Tired of rain and ready for romance? The Messenger Mountain News staff has put together some of their favorite Valentine ideas for 2019. Whether you travel into town for a fabulous vintage Valentine event, or stay close to home with a candlelit dinner at the Bistro or the Inn of the Seventh Ray, there are plenty of romantic, imaginative, and creative opportunities to celebrate the most romantic holiday of the year with a special someone, or find them the perfect gift.
The Cicada Dining and Dance Club—Dress up in your best 1920s vintage fashion and step back in time at The Cicada Club in Downtown LA for their Vintage Valentine’s Day Dinner, a delicious four-course meal and a night of dancing for $95 in the historic Oviatt building.
Ladies, put on your best shade of rouge and Tangee lipstick; gents, put on your best tie and tails and come dance to Jack’s Cats Swing Quintet. Call ahead to reserve a table. Once you’ve got your table, it’s yours to keep all night. Doors Open 7 p.m., Showtime, 8 p.m. No cover charge this evening for your dining and dancing pleasure.
Located on the ground floor of the Oviatt building on Olive and Sixth streets in downtown LA, the Cicada Club transports guests back to the speakeasy and big band eras of yesteryear. Evening formal dress code is strictly enforced; ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s attire strongly encouraged. It’s worth it to do a little research into the appropriate attire and hairstyles of the decade you choose to emulate. Will you channel Gatsby with tux and tails wooing your Daisy in sparkling sequins and draped in pearls? Or, perhaps go Bogart, with sharp suit and fedora, arm-in-arm with your Bacall in classy tailored dress and brushed-out pin curls, ever the sultry beauty?
One of the first Art Deco buildings in America, the Oviatt is named for its original proprietor, James Oviatt, who traveled to France extensively in the 1920s during the rise of the wonderful Art Deco period. He first opened it as a men’s haberdashery with linens, cufflinks, ties, monocles, spats, and such, shipped in from all over Europe, drawing such notable figures as Clark Gable, who it was said, came here and only here to buy his finest. With a grand ballroom floor, ornate carvings, Lalique glass work, and a mezzanine with full bar overlooking the dance floor and band, this is a setting in which memories are made, lovers fall deeper in love, first dances are had, and romance is celebrated.
During the week and on weekends there’s a full menu, a set three-course menu for $65 with a few options for each course, and one of their revolving lineup of live bands, all of whom perform in swingin’ Big Band style.
Make it a night to remember as you step back in time to the era when many of the greatest love stories of the last century were born. Here’s looking at you, kid. (cicadaclub.com)
Vintage Valentine Show aboard the Queen Mary—It’s worth the trip to Long Beach to experience “My Vintage Valentine,” which takes place in one of the Queen Mary’s historic salons. Enjoy dinner for two and a night of steamy entertainment by Cirque Berzerk and Love in the Fire. Two seating times, 5:30 and 8:30 p.m., are available for the four-course dinner and show for two, $250. queenmary.com/calendar-of-events/valentinesday/home.
Ojai Valley Inn Spa Day for Two—I had the best hot salt stone massage (alone) when I escaped there for a weekend with a Spafinder gift card from my son. They also have a special couple’s retreat that features Kuyam mud baths, and special couples’ massages. If money’s no object and you want to get away for a day or a weekend, check the website for romantic get-away options, on Valentine’s Day and all winter. (Ojai-Valley/Inn-And-Spa, (888) 950-5062).
The Canyon Bistro—Candle-lit dinner for two? The Canyon Bistro is offering a special five-course Valentine’s menu that opens with lobster bisque or vegan butternut squash, concludes with berry cobbler, chocolate fondant with ice cream and raspberries, or creme brulee. The entrees feature a succulent, range of options that will satisfy vegetarians and carnivores equally, whether they choose porcini risotto, pacific halibut, Jidori chicken, or filet mignon with red peppercorn sauce. The Bistro is offering three seatings: 5, 6:30, and 8 p.m. The prix fixe is $65 per person for the first two seatings, and $75 for the 8 p.m. seating. All seatings include a complimentary glass of champagne. Guitarist Randy Strom will be providing a romantic jazz accompaniment for the evening. Reservations are required. (canyonbistrotopanga.com)
Inn of the Seventh Ray—This classic Topanga destination, with its rustic fireplace, extensive gardens and creekside tranquility is one of the most romantic restaurants anywhere in LA. Enjoy a special five-course Valentine’s Day feast that features selections like black truffle risotto, with parmesan, brown butter, chives, and slow poached Loch Duart salmon, with celery root, crispy black garlic quinoa, raw celery, fennel, and citrus. The Inn recommends purchasing tickets in advance to guarantee priority seating, although standard reservations may be available. The Prix fixe menu ranges from $120-$135. Wine pairings are available. (innoftheseventhray.com)
An Artful Valentine at the Getty Villa—How about an afternoon in the company of the goddess of love? The J. Paul Getty Villa, located in Topanga’s backyard on Pacific Coast Highway at Coastline, routinely invites museum visitors to sketch the Roman goddess Venus.
On Saturday, February 16, a Valentine-themed sketching session will focus on Crouching Venus.
“A favorite artwork of J. Paul Getty, the larger-than-life Crouching Venus kneels in a dramatic pose popular in ancient times. The bathing goddess turns her head toward her little son Cupid as she reaches her arm in the other direction. Her balanced, twisting body provides an excellent model for drawing movement with expressive, dynamic lines.”
The drawing session takes place on Saturday, February 16, 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. at the Villa. All levels of experience can participate. Drawing supplies are provided, and the only cost to participate is the $15 parking fee, but reservations are required. Sign up begins a half hour before the session at the information desk.
A second Valentine’s weekend art session is scheduled for February 17, at 3 p.m. “Explore how artists compose pictures, design forms, and communicate emotions through the use of positive and negative space with artist Kaitlynn Redell.” Sign-up begins at 2:30 p.m.
Pair a sketching session with a Getty Villa garden or gallery tour, or with lunch at the Villa cafe, for a memorable Valentine’s experience close to home. Museum visitors don’t have to wait for a formal drawing session, supplies are always available, and guests are welcome to bring their own sketching supplies. Reservations required. (getty.edu)
Canyon Gourmet—A visit to Canyon Gourmet can be the inspiration for a romantic Valentine’s picnic or candlelit dinner at home. Shop the carefully curated assortment of delicacies that range from gorgeous displaces of local produce like passion fruit and heirloom apples to small-batch jars of sauerkraut with fennel, carrots, and beets, and handmade soups and artisan bread. canyongourmet.com
Flower Power—You can bet that Gidget Zapata’s Flower Power in Pine Tree Circle will be selling out. Get your order in early, whether it’s traditional roses, or a riot of tropical blooms.
Sassafras Shoppe—This new nursery, in the spirit of Pamela Ingram’s world famous nursery that flourished in the ‘90s, has its Grand Opening today and through the weekend. Just a visit to this beautiful shop inspires romance, the perfect place to find magnificent plant arrangements and gifts to grow your love. Located at 131 S. Topanga Blvd. in the Courtyard at Topanga Creek Center.
Topanga Mercantile—In need of some romantic candlelight? Stop by Topanga Mercantile for a handmade candle created by the master chandler at Topanga Candles, available in a bewitching and enticing array of scents. “For the man who needs nothing. For the woman who wants more. We have the perfect gift,” the website proclaims. The mercantile also offers crystals, mineral specimens, handcrafted jewelry, and gifts of all kinds. (topangacandles.com)
Topanga Homegrown—Reopening on February 9 after a remodel and downsizing, Topanga Homegrown is the place to find a creative or imaginative Valentine card—local artist Debbie Green’s among them—and a wide range of romantic gift items that range from Topanga-themed clothing to jewelry and homegoods. Gift certificates are available.
Wild Love The Apothecary—Botanical body care products, oils, incense, resin, teas—all sustainably sourced, ethically crafted, and organic—make ideal Valentine gifts. Wild Love also offers gift cards, workshops, and one-on-one consultations. (wildloveapothecary,com)
Suzanne Guldimann, Pamela Mesaros, Flavia Potenza, and Sara Rose Wasson contributed to this article.