Written by Lavanya Sunkara
Jan 24, 2019
Travel is one of the best things to do to keep the romance alive. It’s a great opportunity to get to know a new partner or spend quality time with your loved one, away from the stresses of daily life. Whether you are planning a getaway for Valentine’s Day, your anniversary, or for a long weekend, there are plenty of couple-friendly locations that are perfect for your romantic escape. For ideas, read this list of the best vacation spots for couples in the US.
1. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Adobe building in Santa Fe
With a distinctive architectural style of low-slung, earth-colored adobe buildings found nowhere else in the country, New Mexico’s capital is idyllic in all seasons. Santa Fe comes alive with lilacs and forsythias in the spring, lanterns adorn rooftops as the smell of burning piñon wood fills the air in the winter. Warmer months bring al fresco dining at top-notch restaurants serving authentic Southwestern fare, as well as outdoor festivals, and markets selling folk art.
Take a stroll through the Downtown Plaza and side streets, stopping at Chapel Loretto to admire its mysterious spiral staircase. Choose from art galleries on Canyon Road, including the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, boasting the largest collection of her Southwestern-inspired landscapes. A short drive from downtown, you can get in touch with your inner child at the Meow Wolf immersive art exhibition.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Santa Fe: Best Areas & Hotels
2. New York, New York
Spring in Central Park
Sleepless in Seattle made the top of the Empire State Building a must-visit for couples, and it’s one of the most romantic spots in New York. The city that never sleeps has so much to offer. Serenade your sweetheart in a rowboat on Central Park Lake surrounded by stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, catch a Broadway show, enjoy a delicious meal at a gourmet restaurant, and end the evening holding hands under the stars of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History.
In the winter, there’s no better place than New York for the holiday lights and decorative store fronts. Ice skate at Wollman rink on the East Side of Central Park to the tune of festive songs and then share a frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3 just a few blocks away.
3. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Morning Glory Pool in Yellowstone National Park
America’s first national park is a 2.2-million-acre wilderness rich with wildlife and natural wonders, from the awe-inspiring Old Faithful and Steamboat geysers to the Grand Canyon waterfall of Yellowstone. Spend a few nights at Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins, the oldest hotel within a national park, overlooking the largest high elevation lake, or at the world’s largest log cabin at the Old Faithful Inn to fully experience all that Yellowstone has to offer.
Take a safari through America’s Serengeti at Lamar Valley for large herds of bison and sightings of elk, pronghorns, and gray wolves. Make the nearby frontier town of Cody, Wyoming a stopover for a truly Wild West experience, with a night rodeo and log cabins of the infamous outlaws, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and stay at the iconic Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel, built by the town’s founder, the legendary Buffalo Bill Cody.
4. Scottsdale, Arizona
The desert near Scottsdale
Scottsdale is desert elegance at its best, with incredible luxurious resorts, spas, and golf courses in a glorious setting. Take a stroll down Main Street, pop into one of the museums, and take advantage of dozens of restaurants. Wake up early for a memorable hot air balloon ride over the Superstition Mountains and enjoy a champagne toast and picnic back on land, a classy tradition dating back to 18th-century France.
If you’ve got an appetite for adventure, get your boots dirty as you make the arduous assent up Camelback Mountain. You’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the Valley, bragging rights, and, most importantly, an unforgettable experience with your lover.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Scottsdale
5. Savannah, Georgia
Historic Forsyth Fountain in Savannah
As the oldest city in the Peach State, Savannah is charming, with oak trees adorned with cascading Spanish moss, stately mansions, and historic squares. With warm weather year- round and thriving cultural and culinary scenes, Savannah makes for an ideal Southern getaway.
Savor impressive gardens and the magnificent water fountain of Forsyth Park. Take a walk through the tree-shaded streets to River Street overlooking the Savannah River, where you can shop for souvenirs and have authentic Southern cuisine at riverside restaurants. Find out which houses in the Historic District are haunted on a walking ghost tour. Take a drive out to Bluff Drive in the Isle of Hope to see antebellum houses and quaint cottages across from the Intracoastal Waterway.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Savannah, Georgia
6. Molokai, Hawaii
Halawa Beach Park and the Halawa Valley
Molokai is unlike any other Hawaiian island: the pace is slower, the buildings are shorter than the coconut trees, and there are no mega resorts or luau parties. Known as the “Friendly Isle,” it is ideal for experiencing authentic Hawaii.
Combine culture with adventure on a hike through Halawa Valley to one of its cascading waterfalls, guided by one of the descendants of the original inhabitants of this lush paradise. Stay at the Hotel Molokai, situated on a peaceful stretch of palm-fringed beach. Share giant, hot sweet bread spread with cinnamon, butter, or strawberry cream cheese. Burn off those calories by canoeing in the calm waters abounding with sea turtles. Show your love for your partner by picking your own plumerias at the Molokai Plumeria Farm and stringing them together for a lei.
7. Hocking Hills, Ohio
Hocking Hills State Park
Marked by soaring cliffs, waterfalls, craggy caves, and lush forests, Ohio’s Hocking Hills region is one of the Midwest’s most beautiful destinations. Located 50 minutes outside Columbus, it seems a world away from the bustle of the city. Even during the busiest season, you won’t see crowds at the natural attractions of Ash Cave and Old Man’s Falls in Hocking Hills State Park.
Get that adrenaline pumping at Hocking Hills Canopy Tours as you zipline above the gushing Hocking River and verdant forest, an experience amplified by the brilliant colors of autumn. If your idea of romance involves heart-racing action, trust the guides at the High Rock Adventures to rappel down cliffs. Spend a few nights in the luxury yurt at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, which comes equipped with cozy furnishings and a fireplace.
8. Snowmass, Colorado
Snowmass Balloon Festival
While thousands flock to the trendy ski resorts of Aspen, the neighboring small resort town of Snowmass, Colorado remains uncrowded and unpretentious. Located eight miles from downtown Aspen, this winter playground and summer mountain destination enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year. It has the second largest vertical drop in the United States, more than 3,000 acres of mountain terrain, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy its natural beauty on moonlit treks or fly fishing and rafting trips. If you are visiting in the summer, don’t miss the Snowmass Balloon Festival, one of the highest-altitude events of its kind in the country.
9. Big Sur, California
Viewpoint at Big Sur
The rugged, mountainous area of California’s Central Coast has picturesque views and lodgings ideal for a romantic seaside vacation. The drive to Big Sur, nestled between Carmel and San Simeon, on Highway 1 is breathtaking, hugging the curvy coastline with dramatic ocean views at every turn. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is a must visit, home of the most photographed waterfall in California spilling onto a secluded beach.
While there are plenty of resort options, to thoroughly enjoy the beauty of Big Sur, stay at Treebones Resort offering glamping in yurts with comfortable amenities to enjoy rustic solitude with your loved one. For more structure, book a stay at the Esalen Institute, a cliffside retreat center providing workshops to help you better connect with one another.
10. San Francisco, California
Couple enjoying a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge
With incredible views, iconic landmarks, and delicious food, the City by the Bay is a lovely destination on the Western Coast. Walk or bike across the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset, wander the landscaped gardens of San Francisco Botanical Garden, and take a Cable Car ride tour of the city’s highlights. Enjoy a scrumptious meal at one of the finest restaurants in the North Beach or Marina districts. Summer time might bring the fog, but the mist clears just in time to hit the beach. If you love music, head to the Stern Grove Music Festival (held on Sundays) at the Sigmund Stern Grove for a picnic and groove to the energetic beats.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in San Francisco: Best Areas & Hotels
11. Key West, Florida
Colorful gift shops in Key West
Although within driving distance from major cities in Florida, Key West seems like a world away, with quaint streets, breezy beaches, and Conch-style houses flanked by colorful gardens. This island city and crown jewel of the Florida Keys is best explored by bike. You’ll glide past 19th-century storybook cottages with white picket fences, as the aroma and beauty of hibiscus, orchids, plumeria, and exuberant bougainvillea whisk your cares away.
Pretty soon, you will come across the residence of Ernest Hemingway in the heart of the Old Town, where you can get a glimpse into his life and meet the descendants of his six-toed cats. For outdoor fun, take a sunset sailing cruise, go snorkeling in the warm waters, or take a seaplane to nearby Dry Tortugas National Park. Take a moment to celebrate your love watching the sunset and the street performances at the happening Mallory Square, within walking distance from the famous Duval Street.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Key West
12. Charleston, South Carolina
Historic downtown Charleston
Charleston is delightful, with its cobblestone streets, historic mansions, majestic oaks, and the scent of magnolia that fills the air in the warmer months. The oldest city in South Carolina has many unique offerings for couples. Partake in a goat yoga class at Jeremiah Farm & Goat Dairy followed by a picnic under the majestic 500-year-old Angel Oak Tree on John’s Island, a short distance from downtown Charleston. Walk along the Battery to enjoy views of Rainbow Row, a series of pastel-colored houses.
Explore the surrounding islands by boat and stop by the deserted beaches around Edisto, nicknamed Shell Island, to search for shells with your loved one. Enjoy down-home Southern cuisine on Bowen’s Island near Folly Beach.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Charleston, SC