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.
Related: Best U.S. Honeymoon Destinations
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.