Oysters in Tomales Bay - Bike Golden Gate Park - Hike Pigeon Point


Romance Last-Minute

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned frolic in the great outdoors—especially during Cupid’s prime season. Add a loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and voilà! L’amour fou. Here’s a Valentine’s weekend sampler of last-minute excursions—no reservations required.

Millerton Point Tomales Bay State Park

Oyster of My Eye

Oysters are a legendary aphrodisiac. Casanova, the original Latin lover, breakfasted on fifty a day to prepare himself for his arduous amours. So it is entirely apropos for you and your main squeeze to road-trip up to the Hog Island Oyster Company farm and indulge in their “shuck-it-yourself” option. The company, located nine miles north of Point Reyes Station, will provide the fresh oysters (for $10 to $15 per dozen) and other necessities, including a barbecue grill and picnic area right on Tomales Bay; you supply the rest. If Hog Island's tables are full or you don't want to pay the $8 picnic fee, Millerton Point (pictured) in Tomales Bay State Park offers free picnic tables and barbecue pits just a few miles south of the farm (you can buy an oyster shucker for $15 at the farm). We recommend taking the short trail right to the water’s edge; pack your Kumamotos and Chardonnay, lay a blanket on the beach, and let those oysters have their way with you.

BONUS: For a great taste, warm some butter, garlic, and chives in a small pan on the grill and drizzle over your oysters. Yummy.

Hog Island Oyster Company, 20215 Highway 1, Marshall; 415-663-9218.

To reach Millerton Point, drive a few miles south of Hog Island Oyster Company on Hwy. 1. The parking lot is on the west side of the road. The trail starts behind the parking lot. Tomales Bay map (PDF)

Garden Hopping

Why give your lover a bouquet when you can give them an entire collection of rare and endangered flora? How to do this: spend a day garden hopping around Golden Gate Park. You'll have a lot of ground to cover, so ride your bike (or rent one from San Francisco Cyclery). Start by smelling the multicolored blossoms at Queen Wilhelmina Garden under the northern windmill, then catch the giant Magnolia campbelli right now in full pink and white bloom in the Moon-Viewing Garden in the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum. Next, get Zen-spired by soon-to-bud cherry trees and artfully pruned pines at the tranquil Japanese Tea Garden. Finally, climax your day at the Conservatory of Flowers. This Victorian postcard of a building—all glass and wood—houses the oldest greenhouse in the Western Hemisphere. Inside are 1700 different species, ranging from Jurassic-era cycads to six-foot-wide water lilies. Get all wet, wild, and steamy among the conservatory’s lush jungle greenery, dripping with waterfall spray. Just don't get too carried away, Tarzan.

San Francisco Cyclery, 672 Stanyan St., 415-379-3870.

Golden Gate Park map and links

Wild Card

If you like edgy, windswept, impossibly romantic vistas, here’s your wild card: you and yours tramping along Wilbur's Watch Trail in search of the lone bench at the end of the continent. The coastal drive down Highway 1 provides an engine-revving preview. Near Pigeon Point Light Station, park and hike the one-mile (one-way) trail, thanking the Peninsula Open Space Trust for saving these pristine hills from hotel development. When you reach that sweet seat at the end, break out the Cab, cheese, and chocolate and have a feast. Devour the scenery too: those whales are spouting just for you.

To reach Wilbur’s Watch, head south on Hwy. 1 to Pescadero, then six miles past Pescadero Rd., turn left onto the southern of the two Pigeon Point Rd. exits (not the first one leading to the lighthouse). The parking lot and trailhead are immediately on the right.

TIP: Speaking of Cabernet, pick up a bottle and some dark chocolate at the San Gregorio General Store, a nearby grocery located on the corner of Highway 84 and Stage Road. It's an eccentric, lively spot where you can purchase anything from raccoon traps to 18 flavors of tequila. It features live music—Irish R&B, anyone?—on the weekends and is guaranteed to send you off with a smile.

San Gregorio General Store, Highway 84 and Stage Road, San Gregorio; 650-726-0565.

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