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Photograph by Mary Hatch
Lovebirds welcome here: Deetjen's Big Sur Inn has zero televisions and limited phone service. However shall you pass the time?

Sexy Fun in the 831

Romantic getaways for Monterey Bay couples who hate to leave the area code.

By Darya Gilani

Travel, schmavel. What's so great about jet-setting? If the traffic jams don't get you, the airport lines will. But Valentine's Day weekend doesn't have to be a mope-around-the-house affair just because the thought of security lines gives you hives. We've found a host of choice settings within two hours of Santa Cruz where you and your schmoopie can get away from it all. Grab a weekend's worth of clothes, leave your troubles at home and get started on your hassle-free lovers' escapade.

Mill Rose Inn
615 Mill St., Half Moon Bay 650.726.8750
Gazebos, trellises, floral designs and antiques set the Victorian mood at this Half Moon Bay treasure. Each room features a theme reminiscent of your Art History class; Baroque, Renaissance and Boticelli, to name a few. Take a horseback ride on the beach, view modern works in nearby galleries and then settle into the garden jacuzzi. Although the décor is extravagant, the prices are fair.

The Old Thyme Inn
779 Main St., Half Moon Bay 650.726.1616
Pick an herb that matches your taste. The Chamomile Room is tucked away upstairs and features a stained glass window, claw-foot tub and warm, skylit alcove. Or stay downstairs in the Rosemary Room, where you can enjoy a Louis XV-style queen bed and a double-size whirlpool spa. Of course, every good B&B has decadent eats too; here the comestibles include blueberry French toast, lemon-ricotta cheese pancakes and custom roasted coffee.

2001 Rossi Road, Pescadero 650.879.1100
Want a little bit of everything, but without a lot of that pesky planning? Costanoa has all the amenities, including spa and massage, and an activities calendar complete with kayaking, storytelling and guided bird watching. The private bungalows feature queen-size beds and can be booked for less than $150. Call a few days ahead of time and ask about their monthly special to snap up a free gourmet meal.

Davenport Roadhouse
1 Davenport Ave,, Davenport 831.426.8801
Highway 1 past Swift Street is waiting to be the road less traveled. At this simple and elegant inn, with its natural wood ceilings, eco-friendly design and proximity to North Coast (well, let's just go ahead and say it: nudie) beaches, you and your punkin can include Mother Nature in the weekend's fun.

Felton Crest Inn
780 El Solyo Heights Drive, Felton 831.335.4011
Remember the redwoods? This Felton bed and breakfast offers a haven among them, with king-size beds, jacuzzis and private decks, as well as a spacious penthouse on the top floor for those extra-special occasions. The tasty continental breakfast can start a day that includes a hike through Henry Cowell State Park and ends with a show at Don Quixote's.

Inn at Depot Hill
250 Monterey Ave., Capitola 831.462.3376
Westsiders who can rarely bring themselves to fight their way south on Highway 1 will find a treat if they make the short journey to this luxury landmark, whose history is tied to the Southern Pacific Railroad. Close to the shops, beach and wharf, the scene is set for a delightful retreat in that exotic place they call "Capitola-by-the-Sea." The romantic getaway package includes dining at Shadowbrook, as well as champagne and truffles to tuck you and your sweetie in.

Sand Rock Farm
6901 Freedom Blvd., Aptos; 831.688.8005
Those seeking home-style comforts (only better) will find them in this gabled farm house. Take a romantic picnic, walk through one of the gardens on this 10-acre spread, put your antiquing fedora on in downtown Soquel and enjoy a fine dining experience featuring tastes of local and organic Santa Cruz. It all adds up to an affordable and colorful B&B that should not be missed—even if you live here and think you already know everything about everything.

Seascape Resort
1 Seascape Resort Drive, Aptos 800.929.7727
Seascape is a perfect choice for locals who want the on-the-water experience. In one stay you can check out live music at Sanderlings, have a romantic beach bonfire, stay in an ocean view suite and walk down the beach to Rio Del Mar for a sunset cocktail.

Seven Gables Inn
555 Ocean View Blvd., Pacific Grove 831.372.4341
Located a leisurely bike ride away from Cannery Row, this Pacific Grove landmark right across from the water is a favorite among visitors to the Bay. Go Victorian classic with a gabled room for a reasonable price, especially during the winter months. They offer a variety of packages to keep you entertained, whether your sport is golf or champagne. You can't beat homemade cookies and milk before bedtime, either.

Inn at Spanish Bay
2700 17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach 831.647.7500
With accolades for its golf links and a position on Travel and Leisure's Best Hotels list for 2007, Spanish Bay is a luxury legend on the peninsula. Choose an ocean or forest view, and then prepare for a day at the spa or a day in the sun. The resort offers kayaking, horseback-riding and guided nature tours—not to mention bagpipes at sunset on the patio overlooking the storm-tossed sea.

Casa Palmero
1518 Cypress Drive, Pebble Beach 831.647.7500
Charming Spanish tiles and warm adobe walls enclose this plush resort. Sip tea in your private courtyard in the morning and hit the tennis courts in the afternoon. This is the priciest of the three large Pebble Beach resorts, so be sure to get your fill of the slippers and cotton robes and all the royal treatment you can.

The Lodge at Pebble Beach
1700 17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach 831.647.7500
This is the king of the triumvirate that includes Spanish Bay and Casa Palmero. If your couture collection needs updating, stroll the Lodge's version of Rodeo Drive and pick up all the Euro-fashions your heart desires. Couples can enjoy massages and facials at the luxurious spa and gourmet cuisine while staying on the sprawling grounds overlooking the sapphire sea and Pebble Beach Golf Course's world-famous 18th hole.

Cypress Inn
Lincoln and Seventh, Carmel; 831.624.3871
It doesn't get much better than enjoying complimentary sherry on your own private veranda. Co-owner Doris Day's big-band Hollywood panache combined with contemporary style creates a classy atmosphere fit for a star. Modern rooms feature arched inlays with soft lighting falling from exposed rafters. The animal-friendly Inn and local beaches mean your pup can join in on your getaway weekend.

Tickle Pink Inn
155 Highland Drive, Carmel; 831.624.1244
Live like a senator, minus the stress of campaigning. This site was originally owned by state Sen. Edward Tickle, and his private cottage is just one of the many luxurious abodes to choose from during your stay. Enjoy complimentary wine and cheese each evening while taking in the terrace-laced ocean views, then rest your head on goose-down pillows and comforters and call it a night. Dinner at the nearby Highlands Inn, with its stunning views of Point Lobos, isn't a bad idea either.

Bernardus Lodge
415 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley 831.658.3400
Go for a casual bite at Wickets or a posh dining experience at Marinus, this lodge's Zagat-rated restaurant, while staying in luxe contemporary accommodations fit for a Pottery Barn showroom. Lace up your K-Swiss sneakers and enjoy a game of bocce or croquet, or kick them off for a dip in the heated pool. Go hiking and wine-tasting in gorgeous Carmel Valley—and then try to figure out why you don't do that more often.

Deetjen's Big Sur Inn
48865 Highway 1, Big Sur; 831.667.2377
Surrounded by towering redwoods on a perch above the shimmering Pacific, Deetjen's softens the rustic, Hobbit-like charm of a 1940s roadhouse with all the goose down and high thread counts an urbanite could hope for. Each room in this flowerbox-festooned historic inn is one of a kind. The cozy lodge serves up breakfasts each morning and true gourmet dinners nightly. A rare treat. Go.

55000 Highway 1, Big Sur; 831.667.3005
Do it at least once in your lifetime. Down the coast past Big Sur is a spectacular and private place where you and your partner can shimmy off your clothes, take a soak in hot mineral springs, a cold plunge in an icy tub, and wash it all off overlooking the vast expanse of the Pacific. Call ahead of time to make a reservation, as this is a popular choice for workshoppers.

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