Who said you have to hop a flight to Paris for a taste of love? In honor of Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14, take a virtual tour of these incredible spots across the U.S. that make for dreamy couples’ oases.
Jefferson Island Rip Van Winkle Gardens in New Iberia, Louisiana
This Cajun Country locale makes for the perfect romantic getaway. While at the gardens, gaze at colorful peacocks, marvel at flowers galore and visit a 19th century Victorian home. Then, dine on a delectable lunch at Café Jefferson, which features a glass-enclosed porch tucked inside a grove of 350-year-old live oaks, overlooking the gardens and Lake Peigneur.
Should you choose to extend your visit, book a cottage and enjoy sundowner cocktails by the lake.
Before skipping town, check out nearby Avery Island, best known as the home of Tabasco pepper sauce, where you can visit Tabasco 1868 Restaurant and Jungle Gardens wildlife refuge.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Ready for romance in the hot air balloon capital of the world? One of the oldest cities in America, the Land of Enchantment really dazzles when it comes to vacationing lovebirds.
While there’s an array of things to choose from in town, try taking a tandem bike ride with Routes Bicycle Tours and Rentals with pit stops at Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm – a dreamland situated on 25 acres of lavender fields, cottonwood trees and landscaped gardens. Stop at the Golden Crown Panaderia Neighborhood Bakery for a bite to eat along the way.
The wine region in Albuquerque also proves ripe for romance. Come evening, Casa Roneda Winery is known for its dancing at Tablao Flamenco.
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The name may say it all. Stargaze in the Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area, which plans to apply for a dark sky designation in 2022. This would mean it’s one of the darkest sites on Earth (only 15 sites have the designation).
This Cherry County small town also has no shortage of other incredible outdoor recreation activities like kayaking, hiking, bison tours, bird watching and more.
Niagara County, New York
There’s just something about Niagara Falls. The original “Honeymoon Capital of the World,” the breathtaking waterfalls truly tug at the heartstrings.
After being awed by the waterfalls surrounding Niagara Falls State Park, venture to hiking trails with postcard-worthy views of the Niagara Gorge, the historic Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse along the tranquil shores of Lake Ontario and welcoming bistros aplenty.
The destination is also home to an expansive wine region along the Niagara Escarpment, complete with the Niagara Wine Trail for visitors to experience.
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In the Hostess City of the South, as it’s called, stroll along cobblestone streets as you play the “what if we lived here?” game, feast on a romantic sunset riverboat cruise and embark on a ghost tour.
Also, be sure to take a 15-minute drive from downtown Savannah to Tybee Island, where you can lay your eyes on Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse, the sunset dipping into the ocean and your beloved.
Newport, Rhode Island
Chow down on fresh crab cakes and slaw, and maybe enjoy a pinot grigio dockside with your forevermore along this New England harbor.
Slip into vacation mode with an amble along the 3.5-mile Cliff Walk (one of the city’s most popular places to pop the question). Of course, no trip to Newport is complete without visiting the architectural wonders that are the Gilded Age mansions, which America’s wealthiest families called home in the late 1800s and the early 1900s.
Bonus ideas: Partake in some wine tasting and lunch at the farm-to-table Newport Vineyards or take a sunset sail on the Adirondack II – an 80-foot schooner that journeys along Narragansett Bay and Newport Harbor’s mansion-studded shoreline (you’ll even see Hammersmith Farm, the former Summer Whitehouse of JFK and the site where the President and Jackie Kennedy Onassis said “I do.”)
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Perhaps one of the finest towns along the way for sweethearts is the idyllic town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. After making your way through art galleries, shops, charming courtyards and secret passageways in the village and checking out some 10 heart-shaped statues in town, walk along the picture-perfect beach.
To live like you’re a cinema star from yesteryear, take a short drive down Highway 1 in a classic vintage car. Don’t complete your jaunt without visiting Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, where there’s nary a view short of spectacular.
If you’re celebrating a special occasion, book at table at French-and-Italian haunt Casanova, or Aubergine, a Michelin-starred restaurant that’s an edible homage to the California coast.
Lovers Key State Park in Fort Myers Beach, Florida
Perched on a two and a half mile stretch of one of the most scenic white sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, this park was once only accessible via boat until 1965 when a road was built to the island and its gently swaying palm trees.
While spending time here with your partner, you can swim, bird watch, hike, seashell hunt or enjoy a candlelit dinner on the beach as twilight approaches (this can be arranged through Lovers Key Adventure & Events). Or, grab bike rentals for the day and explore around the park. Numerous weddings take place in this enchanted sliver of Southwestern Florida, so you may catch couples on their big day during your day trip, and the park also is the site for an annual vow renewal gathering on Valentine’s Day.
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Another selection for amateur astronomers, rejoice in the Dark Sky Ordinance made in the 1970s that strictly limits artificial-light pollution in the city as you goggle at the vast blanket of stars above.
For those looking to nerd out on their Sonoran Desert travels, book the Astronomer Nights program at the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, where you’ll stay overnight at the observatory with professional astronomers and have access to two of the largest telescopes available for public use in the Southwest.
Other picks for sweethearts are a private barrel tasting or a wine dinner at Tucson’s first wine-centric The Citizen Hotel and a sunset horseback ride at Tanque Verde Ranch, followed by a six-course chef’s table dining experience.
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This island really puts out all the stops for lovers. Cinematic vistas abound — Waimea Canyon (“the Grand Canyon of the Pacific”), jagged cliffs, waves lapping gently against the Nā Pali Coast, to name a few. Couples can also enjoy a visit to the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, kayaking the Wailua River, a snorkel on Poi‘pū Beach or hiking in Kōkeʻe State Park.
When it comes time to unwind, book a room at Hokuala Kaua’i – A Timbers Resort or Royal Sonesta Kaua’i Resort and fondly recap all the day’s adventures with your soulmate.