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:
Nestled among the redwoods high in the Santa Cruz Mountains sits the Loch Lomond reservoir, perfect for a relaxing day together away from work, city sounds and electronic screens. The serene 175-acre body of water is also big enough that you and your special someone can enjoy each other with the semblance of privacy. This romantic spot is great for the outdoorsy couple: You can make a day of it and paddle around the reservoir, fish, or hike over about 11 miles of trails if you so desire. Pack your partner's favorite meal before you head out for the day and bring a blanket along. Dock at the small island in the middle of the reservoir and share a picnic with just the two of you. Don't forget, with little reprieve from the sun, it's best to take along a hat and sunscreen.
Note: Loch Lomond is open seasonally. For 2013, it opens daily on March 1 through Labor Day. After that, it will be open weekends only until October 13.
Cost: Vehicle entry is $4, with a $1 surplus for dogs. Rowboats and paddleboats are available at $5 per hour, with a two-hour minimum or an all-day rate of $35. Electric-assists boats are available at $10 per hour with a two-hour minimum on weekdays and a three-hour minimum on weekends and holidays. Life jackets are provided. Prices are accurate as of January 2013, but they are subject to change.
Do it cheaper: There's no need to be extravagant in the woods anyway! Pack some of your partner's favorite quick and easy snacks instead of a big picnic.
Turn up the heat: Make it a surprise -- complete with a blindfold. With the twisting mountain roads heading out to the lake, your special someone will be surprised when you do the big reveal.
Location: 100 Loch Lomond Way, Felton
On the Net: The City of Santa Cruz website