There are few places in the world more romantic than the Northern Central Coast. Carmel is known as the “Honeymoon Capital of the West” and millions of couples visit there, Big Sur, Monterey, Capitola, and Santa Cruz every year. Whether their strolling on Carmel Beach just to be together or dining at Soif in Santa Cruz to mark a special anniversary, lovers find romance greeting them at every turn in the Monterey Bay.
Some hot Valentine dining spots include Oswald’s in Santa Cruz, a hip fine dining joint known for its cocktails, copious wine selection, and decadent dishes. Soif, a local wine bar that’s perfect for any special occasion, will be packed to the rafters Valentine’s night, so make a reservation early to guarantee a sampling of oysters, fine cheeses, duck, scallops, and desserts like molten lava cake and crème brulee. Check out the Chaminade Hotel’s Linwood’s Bar and Grill, Italian eatery Gabriella Café, and Peachwood’s at the Inn at Pasatiempo. Each of these restaurants offers phenomenal service, great food, and a romantic experience to remember.
For Valentine’s dining delights further down the coast, reserve a table at Monterey’s Fresh Cream Restaurant, which serves sensual French inspired Californian cuisine, and Carmel’s many romantic restaurants, like Andre’s Bouchee, Anton & Michel, or the rustic and aptly named Casanova Restaurant. Of course, the Pacific’s Edge restaurant pairs world-class views with inspired architecture, scrumptious dishes, and a wine list 53-pages long.
Going out to a candle-lit dinner isn’t the only way to celebrate your love on St. Valentine’s Day. Although it’s a few after the 14th, the Chateau Julien winery is holding a Red Wine & Chocolates Valentine’s Day Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 18-19. The Wine Estate’s flagship Merlot and other reds will be featured throughout the weekend with a pairing of the most romantic dessert—chocolate. For only $12/person, this promises to be a weekend of pure indulgence.
The annual Monterey Valentine’s Passport is going down February 11 from 11am-4pm. Fourteen local wineries along Monterey’s River Road Wine Trail are opening their doors and offering special pairings around the theme of love. Receive a souvenir wine glass and get entered into a special drawing. Purchase tickets before Feb. 1 to receive a $10 discount.
On the special day itself, the Holman Ranch Tasting Room in Carmel is throwing a “For the Love of Wine!” celebration. Treat your loved one to Lula’s chocolates infused with Holman Ranch pinot noir. Best of all, wine tastings for two are just $5! That’s a 50 percent discount and offers no excuse to sample some romantic local wines.
If you and your love are more into beer and nuts than wine and cheese, the Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Company is the perfect place to cozy up with some micro-brewed beer and a tasty meal courtesy of Kelly’s Bakery. Of course, the Bonny Doon Vineyard’s tasting room, The Cellar Door, is a quirky, chic, and romantic place to celebrate a Valentine’s with your special someone.
Treating your honey to a memorable Valentine’s doesn’t have to cost a pretty penny. Going for a walk along West Cliff Drive, strolling Carmel Beach, Main Beach in Capitola, or Natural Bridges Beach is enough to let the love of your life know that you only have eyes for them…and the sparkling sunset over the Pacific, of course.