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9 Unique Ways To Celebrate Valentine’s


Forego the candy hearts and flower bouquets — there are celebrations near and far for sweethearts of all sorts, from animal encounters to a throwback prom party to a tempting culinary class, and more. Here are a few creative ways to let your love light shine.

Boogie Down At The Belly Up
For those looking for sweetness this Valentine’s Day, the Belly Up presents a special swing matinee featuring blues chanteuse Candye Kane and Skip Heller. Doors open at 4pm. Tickets are $7 and include a raffle for dinner for two at the Wild Note Café.  

Belly Up’s festivities continue with the second annual B-Side Players Valentine’s Day Ball. Enjoy a throwback ’70s and ’80s prom dance party. Dress to impress, with a $100 prize awarded to the best-dressed king and queen. B-Side Players is a party band with Latin flair that incorporates the sounds of Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico, and Brazil with funk, rock, jazz, and hip-hop rhythms. Tickets are $15 in advance/$17 day-of. (858/481-8140, www.bellyup.com)

Animal Attraction
For couples who share a love of animals, the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park is the perfect place for a date, whether it’s a Valentine’s Dinner, a Night Moves caravan, or a special Roar & Snore Sleepover.

On Saturday, February 13, executive chef Casey DeBrask offers a delightful five-course dinner in the park’s Hunte Nairobi Pavilion. Enjoy an animal presentation, no-host cocktails, and hors d’oeuvres followed by dinner. Cost is $99 per couple, including a bottle of wine, plus tax and gratuity.

February 6-13, the park’s two-hour animal courtship-centered Night Moves Caravan demonstrates how rhinos, giraffes, and other animals handle mate selection. Ride in an open safari truck through field enclosures, where you might observe the mating behaviors of the animal residents. Your guide will share tales of animals’ courtship escapades, and there will be a chance to offer nutritious goodies to rhinos or giraffes. At secluded Amani Point, enjoy desserts, specialty beverages, and more tales of the birds and the bees. Cost is $120 per person plus admission for non-members.

To really get down to business, spend a wild night on February 12, 13, or 14 with your loved one learning all the dirty little secrets of animal mating and procreating. Enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner, an animal mating tour, and explore the love lives of animals and the breeding that will keep them alive for future generations. Mating behaviors and animal anatomy are discussed openly — guests must be comfortable with this type of subject matter. Prices start at $139 per person plus admission for non-members. (760/747-8702, www.sandiegozoo.org)

Loving It Up In L.A.
If a weekend escape is calling your name, consider celebrating  at Andaz West Hollywood, perched on Sunset Boulevard with sweeping views of the Hollywood Hills. The Love Goes Around package, priced starting at $265 per night, features Andaz King guest room accommodation for two, California sparkling rose wine with market fresh berries and Valrhona chocolates upon check-in, breakfast for two, and a $100 hotel credit to use toward a couples massage on the pool deck or a romantic Valentine’s dinner at RH. A special Sharing Menu for Two designed by executive chef Sebastien Archambault and his culinary team sets the scene for romance with cuisine prepared with the finest artisan ingredients. And the Berry In Love Cocktail and a selection of alluring Champagnes such as Philipponnat “Royale Reserve” and Roederer Estate “Rosato” are also available during Valentine’s weekend, to be enjoyed at the RH bar with chocolate truffles and macaroons. (323/785-6090, www.andaz.com)

Grand Gestures
The award-winning Grand Del Mar inspires romance any time of the year, but this month there are additional enticements for celebrating Valentine’s Day (and month) in a grand way.

The couple who cooks together, stays together. That’s not really how the saying goes, but it sure sounds nice. On Wednesday, February 3, from 6:30-8:30pm, participants of the Valentine’s Day Temptations Culinary Class start the fun with a cocktail reception and an informative and entertaining discussion about chocolate (types, flavors, origins, and trends in the world of the cocoa bean) with tastes, and wine pairings led by pastry chef Melissa Logan and wine director Jesse Rodriguez. Amaya’s chef Camron Woods then demonstrates the preparation of Chateaubriand for Two, after which Logan shows participants how to create a seductive Valentine’s dessert. Take-home handmade chocolates and recipes complete this sweet class. Cost is $75 per person/$125 per couple.

For the entire month of February, the resort’s Grand Romance Package includes an upgrade at time of booking, guaranteed late check-out at 2pm, Champagne, savory treats, and a dozen long-stemmed roses upon arrival, an after-dinner rose petal bath with candles and cognac, breakfast for two in bed or at a resort restaurant, a private couple’s yoga class, Cupid’s Classic experience at The Spa, complimentary overnight valet parking, and Feng Shui for Love book. Rates begin at $1,299 per night. (888/314-2030, www.thegranddelmar.com)   

Soul Surfers
If a girlfriends’ getaway is in order, Pura Vida Adventures offers revitalizing seven-day/six-night retreats that combine surfing, yoga, and rich cultural experiences among Costa Rica’s expansive rainforest and stunning beaches for a soulful sojourn that might just transform your outlook on life. Experience daily surf instruction, daily yoga sessions in the open-air ocean-front studio, beachfront accommodations, a one-hour massage, all-inclusive meals, cultural activities (such as salsa dancing or zip-lining your way through seven platforms in the Costa Rican jungle), and much more. To further entice you, Pura Vida is extending an additional spa treatment to Ranch & Coast readers who book their adventure before the end of February. (415/465-2162, www.puravidaadventures.com)  MIA STEFANKO


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