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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Romantic Retreats to Kick off a Spring Fling

Words by Jennifer Stein
Words by Autumn Millhouse

Sip, Soar or Surf! Kick off your own Spring Fling by whisking your beloved away for a romantic getaway. Each sojourn evokes romance, sunshine essentials and a sense of adventure – perfect for any couple hoping to switch relationship gears.

San Ynez Valley: Wine Tasting
Take a long weekend and drive the five hours to Santa Barbara’s Wine Country. Rolling green hills, large oak trees and vineyard landscapes are reminiscent of Napa Valley but with an urban cowboy feel. Ranching and wine drinking make this valley unique. Los Olivos is a picturesque three-block town filled with wine tasting rooms, upscale dining establishments and a local general store where you can drink beer out front (if the urge occurred). Stay at the Fess Parker, Wine Country Inn & Spa in the center of town and choose from a variety of wine tasting packages, including my ideal getaway; Ride, Wine & Dine. However, three of my favorite wineries are Foley Wines, Bridelewood Estate Winery and Kaylara Winery. Dine at Petros, the excellent Greek res­taurant inside Fess Parker or enjoy a western meal at A.J Spurs, where the best steak and chili beans are served along with live country music. www. fessparker.com

San Diego: Hot-Air Ballooning
Instead of booking a flight to Spain, save the money and feel as if you are in Spain at the La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla. Colorful tiles, majes­tic fountains and bright bougainvillea add to the hotel’s distinction. It’s a place where many visit and want to return as a newlywed. The romantic atmosphere, ocean views and close proximity to La Jolla Cove makes La Valencia the ideal winter retreat. Forget Southern California traffic, every­thing you need is within walking distance. Even the hot-air balloon company, Sky Surfer (www. sandiegohotairballoons.com), will pick you up at the hotel for an Ocean View Sunset ride. After­wards, pick up to-die-for fish tacos from Georges and hang out at their open-air upstairs bar sip­ping margaritas. Shop, take long walks along the beach and don’t forget to pack your flip-flops.
http://www.lavalencia.com/
Santa Cruz: Surfing
Santa Cruz and Capitola, a two hour drive from Napa, is also a bumbling eccentric community. For the more ad­venturesome couple, take advantage of Pleasure Point Inn’s Room & Board Surf Package. Wetsuits, semi-private surf les­sons and surfboards are provided by Club Ed Surf School. Plus, two nights away at the inn are included. After your surfing lessons grab brunch at 515 Kitchen & Cocktails by the fireplace on the upstairs patio. For dinner, rather after dinner at Chocolate, located in the heart of Santa Cruz share the ‘chocolate orgy’ dessert (they have a variety of mind-blowing desserts). If surfing is not in the cards for you, then consider giving kayaking a try. Rent a kayak at Capitola Boat and Bait shop located on the Capitola wharf. http://www.pleasurepointinn.com/

For more on Autumn Millhouse and her book Romantic Napa Valley, An Insider’s Guide for Couples, click here.

About AutumnAutumn Millhouse is an award-winning travel writer who specializes in wine, food and romantic getaways. She is also an international trekker who has wined and dined across the globe from Barcelona to Beijing . A self-proclaimed “hopeless-romantic” and author of Romantic Napa Valley: An Insider’s Guide for Couples, Autumn also has a bi-monthly column called “Love Vines” published in Napa Valley Life Magazine. She resides in Napa Valley where she cultivates her wine and food relationships with top chefs, winemakers and a slew of other foodies. Besides, sniffing, swirling and sipping wine daily, Autumn is currently working on her next travel book Romantic Sonoma Valley: An Insider’s Guide for Couples. To visit Autumn on facebook, click here.

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