ROMANTIC GETAWAY: We get it, we really do, but it always amuses us, too, a bit, when Southern California couples pine for faraway island getaways when we have some gorgeous and remote-feeling isles just an hour or two away. True, they look a bit different from the whole swaying-palm-tree travel-brochure type thing -- our Golden State islands look very much like a lot of the mainland Golden State, in fact, though perhaps a little wilder and rockier and lonelier -- but they are indeed across water. So when Valentine's rolls around, and twosomes around SoCal start to talking about where to spend the weekend and what the budget might be, we want to stand on the nearest rooftop and shout "Catalina! It's right over there! It's an island!" It's a good thing we don't, of course, because that would be startling and strange to see a stranger doing that.
STILL... It really is a nice romantic island-y getaway, given the rentable golf carts and the tandem bikes built for two and the deals. Oh yes, there are deals on California's most famous island, even on Valentine's Day. One we're looking at? The Pavilion Hotel's Romance Package, which starts at $289 per couple and runs throughout February. Goodies include in-room bubbly and strawberries and a three-course tasting menu at Avalon Grille. The Aurora Hotel also is offering a romance deal, and, yep, bubbly is involved as well as a half dozen roses. Your takeaway? It's a pretty island getaway that isn't too pricey and it doesn't involve a mondo plane ride. Could it be your Valentine's vacay? Easily.
AND ABOUT FAMOUS ISLANDS... We know, we know. Alcatraz is up there on the famous-California-island-list. Thing is you can't spend the night there, and there are no tandem bicycles or golf carts for rent (though, of course, a day trip is much recommended).