10 Fun Valentine’s Day Ideas
It’s that time of year again when folks are wracking their brains about what to get their significant others for Valentine’s Day. Thoughts range from whether to spend a lot or a little to whether or not to take them someplace fancy or casual. So, in an effort to help, I culled through some of my previous blog write-ups and also asked a few colleagues for suggestions and came up with some fun gift and date options in Newport Beach.
With stores such as the new Louis Vuitton Boutique and Traditional Jewelers, you’re sure to find a luxurious present for your sweetie at Fashion Island. This upscale, open-air destination is filled to the brim with more than 125 of the world’s most popular shopping spots for men, women, children and even pets. For something a little different, visit the Muttropolis Dog & Cat Boutique Feb. 7, where SoCal portrait photographer Vanessa Honda will be shooting Valentine’s Day-themed pet portraits ($25 for a 15-minute session and a 5×7 photo or digital images). Yet other shopping options include Mariner’s Mile/Westcliff; Corona del Mar Plaza; Corona del Mar Village; Cannery Village; Balboa Village and Crystal Cove Shopping Center.
Cut your expenses — and make sure your gift is one of a kind — by heading to one of the community’s many and varied consignment shops. One of my favorite finds is Best Kept Secret (tucked away in the rear of a small shopping center on Westcliff Road), which offers fantastic deals on gently-used contemporary and designer clothing and accessories. Balboa Island is another great place to find a bargain, with several shops like Tango Rose selling expensive clothing at discounted prices.
One of the area’s top attributes is the sunset. Best of all … it’s totally free. Two of the most popular viewpoints can be found in Corona del Mar, where Lookout Point overlooking the Newport Harbor entrance at Heliotrope features stunning sunset scenes alongside knock-out views of the ocean, cliffs, harbor and Catalina Island. Nearby, Inspiration Point (at Ocean Boulevard and Narcissus Avenue) showcases inspiring panoramas of the Newport Beach channel, ocean and rocky cliffs below. Why not include a picnic? Just stop by a local restaurant — like the popular Ruby’s Shake Shack on the bluff above the Crystal Cove Historic District or grocery stores from Whole Foods in Fashion Island to Trader Joe’s in Newport Coast — and pick up some tasty tidbits.
Treat your loved on to a film or show at a unique movie house. Open since the late 1940s (on East Coast Highway, right in the middle of Corona del Mar), The New Port Theater underwent renovations in 2007 and reopened to the public in 2012 as a luxury, boutique-style movie theater, complete with nautical design touches; leather recliners, sofas and chairs with side tables; two full bars; and a kitchen where a chef cooks up daily specialties like made-to-order pizzas (the margarita is a favorite) and famous Port Dog. This intimate, 120-seat venue plays one current movie at a time (with shows running from a couple of weeks to three months, depending on their popularity). Try Regal Cinema’s sister movie houses the Edwards Big Newport 6 in the Fashion Island area.
Newport Beach is the perfect place for those who like to get out and about. Options abound, including renting a surrey bike and planning a fun outing around Balboa Peninsula or taking a hike around the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve or Crystal Cove State Park, which offers more than 3 miles of bluff-lined beaches in the Crystal Cove Historic District and 2,000-plus acres of undeveloped woodland via El Moro Canyon.
Another of the community’s favorite pastimes is boating. Board a luxe yacht or captain your own Duffy electric boat to one of the waterside restaurants, or add a touch or romance with a private canal ride on an authentic Italian gondola. Some of the local cruise companies are offering fun outings this year, including Hornblower’s Romantic Valentine’s Day Dinner Cruise — featuring a private candlelit table, five-course meal, champagne and music.
Enjoy everything from seafood to Mexican (and maybe a cocktail or two) at one of the area’s many cafes or restaurants. Some popular waterfront spots include The Beachcomber Cafe; The Cannery Seafood of the Pacific; The Dock; Pescadou Bistro, Canaletto Ristorante and The Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar. Seeking an old-school romantic spot for dinner? Try 21 Oceanfront or Five Crowns.
The area’s resorts are a sure bet when it comes to special events, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Embrace the romance of Italy at The Resort at Pelican Hill with romantic spa and epicurean experiences throughout February as part of Romanticismo di Italia. Think a sensual Dinner of the Senses Feb. 14 at the Coliseum Pool & Grill, offering a seven-course Mediterranean menu for two created by Chef Micah and eaten by hand in a private poolside cabana ($180 per person, or $230 per person with wine pairings) and a private Spa Suite experience for two featuring sparkling Prosecco, chocolate truffles, spa cuisine lunch and couple’s massage ($510 Monday-Thursday or $590 Friday-Sunday). At the AAA Four-Diamond Balboa Bay Resort, special offerings include Chef Vincent Lesage’s five-course “Love Story along the Waterfront” dinner at Waterline restaurant Feb. 13 and 14, with rack of lamb, turbot and more for $82 per person. Single? The resort is offering a Love Stinks! Lonely Heart’s Valentine’s Day Feb. 14 at A&O Kitchen+Bar with drink specials, a live DJ and gourmet grilled cheese bar.
Spend time with your sweetie and master a skill at the same time at a local cooking class. Sur La Table provides the chance to work side by side with your loved one to create an Italian Renaissance Date Night dinner Feb. 14 for $79, complete with arugula salad, handmade fettuccine, seared scallops and profiteroles.
Newport Beach is definitely not lacking when it comes to visual and performing arts activities. Visit the Orange County Museum of Art — home to modern and contemporary works — Feb. 13 for the VIP and members opening reception/preview and opening day celebration Feb. 15 for the upcoming exhibition “Celebration: Alien She, Fred Tomaselli, and Dieter Roth” opening Feb. 18. Or visit the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa for four days of jazz by acts from Jack Jones to The Four Freshman at the 15th annual Newport Beach Jazz Party.