Not one to plan ahead? And -- eek! -- Valentine's Day is looming and you happen to know that your sweetie's favorite restaurant is already booked?
Not to panic.
If procrastination is about to get you in big trouble, here's something unique and fun to do for V-day.
It involves a train, pink or red wine, and an afternoon in Santa Barbara.
It starts like this: Take the Amtrak from Union Station to Santa Barbara, reveling in the views. At the end of the 2 1/2-hour ride, you'll step off just a short stroll from Santa Barbara's "Funk Zone" and its cluster of galleries and winery tasting rooms.
Pali Wine Co. has you covered with a special Valentine offer dubbed "Train Crossed Lovers." For the upcoming long holiday weekend complete with another I-405 closure, the Santa Barbara tasting room is offering a Valentine's Day special to anyone who arrives like the folks on Downton Abbey -- by train.
Amtrak is getting in on the act with a 20% discount on Pacific Surfliner trains departing Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 15 (with a three-day advanced booking). That makes a one-way ticket about $25. For information on the Amtrak discount, go to PaliWineCo.com or SantaBarbaraCarFree.org. Note: You'll need to take a morning or early afternoon train.
Step 2: Head for Pali Wine Co. Tasting Room at 116 Yanonali St. (805-560-7254 ), a five-minute walk from the train station. (Tasting room hours are 11 a.m.-7 p.m.) Show your Amtrak ticket for a complimentary glass of rosé. Your ticket also guarantees two-for-one pricing for a special Valentine's Day wine tasting flight (normally $14 per person) and for the Valentine's weekend will also include sweets for the sweet -- a chocolate and caramel pairing.
Actually, it's a party with the tasting room dressed up in candles and balloons. On Friday and Saturday only, a local band has been enlisted to play love ballads. If you didn't ride the Amtrak in, you can still come and get a glass of that pretty pink rosé for $5.
The winery has a strong Los Angeles connection. It was founded in 2005 by Tim Perr and Scott Knight, who both lived in Pacific Palisades and decided to call their new winery venture Pali. Almost nine years later, the two are turning out some 40,000 cases of wine a year, mostly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and named after streets and neighborhoods in Pacific Palisades.
Here's an idea. Why not go early enough for lunch or stay late enough for dinner at the not quite year-old Lark restaurant, a block from the station?
If you're doing dinner, just be sure to check the Amtrak sked so you don't miss the last train back to L.A.