Bay Area Outdoor Romance - Hike Mt. Tam - Bike Half Moon Bay - Hike Bernal Heights


Romance Without Reservations

No reservations yet for a fancy Valentine's dinner? No problem. Unleash your inner Cupid with these reservations-not-required outings.

West Point Inn Mt. Tam Marin

Making Inns Meet

Ingredients for a romantic afternoon: combine one Marin icon (Mount Tam), two historic inns (see below), your favorite hiking partner, and wine and cheese for seasoning. The result: a one of a kind inn-to-inn scenic hike and picnic. The hike starts behind the elegantly rustic Mountain Home Inn. Climb up the Hogback fire road, taking time to stop and enjoy the views of Muir Woods, Mill Valley, and the coast. The path levels out onto the Old Railroad Grade fire road, which leads to your destination, The West Point Inn. Once a stopping point on the old Mount Tam railroad, this 104-year-old inn can only be reached by hiking trails. Snacks, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are available there, but you can also pack in your own food and drinks. From the picnic grounds and wooden deck of the inn, toast the sweeping views of the Pacific and San Francisco Bay. For a different return route, take Nora's Trail and Matt Davis Trail, crossing the crackling creeks and ducking around redwood trees along the way. The journey ends back at the Mountain Home Inn, where a cozy bar and expansive outdoor deck await.

Mountain Home Inn, 810 Panoramic Highway, Mill Valley; 415-381-9000.

Walk up the fire road, behind the Mountain Home Inn, toward the fire station. Continue past the fire station and the water tank. Stay on this fire road (do not take the Matt Davis Trail) until the Old Railroad Grade. Turn left and follow it to The West Point Inn. To return, hike down Nora's Trail from the inn. At Matt Davis Trail veer left, which takes you back to the Mountain Home Inn. The entire loop is 3.75 miles. Dog-friendly!

Bike Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail

Wheelin' the Love

Half Moon Bay can't help it: it's romantic pretty much any way you slice it. The small coastal town known for pumpkin festivals and big-wave surfing is also a casual biker's coastal playground. So throw on a fleece and let the fun begin by cruising 5 miles of oceanfront trail. Start your ride from Magellan Road (follow the signs to Miramar Beach Restaurant). Roll south along the paved trail, across old wooden bridges; along the way you'll pass frisky jack rabbits—those Casanovas of the brush—and several picnic-worthy beaches. Spread a quilt on the sands, or if you prefer, just south of Francis Beach you'll find lots of bluff-side benches for wave watching.

TIP: For a romantic splurge, top things off with wine and chocolate tasting at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay's Conservatory Lounge; generous ocean views included. No reservations necessary, and no jack rabbits allowed.

The trail is a part of Half Moon Bay State Beach. If you'd rather walk than bike it, we recommend starting at Francis Beach rather than Magellan Rd. These beaches are dog-friendly.

Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, One Miramontes Point Rd., Half Moon Bay; 650-712-7000.

Hike Bernal Heights Park San Francisco

Bernal Heights Mood-Maker

San Francisco is among the most romantic cities in America. And amorous moods can be easily conjured by an afternoon visit to one of the most understated pockets of the city, Bernal Heights Park. This hilltop haven and surrounding neighborhood pack some serious soul. Start at the end of Folsom Street and walk along the paved road (no cars allowed), winding all the way to the top of Bernal Hill. If you want to wander off the road, there are several shortcuts via a network of red dirt trails and wooden staircases. The park offers plenty of greenery (especially after the recent rains) and some spectacular views of the city and South Bay that rival those from Twin Peaks.

BONUS: On the southern side of the park, Cortland Avenue offers everything from saloons and eateries to coffee shops and independent bookstores. For some comfort food with a matching atmosphere, grab a table at the Liberty Café and get a signature chicken pot-pie or banana cream pie (they make all kinds of pies). Or for a smooth cup of coffee with a lively vibe, stop into the Progressive Grounds where folk singers gather close to the backroom fireplace and the outdoor patio adds charm.

The Liberty Cafe, 410 Cortland Ave., San Francisco; 415-695-1223.

Progressive Grounds, 400 Cortland Ave., San Francisco; 415-282-6233.

From Highway 101 in San Francisco, exit Cesar Chavez going west and turn left onto Folsom St. Continue uphill on Folsom St. and look for the parking lot for Bernal Heights Park. Cortland Ave. is on the south side of the park. See a map here. Bernal Heights Park is very dog-friendly.

WEEKEND SHERPA EXTRA: Want even more ideas? Check out last year's issue, Romance Last-Minute.

Patagonia President Day Sale

Patagonia's President's Day Sale in Santa Cruz

40% off
February 14–19 only

It happens just once a year: Patagonia's Santa Cruz Outlet store has a big President's Day Sale, just in time for you to find great deals on already low priced items. How low can you go? Here are just two examples: Men's Plush Synchilla Sweatshirt and Women's Plush Synchilla Hoody: regular price: $70; outlet price: $49; sale price: $29.40. Get 40% off current outlet prices storewide.* Stock up on all your outdoor apparel and save big on one of the world's most progressive brands. Patagonia donates at least 1% of its annual net revenues to environmental organizations worldwide through 1% For The Planet.

Get to the sale in time:
February 14–19 only.
Sale hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. each day.
Patagonia Outlet Santa Cruz, 415 River St., #C, Santa Cruz; 831-423-1776.

*Sale prices apply to Patagonia clothing only on days specified. Surfboards and wetsuits not on sale. Sale limited to stock on hand. No fax or phone orders, please.

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