Planning to phone it in this Valentine’s Day with another box of candy or a last-minute dinner reservation? When it comes to celebrating with your sweetheart, California can change your ho-hum love-ya-babe into a megawatt winner that she—or he—won’t forget. Here are eight indulgent, even downright extravagant experiences around the Golden State. The results should seal your love’s affections (or perhaps just spoil him or her rotten) for good.
A beach of your own
This time of year, the beaches along the Mendocino Coast are naturally romantic: secluded, windswept, and glorious. Go to Ten Mile Beach outside Fort Bragg and you can walk or ride horses on long, quiet trails skirting the sand dunes. Or be dazzled—almost literally—by the rather hidden Glass Beach, which is covered in colorful bits of sea glass. This time of year, you also have a good chance of spotting a whale or two out on the water. And year-round, this part of the coastline is a treasure trove of romantic, Victorian-era inns.
An epic dinner in Yountville
This town in Napa Valley has more Michelin stars per capita than any other place in North America. So even if you can’t score a reservation at Thomas Keller’s three-starred The French Laundry, you have plenty of other options in town, like Bouchon, Bottega, and more.
Enjoy a moonlit winter wonderland
Take your love on a luxury ski trip where après–ski means more than just a cocktail. Maybe you stargaze with an astronomer at Lake Tahoe, or go to Mammoth Lakes, where the guided Tamarack Full Moon Tour sends you out on snowshoes or cross-country skis under the moonlit sky—nicely followed by a warm cuppa next to the fireplace back at Tamarack Lodge.
Sleep under the stars in style
Taking your love “camping” doesn't require you rough it—especially if you vacation on the Central Coast. Whether you snuggle up in a furnished yurt on the Big Sur bluffs at Treebones (with electricity and access to a heated pool and sushi bar), or in a fully equipped cedar cabin in El Capitan Canyon, a glamping trip means you can focus on the gorgeous setting, and not on logistics.
Honeymoon like a legend
For legendary star couples, it’s hard to beat San Ysidro Ranch, where the sumptuous rooms and cottages feature fireplaces, Persian rugs, and Rivolta Italian linen bedding. After all, this is where JFK and Jackie spent part of their honeymoon, and where Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier exchanged vows.
Drench them in diamonds
Indeed, “more diamonds” never hurt anyone. As proof, The Peninsula Spa at The Peninsula Beverly Hills offers Gemstone Revival treatments, which employ oils with tiny bits of gemstones to help nurture positive qualities: sapphires for tranquility, emeralds for stability, rubies for vitality, and diamonds for balance.
The ultimate breakfast in bed
When mere bacon is not enough, at the Parker Palm Springs you can order The Zillion Dollar Frittata, which includes 10 ounces of sevruga caviar and costs $1,000. But you can drop a digit and enjoy a more conservative eggy creation, with just one ounce of caviar, for $100. To make the most of the bed portion of your breakfast, book the cottage that was once Gene Autry’s private residence, and comes with its own saline pool.
Watch the perfect sunset
The California coastline is lined with idyllic locations for watching the sun go down in a blaze of gold and pink. La Jolla, the tony enclave in northern San Diego, is especially loaded with such perches, from the mellow Torrey Pines Gliderport to the famed George’s at the Cove.