Riding in a graceful gondola with a gondolier standing at the helm, and even singing, is somehow inherently more romantic than powering along in a motor boat or an electric Duffy. If you think you have to travel to Italy to experience a romantic gondola ride, you are mistaken.
Traditional Venetian gondolas have been plying the waters of Southern California for many years, and their numbers and locations are growing. There are private gondola rides for two or gondolas that will hold up to a dozen. Some provide just a wine and cheese option, while others offer a full meal. All of them are great for a romantic occasion like proposing or celebrating an anniversary and some can even arrange an onboard wedding.
Criteria you might look at when choosing which gondola company to arrange your trip include proximity to where you are staying; what you will see on your ride; whether there is more than one route to choose from; what kind of food and beverage services are available, if any; and the availability of singing gondoliers if that interests you. Some can also arrange a photographer to document your whole trip or just a special moment.
It's chilly on the water once the sun goes down, even in summer, so bring a jacket. In the winter, it's quite cold after dark, so bundle up and bring a blanket (they give you one, but more is better).
Gondola routes and schedules can change due to the tides. When tides are particularly high, the gondolas can't fit under some of the bridges. So, for example, if high tide is at sunset, a sunset gondola ride around Naples Island might not be possible, so an alternate route would be chosen.
Gondolas are a popular location for marriage proposals and Valentine's dates in Los Angeles. Gondolas are also a preferred way of seeing some of the area's best waterfront Christmas decorations.
Don't forget to tip your hard-working gondolier.
Continue to the following pages to see profiles on companies providing gondola rides in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.