Hopeless Romantics: Local Date Ideas
In honor of Valentine’s Day, we compiled a list of 10 top spots for the starry-eyed. Of course, the classic dinner-and-a-movie date is always nice—but it’s also kind of cliché—so you won’t find any of those recommendations here. These local picks promise fun-filled adventures, whether you’re on date one or 100.
If you and your partner adore animals, then a zoo date is a wonderful way to bond. Stroll through the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary to admire the adorable creatures—from birds and bears to bobcats, mountain lions, monkeys, and more. Level up your experience by visiting from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on February 10 and 11 for Owl Be Your Valentine, where all ages can create a card for the animal they love the most. Supplies are provided, and the activity is free with regular zoo admission. folsomzoofriends.org
Craving a dinner date but don't want to fight the V-Day crowds? Get creative and cook a meal together instead. Pick up locally sourced, in-season ingredients for your home-cooked creation at one of our region’s year-round farmers’ markets (visit getplacergrown.com/farmers-markets, bemoneysmartusa.org/farmersmarkets, and eldoradofarmersmarket.com/markets to find one near you) and try your hand at a new-to-your-relationship recipe.
According to the National Park Service, hiking not only boosts your mood but benefits your relationship, too. Venture out into nature together by visiting Canyon View Preserve in Auburn. Easily accessible (from Lincoln Way at Interstate 80’s Bowman exit), the short and sweet mile-and-a-half trail boasts beautiful scenic vistas and ample open space. Find free bird, tree, wildflower, and shrub guides on Placer Land Trust’s website for an alfresco outing that’s also educational. placerlandtrust.org/canyon-view-preserve
On February 10, Folsom Lake Symphony presents That's Amore! along with Pasquale Esposito—a noteworthy, charismatic tenor, who’s hot off an international tour and has been featured on numerous PBS specials. Esposito will serenade you and your date with romantic Latin and Italian tunes. Aside from the obvious “That's Amore,” look out for crowd favorites such as “Be My Love” and “Besame Mucho,” plus silver screen love themes performed by the orchestra. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Harris Center. harriscenter.net/thats-amore
This is probably a rhetorical question, but do either of you need a chance to unwind? Relax together at Serenity Spa | Soul Yoga (locations in Roseville and Folsom) with their Heart to Heart Ritual, which comes inclusive of a botanical herb foot therapy experience for two in the Zen lounge, followed by a 60-minute couple’s massage. End the “love”ly experience with infused water, tea, and a light meal. serenityspaonline.com
Wine tasting is often romantic but step it up a notch by reserving your own heated outdoor pod at Sierra Vista Vineyards & Winery in Placerville. All four cleverly named, themed pods—Cabernet Chalet, Chardonnay Chateau, Tiger’s Den, and Savanna’s Suite—are clear, so you can take in the buzzworthy views while sipping and snuggling. This is a fun double or triple date, too, as the pods hold either four or six people. Choose from a tasting, a bottle, or a glass; food (think pizza, chili, etc.) is also served. sierravistawinery.com
Peruse (or purchase) local art together at Downtown Placerville's Gold Country Artists Gallery, where some of the featured artists are onsite to answer questions and show you around. Thoughtful conversation will easily be sparked as you and your plus one stroll past stunning sculptures, paintings, photographs, jewelry, and more. The gallery is typically open till 6 p.m., but showings and exhibitions are extended to 8 p.m. every third Saturday of the month (February 17). goldcountryartistsgallery.net
Although some might argue that cheese is a superior pairing, it's chocolate that wins supreme at Annabelle's Chocolate Lounge in El Dorado. There, they serve carefully crafted Chocolate & Wine Flights (the menu varies month to month, but past pairings have included chardonnay with milk chocolate English toffee; and zinfandel alongside a dark chocolate-dipped orange rind). Plus, the wines are local, and the chocolates are made onsite with zero preservatives or waxes. annabelleschocolate.com
If you fancy some wine tasting but want to make a weekend of it, book a room at the aptly named, incredibly intimate Grand Reserve Inn. The Plymouth property is tiny but mighty with five suites that truly are grand, thanks to stunning vineyard views and lavish, Tuscan-style interiors. A gourmet breakfast awaits every morning, as does a wine and cheese pairing later in the day. grandreserveinn.com
Want to get away without going far away? A staycation at Loomis’ Flower Farm Inn may be just what Cupid ordered. Bunk up in the cozy 1905 farmhouse and explore the gorgeous grounds, complete with a cafe, winery (Casque Wines), ponds, orchards, a nursery, and beautiful blooms. Speaking of blooms, all the rooms are named after various flowers: forget-me-not, sunflower, hibiscus, buttercup, and wild poppy. A café and winery (Casque Wines) are also onsite if you don't want to peel yourself away from the premises. flowerfarminn.com
by Caitlin Emmett
Canyon View Preserve photo courtesy of Placer Land Trust. That's Amore photo by Charlene Taylor. Annabelle's Chocolate Lounge photo courtesy of Visit El Dorado. Flower Farm photo by Katherine Elyse Media. Other photos courtesy of their respective companies or organizations.