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Book a wine country staycation. From B&Bs in the middle of vineyards, like the Raford Inn in Russian River Valley (pictured), to hotels overlooking the coast, there is no shortage on romantic places to stay in Sonoma County. If you're looking for something a little more economical for your escapade, The Sandman Hotel in Santa Rosa has good prices and a hot tub - sometimes less is more when you're looking to reconnect with your belle or beau. Add some bubbles and you're all set.
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Get some 90s nostalgia. This August, one of the most iconic R&B groups in music history, Boyz II Men, will be taking the stage at the Green Music Center in Rohnert Park. Get a seat on the lawn, bring a picnic (you can bring your own chairs and food; wine and beer are for sale at the venue) and enjoy some epic ballads under the stars. To add some bubbly butterflies, there's a sparkling wine party before the concert with Breathless Sparkling Wines. (Photo by Nikki Anderson)
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Spice it up, literally. For couples who prefer to stay in, we recommend spicing things up - with some spices. Pick out one of those cookbooks you bought in a moment of inspiration, close your eyes and pick a recipe at random. Cooking (with a purpose; not when starving and after a long day's work) allows couples to connect, communicate and be creative. At least that's what the experts say. It could also just be a good excuse to share a nice bottle of red, while pretending you're the stars of your own cooking show. Savory Spices in downtown Santa Rosa adds some flavor to your culinary adventures.
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Learn from the pros. If cooking at home doesn't make your romantic meals hot enough, book a class at one of Sonoma County's culinary cooking schools - Ramekins in Sonoma and Relish Culinary Adventures in Healdsburg host a number of events. Sur la Table in Santa Rosa and Healdsburg SHED also offer cooking classes, and so does a number of local wineries. Many classes include a few glasses of wine, of course. (Photo by Beth Schlanker)
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Get a taste of Moulin Rouge. While a trip to Paris might not be an option, there are ways to feel a little French right at home. The North Bay Cabaret, a local variety show troupe, hosts themed events all over Sonoma County. Their flagship show is every third Friday at the Whiskey Tip in Santa Rosa. Past themes include “A Midsummer Night's Meme” and “Flappers & Dappers: A 1920’s Speakeasy Show.” Pick out costumes for the two of you and enjoy an evening of vaudeville, including burlesque performances, poetry, music, magic and fire arts. (Courtesy photo)
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Plan a daytime date, with oysters. One thing is for sure, there's no shortage on aphrodisiacs in Sonoma County. In addition to world class food and wine (and cannabis, if you're so inclined), there are fresh oysters in significant amounts. For a daytime date, bring your better half and a warm blanket to Bodega Bay (long embraces can only do so much on the windy coast). Have oysters bayside at Fisherman's Cove or Spud Point, or continue on to Valley Ford's Rocker Oysterfeller's. If you'd like to take your oyster adventures farther afield, get reservations at Hog Island Oyster Company in Tomales Bay (pictured). You can pick up craft beer or sparkling wine, and artisan cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery, in Point Reyes Station. (Photo by Charlie Gesell)
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A plate of Cliffside oysters and Cypress Grove Chevre at the Hog Island Company. (Photo by Charlie Gesell)
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Hit the no-phones-zone. An evening on the couch can be an opportunity to connect and rewind, that is, if your phones don't get in between the two of you. So many nights are spent scrolling through social media feeds and engaging with online friends, while one of your best buddies is sitting right next to you, doing exactly the same. Switch off your phones and park them somewhere out of sight (locked up, if that's what it takes to really unplug). Share a bottle of local wine (try one of our top 100 picks) or sip on a soothing brew from a Sonoma County tearoom.
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Recreate your first date. Whether you fell in love in Sonoma County or somewhere else, recreate your first date to remind yourselves of how it all began. Jim and Charnell Davis (pictured) had their first date at the Pine Cone Restaurant, now Gypsy Cafe, in Sebastopol in 1960. Jim discovered that he only had enough money for one Cherry Coke, which they shared. They were married four years later, in 1964, and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2014. (Photo by Christopher Chung)
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Say it with roses, or say it in ink. For those looking to express their love in a way that lasts - longer than roses and boxes of chocolate - a tattoo might be just for you. Jen Untalan, owner of Valkyrie Tattoo in Penngrove, says that she has seen an increase in couples coming in for matching tattoos. Untalan says it is a great bonding experience and, while it might be a little painful, the adrenaline rush doesn’t hurt. If tattoos are not your style, surround yourselves by roses at Russian River Rose Company in Healdsburg. (Photo by Christopher Chung)
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Colorful blossoms fill the landscape at the Russian River Rose Company's garden in Healdsburg, set against a backdrop of vineyards. (Photo by Christopher Chung)
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Break a sweat. Get those endorphins flowing by getting some exercise together. Partner exercises at the gym or on the tennis court require you to communicate, which, as we all know, is not always easy but key to any lasting relationship. Sonoma County also has plenty of outdoor activities like golfing, kayaking and hiking that are fun to do together. Need another incentive to get off the couch? “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't.” - Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.
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Just zip it. Yes, communication is key to good relationships, but sometimes you're just not in the mood for talking. And sometimes you just want to scream. That's when a zipline ride comes in handy. Sonoma Canopy Tours offers adventures in the Occidental woods. Harnessed hundreds of feet above ground, and moving forward at the speed of 25 miles per hour, all you can do is scream - and laugh. There are seven ziplines to choose from, the longest is 800 feet. And don’t miss the towering spiral staircase or the 175-foot sky bridge, which brings you face to face with “Walter,” the oldest tree in the grove. (Courtesy photo)
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