Valentine’s Day Trip Ideas


Valentine’s Day is Friday, which is also part of a long weekend. Why not celebrate with a quick road trip? Nothing huge, just a quick shot up the coast or out into the desert for the weekend. CV Weekly has covered some great weekend trips in our Travel & Leisure section over the last few years and we thought a refresher course may be in order for anyone looking to get on the road without too much expense, planning or hassle. Full stories on each of these locations can be found online at, but here’s a short rundown.

From LA, you have three options: head south, head north or head east.


The ocean views from Carmel, north of Los Angeles, inspire romance – perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Heading North

This one is the most classic Valentine option on the list – a spin through wine country. Napa is great, Sonoma County overall is fine but, in my experience, the best of wine country is farther south from there. Monterey and the Arroyo Seco area around Carmel-by-the-Sea are the places to go.

Located just 15 minutes south of Monterey on the Central California coast, Carmel is a nice little getaway with beautiful boutique hotels, wine tasting rooms, amazing restaurants, art galleries, shops and experiences packed into the small town, which is only two or three times the size of Montrose. While most all the hotels are super cute and provide a great place to stay, I have always liked the theming of Vendange Carmel Inn and Suites. It’s a wine themed boutique hotel with each room decorated by a local winery. My favorite room is the Twisted Roots room, decorated by the vintner of the Twisted Roots winery, that includes a clipping of its famous Old Vine Zinfandel vine dating back to 1918, hung over the fireplace. Honorable mention goes to the Blair Estates room with a table and chairs made of old wine barrel staves and a cork-topped bar table.


Heading South

Anyone who went to elementary school in California remembers the fourth grade mission report. All kids had their own missions to learn about and build a model of. After that, many students don’t think about the California missions again. But a fun, unique trip that I’ve been taking for years is the mission trip. My wife and I have decided to visit all the missions, and we have a mission passport stamp book to collect stamps along the way at each location. Heading south, there are three missions and two of them are among the best in the state – San Luis Rey in Oceanside and San Juan Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano.

These missions are big, beautiful old buildings that are steeped in history and provide about two hours each of walking around, taking in the sights and snapping some fantastic pictures. Over a long weekend, following El Camino Real south down to its terminus in San Diego can be a fun trip, and it ends at the beach. On Coronado Island in San Diego, the Hotel Del Coronado is undergoing some renovations to its patio and veranda serving area, but a temporary replacement area has been created. On the Rocks is a food truck parked right on the sand in front of the hotel, serving sandwiches, salads, loaded fries and cocktails in a cute little seating area of fire pits right at the sand. It’s a perfect place to watch the sunset and end the trip.


The burros of Oatman, Arizona welcome guests – and their pats

Heading East

Route 66 is a classic slice of Americana and you don’t have to travel far to feel that pull to get some “kicks” the song was talking about. One cool spot along the way is Oatman, Arizona. Just over the border of Arizona, about four hours away, is an old west town akin to Tombstone, Arizona where guests can visit abandoned mines, dine in a former saloon and feed the local population of burros that have taken over the town. The burros love to get petted by visitors as well, so that’s a benefit. And while that won’t eat up your whole long weekend, there are plenty of places to visit along the Mother Road including Holbrook, Arizona and its Wigwam Motel for guests to sleep in giant stone teepees, and the Petrified Forest National Park nearby.