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Your Worry-free Valentine's Day Plan
February, 2015 - Issue #124

Ladies, move along to the next page. This article is for the fellas. On important male bonding stuff. Like Valentine's Day.

OK, it's safe to talk now.

So, how are plans coming for the 14th day of February? Come on, dish.

You don't know?

Is that an, "I'm considering several options, but I haven't decided yet," I don't know?

Or is it an, "I don't have a clue and I haven't given it a minute's thought," I don't know?

There's no need to answer. I get it. Planning Valentine's Day can leave you indecisive, overwhelmed, panic-stricken or all of the above.

It's a lot of pressure. You want to make sure you get it right and live up to expectations. So stop worrying and get working.

Like a friend of mine says, "Worry is for people who don't have a plan."

Keep reading, and by the time you reach the bottom of the page, you'll have a plan.

Let's start with location. Look no further than Newport Beach. It's close, it's coastal, and most important, it gives you options.

A weekend in Newport can go any way you need it to. Indulgent, with decadent food and spa treatments. Active, with time spent on the sand or cycling. Mellow, with beachside strolls and no real schedule. Or, some elements of each, with the weekend playing out as mood and timing dictate.

Onto accommodations. The Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa puts all of Newport's options within easy reach. The Pure Blu spa is onsite, so you can indulge without driving.

Fashion Island is across the street. All the shopping your credit card can handle is within walking distance. Just remember to be a good sport and hang in for the browsing instead of bailing for the Yard House. When she's ready to eat, suggest Cafe Beau Soleil. She'll groove on the patio seating and French cuisine. You'll appreciate the beer selection.

Also close by is Balboa Island. Lots more shopping, of course, and some delightful Italian food at Trattoria Mediterranean, a cozy little spot on Marine Avenue. It's a short drive from the hotel over the bridge. Or you can drive around the peninsula, park the car and walk on the ferry for the five-minute boat ride to the island.

If you're in search of mellow, stay at the hotel. The comfortable, updated rooms are large enough for lounging. Throw open the sliding glass door, welcome in the ocean breeze and take in the coastal views while you wait for room service to arrive.

Newport has no shortage of options for an active weekend. Jog the beach at Crystal Cove State Park or head inland for a hike. Regardless of which way you go, be sure to end up at The Beachcomber Cafe. It's right on the sand near the restored cottages and is one of the most idyllic dining settings anywhere.

Another cool option: Grab a beach cruiser from Balboa Bikes and ride the path along Balboa Peninsula up to Huntington Beach. It's a 15-mile round trip that will leave you with an appetite.
You'll need that appetite for breakfast or brunch at Plums Cafe. Tucked in the corner of an unassuming strip mall, they feature a creative menu, with selections ranging from smoked salmon hash to hazelnut pancakes.

That, my friends, is a complete plan for a home run Valentine's weekend. It's got options so you can adjust on the fly. All that's left for you to do is make some reservations.
And say to yourself (with a cigar clenched between your teeth), "I love it when a plan comes together."
Eric Harnish lives in Castaic.

RSVP
Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa 949-640-4000
Cafe Beau Soleil 949-640-4402
Trattoria Mediterranean 949-566-9525
Balboa Bikes 949-723-1516
Plums Cafe 949-22-7586
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