Top Destinations for a Valentine’s Day Getaway Near Irvine
There is no shortage of places to visit in Irvine, but the city is also centrally located between so many picturesque destinations that no matter which direction you travel, you can experience an exciting new place. Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Monday this year, you may want to explore some of the best places in Irvine for date nights on the 14th, but if you’re looking for an extended romantic celebration, we’ve outlined eight locations that are ideal for a quick weekend getaway with your partner. Whether you want to stay near your home in Irvine or venture a few hours outside the city, we have a list of the perfect places to go with your sweetheart.
Stay Local: Orange County Destinations
Want to feel like you took a vacation but can’t go very far? Irvine borders Newport Beach, which is one of the country’s top vacation destinations. From the stunning sandy beaches to luxury shopping at Fashion Island, there’s plenty of excitement to be found in this city. Start your Saturday with a stroll around The Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve (aka “Back Bay”) and then find your way to the water and spend some time on the beach. Later, enjoy a romantic dinner spot, like Flemings Restaurant or Cucina Enoteca.
It’s nearly impossible to mention local getaways without bringing up Disneyland. While it is a popular spot for families, there are plenty of romantic elements to the happiest place on earth. Share a churro on Main Street, take in the wonder of the fireworks, and end your day by the extraordinary fireplace at the California Grand Adventure Hotel. Then again, you can always bring the kids and celebrate the holiday of love with the whole family.
Head East: Take a Trip to the Mountains or Desert
Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead are mountain cities that are both under 100 miles from Irvine, and provide the perfect landscape to spend Valentine’s weekend with your loved one. February will sometimes yield snow, but you can feel the refreshing impact of the natural environment no matter what the weather is like. If there is snow, Bear Mountain is a great place to take part in snow sports like skiing or snowboarding, or you can always get in touch with your inner-child and take a few runs down a hill by sled. If the weather is a bit warmer, there are beautiful hikes and trails for adventurers of all levels.
Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most stunning desert destinations and it’s only a couple of hours outside of Irvine. What’s more romantic than stargazing together? Download a free app, like SkyView, and make a game out of finding constellations. During the day, enjoy the incredible Yucca trees that are native to the California desert.
Up North: Enjoy Small Town Life
Surrounded by hills and mountains, Ojai is a tourist-friendly town famous for its boutique hotels, hiking, and small businesses. Chain stores are prohibited in this small city in an effort to encourage local business development and maintain Ojai’s unique charm, so take a stroll downtown and pick out a gift for your loved one (or yourself!) this Valentine’s Day.
A bit farther northwest you’ll find the “Danish Capital of America,” Solvang. The moment you drive into the city, you will know you’ve arrived. The Danish architecture is easily identifiable throughout the area, and you can’t miss the windmills! This quaint spot is perfect for a romantic retreat if you and your partner are looking to enjoy a slower pace with plenty of baked goods. The downtown area has no shortage of incredible restaurants, but Solvang is famous for its bakeries. There’s even a guide so that you can navigate which treats you want to sample first.
Down South for Historic Experiences
San Diego is a metropolitan city with many different neighborhoods worth visiting, but the Old Town San Diego neighborhood is the perfect place for a Valentine’s Day weekend trip. This protected historical district is rife with museums and attractions that give you a taste of California’s rich history. Of course, there’s no shortage of incredible Mexican food in Old Town and if you’re after a unique shopping experience, make sure to visit the Bazaar Del Mundo, which captures the warmth and culture of Old Mexico.
For a romantic experience with a nod to the California Gold Rush, make your way southeast to Julian, where you and your partner can explore hiking trails, parks, and historical buildings that date back to the city’s 1870’s roots. Historic walking tours are available throughout Julian and make for a romantic activity outside of the norm. After a day of walking, wind down at a winery or tasting room, or if you prefer beer, make your way to Julian’s local brewery.
No matter where you plan to spend your Valentine’s Day, there is no shortage of options when you live in Irvine. Click here to learn more about the Villages of Irvine and all that the city has to offer.