Warm Winter Adventures in Southern California

01.19.12


Bonus Sherpa: Winter Heat

When the chill eventually creeps in, find comfort and warmth at any of these winter respites.


Getty

Getty With the Program: On Saturdays, the Getty stays open until 9:00 p.m. Get there early and tour the impressive collection and newest exhibitions. When the shadows get long, duck outside to the promontory just east of the South Pavilion. Its panoramic views make it the ideal spot to watch the sun's last rays set a fiery glow on the windows of the city's skyscrapers.

Strawberry On Top: The mile-high town of Idyllwild in the San Jacinto Mountains is a perfect place to unwind thanks to the Strawberry Creek Inn. Cozy up to their wood-burning fireplace in the reading room, dream easy in one of their nine rooms (and one cottage), and wake up to gourmet organic breakfasts like puffed pancakes with fresh fruit and toasted almonds.

Grape Connections: Santa Barbara's best-known vineyards are in the Santa Ynez Valley, but the tasting action—and some of the best vinification—happens on the urban side of the vine thanks to an imaginative group of winemakers. The Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail features a dozen wineries spread across downtown, with everything from less-traveled tasting rooms to relaxing wine bars with live music.

Super Suds: Soak yourself silly in the warm, mineralized waters of Sycamore Springs, just 10 minutes from downtown San Luis Obispo (SLO). Voted one of the top mineral springs resorts in the world, Sycamore's 17 private, outdoor tubs are scattered on a forested hillside and have names like Shangrila, Twilight, and Tubby. If you can, snag a soak in Paradise; it's the highest on the hill and the most secluded.

Dog Days of Winter: If your most beloved is a dog (and we mean the four-legged furry kind), lose the leash and cut to the chase at Fiesta Island. This 485-acre stretch inside San Diego's Mission Bay lets the canine crowd run free. Grab a fire pit on the west side of the island where there's plenty of shoreline for roaming.

SLO Romantic

Chocolates, roses, and champagne: romantic. Combining all that with adventures on the beautiful Central Coast? “I do!” San Luis Obispo (SLO) is equal parts romance and outdoor fun. Book an overnight package and get started on a Valentine's adventure to remember. Spend the night at an intimate B&B and fuel up on a local, organic breakfast before hiking to Montana de Oro's Valencia Peak  (1200 feet) where swooping coastal vistas and waves smoldering among bluffs add intrigue to your 'extended arm' snapshots. Or pack a picnic and a bottle of local wine, and relax by the water at Lopez Lake (for those whose Valentine's date is a dog, not figuratively, Lopez Lake is dog-friendly!).

Does your idea of a romantic escape include a giant rock engagement? You're in luck! Bishop Peak and Cabrillo Peak are two of the most notable rock-climbing spots in the region, located among the Seven Sisters—a chain of ancient volcano plugs that lead from Downtown SLO to Morro Bay. And for those who like it hot, cozy up to a bonfire at Avila Beach, one of the nicest, year-round sandy spots on the Central Coast. SLO's got all the ingredients you need for putting a sweet touch on outdoor adventures. Book your Valentine's adventure package today. SLO romantic!

Turn the Romance Dial to Eleven: Sign up for Secrets of SLO newsletter, and enter to win 2 free nights in San Luis Obispo.

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