(Photo: Matyas Huszar)

If your usual spot for Valentine’s Day is booked solid, if your anniversary is coming up and you want to try something different or if you are looking to make a knockout impression on a first date, skip dinner and a movie and do something daring. Marriage coach Midori Verity, author of “Secrets to a Kickass Marriage” says, “I strongly believe that the couple that plays together stays together…I suggest playing and having fun as often as possible.” Here are six ideas to try for fun adventures.

  1. Waterfalls. California’s most famous waterfalls may be in Yosemite, but Los Angeles and Orange County residents may be surprised to know how many of these secret spots are right in their backyards. The Angeles National Forest boasts several year-round waterfalls such as Sturtevant and San Antonio. Heart Rock Falls in the San Bernardino National Forest is a popular destination for couples, for obvious reasons.
  2. Spelunking. Spe-what-ing? Derived from the middle English word “spelunk” (cave), spelunking is another name for cave exploration. Los Angeles might not be famous  for caves, but at least one – Griffith Park’s Bronson Cave – is known to many as the Bat Cave, where the “Batman” TV series was filmed. Other Southern California caves include the Cave of Munits and Van Alden Caves in the San Fernando Valley and the sea caves of Dana Point and Corona Del Mar in Orange County. For those couples with some wanderlust,  the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico are popular and they offer guided tours.  If you want to see one of the most unique of natural formations in all the world, visit the Lost Sea Wild Cave in Tennessee.  The Lost Sea Wild Cave tour takes you underground to the world’s second largest underwater lake.  There are clusters of crystals, stalagmites, and stalactites there to explore.  The Natural Bridge Caverns in Texas was discovered only in 1960, and is one of the more challenging spelunking adventures that offers climbing, hiking and rappelling.  There are many more caves to explore, so consider this as your next trip!
  3. Visit a National Park. The United States boasts fifty-nine national parks thanks to the work of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Ulysses S. Grant, and naturalist John Muir.  Wallace Stegner called it “the best idea we ever had” for a reason:  the US contains some of the most magnificent nature in all the world. Southern California boasts two of the fifty-nine: world-famous Joshua Tree National Park and the less-known but no less scenic Channel Islands National Park off the Ventura coastline. In this undeveloped park, couples can truly get away from it all, getting a glimpse of California as it appeared to Juan Rodridguez Cabrillo and George Vancouver when they explored the coast centuries ago.
  4. Hunting and fishing. Remember the thrill of the hunt when you were single and on the dating scene? You can recapture that while still keeping your relationship intact! Get in touch with the roots of your ancestors by fishing at Newport Harbor or hunting at Tejon Ranch, an hour north of Los Angeles. Whether you prefer small game, waterfowl, or you’re feeling adventurous and want to check out elk hunting trips, there’s bound to be a destination for you.
  5. Kayaking might be right for you if you are interested in water sports but want to try something different. Big Bear Lake, Dana Point Harbor and even the Los Angeles River itself are a few of the many kayaking destinations throughout Southern California.
  6. Go Stargazing. Get out of the city for the weekend or the week and check out the stars.  If you are lucky, a meteor shower might be happening the day of your anniversary!  Southern California boasts two of the world’s most famous observatories: Mt. Wilson and Palomar. In addition, the town of Borrego Springs in eastern San Diego County prohibits neon signs or street lights, allowing residents and visitors to enjoy a spectacular night sky. Use apps like Star Chart or NASA can show you the constellations in real time—even during the day.  Move your phone around up-and-down and side-to-side to see all the stars that exist around you.  Of course, the best opportunity for you will be to go as far away from the city lights as possible at night.  Take your lover on a romantic camping trip and gaze into the infinite.
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