Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day weekend is here. We’ve rounded up a few options in our own neighborhood to treat yourself and someone special this festive weekend.

  1. Descanso Gardens

Walk hand in hand at Descanso Gardens while taking in the beauty of over 160 acres of nature. In the scenic surroundings, actors will wax poetic sweet nothings while performing Shakespeare’s greatest love scenes. A photo booth will be on hand to capture memories with your Romeo. To cap off the romance-filled day, be sure to reserve your spot at Patina, Descanso Garden’s restaurant, where the chefs will create a delicious dinner and delectable dessert.

February 14, 2015. Garden visitor hours 9a.m.-5p.m; Dinner seatings at 5:30p.m. and 7p.m. Tickets $4-$9; Dinner $75-$84 per person. Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Dr., La Cañada Flintridge 91011. descansogardens.org

  1. Pasadena Film Festival

If dinner and a movie sounds more like an average date night than a Valentine’s Day romantic rendezvous, kick it up a notch. Sweep your date off their feet and take the Bogart to your Becall to the Pasadena Film Festival. In addition to documentaries, shorts, and web series represented from over 20 countries, the festival features exciting events including a Great Gatbsy Gala, Q&A panels of festival favorites, and a chance to rub elbows with filmmakers, actors, and industry professionals.

February 11-15, 2015. Times and locations vary. Tickets $20-$80.   pasadenafilmfestival.org

  1. Lunar New Year: Year of the Ram

For a post-Valentine’s outing couples, families, and friends will enjoy, check out Westfield Santa Anita’s Lunar New year celebration. Hosted in the recently renovated shopping center, guests can learn how to paint Chinese-style calligraphy, create zodiac masks, enjoy traditional Chinese music, and take in the lively and exotic dance performances. Special guest, Hello Kitty, will make an appearance and pose for photos with fans.

February 15, 2015. 12p.m.-4p.m. Free. Westfield Santa Anita, 400 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, CA 91007 westfield.com/santaanita

  1. A Night in Focus: Manet

Join the Norton Simon for an exhibit and gallery talk on famed French painter, Édouard Manet. Take a guided tour of the Norton Simon’s extensive collection to learn more about Manet and his contemporaries or relax in the cafe as live music plays, with a glass (or two!) off the curated wine list. Throughout the evening, artists of all ages  and skill levels are invited to create their own one-of-a-kind original artwork.

February 14, 2015. 5p.m.-8p.m. Tickets $0-$12. Norton Simon Museum of Art, 411 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91105 nortonsimon.org

Beethoven 7

  1. Pasadena Symphony and Pops will give an energetic performance of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, a rhythmically constructed piece Beethoven himself called “one of my best works.” Musical duo, violinist Dylana Jenson and conductor David Lockington, are expected to bring the crowd to their feet with an encore performance of their spellbinding rendition. With performances in both afternoon and evening, the timing couldn’t be more perfect to either begin the evening or wind it down.

February 14, 2015. 2p.m. and 8p.m. Tickets $35-$110. Ambassador Auditorium, 131 S. St. John Ave., Pasadena, CA 91105 pasadenasymphony-pops.org

-Sara Smola

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4 VALENTINE’S DAY GETAWAYS

Who says you have to hop on a place for a romantic weekend away from the city? No matter what type of couple you are, there’s an option for you within a few hours drive.

THE ROMANTIC: Fess Parker

Enjoy a sunset bottle of wine and romantic cocktails without having to worry about junior poking his eye out with the wine key. Fess Parker is running a “Parents’ Date Night” special package for $239. Once you get your fill of Santa Barbara’s gorgeous beach, take a trip to nearby Solvang, a small Danish-style mountain town in the heart of Santa Ynez Valley wine country. Then head over to the Hungry Cat for a seductive lighting and intimate dinner where you will enjoy the best sea urchin in the world!

THE BOHEMIAN: Hicksville Trailer Palace and Artist Retreat

Hicksville Trailer Palace is probably the only Southern California trailer park you’d want to seek out on Valentine’s Day. It offers a variety of boutiques and quirky airstreams for rent. Make reservations at Pappy and Harriet’s – a remote, quiet Pioneertown – for tasty BBQ ribs and amazing live music. You can even enjoy delicious breakfast and smoothie options at Ma Rouge Coffee Shop in Yucca Valley. And don’t forget to visit Joshua Tree National Park, the High Desert Test Sites, and Noah Purifoy’s stunning Outdoor Desert Art Museum.

THE ADVENTURER: Valle de Guadalupe, Baja Mexico

Wouldn’t it be nice to overlook the beautiful environs of Valle de Guadalupe and its vineyards? Encuentro Guadalupe gives you that opportunity! With its luxurious and environmental-friendly huts, you will receive the rustic feel of camping without having to sacrifice an ounce of comfort. Take pleasure in the set menu of Corazon de Tierra, as well as Vena Cava’s spectacular organic wine. You can even head over to Hussong’s, the oldest yet classic cantina in Baja California that actually invented the margarita. You will enjoy this Valentine’s Day adventure.

THE NATURE LOVER: Two Harbors, Catalina

Two Harbors is the perfect base for hiking, snorkeling, diving, and wildlife observation. Bath in comfort and luxury at the lovely Banning House where you will be offered stunning views. Stop at Harbor Reef Restaurant where you can enjoy the catch-of-the-day seafood specials, as well as burgers and meatloaf. You also won’t want to miss the local specialty cocktail at Buffalo Milk. Hop on the 40-mile Trans California Trail that passes right through Two Harbors. If you’re more into marine life, you can take a trip to some of the best dive sites in Southern California.

Year of the Ram Lunar New Year Celebration at Westfield Santa Anita

Across the globe, Lunar New Year is celebrated with parades, staying up late, eating special food, and fireworks. In neighboring Arcadia, Westfield Santa Anita welcomes the community to immerse themselves in the Lunar New Year festival designed for guests to learn more about Asian culture and give back to those in need.

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The festivities will take place at the newly renovated, Westfield Santa Anita, on Sunday, February 15th, 12p.m.- 4p.m.. This years’ celebration will be bigger and better than ever. After a $20 million renovation, the shopping mecca received an updated look and 30 brand new luxury shops, including The Art of Shaving, L’Occitane,The Face Shop, Kitson, and Polaroid Fotobar. The shopping center has also been decorated with lanterns, zodiac signs, pagodas, and even a 120-foot long dragon in preparation for the lunar new year’s celebration.

Activities for the whole family range from arts and crafts to live entertainment. Guests can learn how to paint Chinese-style calligraphy, create zodiac masks, enjoy traditional Chinese music, and take in the lively and exotic dance performances. Hello Kitty will make a guest appearance and pose for photos with fans to promote the Japanese American National Museum exhibit,Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty. The Hello Kitty food truck will also be on hand to provide refreshments, or pick from one of Westfield Santa Anita’s many delicious dining options.

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Keeping with the New Year tradition, red envelopes (with a special treat inside!) will be handed out. In Chinese culture, nothing says lucky like the color red. The envelope, usually filled with a monetary gift, is given to signify a momentous occasion such as a wedding, graduation, or holiday. Hopefully, the envelopes will bring some luck to you- the Japanese American National Museum is sponsoring a giveaway with tons of prizes including Hello Kitty items, museum memberships, Buddha Boards, Godiva chocolate, and much, much more.

In the spirit of goodwill and generosity, First General Bank and Westfield Santa Anita have joined forces to give back to the community by matching each donation made “dollar for dollar”. Proceeds go to the Asian Pacific Community Fund (APCF), a network of nonprofit organizations dedicated to providing aid to those in need. Anyone who makes a donation is encouraged to hang a wish tag on the cherry blossom tree. As Debra Fong, Executive Director of APCF, stated, “No donation is too small. Your $1 will become $2, $10 will become $20.”

Sunday, February 15th, 2015,12:00p.m. – 4:00p.m. Free.  Westfied Santa Anita. 400 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, California 91007 westfield.com/santaanita

To learn more about the Lunar New Year celebration, Asian culture, or Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty, visit the Japanese American National Museum at janm.org and the Chinese American Museum at camla.org.

Its Back! The 17th Annual Day of Thoroughbred Racing

Heart thumping, hooves stomping, off to the races, and off they go! Saddle up for it’s that time again for the annual race hosted by Villa Esperanza Services!

You’re cordially invited to join Villa Esperanza Guild at the 17th Annual Day of Thoroughbred Racing on Saturday, February 28th 2015 at the Club House Terrace at Santa Anita Park, 285 W Huntington Dr. Arcadia, CA 91007. Tickets $125 per person -can be purchased online at Villaesperanzaservices.org or call 626-449-2919×135.

Since 1961 Villa Esperanza has been dedicated to providing love, care and hope for individuals with disabilities such as autism, down syndrome, and cerebral palsy. Villa Esperanza offers a range of services to a diverse, disabled population across all age ranges supporting both children and adults. Villa Esperanza Services has been at the forefront of serving 24 school districts, and over 41 cities in the Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

February 28, 2015.. Club House Terrace at Santa Anita Park, 285 W Huntington Dr. Arcadia, CA 91007. Tickets $125 per person online at Villaesperanzaservices.org or call 626-449-2919×135.

– Stephanie Hurtado

Photo Courtesy of Villa Esperanza Services.