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8 Unexpected Valentine’s Day Experiences

8 Unexpected Valentine’s Day Experiences

Celebrate your love with these unique California events, including kayaking through sea caves and riding a mystery train

Posted 2 months agoby Jessica Sebor

Studies show that the secret to happiness is spending money on experiences, not things—and that’s especially true when you’re talking Valentine’s Day. Flowers and chocolates are sweet, and a romantic dinner is always a win, but if you want to make lasting memories with your love, try an unexpected experience. If you're in need of a little extra inspiration, check out these cupid-approved experiences across the state, listed north to south.

Take Part in an Epic Pillow Fight in San Francisco

San Francisco’s Justin Herman Plaza becomes the site of a battle royale for the pillow-packing set with the annual unofficial, unsponsored, and unsanctioned Great San Francisco Pillow Fight. Held each year on Valentine’s Day, it’s open to everyone and starts at 5:50 p.m. (but no hitting until the clock strikes 6). A few miles north on the Embarcadero, the Exploratorium will take you on a tour of the procreation proclivities of the world outside of humans on its Sexplorations After Dark event on Thursday, Feb. 9. Or maybe you’ll just be in the mood for a tasty drink? The Science of Cocktails event, also at the Exploratorium on that evening, will fit the bill nicely. Check out these other events and things to do throughout the city.

Create Old-School Romance in Concord

The East Bay town of Concord is a quick hop from San Francisco, and has a lot of home-grown charm. Share a flight of craft beers at the buzzy Epidemic Brews, or enjoy a stroll through the manicured rose garden at Markham Nature Park & Arboretum. In the run-up to the holiday, if you’re looking for a romantic gift, stop by the Super Valentine’s Boutique on February 5. And of course, there’s that most classic of date activities: Snuggle up for a movie at the West Wind Drive-In, a retro delight where you can watch new releases with the sound streaming to your car radio.


Explore Channel Islands National Park


Make your lover’s heart beat faster with an all-day adventure through the country’s most isolated national park just off the coast of Santa Barbara. Start the morning with a ferry ride (watch for dolphins) before kayaking through hidden sea caves, snorkeling next to sea lions, and more.



Hop Aboard a Mystery Train in Ventura County


In the 1960s, Fillmore & Western Railway Co. provided vintage locomotives for Hollywood’s period films. Today, they are fully operational passenger cars stationed in Fillmore (east of Ventura). On Valentine’s Day, you and your partner can play movie stars with a three-hour mystery dinner tour aboard a dining car.


Get Cheeky in Los Angeles


If roses and a box of chocolates aren't your style, good news—Los Angeles has plenty of alternative events and super chic Valentine's Day dining specials. Head to Grand Park for the evening Lovers Rock event, which will feature live music, a pop-up art gallery, paint-your-own-cookie kits, food trucks, a photobooth, and more. Feel like celebrating in the midst of priceless works of art? Team up with your number one for an R-rated scavenger hunt with Naked at The Getty. Answer questions about the museum's clothing-optional paintings and sculptures for a chance to win some artful swag.


Go on a Date-Date in Palm Springs


The oasis-like city of Palm Springs is full of old-school romance. Take your date on a date for a date at the Shields Date Garden in Indio. Hold hands in the shaded garden, cheers with a refreshing date shake, and watch the sweet film, Romance and Sex Life of the Date. A girl can’t live on dried fruit alone, so make a reservation at restaurants and clubs offering holiday deals such as Michael Holmes’ Purple Room and Lulu California Bistro, or attend a Victor/Victoria screening which will include an Q&A with that film’s star, Lesley Ann Warren, as well as a performance by “Le Jazz Hot” Ethylina Canne.  



Whale Watch—with Wine—in Orange County


Trade in film and cabaret divas for attention-grabbers of another sort at Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching. Explore the Orange County coastline with your love, searching for dolphins, whales, and sea lions, as you sip on four varieties of organic wine.



Soak Up Art in San Diego


Art lovers, this one’s for you. Located in Balboa Park, the San Diego Museum of Art is featuring guided tours of the most romantic pieces in its collection. After the tour wraps, you’ll relax with a picnic basket dinner (complete with Champagne) at neighboring Panama 66. But why let the celebration stop there? Check out other off-the-beaten-path ideas for the perfect San Diego V-day weekend.


Looking for even more ideas? Check out 8 Romantic Escapes for 8 Kinds of Couples.








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