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Patch Picks: Top Five Date Night Destinations

Music venues, romantic restaurants, and dive bars; take your pick for the perfect date night.

Whether you've been married for 50 years or are recently single, date night is a great way to spend quality one-on-one time with someone special and unwind from the daily grind. There are hundreds of prime date night locations in the area, running the gamut from nooks of traditional romance to crannies of casual fun.

Pick a night, call a babysitter and enjoy your love life. Here are five Patch-recommended date night destinations:

1. Bocci's Cellars

An intimate outdoor garden patio and cozy cellar with two regulation-sized bocce courts and dart boards make Bocci's Cellars a great place to go with a group of friends. Learning how to play bocce ball is also a great way divert awkward moments and nervousness, as well as the free live music that happens seven days a week during the dinner hour. 

The food is also pretty amazing, with a delicious spaghetti and meatball dish for $8.95, and some scrumptious fried calamari on the menu. If you like to dance, Friday night from 5:30-7:30 there is a Swing Dance Happy Hour, and even if you don't know how to dance swing, you can count on friendly regulars to show you a move or two.

140 Encinal Street, Santa Cruz. 831-427-1795.

The creek-side courtyard at Bargetto Winery is a pleasant and relaxing place to sip wine and let conversation veer towards the realm of the heart-to-heart. On Thursday nights in the summertime, it transforms into a lively dance spot, from 6 p.m.- 8 p.m. The concert itself is free, and there is wine and food available for purchase. There are two more concerts left this summer: Top Secret, a "High energy dance band" will play on Aug. 18, and Surf City Swing, a Jazz and American Swing band, will play on Aug. 25. Leaving the office a little early is definitely worth letting loose on the creek-side courtyard with that special person.

Bargetto Winery is at 3535 North Main Street, Soquel. 831-475-2258.

3. Moe's Alley

Blues club Moe's Alley features live music almost seven nights a week, and it's way more than just blues. Choose from hot Latin dance parties to reggae or folk music for your next date night and dance up a storm. The stage is a low platform so being up front means being close enough to reach out and touch the musicians, although I would advise against it.

An enclosed patio with tables and chairs also offers a good place to sit and socialize in the fresh air while still hearing the music. Healthy vegetarian and vegan food is offered before most shows, and the bartenders are sweet and attentive. This Friday, Santa Cruz's favorite local band, Sambadá plays, and will surely be a sweaty and packed night of booty-shaking fun.

Weeknights, or nights of the less-known bands, are great for a date night too, since it means more space on the dance floor.

Moe's Alley is off the Soquel Exit at 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. 831-479-1854.

4. Don Quixote's International Music Hall

Even though Felton is a bit out of the way, there is a reason why musicians from all over the world pass through. Don Quixote's rocks. A warm atmosphere, amazing Mexican and American food, and cozy tables in front of the stage make this place a sweet spot to have a drink and listen or dance to music. Upcoming shows include Sista Monica Blues and Gospel Dance Party, Coffis Brothers and the Mountain Men, and Moonalice. Tickets are much more moderately priced than the Catalyst.

Don Quixote's International Music Hall is at 6275 Highway 9, Felton. 831-603-2294.

If you don't mind spending a chunk of money, Paradise Beach Grille is the place to go for a romantic occassion or just a casual drink. You won't be disappointed with the gourmet food, service, or ambiance. Located on the Esplanade in Capitola Village, Paradise Beach Grille overlooks the ocean and Capitola Wharf and features a patio area complete with heat lamps and a fire, setting the scene for a romantic night.

The appetizer list is extensive, so if you're looking for just a drink and some snacks while enjoying the view and sea air, look no further. The coconut prawns and special salads are recommended. Tuesday night features a jazz and classical guitarist, Ken Constable, from 6 p.m. -9 p.m.

Paradise Beach Grill is at 215 Esplanade, Capitola. 831-476-4900.

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