You can buy all of the gifts in the world for the one that you love, but even research has shown that experiences more than material goods are what make us happy. With that in mind, we have rounded up the most romantic places in San Diego (a good majority of which are free to participate in — with the one you love, of course).
Bayview Park, Coronado
There are a good number of places around Coronado that could be defined as romantic, but Bayview Park tops them all. Nestled back off the beaten path (read: away from tourists) this small, intimate park has sweeping views of the downtown skyline. There are only a few benches in the park, but if you can get one (or bring your own blanket), it’s the perfect place to take your sweetie as the sun sets and downtown starts to twinkle with lights.
413 First St., Coronado, coronadovisitorcenter.com
Guy Fleming Trail bench, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
Beauty abounds at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve with countless picture-perfect spots, but none more romantic than the northwest point of the Guy Fleming Trail. The trail is the first that you come to when you ascend the hill to the reserve. Get your heart pumping before it’s aflutter side-by-side with your loved one by walking to the trailhead from the parking spaces outside the reserve or pay the entrance fee and drive there. From the start of the trail, the shortest route is to the right after the first fork. The full loop is 6/10ths of a mile.
12600 N. Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, torreypine.org
Botanical Building, Balboa Park
Pictured from the outside many times over on Instagram accounts around the world, the lesser snapped inside of the Botanical Building at Balboa Park opens up a whole new (romantic) world. Filled with more than 2,000 plants, there are several quiet nooks (some with babbling fountains) to enjoy a quiet kiss with your loved one. And don’t forget to look up and marvel at the ornate architecture of the building — complete with angelic rays of sunshine beaming in — which was built for the 1915-16 Exposition.
1549 El Prado, Balboa Park, balboapark.org
Rooftop of Bertrand at Mister A’s, Bankers Hill
Sit back, relax and sip champagne or any one of the numerous specialty cocktails offered at Mister A’s in Bankers Hill. Ascend to the 12th floor space during the day and watch arriving planes fly by and dream about the next vacation you and your honey will go on, or arrive in the late afternoon and watch the sun sink into the Pacific Ocean. Either way, this spot is the toast of romance.
2550 Fifth Ave., Bankers Hill, 619.239.1377, asrestaurant.com
Moonlight Beach, Encinitas
Imagine you and your loved one snuggled up on a blanket after sunset, the surrounding area lit only by moonlight and waves softly crashing on the beach. Sounds like an opening scene from a Nicolas Sparks romance novel, but in fact, it’s one you can create yourself on the shores of Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. According to the California State Parks website, the word “moonlight” in the name of this beach comes from the fact that “local residents used to come to the area for midnight picnics early in the early 1900s.” Doesn’t get more romantic than that.
400 B St., Encinitas, parks.ca.gov
Top of Cowles Mountain, Del Cerro
We know what you must be thinking. Just about everyone in San Diego knows about the great hiking available at Cowels Mountain. In fact, you might even be thinking that the perpetual crowds on the 3-mile hike from the Golfcrest trailhead would make it anything but romantic. However, once you and your partner make it to the top, glistening with sweat from the East County heat, there are incredible views to be found. Just shy of the trail monument marker at the top there is a small trail to the north that drops down onto an access road. Once there, sneak away from the selfie stick-bearing hiker crowd and find a quiet rock to sit on and take in the views. On a clear day you can see north to Camp Pendleton and south to the Coronado Islands off the coast of Baja.
7001 Golfcrest Drive, Del Cerro, mtrp.com
Briar Rose Winery, Temecula
If you have a Disney fan in your life, then this should be your No. 1 spot for most romantic in the San Diego area. Nestled off the road just south of Rancho California Road in the heart of Temecula winery territory sits Briar Rose Winery, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary in June 2017. Enter the property on a winding path to a garden surrounded cottage akin to something straight out of a Disney movie (thus the name Briar Rose, which was Sleeping Beauty’s name) that houses the tasting room and gift shop spaces. Grab a bottle from the gift shop to accompany a lunch in the lush garden space or try a few glasses in the wood-lined tasting room. Make sure to call ahead because tastings are by reservation only. And leave the kids at home, this property is for 21+ only.
*Editor’s note: While the name of the winery is Briar Rose, the tasting room is a replica of Snow White’s cottage built in the 1970s by the original owner Beldon Fields, who, according to the winery’s website, was one of the “many artisans who built Disneyland’s Fantasyland and Toon Town.”
41720 Calle Cabrillo, Temecula, 951.308.1098 or briarrosewinery.com