San Francisco may still draw the bulk of Bay Area tourists, but savvy travelers and locals know that Oakland has its own allure. This Valentine’s Day, take in the sights and quirky charms of this seaside city with your significant other. Whether you’re on your first date or hoping to rekindle an old romance, the two of you will find more than a few surprises here. Don’t let parking fees obstruct your date; all an uberX and get ready to spend the day exploring.
Cruise over critters
With more than 660 species of animals, the Oakland Zoo is just right for a laid-back afternoon. You and your date can survey the roaming giraffes in the African Veldt before spying on tigers in the Rain Forest and end up watching majestic elephants traipse across the African Savannah. And as much fun as it is to check out the exotic mega-fauna on the ground, it’s even better to do so from up in the air. Get cozy in a cable car as you sail over bison in the Sky Ride.
Channel your inner acrobats
Few exercises build trust faster than soaring through the air into a partner’s waiting arms. At Trapeze Arts, you’ll get your hearts racing, plus—hopefully—leave with a newfound sense of connection. If you’re not quite at that level yet, never fear. Excellent safety equipment is on hand in case your beloved isn’t quite able to catch you.
Go for a gondola ride
Resist the urge to burst out into a rendition of “O sole mio“ as you glide across Lake Merritt in one of Gondola Servizio‘s authentic, Venetian-style watercraft. Expertly trained gondoliers in traditional garb ensure smooth sailing. Couples can opt for a quick 30-minute package or a more leisurely 50-minute ride. Special packages are available to make your ride that much more romantic.
Take in a stunning view of the Bay
Whether you’re searching for the perfect spot to pop the question or just a knock-out first date, the sweeping panorama of the waterfront from the Chabot Space & Science Center makes for a heart-stopping backdrop. Stay to watch the stars from the powerful telescope at the Chabot Observatories. Thanks to its position 1,500 feet above the city, you’ll have a clear view of the night sky.
Stop for something sweet
If you’ve been picking up the same box of ho-hum candy every February 14th for years, it might time to step up your chocolate game. Coracao Confections offers imaginative creations made with ultra-premium ingredients like fair-trade cocoa and coconut sugar. Think Mayan truffles spiced with cinnamon and cayenne chilies and heart-shaped truffles with dark chocolate, organic raspberries, and a decadent fudge center. The biggest crowd-pleaser is the Berkeley Bar, a grown-up spin on a Snickers bar with whipped cashew butter, caramel, salted almonds, and lucuma and maca nougat.