Summer of love

Romantic activities our vacation locale offers

San Diego skyline
  • San Diego skyline

Love is in the air. Patrick and I will be attending no fewer than six weddings in the family in the next half year. And one of them is my nephew marrying his niece. Get ready to party! Though they’re marrying up Los Angeles way, the newlyweds will be honeymooning in San Diego. Smart kids. The problem is, they have a lot more love than money. They asked Aunt Eve to recommend some free or cheap but also romantic activities our vacation locale offers. I had a few of my own to offer, and I told the love birds I would talk to my people. As Headmistress Mullins — Joan Cusack’s character in School of Rock — says, “I find it’s best to over-prepare.”

For Patrick and me, it’s our beaches and bays which inspire romance. We Kellys love to relax on the beach alongside the Bahia Hotel on Mission Bay and watch the sailboats glide by. The Sail Bay section of Mission Bay on which this beach faces has a strictly enforced speed limit of five miles per hour for motorboats, so the area is delightfully free of noise. If the day is breezy, we’re treated to a colorful parade of sails passing back and forth through the channel between Bahia Point and Vacation Isle. It’s a public beach, which means free.

The La Jolla Coast Walk, particularly the northernmost section high on the bluff above the sea caves, offers views of the coast clear to Dana Point on a clear day. Benches along the trail make good cuddling nests for young (and old) love birds. Active types will enjoy a hike down to Torrey Pines State Beach through Torrey Pines State Reserve. A frolick in the cool ocean after a hot hike with my hot husband. Good stuff.

“Instead of going out for an expensive dinner,” said my friend Bernice over a Perfect Pear cocktail ($12) at Sycamore Den in Normal Heights, “sometimes Frank and I will pack a basket with our favorite nibbles and rent a boat from Seaforth on Harbor Island in the early evening ($120 for a 17-foot Sundeck power boat). It’s a little pricey, but sometimes we double or even triple date to split the costs. There are other rental spots, but we like Harbor Island because the golden evening light makes the downtown skyscrapers look dreamy.”

“We get the same experience, but a lot cheaper,” countered Michele. “We pack a picnic and a blanket, and we catch an evening ferry over to Coronado. ($9.50 per person round trip.) We lie our blanket on the grass or sand at Ferry Landing Park and canoodle while the setting sun makes San Diego’s skyline change colors.”

Sunsets — they shower the earth with romance. Cowles Mountain, Mount Helix, Torrey Pines Glider Port, Sunset Cliffs, Black Mountain: our glorious city is awash with gorgeous sunset viewing spots.

Live music ranks high on my romance list and summer concerts are aplenty in San Diego. But one series offers sand between the toes as the music plays: Summer Concerts by the Beach on Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas. The concerts are free, with bonus fun of contests and games. New Leaf will be playing on August 5; August 19 the Pettybreakers will be rocking. Concerts run from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. No glass, alcohol, dogs nor smoking is allowed on the beach.

Organ Pavillion

Organ Pavillion

The Balboa Park Twilight Concert series plays at the picturesque Organ Pavilion. The beauty of Balboa Park with the added bonus of pre-concert strolling through the Japanese Friendship Garden, Botanical Building, or the free Timken make for a delightful outing. The one-hour concerts start at 6:30 p.m. and run on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays through August 30. A few upcoming concerts: July 24 San Diego Youth Symphony, August 1 Jazz Jammers and August 21 Marine Band concerts. All are free.

Wine and romance are like peanut butter and jelly, right? Can’t have one without the other. Throw a horseback ride into the mix and you’ve got a love trifecta. Milagro Winery in Ramona offers riding through their 110 acres vines growing in the rolling hills followed by wine tasting in their tasting room. (Full tasting, $12. White by the glass, $10, Red by the glass, $12).

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