There are many ways to fall in love in — and with — this city, writes The Bachelor's Dominic Bowden
In the almost 10 years I have lived in Los Angeles, I've come to regard it as one of the most romantic cities in the world. I know that may sound crazy but to me romance is all about diversity and LA has it all. From beach retreats on some of the most impressive coast in the world to mountain retreats in the Hollywood Hills; from the urban gardens of Downtown to private sunset flights over the city; the incredible spas of Beverly Hills to some of the most famous late-night clubs on the planet . . . if you can't find something in Los Angeles to set the romantic mood, you're in trouble.
Here are just some of my picks for falling in love in and around the City of Angels.
"Loves long walks on the beach" has become a romantic cliche but for any couple visiting LA looking to find a spark, there is no better place to start. With nearly 130km of coastline, beaches are certainly one of the city's top attractions. Each beach has its own appeal but my favourite way to experience them is with a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu to Broad Beach Rd. It's private so you have to tread carefully but it's also home to celebs such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Cindy Crawford, so more than enough reason for you to visit and have a sunset picnic.
You may think Disneyland is for kids but if you are prepared to get into the prince and princess fantasy of it all, there are a lot of opportunities for romance at the "happiest place on earth," including a few scary "hold each other tight" rides, as well as the iconic rides like the Mad Tea Party teacups. Topped off with the nightly fireworks, this is a must visit for the romance-conscious traveller.
Or you could try something new. Some of the most memorable experiences I had with a partner in LA was learning to do something new, whether it's a cooking class, a surfing lesson or even a couple of hours at trapeze school on the Santa Monica pier, sharing an experience like this can be a great way to bond.
For the past five years I have worked on Dancing with the Stars in LA and this has taught me that women love to dance and appreciate a man who is willing to at least give it a try. From a sexy rumba to a Latin tango, having an excuse to hold your partner and whirl around the floor is a great way to set the mood. My favourite place for a true retro Fred-and-Ginger type experience is to get dolled up and head to The Sky Room in Long Beach. The Art Deco supper club has live music and dancing every night, with beautiful panoramic views out across the Pacific Ocean.
One of the most tranquil romantic places in all of California is Catalina, 35km off the southwest coast of LA, which was developed into a tourist destination in the 1920s by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley jnr. It's a short ferry ride away but you feel as if you're in southern Italy. The food is incredible. To really impress, book a charter complete with skipper, or for boaties, rent a boat and pack a picnic for a day out on the water.
This is no better way to get the romance going than a picnic and a bottle of wine shared in a box, or even on the highest bench seats, at the Hollywood Bowl. This iconic venue has hosted everyone from The Eagles to Lady Gaga, and upcoming big acts this year include New Kids on the Block, Boyz II Men and Paula Abdul on June 2, Blondie on July 9 and Lionel Richie and Mariah Carey on July 31. The outdoor concerts happen only during summer but even then it gets cold in the evenings, so bring a blanket to keep each other warm. And hot tip, the catered Hollywood bowl boxes from West Hollywood's Joan's on Third are the best in the city.
There's something a little old fashioned and inherently romantic about riding a ferris wheel and the best in the city is the solar-powered Ferris Wheel at Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier. It's the world's only solar-powered ferris wheel and offers a great view along the coastline. Take photos, and steal a kiss at the top.
My favourite new area of LA is Downtown and even if diamonds aren't quite yet on the cards for your romance, visiting The Jewelry District is a super fun way to spend a day. It is the largest wholesale jewellery district in the country with close to 5000 businesses. It doesn't matter what your taste or your budget, they have something special you can leave with for your significant other.
A private sunset tour of LA in a helicopter is by far the best thing to do if you have the time and money. There are so many ways to do this but finishing with a romantic dinner for two is a great way to end a trip in the most memorable of fashions. Some tours will even fly you to dinner at a top-notch restaurant. A great way to sweep her off her feet and also a very popular choice if, after a day at The Jewelry District, you are thinking about popping the question. Just a thought.
Dominic Bowden is the new host of 'The Bachelor NZ'. Season three premieres tonight, 7pm, continuing Monday, 7.30pm on Three.