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Orange County Romance

WEB-EXCLUSIVE: If you're scrambling around for Valentine's Day ideas, you've come to the right place.

CINDY YAMANAKA/ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Gondola Co. of Newport

As Valentine’s Day approaches, some of us are starting to panic. We want to avoid the ritual dinner and a movie and come up with something more creative and meaningful... But we're stumped.

A sunset walk on the beach seems like an easy fix, but let’s face it, most Orange County couples have already come up with that idea. If you think the rest of the great places left to go are in LA and you have no choice but to drive through the two-hour traffic, you are mistaken. Orange County has more to offer than just the beach. Here are some activities for you and your special someone for a memorable Valentine's Day:

1. Horseback Riding in Orange
Seems a bit odd that riding on the back of a horse for an hour or two could be considered romantic, but it actually is. The Country Trails and Riding School in Irvine Regional Park in Orange is the perfect place to share this experience with your loved one. As you ride, your guide will walk you through the area and relay some interesting facts about the park. If you’re a first-time rider, don’t worry, all of the horses are gentle and meant for riders of all levels. With the gorgeous hillsides and mustard-seed plants, it will feel like you took a trip to the countryside. Rides are offered throughout the day Tuesday-Sunday, starting at $45 per person for a one-hour ride. Reservations are recommended.

2. Whale Watching
Orange County is famous for its beaches, but instead of doing the classic walks on the beach after dinner, how about a romantic evening on a boat in the ocean with the whales? Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching is offering a special Valentine’s Day Champagne Whale Watching Cruise. Climb aboard at sunset and enjoy Valentine’s Day treats with drinks or cocktails at the cash bar as you search for whales and other marine life. You can also make reservations at one of the Dana Point Harbor restaurants for after the cruise. Tickets are available online at $35 per person.

3. Dessert Adventure
Who doesn't love dessert? Well, here's an excuse to make an evening of it. Choose three to four favorite dessert spots and leave plenty of room for, well, you know. You can start out at Sprinkles Cupcakes in Newport Beach and order a rich red velvet cupcake for two. After that, make your way to ‘Lette Macarons in Newport Beach and enjoy some Valentine’s Day macarons. Then, end your night at The Cheesecake Factory in Newport Beach and share a slice of their famous cheesecake together for a total sugar high. And if you’re still up for more, go for some gelato at Gelato Paradiso in Laguna Beach and choose from a variety of flavors of authentic Italian gelato. 

4. Balboa Fun Zone
Sometimes we need to get in touch with our inner child. Newport Beach's Balboa Fun Zone will help you and your date do just that while celebrating romance at the same time. Take a ride on the Ferris wheel and cuddle up with your significant other as you look out at the ocean together. Challenge your date to some games in the arcade and indulge at one or more of the many eateries within walking distance of the Ferris wheel.

5. A Trip to Italy
Many people think that taking a trip to Venice is the only way to be able to experience a romantic gondola ride with someone special. However, in Newport Beach, you can take your date on a trip to Italy without the jetlag. The Gondola Co. of Newport offers a romantic gondola ride down the bay and canals of Newport Beach. You and your date can have the full Italian experience with your own gondolier and Italian music playing in the background. The ride is an hour long with snack baskets and sparkling cider provided. The ride is $85 for two. Make reservations now because they get completely booked this time of year.  



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