EDITOR'S NOTE: Sometimes all it takes to be romantic is a bouquet of flowers or a well-timed kiss, but in Santa Cruz County, you have plenty of picturesque backdrops to choose from to highlight your love story in a unique way. With the awe-inspiring Monterey Bay and beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains just outside, it shouldn't be too hard to show some imagination when it comes to romance. And, if you happen to be looking for inspiration, we have you covered. We recently polled our staff and readers, asking them to share their favorite romantic things to do in and around Santa Cruz. Here are some of our favorites:

Looking for a luxurious outing to help say 'I love you'? Look no further. One of the most highly recommended romantic experiences in the Santa Cruz area, the couples massage at The Spa at Chaminade, while pricey, is sure to please. Perched atop a mountain, overlooking Santa Cruz with a panoramic view of the Monterey Bay, Chaminade has about 15 masseuses on staff who are trained in various techniques, ranging from prenatal to Swedish, according to spa manager Sandra Kaplan. In a room to yourselves, you and your special someone can unwind as all your stress and tension is kneaded away. Patronizing the spa also gives you access to Chaminade amenities, including the sauna, steam room, hot tub, pool, tennis courts, hiking trails, workout facilities and spa patio, where you can relax and lie out beside the koi pond.

Cost: A spa room for two with 50-minute massages is $235 per couple, and a spa room for two with 80-minute massages is $315 per couple. Twenty percent gratuity is included. Prices are accurate as of January 2013, but they are subject to change.

Do it cheaper: Look for special packages that are occasionally offered on the Chaminade website. They can significantly lower your cost and often include luxurious extras.

Turn up the heat: Sentinel reader Ivy Reed suggests heading over to the Linwood's Bar and Grill in your tranquil haze to enjoy a fireside dinner. The fire pit has just four chairs and a bench, so don't forget to make reservations.

Location: 1 Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz

Phone: 831-475-5600

On the Net: Chaminade website

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