Valentine’s Day in the American Riviera

Get beachy or taste wine or all of the above, in Santa Barbara.

Canary Hotel

WHERE DO YOU GO FOR ROMANCE... on the day, or weekend, touted as the most romantic of the year? The pressure is on, but then it always is, right, for Valentine's Day? The holiday could rival New Year's Eve for extreme expectations. Which is why we're firmly of the belief that everyone needs to relax, majorly. Not relax as in trying to take deeper breaths as you put your make-up on or tie your necktie before the Big Dinner Out; just relax in general over the holiday. The question we put to lovers is this: Who are you? And who are you together? If you're into the Big Dinner Out, well, go for it, with bells and whistles on. But if the two of you would rather don some shorts or your wine-tasting jeans, and spend a day kicking around, then that is your Valentine's. Are you feeling it? The expectations meter went way down there, and the chillaxin' meter zoomed. If beachy scenes and vino sipping is indeed your together to-do, then Santa Barbara is a lovely and lovey place for your mid-February celebration. Best visit...

THE URBAN WINE TRAIL: Yep, these are tasting rooms within the city, or thereabouts, not further afield in the hills. So you can taxi it, and in some cases walk it, between places famous for pouring delightful adult beverages. Riverbench Winery, Sanford, and Fox Wines are all the handy map.

PEDALING THROUGH THE WEEKEND: The American Riviera is not the flattest of places -- spoiler alert -- which makes for some exciting bike times. Yep, you can keep it flatter down by the water, or you can look for an interesting tour to hop. Get your tour info and build your bicycle Valentine's Day.

AND IF YOU WANT TO GET A LITTLE POSH... but that sort of relaxed California coastal posh, which is perfect for the day of hearts, here's a fine spot: The Canary Hotel has a romance package on that includes dinner at the Finch & Fork. So sweet and so swank. Could that be your treat after a day of hard pedaling? The fun is upped at the Big Dinner Out if you have a lot of bike-based escapades to discuss.

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