Romance on a Shoestring

Sweep your sweetheart off their feet without spending a bundle. Monterey County's natural beauty, from rugged seashores to rolling mountains, weaves an alluring charm that money just can't buy. If times are too tight to splurge on your sweetheart, try these budget-conscious recipes for romance. Each escape is under $50 per couple.

  • Drink some wine with a view at A Taste of Monterey on Cannery Row. Sit at one of the tables next to the floor-to-ceiling picture windows and enjoy a breathtaking view of the bay while you sample some of Monterey County's best wines.
  • Fall asleep above the Central Coast's most beautiful beach waterfall at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. There's only two hike-in campsites at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, and each one has some of the best ocean views in California. These sites are much in demand, so plan to reserve well in advance for your romantic escape. Bring your binoculars; you may even see whales migrating.
  • Arrange a tour of Tor House, the stone home that poet Robinson Jeffers hand-built for his wife. Docent-led tours are limited to a handful of people, and the story of Robinson and Una Jeffers is sure to stir the heart.
  • Pack a picnic and head on up to Jacks Peak County Park. The Jacks Peak Parking Area is only a few yards from the summit, so you can see the breathtaking views without breaking a sweat. For a romantic picnic, the best spot is on the Jacks Peak Trail, about 50 yards from the intersection with the Skyline Trail. A perfectly placed bench allows you to eat a leisurely meal while taking in sweeping views of Point Lobos State Reserve and Carmel Valley.
  • There's a reason it's called Lovers Point! Pack up some pastries from Paris Bakery Cafe, get up very early (or stay up all night), and head to Pacific Grove's Lovers Point to watch the sun rise. Due to a quirk in local geography, it's one of the few places on the West Coast where you can watch a sunrise over the ocean.
  • Spend a few hours on a bicycle built for two. Rent a tandem bike from Adventures by the Sea and ride it along the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail for a true experience in togetherness.
  • Pack some wine, cheese and a beach blanket and head to Marina State Beach in the late afternoon. Savor the flavors, and the company, as you watch a magnificent sunset. If you're lucky, you'll get to watch the hang gliders dance through the air as a prelude.

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