Whether you're in a serious relationship or just seeing where things go, a getaway for two sounds pretty good right about now. Doesn't it?
But how do you avoid cheesy experiences and
Couples Retreat -style nightmares? And how do you find the right vacation for your relationship? After all, what may be exotic and glamorous for some (an Alaskan dog sled ride à deux, for instance) may be too labour-intensive for others.
That's where we come in. We've found some of the coolest, off-the-beaten path options for non-cheesy romance. From creating memories in the outback to hiding away in a remote mountaintop lodge, one of these vacation ideas should be right for
If You Want To Take A Mud Bath & Sip Wine: Indian Springs, Calistoga, California
Picture soaking in a natural mineral pool followed by a volcanic mud bath topped off with a big glass of vino. Sound like your idea of paradise? Well, Indian Springs in Calistoga is calling your name. The iconic Northern California resort features an array of Spanish-style rooms and bungalows that make it the ideal wine country escape. But, let's get back to that pool: It's Olympic-sized and heated all year round.
Photo: Courtesy of Indian Springs. More
If You Want To Explore The Outdoors: Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver is a bustling, cosmopolitan city that also offers easy access to some of the world's most breathtaking outdoor landscapes. Take advantage of the robust art, music, and dining scenes, then go for a hike in the lush woodlands outside the city. Be sure to swing by the famed Stanley Park for stunning views and al fresco activities.
Photo: Courtesy of Vancouver Tourism. More
For Extreme Cultural Exploration: Istanbul, Turkey
If hospitality, history, art, and architecture are what you’re looking for in a vacation, you may want to add Istanbul to your romantic travel bucket list. Bordering on two continents (Asia and Europe), the city is extraordinarily culturally diverse and jam-packed with history. You can stroll through the historical tea gardens on the European side or take a gander at the trendy shops and restaurants on the Asian side. Either way, Istanbul is positively magical.
Photo: Via Go Turkey. More
If You Want A Sophisticated, Small-Town Experience Near NYC: The Berkshires
Nestled on the New York-Massachusetts border, the Berkshires have so much to offer romance-seeking couples. Peruse the funky shops and cafes of Great Barrington, hit the antique stores of Stockbridge, or pack a picnic and head to Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The drive from New York City is quick, easy, and breathtaking, especially in summer or fall. Book a room at
Cranwell, an upscale resort with an immaculate golf course, full-service spa, and 114 well-appointed rooms and suites. The area is also great for skiing (Catamount is just a few miles away), hiking, and taking long, scenic drives through the lush Hudson Valley. Photo: Courtesy of Cranwell. More
If You Want To Live In An 19th Century Novel: Bath, England
Imagine this: You and your S.O. cuddling up in a cozy cottage in the English countryside, sipping tea. Sounds pretty idyllic, right? That's what you'll get in Bath. With storybook-like architecture, rolling hills, and rivers, your stay in this appealing city will feel like a page ripped out of a Jane Austen novel (she actually lived in the quaint city, and there is a museum there in her honour). Explore the various historical landmarks, charming cafes, and of course, the famed, natural mineral water-filled Roman Baths.
Photo: Courtesy of Bath Tourism. More
If You Want To Cuddle Up In The Dark: Northern Lights, Svalbard, Norway
Imagine bonding over the celestial sky that is the Northern Lights in Norway. The best place to soak it all in? The little town of Svalbard, where you can view the breathtaking twilight sky from November through February (when the town has no daylight). Sure, it may be a little chilly — all the more reason to cuddle up close. Plus, the town itself is postcard-perfect, and full of quaint cafes and shops.
Photo: Courtesy of Northern Lights. More
To Experience The Best Of The New South: Charleston, South Carolina
Antebellum-era buildings, cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages — all these things give Charleston a sense of history, but an influx of high-end restaurants, spas, and hotels are also making it an increasingly popular tourist destination that's especially well suited to couples. Wander over to Sullivan's Island for a romantic seaside stroll, or discover the beauty of Cypress Gardens. At day's end, rest your head at
The Restoration, an elegant new hotel that just completed an £5.5 million renovation. Borrow one of the complimentary bicycles provided for guests to explore King Street on wheels. Photo: Getty Images. More
If You're Looking For A Serene, Exotic Land: Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto is a peaceful oasis that's well worth the long trip from the States. There, you'll find lush gardens, colourful palaces, and an abundance of Buddhist temples (1,600 of them, to be exact). It's an ideal spot to experience the quieter side of Japan that you can't fully grasp if you stay in Tokyo (which is about five hours away by train). Be sure to pay a visit to Ryoan-ji Temple to see the storied dry rock garden. Such a zen experience.
Photo: Courtesy of Kyoto Tourism. More Story continues
If Classic Southern Charm Is What You Seek: New Orleans
For an urban getaway full of culture (and crawfish), grab your boo and head to soulful New Orleans to indulge in comfort food, good tunes, and rich history. Take a stroll through the famed streets of the French Quarter, and be sure to swing by the famed Cafe Du Monde for the best beignets you've ever had. It's touristy, but it's worth it.
Photo: Courtesy of Cafe Du Monde. More
If You Want To Get Lost Together: Marrakech, Morocco
With its maze-like markets, winding alleys, and colorful tiled palaces, there’s no place quite like Marrakech. You and your special someone will enjoy everything from browsing street vendors to getting lost in this Labyrinth-like city. Be sure to check out Medina's souks, the Old City district where the streets are dizzyingly narrow and full of amazing colors and great shopping.
Photo: Courtesy of Marrakech Tourism Board. More
If You Love Exploring Local Markets: Oaxaca, Mexico
From the skilled craftsmen selling their wares on every corner to the colorful buildings to the top-notch cuisine, Oaxaca is nothing short of inspiring. You and your love will bond as you browse vivid markets, discover museums, and soak in the super creative atmosphere that pervades this charming Southern Mexican town. Oh, and the consistently beautiful weather doesn't hurt, either.
Photo: Courtesy of Visit Mexico. More
If You're Oenophiles: La Grande Maison In Bordeaux, France
Housed in an 18th-century mansion set deep in the heart of the Bordeaux wine region of France, this hotel and restaurant is co-owned by wine magnate Bernard Magrez and the king of gastronomy himself, Joël Robuchon. This rare, exclusive experience is an amazing culinary and design destination. The chateau features no fewer than 259 Grands Crus Classes de Bordeaux in the cellar beneath the very bed where you will lay your head.
Photo: Courtesy of La Grande Maison. More
If You're Dying To Get Off The Grid: Sedona, Arizona
Long lauded as a warm weather retreat, Sedona is actually stunning in winter, when the rusty red sandstone formations get a graceful dusting of snow. Skip the early morning hot air balloon ride and opt for a sunrise hike through the red rocks before hitting a boutique spa and lunch at unassuming pizzeria Picazzo's. Although Sedona is known for its luxury resorts, some of the most romantic retreats are incredibly affordable — and the B&Bs in the woods offer an even deeper sense of seclusion.
Photo: Courtesy of Visit Sedona. More
If Money Truly Is No Object: Six Senses Yao Noi In Thailand
At Six Senses, privacy is paramount, and the resort is surprisingly affordable for everything it includes. Private pool villas offer remote access to your own slice of a beautiful island beach. Each villa has no less than five shower options, and you’ll have your own butler to assist with chauffeuring you to the spa, or setting up a pair of loungers with fresh popcorn to watch a movie on the beach.
Photo: Courtesy of Mark Alpert. More
If You Dream Of Fireside Snuggling: Inn To Inn experience In Vermont
The Inn to Inn trails in Vermont are popular during the summer months by bike, but once the snow falls, the venture gets a rustic makeover. Don snowshoes or cross-country skis to make your way through the Green Mountain trails or Champlain Valley backroads on your way to some of Vermont's most historic and romantic inns. Once you enter the lodge, a warm welcome drink will kick off an evening of slow dining, roaring fireplaces, and cozy beds.
Photo: Courtesy of Inn to Inn. More
If You Want To Explore An Awesome City Together: Dublin, Ireland
Dublin is one of Europe's most underrated cities for romance. The passionate history, warmly hospitable people, and charismatic small-town feel make it unexpectedly fun for a tryst. Head out for a tipple at a local pub along cobblestoned paths before strolling back to the quiet, tree-lined streets of Ballsbridge for a stay at the stylish
Dylan Hotel, a member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts. Each room is decorated in an individual luxe style, and room service — which includes creamy Guinness, of course — is available 24/7. Photo: Courtesy of The Dylan Hotel. More
If You'll Only Ski On Fresh Powder: Lech Zürs am Arlberg, Austria
Unlike most other ski resorts, European or stateside, the charming village of Lech offers a secluded, old-world experience. Located in western Austria in a valley bordered by the Flexen Pass, this Alpine resort is favored by royals and celebrities for its exclusivity and natural beauty. Because it's not easy to access this time of year, getting there is an experience in itself, as you navigate the steep valleys and 9,000-foot peaks that lead to this picturesque village. Sip Austrian wines and sample bubbling pots of fondue, or head straight up the mountain for some of the world's most tranquil skiing, complete with heated lift seats and manicured runs all day long.
Photo: Courtesy of Lech Zuers. More
If You Want To Get Back To Nature: Mashpi Lodge In Andean Cloud Forest, Ecuador
This eco lodge is focused on promoting the biodiversity of the cloud forest, and the passion from the scientists, groundskeepers, and hotel staff make the place come alive. Stroll to your heart's content through marked trails or take a guided tour, and get immersed in the reserve's work to introduce and reintroduce species into the forest. Hike to the butterfly lookout, where you can spend the evening sipping wine to the sounds of chirping tree frogs as the sun goes down.
Photo: Courtesy of Mashpi Lodge. More
If You're Oenophiles (Who Want To Stay Stateside): Fredericksburg, Texas
Texas may not come to mind as a romantic destination, but sit long enough on any porch in Fredericksburg, and you'll fall in love with the dazzling colors that dance across the sky as the sun goes down. Texas Hill Country is perfect this time of year with its mild weather, a predictably slow pace, and tons of charisma. The B&Bs — which are even more charming in winter — are located everywhere from the city center (close to boutique and gourmet shops) to more than 40 vineyards and wineries (don't miss the delicious blends at
Pedernales Cellars or Becker Vineyards). Head to Enchanted Rock with a local bottle and look out over the rolling hills. Photo: Courtesy of B. Mistich. More
If You're Ready To Commit To A Major Adventure: The Outback, Australia
Unlike most other landmarks, part of the allure of Ayers Rock (home of the sacred rock of Uluru) is that it is 462 km from civilization. The absence of light pollution in the Outback makes it one of the clearest places in the world to see a dazzling number of stars in the sky. A romantic drive out to this sandstone formation is worth the jetlag; snuggle up in a sleeping bag with your beloved, and try not to freak out about the wildlife scurrying around you.
Photo: Courtesy of Tourism Australia. More
If You Want Your Destination To Provide ALL The Romance: Prague, Czech Republic
From walking across the famous Charles Bridge at sunset to heading below ground for a sip of forbidden absinthe, there's an unmistakable allure to this mystic city. You don't have to spend a fortune or look far in Prague to find romance, like an idyllic overlook for people-watching, or a secluded alcove for a clandestine kiss. In winter, street vendors sell everything from cinnamon-covered trdelnik (a rolled Hungarian pastry) to mulled wine and hot chocolate, filling the city with a warm, delicious perfume. Superstitious? Head over to Petřín, where local legend has it that if you kiss the one you're with in front of the statue of the romantic poet Karel Hynek Mácha, your love will last forever.
Photo: Courtesy of CzechTourism. More
If You Want A Luxe Spa Experience: Blue Lagoon, Iceland
One of the true-blue beauties of the world, the geothermal lagoon in Iceland is about as romantic as it gets. The
unique natural spa is one of the 25 wonders of the world, and for good reason. It is located in a lava field, and its mineral-rich waters are naturally heated and extremely nourishing for the skin. Couples can soak in the water with towering snow-capped mountains in the back, or head to the famed spa for private, luxe mud treatments. Photo: Courtesy of Blue Lagoon. More
If You Want To Cuddle On The California Coast: Big Sur
There’s no view quite as spectacular as the rocky California enclave that is Big Sur. The 90-mile stretch of coastline is unique for its wooded and rocky beach topography, and has been a historical hub for creatives and romantics alike for ages. Known for its quiet, peaceful allure, you and your S.O. will feel like you’re the only two people on earth as you bask in some of the most beautiful scenery you've ever seen. If you’re looking for a unique, intimate experience, sign up for the night baths (from 12 to 3 a.m.) at famed
Esalen Institute (the place where Don Draper had his million dollar Coke campaign idea at the end of Mad Men, FYI). Cuddle up in the buff in the natural mineral tubs perched on a cliff, as you listen to the waves of the Pacific Ocean. What could be more romantic than that? Photo: Courtesy of Esalen Institute. More
If You Want A High-Desert Escape: Joshua Tree
There's no sunset quite as spectacular as a desert sunset. From the red-hued rocks to the yucca trees and tumbleweeds, Joshua Tree is a serene escape with sparse beauty all around. Rent a
design-forward home in the middle of it all, and soak in the sights and sounds of the high desert. Explore the wilderness during the day and cozy up and star gaze with your S.O. at night. Photo: Courtesy of Airbnb. More
If You Want A European Paradise: Santorini, Greece
A group of islands cuddled around the Aegean Sea, Santorini is a quaint little escape that sits on an active volcano — in fact, it was a volcanic eruption that formed the unique, rugged topography of the famed Grecian location. With white-washed buildings overlooking the deep blue sea, the sunsets here are insanely gorgeous. Grab a seat with a view and gaze out at the horizon — wine in hand.
Photo: Courtesy of Visit Santorini. More
If You Want A Unique Beach Experience: Pink Sand Beach, Harbor Island, Bahamas
Sure, it may just be a little slice of beach, but this pink-hued sand is certainly impressive. Stretching three miles long, the pink sand beach in Harbor Island Bahamas (accessed by boat from Eleuthera) is one of the Caribbean’s most unique sights. Stroll hand-in-hand with your beloved as you marvel at the sights of the wildly breathtaking, colorful coastline. Did we mention it's warm?
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