Full of scenic spots to dine, dance, stroll hand-in-hand on the beach and more, Marin County, let’s face it, is very romantic. Whether you’ve been married for 50 years, just tied the knot or are planning an adventurous first date, there’s a magical setting just waiting to be explored.
At times, it may seem as though Marin County is all about family life. Couples move here to have kids and stay here to raise them, happily rolling around town. What’s a single person to do? Head to the Silver Peso, Larkspur’s best-kept non-secret and this year’s winner of the elusive Best Place for Singles to Meet category. The Silver Peso looks like a regular bar at first sight, but it’s really a mingling hub, powered by pool and shuffleboard, loud enough music and flattering lighting. Its divey atmosphere is liberating, and its liberal, all-welcome bar is intoxicating.—Flora Tsapovsky
450 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur; 415.924.3448.
‘Special’ and ‘magical’ are superlatives that wedding photographers often use, winking at our collective craving for unforgettable moments. Bolinas-based Lynn Bagley, this year’s Best Wedding Photographer, uses ‘honest’ as a key word, and really means it. No schmaltzy staging or cliché lighting here—just honestly beautiful imagery of loving couples and happy families. Bagley favors natural lighting and effortless situations to capture her Marin clients, making everyone look good—but mostly, letting them be themselves.—F.T.
Founded by entrepreneur Stacey Dillon, the San Anselmo-based event planning company Stacey & Company is surely responsible for some of the most adorable party gimmicks on your Instagram feed. Specializing in polished, chic celebrations for adults and kids, this year’s winner of the Best Wedding Event Planner award is a true multi-tasker. A casino-themed Bar Mitzvah? A picturesque Cavallo Point wedding? A fireman-inspired first birthday? All are doable, with matching stationery and stylish touches to boot.—F.T.
121 San Anselmo Ave., #2457, San Anselmo; 415.913.9229.
A repeat winner for Best Romantic Dinner, El Paseo added a new element this year—chef Todd Shoberg, who took over the historic restaurant and transformed its kitchen entirely. Shoberg’s flavorful, adventurous menu is full of sexy hits, from the squid cooked in cast iron to the pork chop of your date’s dreams. Shoberg’s knack for fire-roasting pairs nicely with the festive, medieval-esque interior.—F.T.
17 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley; 415.388.0741.
Dates can be intimidating, and first dates? An occasional nightmare. Marin County has quite a few date night spots, but places that truly make people who met on apps and websites feel at ease are few and far between. Enter Joinery, a new-ish beer hall in Sausalito that’s casual but also oh-so-cool, the Best Place for a Stress-Free Date With a New Love Interest. One of the Bay Area’s hottest artists, Heather Day, painted the Joinery’s outstanding mural, and the menu is equally colorful and sensual; glistening rotisserie chicken (eating with your hands is supposed to be seductive), ‘dirty fries’ (enter joke here) and other dishes pair well with the drinks. Community tables outside offer views of sailboats and paddle-boarders cruising by. A perfect date spot is born.—F.T.
300 Turney St., Sausalito; 415.766.8999.
No matter how advanced technology is and how prevalent dating apps are, a flower delivery is always romantic in that tried and trusted, never-gets-old way. Just imagine: You’re checking your emails, watching Love on Netflix and sorting your laundry at home, when suddenly an elegant box of flowers lands on your doorstep. Notice—not a bouquet in crinkly paper, but a decadent box, which allows the delicate blooms to remain long-stemmed until the very last moment. There’s nothing more romantic than a flower delivery, yet Matilda’s Magnolias, offering the Best Delivery of Locally Grown Flowers, somehow takes the whole affair to the next level.—F.T.
There’s something inevitably romantic about tango; we all know that it takes two to do it, but few other couples’ dances are as infused with passion. Whether you’re in a relationship or looking for one, Alma del Tango, San Anselmo’s nonprofit Argentine tango school, is the Best Place to Get Inspired for Romance. Beginner and advanced classes are offered on a regular basis, and milonga, a slightly looser, flowing variation on tango, can also be experienced, along with workshops and themed seminars.—F.T.
167 Tunstead Ave., San Anselmo; 415.350.2593.
Shopping for anniversary-appropriate jewelry doesn’t have to be an intimidating, expensive affair. Lulu Designs Jewelry, which sells at many Bay Area jewelry stores, has a flagship shop in Sausalito. It’s the Best Place to Find the Right Ring or Necklace, and the whole task becomes an easy one. The nicest thing about Lulu Designs is the fact that the jewelry looks intricate and personal without wandering into the areas of ‘fancy’ and ‘special occasion.’ The current collection, with names like Asana and Mudra, is a study in everyday sophistication.—F.T.
30 Princess St., Suite B, Sausalito; 415.339.8843.
Gateway to Love
Marin County is full of magical little spots, but nothing tops Olema, a blink-and-you-miss-it town at the very end of Sr. Francis Drake Boulevard that has the Best Romantic Charm. What Olema lacks in mindblowing landmarks or photogenic vistas, it makes up for in historic buildings, quaint hideaways and picturesque businesses—from the lauded Sir and Star restaurant to the renovated Olema Inn. As a romantic destination, Olema offers the perfect day-to-night itinerary, and if you get lost and do nothing? Well, that’s even more romantic.—F.T.
Full List of Best of Marin 2018 Romance Winners
Best Boutique Hotel
Panama Hotel & Restaurant
Best Couples Counseling
Dr. Rick Scott
Best Erotica Store
Pleasures of the Heart
Best Lingerie Shop
Pleasures of the Heart
Best Place for Singles to Meet
Best Romantic Dinner
Best Sex Therapist
Dr. Claudia Six
Best Wedding Event Planner
Stacey & Company
Best Wedding Photographer
Best Wedding Reception Venue
Marin Art & Garden Center