand your limits with this divine libation.

For the love of art. Take home fine art to commemorate your trip of reconnection. You’ll get butterflies every time you catch a glimpse of your love-funded masterpiece on display at home. Check out the Knowlton Gallery, which showcases contemporary paintings, sculpture, and photography, and especially emphasizes artists who live and work in the Sierra Foothills.


**WEB EXCLUSIVE**  (see the Ahwanee Web Gallery HERE)

Romantic Route: One of the best parts of this trip is entering the majestic Yosemite Valley and having nothing to say but “oohh” and “aahh” as your eyes take in all they can from your car seat. To get to “the most beautiful place on Earth,” take Highway 99 South to Manteca, exit onto Highway 120 East in Manteca, and follow it directly into Yosemite. Also, for guest convenience once you’ve settled it, a free shuttle service has multiple stops throughout Yosemite Valley, as well as transportation between Yosemite Valley and Yosemite's Badger Pass Ski Area in the winter and between Wawona's Pioneer Gift & Grocery and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias in the warmer months. A free shuttle also serves the Tuolumne Meadows area in the summer.

Sweet Dreams: Approximately one mile east of Yosemite Village, surrounded by the “world famous” scenery of Yosemite National Park, you’ll discover a historic luxury (AAA four-diamond) hotel – The Ahwahnee – offering views of Half Done, Glacier Point, the Royal Arches and Upper Yosemite Fall. After a 3-phase, 2.25-million-dollar-remodel, The Ahwahnee boasts an interior that blends beautifully with its surroundings, and an expansive interior which reflects the property’s rich history (original photos from as far back as 1927 adorn the walls throughout the hotel), attention to detail and natural sustainability; as well, the decor mirrors the park’s Native American heritage (Ahwahnee translate to “valley of the gaping mouth” and was derived from the earliest Miwok Indian Tribe in Yosemite – the Ahwahneechees).

For two lovebirds, The Ahwahnee Romance Package will have you both singing in the shower. Complete with 2-night’s lodging, a four-course, gourmet dinner in the soaring Ahwahnee Dining Room, sparkling wine and flutes, keepsake gift, and special turndown service.

Table for Two:
From royals to celebs, The Ahwahnee Dining Room is nothing short of a grand experience. With rustic ambiance that includes elegance and 34-foot-high beamed ceilings supported by polished sugar pine logs, the menu is equally impressive with olive oil poached tuna and watermelon salad to start your love affair, then heat things up with the divine Grilled Brandt Beef Filet Mignon with blue cheese potato gratín, asparagus, and oxtail Rago.

You won’t need your hiking boots here, but The Mountain Room Lounge at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls (another great hotel in the park) offers a relaxing mountain-themed atmosphere perfect for playing footsy with your adored guest. During the summer season, sit outside with cocktails and small bites on the patio, and in winter warm up beside the open, Swedish-style fireplace. Order the Classic Caesar for Two and the Ruby Trout with pistachio crust and lemon, brown butter sauce…you won’t be disappointed.

The Wawona Dining Room at the Wawona Hotel, a Victorian-style lodge is well known for its sumptuous fare. Your trip to Yosemite will not be complete until you sample the award-winning signature White Turkey Chili served at lunch, which has been featured in three cookbooks. On warm summer nights, the Veranda adjacent to the dining room is a classic spot to soirée. Classic western-style outdoor barbecues take place in summer on Saturday evenings. Or visit when you wake for a delicious way to start your day.

Activities Amoré

28th Annual Yosemite’s Vintners’ Holidays. Each November and December, Yosemite Vintners' Holidays introduces guests to wonderful wines and the people who make them. Hands-on seminars and tastings, held in The Ahwahnee Great Lounge, feature vintners from California's most prestigious wineries including Mumm Napa, J Vineyards, Silver Oak Cellars, and Rombauer Vineyards. Guests also have the opportunity to dine with these great winemakers at the Gala Vintners’ Dinner, a gourmet five-course dinner held in the magnificent Ahwahnee Dining Room at the close of each session.

25th Annual Chefs’ Holidays at The Ahwahnee. Chefs’ Holidays at The Ahwahnee, held each year in January and February (January 10 through February 4), feature some of America’s most innovative and acclaimed chefs. Each of the eight sessions includes a “Meet the Chefs” reception, cooking demonstrations and behind-the-scenes kitchen tours of The Ahwahnee’s massive 6,500-square-foot kitchen. On the final evening of each session, the Gala Chefs’ Dinner provides a fitting finale with a memorable five-course feast highlighting the specialties of the celebrity guest chef.

Yosemite Mountaineering School. Love is an adventure. Make it literal on a backpacking excursion like no other. Offering group hikes, backpacking, climbing and guided climbing. You’ll find this mountain adventure Mecca in the Mountain Shop at Curry Village. 209-372-8344

Glacier Point. Love will warm the air at this perfect peak, where you can go to the railing’s edge and catch each other’s breath looking down 3,214 feet to the Valley floor. Glacier Point Road opens for visitor traffic every May. Get road-closure information at the Valley Visitor Center. 209-372-0200

Guilty Pleasures

In Room Therapy – Do Not Disturb. Soothe aching hiking muscles with a private couples’ massage in you Ahwahnee room or cottage. Hold hands as you relax, or simply enjoy the special attention you both deserve. Turn the pampering up a notch with a manicure and pedicure.

For the love of art. Splurge on the souvenir of all souvenirs – an Ansel Adams signed print. The Ansel Adams Gallery is listed on The National Register of Historic Places; so why not make a historic purchase of the prized beauty captured on film…and one that will forever remind you of the memories (and magic) at Yosemite.

Buzz Worthy. Hopefully you will stay right side up after sipping a few of these bad boys. The Mountain Room’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake Martini – ABSOLUT Vanilla Vodka, amaretto, pineapple juice and grenadine – is one of a kind, and a spectacular summer libation. Without a doubt, this cocktail is cake to drink.



San Diego Marriott Gaslamp. The chic Marriott Gaslamp Quarter hotel is ideally located to a multitude of activities downtown and the Bay. With 306 luxurious rooms and suites to stimulate your senses; you will be amazed by the exquisite food, breathtaking views (check out their Altitude Sky Lounge offering sweeping views of San Diego Bay, the skyline and PETCO Park…perfect for watching summer game nights!), and the gorgeously appointed rooms; it’s also within walking distance to shopping at Horton Plaza or Seaport Village.

San Diego Museum of Art. Pick out your own Picasso or just stare in amazement and experience the wonder of true appreciation for passion.

Hornblower Harbor Cruise. Enjoy a sunset from the best amenities possible – soothing ocean waves and harbor views, the sea breeze, a tour guide to make sure you don’t miss the exact moment, and a picture perfect memory.

Enjoy the fun and delightful drinks at The Local happy hour.

Roll up his and her sleeves for a salty Stadium Hot Dog at a Padres Game. Includes all the trimmings.


NOVO. Get an exotic dining experience with fresh global cuisine representing multi-country-flavors that awaken all of the senses. Dine in a romantic creek-side setting and eclectic backdrop and let the tastes and ambiance fuse to create a perfect dinner to try new things. Start with the Tandoori Spiced Prawns and the Grilled Salmon Salad. Vegan- and vegetarian-friendly.

Yoga. Get your mind and bodies in synch at complimentary (for SCMR guests) yoga, Tai Chi, and Pilates classes at the Healing Arts Institute on the property of the Resort.

Sulfur Mineral Springs Tubbing. The two of you can take advantage of the “healing waters” at Syacmore in their secluded hillside mineral spring hot tubs, which are canopied by oak and sycamore trees. The tubs accommodate up to 8 people, so a couple can really experience the comforting qualities for visitor’s skin, joint and respiratory challenges.

Water Adventure or Art Excursion. Whether you describe your relationship-style as thrill-seeking or thought-provoking, when you’re not contemplating the depth of your love for one another in one of the serene gardens of the Sycamore, you can either rent some jet ski’s and cruise the calm waters surrounding the five-city coastal area ( Or, if antique shopping and art collecting are more your thing, you won’t want to miss Art in the Park @ Dinosaur Caves – a big sidewalk sale featuring paintings, ceramics, wood art, gourmet food, gifts and more – where you’ll find much to see and do the first Sunday of every month through November (

Get the quintessential midnight snack at Petra Mediterranean Pizza & Grill when you order one of their Mediterranean pizzas or the delicious Greek sampler platter that allows you to choose numerous varieties of rich salads served with pita bread.


For the two-some who live for the sea, and feel most at home with their toes in the sand, a stay at the beach is in order. Designed with the outdoor enthusiast – one who enjoys both activities in the mountains and the ocean – in mind, this eco-friendly hotel is a great romantic retreat perched atop a beachside bluff. Sleep in maritime bliss in one of their 54 loft suites, which give way to dramatic views of the Pacific coastline and surrounding mountains, and Pillar Point Harbor, a working fishing marina; in addition to amazing wafts of ocean air.

It’s Italia. Make real amore at this authentic Tuscan-style Italian eatery. Amazing gourmet pizzas, scratchmade pastas, creative farm-fresh salads using only the best local ingredients and just-caught seafood from area fisherman. Sit hand-in-hand by an outdoor fireplace and munch on the Insalata Caprese paired with a crisp local wine.

Puttin’ on the Ritz. Tee it up at The Ritz Carlton, Half Moon Bay. Pretend the two of you can vacation like celebs – book a tee time to enjoy world-class golf amidst world-class scenery. 650-712-7000

Have your pie and eat it to at the 40th Annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival, which takes place in the “Pumpkin Capital of the World” (no joke!) and includes pumpkin carving and pie-eating contests, Great Pumpkin Parade, harvest-inspired arts and crafts, and blockbuster entertainment, all taking place October 16 & 17, 2010, on Main Street. If you don’t make it in October, don’t worry, you’ll find yummy pumpkin fare year-round.

Pamper your partner at Primrose Country Day Spa with their Half Moon Bay Signature Facial, which includes a pumpkin wrap, and warm stone massage. This special splurge will rejuvenate the mind, body and soul for a reignited relationship.


Pietro’s of Lodi. Find unpretentious Italian food at its best in the passionately prepared dishes, recreated from recipes handed down from the founders, husband-wife-team Amelia and Pietro. Their homemade Murdaca’s Minestrone Soup and bread is nothing short of a masterpiece and is complemented nicely by the Chopped Antipasta Salad.

Micke Grove Zoo and Park. Pack a picnic and take a stroll to the park. This 258-acre oak tree park offers plenty of opportunities for hand-holding including Micke Grove Zoo, which features exotic and endangered species; the Japanese Garden with cherry blossom trees, tea pavilion and koi pond; Funderwoods Amusement Park offering fun-filled rides and delicious treats; the San Joaquin Historical Museum; and outdoor picnic shelters.

Tranquility does exist…and you’ll find it at the Spa at Wine & Roses for sure. Seek seclusion with the “Couples Interlude” package that begins with a private candlelit soak for two in a deep whirlpool tub, followed by a nurturing 90-wellness massage.