The Most Romantic Places in San Diego, From Historic Carousels to Surf-side Dining

From North Park to the Gaslamp Quarter, where to spend your next date night in SoCal's most romantic city.

San Diego Balboa Park California
Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images

With gourmet restaurants, scenic beaches, and yacht rides around the bay, America's Finest City is a date-night wonderland. Whether it’s a first date, anniversary, Valentine’s Day, or “got a babysitter, let’s go out” kind of date, sometimes you just want to get out to be together.

Whether it's an intimate dinner in a cozy French bistro, sunset cocktails overlooking the bay, or an afternoon stroll through Balboa Park, San Diego brings beauty and flair for any type of couple. The city has no shortage of gorgeous views, dreamy restaurants, and natural beauty, so we’ve rounded up the most romantic spots to keep in mind for your next date night or afternoon outing.

opentable most scenic restaurants 2017
Courtesy of Marine Room

Romantic Cocktails and Dining in San Diego

Nothing whispers romance like a classic French bistro. The Smoking Goat serves up date-night delicacies like baked brie, filet mignon steak tartare, duck fat truffle fries, and crème brûlée in North Park. 

For an even more romantic venue, head up — 40 stories up, that is — to the Top of the Hyatt at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. With floor-to-ceiling windows, the lounge offers panoramic views of San Diego Bay. Watch the sun dip below the city skyline with a couple of strawberry rhubarb gimlets and a baked crab and jalapeño dip for two.

The Pool House at the Pendry San Diego, in the Gaslamp Quarter, offers breathtaking skyline views alongside the crispy seasoned fries and rooftop spritzes. Once you've had your fill, continue the evening in the hotel's Oxford Social Club, an intimate space with plush banquettes and chill music.

Mr. A’s is a local favorite for a special night out. Start off with a round of mesquite Manhattans, then dine on French-American-Mediterranean dishes like Maple Leaf Farm duck breast, oysters on the half-shell, double passionfruit cream puffs in a luxurious room with city and bay views.

Get cozy surf-side at The Marine Room in La Jolla, which has attracted celebrities, locals, and travelers alike since 1941 with its eye-level views of the ocean and sunset. Couples enjoy local seafood, regional classics, small plates, cocktails, and wines in a spectacular setting.

Birds flying over sunset cliffs

Makito Umekita/Travel + Leisure

Romantic Views and Activities in San Diego

Stroll hand-in-hand with your partner through Balboa Park to admire the subtropical canopy in Palm Canyon or the gorgeous butterflies in Zoro Garden. The Alcazar Garden is modeled on the gardens of Alcazar Castle in Seville, Spain, with fountains, colorful blooms, Moorish tiles, and a shaded pergola. The Japanese Friendship Garden’s paths take visitors past bonsai displays, cherry trees, koi ponds, and flowers like star jasmine and pink trumpet.

Cabrillo National Monument, at the southernmost tip of Point Loma, offers ocean, city skyline, and harbor views. Enjoy the breezy surroundings, explore the tide pools, and stroll along the Coastal Trail.

For the more nautical couples, opt for a dinner or sunset cruise around San Diego Bay aboard a sailboat, yacht, gondola, or catamaran.

Seaport Village consists of a collection of 54 unique shops, oceanside fine dining, and a scenic park perfect for sunset strolls. Hop on a couple of horses on the the historic carousel, hand carved in 1895.

If hiking together seems like the perfect romantic adventure to you, San Diego offers several ideal trails along the coast. Plan a visit to Sunset Cliffs, a small coastal park and perfect place to watch the sun sink into the ocean. It’s a short, easy hike to some of the best views in the city atop the bluffs.

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