Get out there in Santa Rosa on Valentine’s Day.  Out There SR blogger Amanda Janik tells you how.

Okay, so people have different opinions about Valentine’s Day. For example, my boyfriend hates it and tries to pretend it doesn’t exist, which makes me moody and very “woe is me, I’ll just be over here in the rocking chair, sighing…” for about a week afterward. Other people (I’m told) love the excuse to express the affection and adoration they feel for their partner, and go all out.

Whichever category you find yourself in, this Valentine-deprived gal is going to show off some of Santa Rosa’s best date spots…and if you have some ideas of your own, please add them in the comments below!

mirageFirst off, flowers. I’ll admit to being a sucker for flowers, even though yes, they just die — bla bla bla leave me alone — I love them anyway! When receiving these I’m always very excited to see they didn’t come from the sad pre-packaged bin in the checkout line, but in fact from a real live local florist. I like City 205 Flowers on 5th Street, and Mirage Florist, which is right downtown on 4th. However, I also love growing my own flowers to pick myself down the road, so I’d be happy with seeds or a plant from King’s Nursery, which is tucked over on 13th Street on the east side of town.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, on to the date ideas. Here’s a list of some of the imaginary Valentine’s date activities I’ve dreamt up, in no particular order:

arthurmurrayDancing! Hey, it’s a romantic holiday; I’m starting big. I’ve always wanted to do the whole “dinner and dancing” thing because secretly I want to be one of those flawlessly dynamic women in those gorgeous old dance movies. It kind of doesn’t matter which one, as long as I’m in a fabulous dress. Alas, while I can shake some major tail feathers to the poppy music of my youth, I’ve never learned the classics. Goals! Luckily there’s Arthur Murray Dance Center on Davis Street near Railroad Square. Learn to dance; dance on Valentine’s Day. BAM!

Being active seems to be a big date winner around here, and luckily Santa Rosa has a plethora of options just wrapped up and waiting for us like a big ol’ heart-shaped box of chocolates. When polling those in my vicinity (i.e. the teenager and his friend who happened to be in the kitchen at that moment) about their ideal Valentine’s Date, one said a hike and picnic at Spring Lake; the other said a walk around town and a movie. Not too shabby, boys! Personally, I hate hiking.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.32.19 PMBut I do love climbing! Santa Rosa’s climbing gym, Vertex, would be such an unexpected place to request from my date he’d have no idea what he was getting into by agreeing to go. Not only is using focused communication and teamwork to get from Point A to Point F a surprisingly crazy sexy activity, the bonus for me is I can get all sweaty and smelly during a date and it’s totally acceptable!

Back to the fluffy stuff.  I’m kind of a book nerd and so I’d love to check out a romantic reading at Copperfield’s Books. Sure, these aren’t on Valentine’s Day itself, but Copperfield’s in Montgomery Village has a super-swoony lineup of authors reading and talking All Things Love on February 12th and 13th. Think of it as a literary appetizer to whet your appetite for the main course. Of, you know, love.

the-pullman-kitchenOr, of food. Under normal circumstances I’d avoid the restaurant scene on this most major of romantic days (otherwise known as Valentine’s Day; otherwise known, in the biz, as “amateur night”), but we love The Pullman Kitchen (205 5th Street) so much I’d be willing to brave it. Every meal we’ve had here has been incredible, without exception. Plus, they have a few tables outside of the main restaurant which are still indoors, where they let us bring our dog. Valentine’s date with the dog? Yes, please!

If we felt like cooking-in as if it were any other day of the week, we’d pop over to Imwalle Gardens on West Third for some locally-grown fresh produce, then grab something to grill at Sonoma Meat Company on Sebastopol Ave. Oliver’s Market on Stony Point Road is our standard for whatever else we might need. Dessert, maybe? No one can accuse me of being inflexible when it comes to dinner.

equus-loungebarCocktails: these are essential. Because we are very well-rounded people, we might find ourselves at The Villa, Equus, Kozy Kar Bar or The Zoo at any given point in this date. Each of these watering holes is very unique and offers its own great vibe, depending on what you’re going for. The Villa on Montgomery Drive is very “50’s Mafia meets Grandma in her Lady Gloves” with a little bit of “Suburban Tract Home” thrown in for good measure. Equus at the Fountaingrove Inn is all shiny brass, piano in the corner, waitresses in heels. Kozy Kar on Mendocino is an explosion of nostalgia for those of us who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, with every surface packed with quirky memorabilia to go along with the Playboy posters covering the walls, vintage pinball machines and video games, and TV’s playing snippets of old television shows and commercials, along with **WARNING WARNING WARNING** unexpected video clips of a, errr, more ‘adult’ nature.

the zooThe Zoo is our favorite dive bar in Santa Rosa – the kind you don’t want to use the bathroom in but the drinks are strong and cheap so you just do what you gotta do. With a “wide variety” of clientele, an oddly-assorted jukebox and bartenders that care just enough, it’s the place we end up after every special occasion. Plus, our good friend and famous ceramist Karen lives down the street, so every time we go we text her and say “Hey Karen! We’re at The Zoo!” and soon she shows up with a paper grocery bag full of freshly made popcorn. Here’s her number: eight-six-seven-five-three-oh-ni-e-ine.*

Again, this is just one gal’s Valentine dreams put to print, and I’d love to hear YOUR favorite date spots around Santa Rosa. In the meantime, if you need me you can find me in my rocking chair.

*That is not Karen’s real phone number. Or, if it is, I apologize to its owner. I was making an 80’s musical reference, so….