Things to Do This Valentine’s Day
Things to Do (and buy) This Valentine’s Day
Imagine a place where you can taste a flight of reds, learn about the terroir of gin, sip on vodka distilled from Karl the Fog, and kick back with a pint overlooking the SF skyline. Well friends, we are happy to report that this magical place does, in fact, exist and you and your bae can experience it all at Alameda’s Spirits Alley. This Valentine’s Day spend an afternoon sipping on something tasty from the area’s finest craft distilleries and tasting rooms at Alameda Point’s Naval Air Station. Book at tour and tasting at St. George Spirits for some killer gin (and perhaps a sip of their rye or absinthe), or check out the unique happenings at Hangar 1 and their masterfully-curated selection of vodkas (psst … they’ve got brandy, too). To keep things at a lower octane mosey over to the cozy Rock Wall Wine Company or Building 43 Winery tasting rooms for a flight, or order something hoppy at Faction Brewing. It goes without question that this is a strictly 21 and up kind of day. Just be sure to drink responsibly and catch a sober ride home.
Photo Courtesy of Hangar 1 Distillary
Photo Courtesy of Greg Linares, City of Oakland
Into the Woods
Where: Oakland and Berkeley
Become one with nature this Valentine’s Day with a jaunt through the trees. You get plenty of fresh air, an opportunity to snap cute selfies with your beau, perhaps a bit of V-Day cardio, and, best of all, a fun, free date. For some peace and quiet head to the woods of Oakland where you’ll find a myriad of parks and trails to explore, including Redwood Regional Park. Home to one of the largest remaining natural collection of coastal redwoods, this park is easily accessible from the Skyline Gate Staging Area. For a well-worn trail lined by old-growth trees, lazy creeks, and a hilltop redwood grove check out The Cinderella Trail in Joaquin Miller Park. And for even more outdoor adventuring, pop over to the Berkeley Hills’ Tilden Regional Park. Comprised of 2,079 acres, nearly 40 miles of trails, a lake, golf course, antique carousel, botanic garden, and Little Farm, Tilden could be your one stop shop for Valentine’s Day activities.
Walk, Eat, Repeat
Where: San Francisco
What better way to celebrate your Valentine than strolling hand-in-hand with your sweetheart around eclectic San Francisco neighborhoods tasting some exceptional eats? Sounds like a pretty darn good way to spend an afternoon if we do say so ourselves. Check out any of Stretchy Pants’ Food Tours including the popular Chinatown Food Tour. Although they are not giving tours on actual valentines day, this is the perfect gift. This tour includes a stop at the fortune cookie factory and the neighborhood’s oldest bakery.
Photo Courtesy of JP Dobrin, Yelp
Shake Your Groove Thing
Where: San Francisco
To paraphrase the Columbian goddess Shakira: Your hips don’t lie, especially when they hit the dance floor. (And if it came out of Shakira’s mouth then you know it must be true.) This Valentine’s Day, experience “all the attraction” by taking a dance class at studios around San Francisco. While there’s nothing quite like a fiery salsa routine to get your heart pumping (Is it getting hot in here?), consider thinking outside the box with, perhaps, a Bollywood lesson. But if that’s not your jam there’s always a hard-hitting hip-hop class. Or maybe a passionate flamenco is your more your style. Whatever you’re in the mood for, get up offa that thing and get grooving.
Where: Bay Area and Napa
If you like to cook, or if you are interested in learning how, ignite both you and your Valentine’s passion with a cooking class. For something a little more mainstream there’s always Sur la Table’s various “Date Night” classes, offered at locations throughout the Bay Area, where you might learn how to properly sear a scallop or perfect your crème brûlée. (They also offer a special Valentine’s Day Macaron class.) Or you could go big with a fancy class in Napa at The Culinary Institute of America at Copia where burgeoning chefs explore the exotic flavors of Persian food, learn the traditional techniques behind French regional cuisine, and take on the bold power of Thai spices and curries. To keep things friendly and casual book a beginners class with Stretchy Pants. If you’re into sweets consider out Tea & Treats, or if you want to learn how to make pasta from scratch join the Pasta Making 101. And you can’t go wrong with a big slice of ‘za in our Pizza & Pie class. You may even be able to pull off a Ghost-like interaction with pizza dough … just sayin’.
Stretchy Pants Cooking Classes
Photo Courtesy of Indian Springs Calistoga
Where: Bay Area and Calistoga
Sometimes the best thing for any type of relationship is to just treat yo self, and Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to splurge. Great for couples, a gaggle of gals (hellooo Galentines), or a solo celebration, a trip to the spa does a body good. Luckily there is no shortage of relaxing destinations in and around the Bay Area. Enjoy a message with a sweeping view of the San Francisco skyline, or soak your woes away in your own personal infinity tub during Spa Vitale’s Bathing Ritual. For those needing a super decompressing getaway consider Indian Springs Calistoga’s mud or mineral baths. While sitting in a tub of mud sounds, well, dirty, the rich mixture of volcanic ash and mineral water is detoxifying and relaxing. Though if you simply are not into getting dirty to get clean, soak in mineral water straight from the geysers followed by a steam for some seriously chill vibes. And if you really want to treat yo self, check out the offerings at Berkeley’s Claremont Club & Spa for some tension melting experiences like the Tibetan Sound Vibration Massage—a unique treatment that pairs the sounds and vibrations of singing bowls with traditional massage techniques.
Sweats and Treats
Where: Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco
Instead of buying your sweetie a box of chocolates, head out on a coco-packed date for Valentine’s Day. Go for a San Francisco original at the Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop. Ogle at the colorfully wrapped displays of chocolate while breathing in the intoxicating aroma of sugar and waffle cones before settling on a massive ice cream sundae—drizzled in hot fudge, obvi. Some of the latest SF chocolate experiences can be found at Dandelion Chocolate Factory on 16th Street where cacao-lovers can partake in a choco tour, several tasting classes, and the opportunity to make your very own bar of chocolate. And last, but certainly not least, head to Berkeley’s Elmwood District to experience the rich flavors found at Casa de Chocolates. Try any of the gorgeous bonbons or indulge in a 62% mole chocolate bar. We promise you won’t be sorry.
Photo Courtesy of Eric Wolfinger
Photo Courtesy of Jenny H., Yelp
Ready Player One
Where: San Francisco
Whether you’re a diehard gamer, pinball enthusiast, or DDR onlooker a trip to an arcade-themed bar is an engaging and interactive way to spend Valentine’s Day. Rather than drop some serious cash on a dinner out, load up on a pocket full of quarters and get playing. Head to Emporium SF (there’s also one is Oakland, FYI) for a plethora of choices including 44 arcade games, 17 pinball machines, four pool tables, two foosball tables, three skee ball lanes, and so much more. There’s also Coin-Op Game Room in SoMa which has classic arcade games and pinball machines spread out across two whole stories in a large building on 4th Street. As if the multi-level building full of games wasn’t enough, Coin-Op also specializes in craft cocktail, local brews, and Neapolitan pizza. If you’re still not convinced that a night of fun and games is the date night you’ve been dreaming of then consider The Detour in the Castro. After closing briefly for a revamp and rebrand, the arcade bar is back and better than ever with row after row of pinball machines to test your reflexes, as well as a massive collection of board games that you and your special someone can play together over a side of Okonomiyaki Tots.
Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue
Where: Bay Area
Rather than picking up a bouquet of odorless roses this Valentine’s Day take a trip to one of the several botanical gardens and conservatories in the Bay Area for some greenery and a bit of a vegetative education. Tucked in the heart of Golden Gate Park is the Conservatory of Flowers. Celebrating more than 140 years of preservation, the conservatory houses an impressive collection of rare and exotic plants and simulates unique ecosystems found throughout the world. (Be sure to check out the Aquatic gallery and its carnivorous pitcher plants.) For those looking for room to meander, check out the 34-acre UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley. Touted as caring for one of the most diverse landscapes in the world, this botanical garden has more than 10,000 plant species organized into nine globally-themed regions. The garden supports worldwide research on plant biology and offers guests the opportunity to learn about various flora through fun, interactive classes. But if you and your sweetie are sucker for succulents then look no further than the Ruth Bancroft Garden & Nursery. Hidden in plain site on the suburban streets of Walnut Creek, the Ruth Bancroft Garden is home to a 3.5-acre collection of unique and rare succulents and drought-tolerant plants from all over the globe and is a spectacular display of shapes, colors, and textures. And on your way out stop into the nursery to take home a little bebe succulent of your own.
Photo Courtesy of Ruth Bancroft Garden & Nursery
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