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By Elena Peña and Miriam Raftery
January 31, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)—Looking for something extraordinary to delight your valentine?  We’ve done the legwork to bring you the best of the best—from free salsa lessons to deluxe destinations, you’ll find plenty of delightful discoveries in San Diego’s inland regions. 

What could be more romantic than a vineyard trail ride, jeep journey, or sky sailing adventure for two?  Perhaps an overnight stay at a bed and breakfast on an exotic wildlife sanctuary,  a picnic and boat ride across a secluded lake, a carriage ride at a chocolate festival, or savoring gourmet goodies at a local winery! 

HORSE AROUND ON A VINEYARD TRAIL RIDE:  “We’re doing a champagne and chocolate `Sweetheart Ride’,” said Sabrina Fortyune with Vineyard Trailrides, which is based in Ramona.  Cost for the two-hour event is $160 per couple –and you will receive a 10% discount if you mention that you heard about it in East County Magazine!  Also available during Valentine’s week are the company’s standard vineyard rides, which include a bottle of wine. For more information, visit or call (951)595-3503. 
JOURNEY ON A JEEP TOUR FOR TWO:  California Overland Adventures has offered a very special trip custom for East County Magazine readers!  Your private tour of canyons and badlands in the Anza Borrego Desert State Park will include such custom options as a stop at a romantic overlook atop Font’s Point or a trip into Palm Canyon. A bottle of wine, cheese and baguettes are also included.  Venture into rugged, beautiful and secluded areas reserved for authorized vehicles only on your personal tour.  Choose from two hours for $235/couple or a four to five hour tour for $350/couple.  Call (760)767-1232 and ask for Joe. For more details, see  

ARRIBA! FREE SALSA LESSONS WITH YOUR SWEETHEART:  What could be hotter than dancing the Salsa with your heart’s delight?  Every Tuesday night, beginner and intermedia salsa lessons are offered by Majesty in Motion at the Starlight Dance Studio, 6506 El Cajon Blvd. in San Diego. This high-energy, jazzy style Latin music is taught by a team that’s performed and taught worldwide. Download a coupon good for a free class at
ROW, ROW YOUR BOAT AT BEAUTIFUL LAKE JENNINGS:  Rent a rowboat or motorboat at Lake Jennings in Lakeside, where you can visit romantic destinations as Cloister Cove, Siesta Point, Hermit Cove, and Eagle Point.. The Lake is only open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, so celebrate Valentine’s day early or late with a picnic and nature walk along the shore. Watch for deer, coyotes, and a pair of bald eagles recently sited at the lake. Admission to the lake costs just $1; extra fees apply for boat rentals; camp sites are also available for overnight lovebirds. Visit
VINO VALENTINO NIGHT AT BERNARDO WINERY:  Savor a romantic evening at our region’s oldest winery. On Sunday, February 12 from 6-9 p.m., Bernardo Winery in Rancho Bernardo will serve up tempting wines, champagne, epicurean delights and desserts. Enjoy candlelit romance in the 120 year old barrel room, where champagne and crepes will be served, or join festivities in the tasting room including wine tasting with appetizers by Café Merlot. Enjoy live music on the patio, stroll among olive trees and twinkling lights, and take a carriage ride around the vineyard. Top off the evening with handmade dessert crepes.  Guests will also receive a hand-blown signature glass heart. For reservations, call 858-487-1866. Tickets are limited; this event will sell out. Cost: $60 per person or $110 per couple. Details at  
DANCING FOR LATIN LOVERS AT HARRAH’S RINCON: The Pavilion at Harrah’s Rincon is hosting this year’s ‘Baile De Los Enamorados’, a yearly Latin Valentine’s Day celebration, on Friday, February 17 at 9 p.m. The event will host a variety of Latin bands and singers known for their romantic songs as well as their dancing tunes. Tickets are $42 and VIP tables are available the day of the event. Please note: There will be no seating available inside the venue, so come prepared to dance. Tickets available at
ENJOY THE SIGHTS AND SOUNDS OF NATURE: What better way to burn off those calories than by taking Mission Trails’ free Guided Nature Walk? It’s approximately 1.5 hours long and you’ll learn everything there is to know about the park, from its history and geology to its flora and fauna.

The nature walk will take place on Wednesday, February 15 at 9:30 a.m., guests interested in participated must meet at the Visitor Center. For more information visit the 'Events' page at
A WILD NIGHT AT THE WHITE OAK MOUNTAIN RETREAT:  Located at the Lions, Tigers and Bears big cat rescue facility east of Alpine, the White Oak Ranch Bed & Breakfast Inn  is a wildly romantic setting for a getaway with your sweetheart. During your stay you will be free to explore the beauty of the Cleveland National Forest, enjoy a romantic walk, plan a picnic, plus get up close and personal with lions, tigers, and other exotic animals. White Oak is extending its members-only offer to readers of East County Magazine. For $425, couples will enjoy overnight stay with deluxe accommodations, free admission to Lions, Tigers, and Bears, continental breakfast, and a bottle of champagne. The offer is valid until February 29, 2012.  Just mention that you heard about it in East County Magazine. For details, see or call (619) 445-0997.
TAKE A RIDE ON THE WILD SIDE: Travel in a safari truck into the fields of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park! During your journey, you will be able to see exotic wildlife in African Plains and Asian Savanna exhibits up-close and personal and even have a chance to feed giraffes and rhinos. Your guide will also delight you with stories of love as you experience the park like never before. Desserts, beverages, and a special speaker at Amani Point are also included. Cost is $120 per person, plus Park admission for nonmembers. Or celebrate love with a special Valentine’s dinner on February 11, which includes reception, animal presentation, and bottle of wine for $99 per couple (plus tax and gratuity).
CRYSTAL GALE IN CONCERT: The Poway Center for Performing Arts will be hosting an intimate evening with the Grammy Award winning singer. Famous for her ability to infuse aspects of different genres into her songs, Gale rose to fame in the mid-70’s and has since continued to charm audiences with her unique and sexy vocal style. Ticket prices range from $55-100. For more information and to purchase tickets visit:
SKYSAILING FOR TWO & WEEKEND RETREAT:  Let your heart soar with  a skysailing flight for two, priced from $160 to $250 per couple.  Savor a birdseye view of San Diego’s backcountry aboard a skysail (glider plane) at Sky Sailing Inc. in Warner Springs , including a roll of film shot from a camera mounted under the wing for a truly unique souvenir!  Destination options include No Name Mounta, Hot Springs Peak, and Palomar Mountain. For the truly daring thrillseekers, aerobatics options are available. You can also opt for a package that includes an overnight stay at Warner Springs Ranch resort withs amenities to pamper yourself, including hot minerals and fresh water pools, hiking trails and tennis courts.  For details, visit .

FOR THE LOVE OF CHOCOLATE AND SWEETART FESTIVAL: Bring your sweetheart and your sweet tooth to the Escondido Downtown Business Association's 3rd Annual "For the Love of Chocolate and SweetArt Festival on Saturday, February 11 from 1-5 p.m. Savor wine, beer and chocolate pairings for $20, while also enjoying shopping at Sweet Street, strolling through downtown shops and galleries, enjoying live music, or taking a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride down historic Grand Ave.
DESSERT AND WINE TASTING AT SAN PASQUAL WINERY IN LA MESA:  Indulge in a dessert and wine pairing at San Pasqual Winery in La Mesa. Price includes sampling of scrumptious mini-desserts from San Diego Desserts plus five different wines. Offered Monday, February 13 and Tuesday February 14 from 6:30-8 :30 p.m.  For more information, call (619)462-1797.  The winery tasting room, location of this event, is at 8364 La Mesa Blvd. in La Mesa’s downtown village. Price is $25 in advance, or $30 at the door (if available). Discounts for wine club members.

DISCOUNT DANCING AND DESSERT IN ALPINE:  Sweethearts on a budget will relish “Death by Chocolate,” a sampling of decadent desserts plus dancing to the music of “Ideas” at the Alpine Community Center.  The event, which costs just $10 a person, is hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Alpine on February 11 from 7-10 p.m.  For more information, call Dave Kebert at 619-445-0532 or Sue Roff at 619-445-7330. Tickets are available at the Alpine Community Center or from any Alpine Kiwanis member.  



FLOATING CABINS IN SANTEE LAKES: Sleep on the water in one of Santee Lakes’ floating cabins! Accommodations include a Queen bed, a kitchen with cookware and utensils, a bathroom, living room, and an outdoor barbeque. It also comes with a personal pedal boat so you and your honey can spend the day cruising around in the water and enjoying the surrounding scenery. If fishing is your thing, then don’t forget your gear and remember to bring firewood for a romantic night of marshmallow roasting under the stars. Cost per night is $121 for weekdays and $146 for weekends and holidays. For more information visit:
GOLD AND GEM MINING IN JULIAN: Spend the day in Historic Julian, wander its streets and delight yourself in one of their delicious apple pies. The town is also famous for its gold and gem mining and what better souvenirs than precious stones and gold flakes? For $7.95 a bag, you and your valentine can pan for gems and minerals in one of Julian’s sluices or if you prefer for a buck more a person, you can pan for gold. It’s sure to make you feel like a forty-niner during the Gold Rush!


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