Impress Your Date This Valentine’s Day With Date Ideas That Go Above and Beyond
We can be honest with each other: When was the last time you planned a date night that wasn’t at a restaurant, bar or movie theater? When you get in the groove of a relationship, dinner and drinks is a fool-proof way to enjoy each other’s company—especially when there are so many cozy and intimate restaurants in Orange County—but we both know that romance can take a different form than shared apps and a couple of rounds of cocktails.
Whether it’s for a special occasion, Valentine’s Day, a proposal or simply just because, here are 11 romantic date ideas in Orange County that will help you see and celebrate your love in a whole new light.
Couples or Galentines Getaway at Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano
Eager to get away this Valentine’s Day? Tucked in the charming and historic town of San Juan Capistrano, Inn at the Mission is the perfect place for lovebirds looking to recharge or girlfriends looking for a relaxing vacay. This hacienda-inspired hotel not only honors the city’s past with its mission-inspired details and stunning Spanish revival architecture but also features all the amenities for a sumptuous retreat. Guests can experience rest and renewal at the on-site Spa at The Mission, take part in an exclusive olive oil sampling, enjoy a dinner under the string-lit trees at Ysidora Restaurant and Lounge and cozy up in one of the property’s luxury suites or residential-style villas. On February 18, the hotel will offer a Galentine’s Brunch for the girls, and on Feb. 14 and 17, couples can indulge together in a special Valentine’s Day 4-course dinner menu. If you happen to be planning a romantic getaway with your other half, be sure to book the Mission Love Package, which comes with a cava and sweets welcome amenity, breakfast for two and late checkout.
Location: San Juan Capistrano
Is there anything more romantic or elegant than a gondola ride across gentle waters? If you want to cozy up with your boo and get a fresh look at Newport Beach, book a cruise with Gondola Adventures. We recommend the Amore Cruise, a one-hour (or one-and-a-half with an upgrade) gondola ride through the canals of Newport Harbor with delicious chocolates and sparkling drinks as refreshments. Gondola Adventures also offers plenty of ride upgrades—such as floral arrangements, wine or champagne or messages tucked away in a bottle—so you can make your cruise as personal as you’d like.
Location: Newport Beach
If you’ve ever seen those Moroccan- or Turkish-style lamps and wanted one for yourself, now’s your chance. At Art Masterclass in Tustin, you and your date can create your own lamp designs with the help of their friendly, knowledgeable staff, and—trust me—you don’t need an ounce of artistic experience to craft something beautiful. The class is two-and-a-half hours long, which sounds like a long time, but once you’re in your artistic zone, the time will fly by. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy traditional Turkish Delight and tea to keep your energy up.
Flex your creativity with ceramic painting at Kitsch Studio in Fullerton! Whether this is your first time painting ceramics or it’s a craft you know and love, Kitsch Studio is an amazing spot to book a paint time. Simply select your piece, paint and pick your masterpiece up at a later date (Kitsch will handle the glazing and firing for you). If you’re looking for something extra special, we recommend following them on social media—that’s where they post fun and unique events such as wine and paint, yoga, paint and sip and even kintsugi (the Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics with gold) workshops.
Taking a stroll through a garden is a classic romantic activity, and for good reason. Being surrounded by nature improves attention, lowers stress and puts us all in a better mood—a winning formula for romantic connection. One of our favorite local spots to take a walk is Corona del Mar’s Sherman Library & Gardens. The grounds are beautiful all year round and each area offers a different vibe and array of plants—perfect for posing with, learning about or simply enjoying. Be sure to check the calendar for fun exhibits, events and workshops!
Location: Corona del Mar
Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point is a prime location for a picnic. With plenty of parking nearby, a beautiful grassy hill and sweeping views of the ocean, this spot is the ideal place to spread out a blanket, unpack a charcuterie assortment and pour a glass of something sparkling. Should you want to go the extra mile and leave the picnic planning to the experts, contact The Picnic Collective to set up a magical picnic—it’s sure to make the date truly unforgettable.
Location: Dana Point
There’s a reason that a couple’s massage is one of the most romantic dates you can plan for you and your significant other—they’re sensual, they’re relaxing, they help you feel your very best—and at Aarna Spa at Paséa Hotel & Spa in Huntington Beach, the romance is turned up a notch in the stunning couple’s suite. Aarna’s Couples Duet Massage is a personalized massage that you and your date can enjoy within the same treatment area (along with two complimentary glasses of rosé). It’s the perfect way to release any tension and treat your bodies to some much-needed relaxation.
Location: Huntington Beach
Take your love to new heights (literally) with a Rogue Aviation helicopter tour. Your flight will lift off from John Wayne Airport (SNA) and fly over the area of your selected tour, which includes famous surf spots in Orange County, a glimpse over the Queen Mary, the OC Triangle and more. No matter which tour you select, you’re in for an incredible, high-flying adventure. For that extra-special touch, you can request to fly over specific locations—Rogue Aviation is all about making your trip memorable, safe and fun.
Location: Santa Ana
Right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of Costa Mesa lies a peaceful and quiet space that is perfect for elevating your next Orange County date night. We’re talking about the Orange County Museum of Art, a stunning museum for modern and contemporary art just minutes away from South Coast Plaza. Showcasing multiple exhibits, OCMA is great for those who are looking for one to two hours of thoughtful wandering. The museum itself, designed by award-winning architect Thom Mayne, is a masterpiece in its own right, best enjoyed (in my opinion) by watching the sunset from the Grand Staircase.
Location: Costa Mesa
Crank up the heat during your next date night with a salsa and bachata dance class hosted at Cafe Sevilla in Costa Mesa. The four-hour class takes place every Wednesday, and offers three levels, so everyone from beginners to more advanced dancers are invited to take the floor. Both salsa and bachata styles are incredibly intimate and sexy—salsa tends to be more fast-paced while bachata is usually on the slower side—and each requires basic movements that you can spice up with different variations to keep your partner on their toes. In other words, you’ll never want to shy away from a dance floor again.
Location: Costa Mesa
Although it’s not technically in Orange County, this silversmithing class at Hellbent Silversmith is absolutely worth the short drive to Downtown Long Beach. Simply book a private ring-making class on their website, show up to the quiet and stylish studio and meet your instructor. From there, you’ll pick out the stone you want for your rings and your instructor will guide you through the creation process, which includes shaping your band and bezeling your stone. You’ll walk out of the workshop wearing your custom jewelry along with unforgettable memories (and perhaps a craving for a new hobby).
Location: Long Beach
Born and raised near the Pacific Coast, Jordan Nishkian is a California girl through and through. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a BA in Creative Writing and a BA in Anthropology, and her favorite place to be is curled up in a comfy chair with a book in her hand and a pen in her hair.