By Randy YagiWith Valentine’s Day fast approaching, chances are you have already made plans to stay at a romantic retreat with your loved one. But if you’re still undecided, there’s really no time to waste, with the availability of lodging and dining reservations across the country are disappearing nearly as fast as you can say “Happy Valentine’s Day”. For a few last minute suggestions, here are five of America’s best places to consider visiting for your next romantic getaway.
Known as the City Different, Santa Fe ranks among the best small cities in the U.S. and without question, among the best for a romantic getaway. Part of what makes this magical place such a spellbinding destination is its wealth of luxurious, yet oftentimes affordable hotels replete with extraordinary Spanish/Pueblo Revival architecture, its wealth of Native American artwork and of course, its delectable Southwestern cuisine. Moreover, as America’s oldest capital city
and one of Conde Nast Traveler’s world’s best cities, Santa Fe also offers a variety of fun and exciting activities, from visiting historic buildings like the Palace of the Governors and San Miguel Chapel, the oldest chapel in the country to visiting world-class museums like the Museum of New Mexico and Georgia O’Keefe Museum or perhaps some well deserved pampering at Ten Thousand Waves, one of the nation’s top spa retreats. Over the winter months, there’s also world-class skiing and snowboarding at Ski Santa Fe
, although the nearby downtown area enjoys noticeably warmer temperatures and dry streets. As one of the country’s top destinations, Santa Fe also has no shortage of both historical and contemporary hotels bolstered by a significant amount of world and national awards and marked with romantic accommodations featuring classic Southwestern fireplaces and furnishings. This includes Inn of the Five Graces, Inn of the Governors, Inn and Spa at Loretto, Four Seasons Rancho Encantado Santa Fe and Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi. Lastly, as a world-renowned culinary destination, couples may enjoy an intimate Santa Fe dining experience at any of the distinctive restaurants, like Coyote Cafe, Eloisa, Geronimo, Luminaria Restaurant and Terra Restaurant.
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CharlestonSome cities consistently appear on reader polls as among America’s best and most romantic, but Charleston tips the honors scale much higher. Named the World’s Best City by Travel+Leisure in July, Charleston is famously distinguished by historic architecture, world-class lodging and dining, and perhaps most important of all, friendly people who effortlessly represent the finest examples of classic southern charm and hospitality. As South Carolina’s oldest city, Charleston retains much of its historic identity, with stately mansions and plantations, centuries-old attractions, cobblestone streets and horse drawn carriages. But it’s also home to a number of contemporary hotels and restaurants, many of which rank among the nation’s best. Tops among the long-established or modern places for a romantic stay include the French Quarter Inn, Planter’s Inn, Spectator Hotel, named America’s Best City Hotel and No. 2 in the world by Travel+Leisure and the elegant Wentworth Mansion, TripAdvisor’s No. 2 Most Romantic Hotel in America. For intimate dining, couples can enjoy any of the captivating spots known for exceptional food and impeccable service, such as 82 Queen, Circa 1886 Restaurant, Halls Chophouse, Magnolias and Peninsula Grill. For leisure, couples can visit some of Charleston’s top attractions, such as the historic Charleston Market, Battery Park and Rainbow Row, or a memorable garden tour of the historic Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, clearly one of the most beautiful gardens in the country.
With snow-covered mountains, a hint of evergreen in the crisp air and intimate lodging, Aspen is clearly an easy choice as an alluring getaway for Valentine’s Day. It’s also home to Aspen Snowmass
, one of the world’s most famous ski resorts, with four distinct ski areas and plenty of daytime activities for loving couples to enjoy, including skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing. At night, couples can dine at one of the romantic restaurants along the famous Restaurant Row in downtown Aspen or the equally notable restaurants in nearby Snowmass Village, before capping a memorable evening by snuggling in front of a cozy fireplace and perhaps a bottle of bubbly. While most any local restaurant has the makings for a truly romantic evening, some recommendations are Cache Cache, Chefs Club by Food & Wine, Pyramid Bistro and Wild Fig in Aspen Village or Eight K, Sake and Venga Venga in Snowmass Village, in addition to trendy “on mountain
” spots on Snowmass Mountain, that can be accessed by either a gondola ride, sleigh ride or even a snowmobile, such as Gwyn’s, Lynn Britt Cabin and Elk Camp Restaurant. In Aspen Village, couples can enjoy a romantic stay at acclaimed spots like Hotel Jerome, Inn at Aspen, Limelight Hotel, Little Nell and St. Regis Aspen or more secluded spots in Snowmass Village, like Stonebridge Inn, Westin Snowmass Resort, Viceroy Snowmass and Woodrun V.
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Few if any American city can be described as more romantic than Savannah. Capturing the sheer essence of southern charm and elegance, Georgia’s oldest city is filled natural beauty and numerous 17th and 18th century structures that showcase prominent architectural revival styles of its time, such as Gothic, Greek and Romanesque. The city also known as the Hostess City of the South has a seemingly endless collection of romantic accommodations, particularly along the picturesque Savannah Riverfront and within the Historic District, internationally acclaimed for its antebellum homes, cobblestone streets and charming parks famously graced by flowing oak trees adorned with Spanish moss. Among the recommended lodgings for Valentine’s Day are the Gastonian, Hamilton-Turner Inn, Kehoe House, Tybee Inn and the Mansion on Forsyth Park. After a day full of exploring at places like Forsyth Park, Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and Lafayette Square, couples can celebrate occasion by dining at intimate restaurants like Alligator Soul Restaurant, Circa 1875, the Olde Pink House Restaurant and Planters Tavern. For a more leisurely city tour, couples may also be interested in a delightful ride in a horse-drawn carriage or a sightseeing tour to outlying attractions like Wormsloe State Historic Site, Tybee Island or Bonaventure Cemetery
, whose mystifying setting and iconic Bird Girl statue were made famous by the 1990s novel and subsequent film “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” although the bronze sculpture more appropriately known as “Little Wendy”, has since been relocated to the Jepson Center near Telfair Square in the Historic District.
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Sonoma Wine CountryWith miles of spectacular coastline, world-class wineries and a wealth of romantic dining and lodging, the Sonoma Wine Country is a superb destination to celebrate Valentine’s Day. To prove a point, Sonoma County is the only American destination with two hotels ranked in the top 10 from TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Hotels for Romance – Honor Mansion in Healdsburg and Olea Hotel in Glen Ellen – and also offers Las Vegas-style gambling, entertainment and upscale lodging at Graton Resort and Casino in Rohnert Park. Still, it’s impossible to single out just one local community as other small towns also feature lodging that ranks among the world’s most romantic, including the intimate Farmhouse Inn in Forestville, the historic Kenwood Inn and Spa and the Bodega Inn and Timber Cove Resort, situated along the breathtaking Sonoma Coast. As the home to more than 400 world-class wineries, couples have far too many wine tasting choices to consider over a single vacation, yet some notable suggestions could be Benovia Winery, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, La Crema Winery, Madrone Estate Winery, Moshin Vineyards and St. Francis Winery. Lastly, the region affectionately known as the Valley of the Moon, is home to an extraordinary collection of romantic restaurants, including Michelin-starred restaurants like the Farmhouse Inn Restaurant, Madrona Manor and Terrapin Creek Cafe, the Michelin-recommended Zazu Kitchen, the aforementioned St. Francis Winery, whose restaurant was twice named OpenTable’s Best Restaurant in America and Dry Creek Kitchen at Hotel Healdsburg, led by the famed James Beard Award-winning chef Charlie Palmer.
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