By Danielle Warren
ContributorWhen you live in a paradise like we do, there should be a law against being indoors during this time of year. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing and the weather is nearing perfection.
But long hours at the office and family responsibilities have a way of popping up and, suddenly - before you know it - summer tourists will have invaded our bliss and these playful, romantic spring days will be long gone.
Before that happens, grab a special someone and plan a creative date. From biplane tours in Rancho Santa Fe to surfing in La Jolla, this date guide has ideas for couples on any budget - and not one includes dinner and a movie.
Hole-in-oneDates are supposed to be fun. A stuffy, formal atmosphere can leave daters glancing desperately at their phones, hoping for that mid-date “excuse-to-leave-if-the-date-is-bad” phone call from a friend. Instead, embrace your inner child and challenge a date to a mini-golf game. Just try to leave the pigtail pulling and name calling at home.
If plastic grass and brightly colored balls aren’t your definition of golf, San Diego has several beautiful full-scale golf courses to choose from as well. Spring days are long and the nights are warm, so consider a twilight game - it will save money, and the sunset is sure to be memorable.
Pelly’s Mini Golf: $9 first game, $4 replays; 15555 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar; (858) 481-0363;
www.pellysminigolf.comThe Grand Golf Club: $235 weekdays, $250 weekends, $85 replays; 5200 Grand Del Mar Way, Carmel Valley; (858) 314-1930;
Keep your head in the cloudsThere’s nothing like the feel of wind in your hair - especially at upward of 1,000 feet. Soar above La Jolla and Del Mar beaches, or pursue the lakes and vineyards of Rancho Santa Fe, from the seat of a 1920s open-cockpit biplane. Romance a date with the view or thrill them with sudden dives. The ride can be as gentle or exciting as a couple desires.
Barnstorming Adventures: Montgomery Field Airport, 3750 John J. Montgomery Drive, San Diego; (760) 930-0903;
www.barnstorming.comAdventure Flights: McClellan-Palomar Airport, 2192 Palomar Airport Road, Carlsbad; (951) 678-4334;
Surf’s upYes, the beaches can be crowded, parking is frustrating and the ocean is rarely 80 degrees, but catch that first wave and it all just melts away. Surfing lessons are a fun, lighthearted date for those who want a little adventure and some gnarly stories to brag about later, and there is plenty of time to get to know each other waiting for that perfect wave. Cowabunga!
Surf Diva: $154 one-hour lesson for two. 2160 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla; (858) 454-8273;
www.surfdiva.comSan Diego Surf School: $110 one-hour lesson for two. 25th Street, Del Mar; (858) 205-7683;
Roll on to a good timeGas prices are creeping up and traffic gets worse as the weather gets better, so why not leave the car at home? Instead, take your date on a bike tour of the La Jolla or North County coastline - the slow pace leaves ample time for conversation and the goofy, unflattering helmets will quickly break the ice.
Or, for the adrenaline junkie, mountain-biking tours jump off at Carmel Valley. For extra “date points,” be sure to pack a surprise picnic to enjoy at the end.
San Diego Bike & Kayak Tours: 2222 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla; (858) 454-1010;
www.sandiegobikeandkayak.comHike, Bike, Kayak: 2246 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla; (858) 551-9510;
Up close and personalTiVo “Dancing With the Stars” for inspiration and then get ready to boogie. Dance lessons are a stress-free date for new couples or longtime sweethearts - offering time to talk, laugh and get cozy. Feeling confident? Skip the class and head to a local live-music joint to show off those moves - just try not to outdo your partner.
A Time To Dance: 565 Pearl St., La Jolla; (858) 729-0910;
www.atimetodancelajolla.comBelly Up Tavern: 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach; (858) 481-8140;
Eco-dateSan Diego bursts with restaurants of every size, cuisine and price, but there is something about picking produce - it’s a sensual, aromatic experience, which is surprisingly sexy. Treat a date to the sights and tastes of a local farmers market, making sure to ask vendors how best to prepare the produce for the second stage of the date: a romantic, home-cooked dinner for two.
The Vegetable Stand: Open Tuesdays through Sundays; 6123 Calzada del Bosque, Rancho Santa Fe; (858) 756-3184
Del Mar Farmers Market: Open 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays; 1050 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar; (760) 727-1471La Jolla Elementary School Open Aire Market: Open rain or shine from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays; 1111 Marine St.; (858) 454-1699;