You don’t need to be named Casanova to plan the perfect Valentine’s Day for the object of your affections. The best way to show someone you care on the most romantic day of the year is to spend time with them doing something you both enjoy. There is a plethora of places in the 209 to spark the flame of love, below are a just a few ideas to get you started.
The 209 has some of the most majestic landscapes in the country — the perfect backdrop for a romantic hike for two.
Yosemite National Park — A national icon of natural beauty, Yosemite has awe-inspiring cliffs and dramatic waterfalls. The park is open year-round and you do not need reservations for a day trip. The park entrance fee is $35 per car. Visit nps.gov/yose/ for park information, including road closures and COVID-19 protocols before planning your trip.
Calaveras Big Trees — This state park near Arnold in Calaveras County features two groves of giant sequoia trees — the largest trees in the world. This park is open year-round with both easy and more advance hikes. For up-to-date park information, visit parks.ca.gov/bigtrees
Merced River Trail — This is a moderate 6-mile round-trip excursion that’s mostly flat with some rocky portions that takes you down the Merced River’s lower gorge from the Railroad Flat Campground at the 1,050-foot level north of Mariposa reached by taking Highway 140 to Briceburg.
Much of the hike is along the long-abandoned Yosemite Valley Railroad that ensures a gentle grade for walking. The river below the trail often echoes off the walls of the canyon providing a gentle roar punctured occasionally by the chirping of birds.
The hike should take between two to three hours.
If the outdoors is really not your thing, try planning a romantic movie night. Pop some popcorn, grab a few boxes of candy and indulge in one of these films sure to bring all the feels:
“Casablanca” (1942) — Starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid, “Casablanca” is filmed and set during World War II. It focuses on an American expatriate (Bogart) who must choose between his love for a woman (Bergman) or helping her and her husband (Henreid), a Czech resistance leader, escape from the Vichy-controlled city of Casablanca to continue his fight against the Germans.
“The Notebook” (2004) — Starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, “The Notebook” is the story of a poor, yet passionate young man who falls in love with a rich young woman in the 1940s, giving her a sense of freedom, but they are soon separated because of their social differences.
“Pride & Prejudice” (2005) — Based on Jane Austen’s 1813 novel of the same name, the film features five sisters from an English family of landed gentry as they deal with issues of marriage, morality and misconceptions. Keira Knightley stars in the lead role of Elizabeth Bennet, while Matthew Macfadyen plays her romantic interest Mr. Darcy.
“When Harry Met Sally” (1989) — Starring Billy Crystal as Harry and Meg Ryan as Sally, the story follows the title characters from the time they meet in Chicago just before sharing a cross-country drive, through 12 years of chance encounters in New York City.
“Titanic” (1997) — Incorporating both historical and fictionalized aspects, the film is based on accounts of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as members of different social classes who fall in love aboard the ship during its ill-fated maiden voyage.
“Roman Holiday” (1953) — This film stars Audrey Hepburn as a princess out to see Rome on her own and Gregory Peck as a reporter.
“The Princess Bride” (1987) — Starring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Wallace Shawn, André the Giant, and Christopher Guest, “The Princess Bride” tells the story of a farmhand named Westley, accompanied by companions befriended along the way, who must rescue his true love Princess Buttercup from the odious Prince Humperdinck. The film preserves the novel’s metafictional narrative style by presenting the story as a book being read by a grandfather (Peter Falk) to his sick grandson (Fred Savage).
A romantic dinner for two is a great way to spend quality time with our valentine. Try out these Best of 209 winners in the Romantic Restaurant category for your Valentine’s Day reservation:
Redwood Café, Modesto — With its trellises of green, leafy vines hanging romantically about the patio area and its chic dining room, a menu full of enticing dishes and a 300-label wine list, the Redwood Café is the ultimate experience in casual fine dining in Modesto.
Redwood Café is located at 4342 Dale Rd., Modesto. For more information, visit www.redwoodcafemodesto.com or call (209) 545-9248.
Galletto Ristorante, Modesto — Galletto Ristorante resides in a 1930s-era art deco former Wells Fargo Bank located in the heart of Modesto’s renovated downtown. Offering a rustic Northern Italian menu specializing in inspired cuisine, they provide a variety of private dining settings, and an unparalleled wine selection. Galletto Ristorante is a truly unique experience.
Galletto Ristorante is located at 1101 J St., Modesto. For more information, visit www.galletto.biz or call (209) 523-4500.
Verona’s Cucina Italiana, Modesto — Verona’s serves up authentic Northern Italian dishes, including pastas, steaks and antipasto using only the freshest of ingredients.
Verona’s is located at 1700 McHenry Ave. #46, Modesto. For more information, visit www.veronacucina.net or call (209) 549-8876.
Spend the day at the first ever Love Murphys Valentine Wine and Dine Soiree — From the producers of the Murphys Witch Walk, the Love Murphys Valentine Wine and Dine Soiree encourages guests and locals alike to walk and explore the historic Main Street and its wine tasting rooms, restaurants, pubs and fine dining establishments at their own pace and discover what makes the town so special that it has been crowned the Queen of the Sierra.
Enjoy romantic meals, aphrodisiacal wines, passionately plush accommodations, and an afternoon of shopping at some of the most unique shops in the Motherlode for that special Valentine’s Day memento of heartfelt significance for that magnificent suitor who continually makes your heart skip a beat.
The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 5 in downtown Murphys. For more information, visit Facebook.com/lovemurphys or Instagram.com/lovemurphys.