Get creative, Valentine

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It’s not that we dislike red roses, champagne and chocolates.  But a truly creative way to celebrate the day of love is worth a whole year of cupid points. Here are some unique outing ideas to celebrate Valentine’s Day in SoCal, from stargazing and desert cruises to sexy jazz.   

Cruise to Valentine Bliss

At the enchanted JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert you can hop on a private gondola and journey through Venetian-inspired waterways with sweeping vistas of the mountains and flowing golf greens just as the sun sets. Your gondola will arrive outfitted with one dozen red roses, a celebratory bottle of Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque Brut 2008 and a gourmet picnic basket including artisanal curated bites such as foie gras torchon, wild mother of pearl caviar, crème fraiche and gold dusted strawberries. To finish, the Desert Springs Pastry team will prepare a hand-crafted chocolate dessert. Call to reserve at least 72 hours ahead: 760-341-2211. /

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Adventure of the Heart

The sandy Cove at Terranea is a magical spot nestled below Terranea resort, poised perfectly on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.  Created by the resort’s designers and overlooking the rocky tide pools, it is a great spot to watch dolphins at play, relax on the sand and get close- up views of sea life. Head to Pointe Discovery for a special heart pumping Tide Pool Excursion on Valentines Day morning from 10 a.m. to noon. You’ll still have most of the day and night left for romance.

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Be a Real Animal

Some people like to gift an adorable stuffed animal for the day of love, but how about gifting the real thing—for the day, anyway. Have the giant pandas all to yourself at the San Diego Zoo. This new, small-group tour starts before the zoo opens so that you can watch pandas Xiao Liwu and/or Bai Yun enjoying their breakfast. “Early Morning with Pandas” is a two-hour adventure that also includes a tour around the zoo in a shuttle cart, with stops to visit some of the zoo’s other loveable animals up close. This might be one of your most creative Valentines ever.  Photo courtesy TravMedia/San Diego Zoo

Star-crossed Lovers

See the stars up close at one of only a few official dark-sky designated areas in the world with a renowned astronomer in Borrego Springs. Schedule an evening under the stars with astronomer Dennis Mammana of Borrego Night Sky Tours or just sit in a hot tub under the stars at world-class La Casa del Zorro resort.

Photo by Stan Ford, fotosbyford.com

Have a Chocolate Affair

Stroll along the quaint streets of downtown Escondido on Saturday, Feb. 9 for a chocolate encounter to remember.  Chocolates will be paired with complimenting wines, beers and scotch, and local restaurants will be offering specially prepared chocolate drinks, entrees and desserts.  

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Sexy Jazz

Head to the OC for the annual Newport Beach Jazz Party, Feb. 14-17, held at the Marriott Newport Beach Hotel & Spa. Soak in sexy jazz by taking in SoCal’s own Jack Jones on Valentine’s Day.

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Pinnacle of Romance 

Falkner Winery’s Pinnacle Restaurant in Temecula promises Valentine romance with lavish food, sparkling wines and first-class service in its hilltop locale overlooking the vines. Enjoy a multi-course dinner on February 14; a Valentine’s lunch special is offered Feb. 17.      

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