Along with Christmas and New Year’s, Valentine’s Day is one of the top three days of the year to propose marriage. Don’t know where to do it? Don’t want a showy, public proposal? Then try one of these five spots.
The Getty Villa
If the Getty Villa were more easily accessible, I’d be here more often. Just like its cousin up the hill, the architecture and gardens are awe-inspiring. But the smell and sounds of the ocean are that much closer. I particularly like the Getty Villa because of my longtime interest in Greek and Roman history and mythology. My favorite spot at the Villa is the East Garden — it feels like a hidden, secret spot with a gurgling fountain and shady trees. In my opinion, its a perfect place for a private, meaningful proposal. It costs $8 to park, but tickets, while free, are timed and must be secured in advance. Plus, getting there ain’t no picnic — you must take Pacific Coast Highway from the south and turn right into the Getty Villa driveway. There is a cafe at the Villa (and I can think of nothing more metropolitan than having lunch and coffee at the Villa, hee), but if that’s not your cup of tea, there are plenty of food options in Malibu or Santa Monica, ranging from cheap yet quality (like California Chicken Cafe) to expensive but worth it (like Enterprise Fish Co.).
Being out on a boat, with the wind in your face and hair, the smell of the sea in your nostrils? A two-hour whale watching trip is entirely manageable. But, obviously, you’d be on a boat, so if you get motion sickness, you might want to forego this option. The trip I took, from Redondo Sport Fishing, took us around the Rancho Palos Verdes peninsula and back again. While my trip was light on the whale spout/dolphins playing sightings, it was still incredible to get out on a boat and spend an exhilarating day with my honey bunny. But I don’t think you have to worry about that, since the whale watching sites are reporting sightings on nearly every trip. You may or may not want seafood after your trip (um, this should go without saying, but don’t eat before you get on a boat), nonetheless, there are always plenty of food options around these ports. Go hog wild.
Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific
I love museums, zoos and aquariums, period. The pluses about the aquarium include the awesome shark lagoon, where you also have the option of touching (!) baby sharks and stingrays. There’s also plenty of these dim, romantic spots where love exchanges are possible. But keep in mind — if you go on a weekday, chances are you will encounter plenty of children. Um, if you go on the weekend, chances are you will encounter plenty of families. As for food, I do recall a cafeteria-like restaurant at the aquarium, but dude, you’re in Long Beach — there’s tons of food options within walking distance, even a Roscoe’s Chicken N’ Waffles if you’re willing to go a little farther.
Point Fermin Park in San Pedro
This is an incredible park. The view is spectacular, and the feeling you get up there is almost exactly like the feeling you get from being on a boat, without being on a boat. This park makes you feel a little like you’re on top of the world, or on the edge. Trinity and I got married here in 2004, in a long, interesting but convoluted story. If you opt to go here, I’d say you should pick up a to-go order from your favorite restaurant and have a picnic. Your fiance will be so impressed! Just avoid walking too close to the edge, since quite a few people have met their maker that way. Remember, you’re trying to start your new life, not end it.
Los Angeles County Arboretum
The other garden in the area can’t hold a candle to this place, in my opinion. There are super cool turn-of-the-century houses and structures to check out, wandering birds to coo at, lush trees and flowers all over the place, running rivers and a waterfall. When Trin and I went, it was a weekday, so it was literally deserted. Ahem, other more indiscreet couples might take advantage of that, but not us, of course. If you want to picnic first, there’s a lawn out front where you can do so. It also seems that there is now a cafe, appropriately called the Peacock Cafe. But you’re so close to the Santa Anita mall, you might as well go to Dave and Busters for some more fun, or eat at one of the many chain restaurants there. Just remember this place also closes pretty early — 5 p.m.