Romantic Rendezvous!

It’s that wonderful time of the year when romance blossoms, boxes of fine chocolates abound and restaurant reservations are in full swing. However, for me, romance is all about three things: being with the person I love, discovering a unique setting to enjoy some alone time, and making it all a big surprise.

Since we live in one of the most beautiful spots around, here are some of my favorite places to spend an afternoon or an evening with my special someone. Who knows, this may give you an idea or two. And, it really is not about the expense of it. These suggestions are more about the experience and just being together.

Romance on the Bay

Taking a gondola ride in Newport Harbor is a very unique adventure. I had no idea that there have been gondolas on this bay since the early 1900s! With some recent consolidations, there are now two companies offering this service. Gondola Adventures, Inc. offers two different styles of boats–the authentic Venetian (imported from Italy) and a mahogany, canopy-covered electric boat. There are various cruise options from casual cruises to complete lunch and dinner cruises, with food presented on china served in the gondola. All cruises come with a non-alcoholic beverage and either food or gourmet chocolates. Wine and champagne are available for purchase and always served in stemware. And, they love to customize a cruise for a proposal or anniversary and have some really creative ideas, such as placing a message in a bottle, rose petals, or my favorite brand of chardonnay! (Gondola Adventures, Inc. at

And, for a more casual “on and off” outing, the Gondola Company of Newport in Lido Marina Village is the spot. Their cruises depart on the hour and half hour and are easily bookable online. These are rowing gondolas and each cruise is 50 minutes long. I like this for a “date night.” (Gondola Company of Newport at

Nestled in Luxury

Another outing that signals romance is to enjoy a one-night 
“stay-cation.” I prefer a spot that has a nice restaurant and a spa so everything is just steps away. The Hyatt Regency Newport is lovely, as is the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa. One of my favorites is the Island Hotel. It is an elegant, boutique-style enclave right in the heart of Fashion Island. The suites are sweet. They have four luxury suites with panoramic coastal views and are appointed with flair and sophistication. There are also junior suites offering lovely coastal views. The Spa is lovely and secluded. The pool is nestled in a tropical setting, with comfy burgundy cabanas. Oak Grill Restaurant is wonderful with California-inspired cuisine and offers terrace seating. We also enjoy a happy hour cocktail by the fire pit to toast the evening, and we like to park the car and never leave the hotel. (Island Hotel at

Picnicking with a View

With a nod to my “back to nature” side, I also enjoy a good old fashioned picnic. The perfect spot to do just that is Lookout Point along Ocean Avenue at Heliotrope Avenue in Corona del Mar. Here is the ideal vantage point to capture a glistening sunset, perched high above the harbor. I never forget my selfie stick. Another spot down on the sand is Pirate’s Cove. This secret spot is located at the opening of the harbor. It is best to enter via Corona del Mar State Beach. We climb over some hefty rocks; however, it is well worth the effort. The reward is calm waters and small caves for exploring. The opening scene of Gilligan’s Island was filmed there, so what’s not to love?

So whether it is a picnic in a park, a ferris wheel ride in Balboa Village, or a walk on the beach at Crystal Cove, I hope you enjoy a romantic outing with a dash of spontaneity. A “surprise outing” is my favorite one of all!