In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re giving you the ultimate itinerary for a romantic day with that special someone.
As the Mesilla Valley hugs the city of Las Cruces, you too can share the embrace of its charm with your special someone by uncovering local date-worthy gems. From a heart-pumping hike to a heart-melting evening of good food and wine, here is our version of the perfect date day in Las Cruces. We’ve also included some Valentine’s Day specials happening around town for some added inspiration.
The Romance of nature
Start your day with a late morning hike through the Dripping Springs Natural Area. (Take Exit 1 off Interstate 25 and then head east on University Avenue/Dripping Springs Road all the way to its end). Historic ruins and amazing views of the entire valley are good convo starters and the wide path is perfect for strolling hand in hand.
Then grab your picnic basket from the car and head over to the La Cueva Picnic Area (you passed it on the way into the park) for a meal for two against a truly majestic backdrop. A $5 day fee will get you your own secluded table with a grill. If you really want to impress, pack a bag of charcoal and grill up a simple but seductive meal—you can’t go wrong with steak, veggies, and a baked potato. Follow up with a decadently sweet homemade treat, like these caramel turtles: 6
Relaxation for Two
Follow up your morning workout with a soothing couple’s massage. The Spa Downtown (440 N. Main Street, thespadowntownlc.com) offers a Couples Massage for $136. In a private treatment room, a massage therapist will perform a Swedish massage—rubbing in a lighter to harder gliding motion—for the ultimate in relaxation.
Vino and Shopping
Continue your leisurely day with a stroll around the historic Old Mesilla Plaza. Galeria Azul (next to Double Eagle) and Thunderbird de Mesilla (on the southwest corner of the Plaza) are two of our favorite shops to pick up a unique memento of the day. Then duck into NM Vintage Wines (just steps from the plaza on Calle de Guadalupe across from The Fountain Theater, nmvintagewines.com) for a wine tasting. This secluded spot is perfect for sitting close and whispering in the ear of a loved one, and they also offer beer and cigars.
Table for Two
No date is complete without a romantic dinner for two. This time, let the experts do the cooking. Just a two-minute drive from the Plaza, St. Clair Winery & Bistro (1720 Avenida de Mesilla, stclairwinery.com) offers fine dining paired with wine tailored specifically to their menu. Try their signature DH Lescombes Chardonnay with the Pasta New Mexico made with Hatch green chile. (Spicy foods are a known aphrodisiac!).
The nearby Salud! de Mesilla (1800 Avenida de Mesilla, saluddemesilla.com) is another great dinner spot with intimate tables and different rooms that each offer their own unique mood. If you’d prefer to cook the dinner yourself, turn to page 47 for an easy-to-make gourmet dinner recipe courtesy of the Salud! owners, or see what special events they have planned for Valentine’s Day here.
SUPER EASY TO MAKE
24 whole, individually-wrapped caramel squares, unwrapped
8 oz. good quality milk chocolate, melted
24 whole pecan halves
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place the pecan halves in a single layer on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes, shaking the pan once halfway through, until they’re lightly toasted. Remove and put on a plate to cool.
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Arrange the unwrapped caramels neatly on the pan. Place the pan into the oven for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the caramels are softened (but definitely not melting.) Remove the pan from the oven. Gently press a pecan half onto each caramel. Set them aside to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, melt the chocolate. When the caramels are cooled, remove them from the baking sheet. Spoon small dollops (1.5 teaspoon helpings) of chocolate all over the baking mat, then lightly drop each caramel onto the middle of each dollop, making sure they are centered. Allow to cool completely before serving (you can hasten this along in the fridge.)
Variation: If you like a salty-sweet combo, add mini-pretzel twists underneath each of the caramels before softening.
Make it an Overnighter
If you’re not quite ready to head back to reality, the elegant Hotel Encanto (705 S. Telshor, hotelencanto.com) offers 20 percent off for New Mexico residents as well as a Bed and Breakfast package and a Romance Getaway Package, that includes champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries for two, and a “Seductive Love Kit” from New Mexico’s woman-owned sexuality resource center Self Serve.
Mesilla’s Josefina’s Old Gate (2261 Calle de Guadalupe, josefinasgate.com) offers some seriously charming rooms with cuddle-worthy amenities like in-room kiva fireplaces and a feather top bed with 600-thread count linens. Keep the romance going the next morning by lingering over a breakfast off homemade pastries and coffee in the café.
Valentine’s Day Happenings Around Town
Sweetheart Special at Salud! de Mesilla
Tuesday, February 14, opening at 4pm
Salud! is typically closed on Tuesdays, but will be open for Valentine’s Day and hosting a Sweetheart Special menu with salad and entrees, a bottle of red or white wine, champagne, or sparkling cider; and dessert. Diners will also receive a flower and chocolate covered strawberries, and be entertained with the live music of Anthony James. For reservations call: 575-323-3548
Valentine’s Day Masquerade Party
NMSU Art Gallery,
1390 E. University Ave.
Thursday, February 9 from 6 to 8pm
Sponsored by the Friends of the University Art Gallery, don’t miss out on a night of music, costume, and conversation about art. More info: uag.nmsu.edu
Cupid’s Chase 5K
Old Mesilla Plaza,
Saturday, February 11
Registration opens at 7am,
Race begins at 9am
Community Options, Inc. invites runners, walkers, and rollers (baby strollers and wheelchairs) to help raise funds to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities.For more info visit: comop.org/cupidschase/
Rhythm of the Dance National Tour Series
Rio Grande Theatre
211 N. Main St.
Tuesday, February 14 from 7:30 to 9:30pm
A special event for Valentine’s Day, this performance is an Irish “Riverdance-like” show with 35 Irish dancers filling the stage. Individual tickets cost between $27 to $37. For more information: riograndetheatre.com
Not Feeling the Love?
Check out these fun
Anti-Valentine’s Day ideas
Girls Our Meaner White Table Wine
Made by Wines of the San Juan in Blanco, New Mexico, the Girls Our Meaner White Table Wine is a little spicy and a little sweet. And since you won’t be smooching at the end of the night, it pairs well with fragrant, flavorful dishes like Thai and Indian.
Give a Gag Gift
Stop into one of our favorite local stores, Spirit Winds Gift Source & Coffee Bar (2260 S. Locust) for a cup of coffee and good conversation with a treasured friend. Before you leave, buy each other a funny gift, like a heart (the organ, not the shape) gelatin mold or these fun ice molds that you’re bound to use again once you’re coupled up.
Celebrate Being Single
NM Vintage Wines right off the Mesilla Plaza is hosting a party on Friday
February 10th with special guest Ivonna Bump and plenty of drink specials to either drown your sorrows or give you the liquid courage to get back out there.