What exactly makes a romantic destination? Is it the charm? The posh accommodations? The luxurious amenities? How much they can charge for chips and guacamole? Apparently, it’s difficult to define, but for some reason women (mostly) know it when they see it. Alas, having a romantic getaway with your significant other does not limit you to drinking appletinis, shopping at Louis Vuitton, and eating off china plates decorated with microgreens and fruit reductions. Oh, no.
Every region has a few spots widely known to be perfect for romantic getaways, be it in the mountains, on the beach, at a B&B, or what have you. We selected five destinations where your better half will be exhilarated by elegance and pampering but you can still enjoy yourself as well.
Charleston, South Carolina
Do a quick Google search of romantic getaways and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a list that doesn’t include Charleston. The nearby beaches are stunning, the plethora of historic homes are charming, the fare and libations are to die for, and the cobblestone streets transport you back to a bygone era. It’s impossible not to feel that stir of romantic nostalgia in Charleston.
You could spend weeks touring and eating your way through all that this coastal town has to offer, but if you’re on a romantic weekend getaway, the best advice we can give is to just wander and get lost. If you see a restaurant that looks interesting, eat there. If you stumble upon a Georgian-style home offering tours, take one. But for those who are a little less adventurous, we recommend checking out the Calhoun Mansion, walking the trails of Waterfront Park, taking photos on Rainbow Row (an iconic cluster of pastel-painted homes dating from 1748 to 1845), and shopping the wares of hundreds of local merchants at the Historic Charleston City Market.
Trust us: If your significant other is a history buff, you will earn some major points for bringing them to Charleston.
Top 5 To-dos
- Catch some z’s and sun at Folly Beach Pier after a long morning of walking downtown.
- Take an anteater for a walk at the Anteater Encounter. Yes, you read that right. Book this adventure through Airbnb.
- Visit Magnolia Plantation and Gardens,one of the oldest plantations in the South, which features gorgeous gardens and all the Spanish moss you can handle.
- Marvel at the Angel Oak Tree, which stands 65 feet tall and is estimated to be over 500 years old.
- Food! We recommend The Griffin Pub for lunch or drinks, Hen and the Goat for a superb breakfast, and City Lights Cafe for an excellent cup o’ joe.
Highlands, North Carolina
Located within 15 miles of the South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee borders, Highlands, North Carolina, is a hidden gem in the southern Appalachian Mountains, famous among the uber rich who love to vacation there in the summer. It has, however, grown beyond that, and it is legitimately a year-round destination (just drive in slowly if the winding roads have white on them) for everyone.
Country clubs, luxury accommodations, posh shops, and fine dining are certainly all around, but this is still a mountain village in the South, y’all, so you can definitely find great local pubs to grab a brew, serious trails to hike, and rivers to explore. Be careful on the rivers, though, because there are monster waterfalls everywhere! So, if your significant other wants to get pampered and you’re good walking around a cool town, enjoying live music, and checking out some art, then this is the place for you.
Top 5 To-dos
- Grab a beer at the Ugly Dog Pub (especially if football is on).
- Check out a waterfall (Dry Falls is the easiest to view, but Bust Your Butt Falls is the most fun).
- Splurge for a night (or more) at Half-Mile Farm.
- Grab some wine and dinner at Wolfgang’s (no relation to Puck).
- Hike Whiteside Mountain.
San Antonio, Texas
Is there an activity more romantic than taking a moonlit stroll down the San Antonio River Walk? We contend that there is not. But there is so much more to see and do in San Antonio than just the River Walk and the Alamo (you should still visit both, obviously).
If you spend the day shopping, then we suggest spending a day at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. It’s not necessarily romantic, but you’ll have a ton of fun together. If that’s too much, maybe try SeaWorld San Antonio or the San Antonio Zoo. If you’re an especially adventurous couple, we highly suggest taking a subterranean cave tour at the Natural Bridge Caverns. It’s a bit of a drive from downtown but very worth the trip.
And maybe if you’re really good, your significant other will let you stop for a cigar at Club Humidor, a swanky lounge that replicates Sir Winston Churchill’s library.
Top 5 To-dos on the River Walk
- Take a romantic river boat ride at dusk.
- Dance and sing the night away at Howl at the Moon, the No. 1 nightlife spot in San Antonio.
- Grab an afternoon beer at MadDogs British Pub and come back at night for their live bands.
- Experience true fine dining at one of the five restaurants in the St. Anthony Hotel.
- Shop at the Historic Market Square, one of the largest Mexican markets outside of Mexico.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Vegas is what you make it. You can make it romantic, you can explore parks around Vegas, you can go hog-wild, you can gamble away your savings, or you can spend time touring all the incredible architecture of each hotel. Whatever you want to do as a couple can be done in Sin City (sin not required).
If you want to hike, Red Rock Canyon is not far from the Strip, and it boasts tons of trails and gorgeous red rocks. If you are up for a drive, head over to Valley of Fire State Park, which is so otherworldly that Total Recall filmed all their Mars scenes there. If romance is more your speed, then spend an evening on Fremont Street, otherwise known as Old Vegas. You’ll find all the dining, bars, and dancing you could ever hope for and with way less kitsch than the Strip.
If you’re into art, then put the Neon Museum that features neon signs from old casinos and other Vegas businesses at the top of your list. You can also check out the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, which houses exhibits from all over the world. And while you’re at the Bellagio, make sure to check out those dancing fountains. Or, there’s always heavy drinking and casinos. We don’t judge.
Top 5 Unusual Activities To Do in Las Vegas
- Try your hand at operating heavy machinery. Dig This allows you to get behind the controls of bulldozers and excavators—a true adult playground.
- Beat your partner with a high score at pinball at the Pinball Hall of Fame, which features over 200 classic pinball games.
- Check out the National Atomic Testing Museum, which houses over 12,000 nuclear-themed artifacts.
- For something on the more risqué, “Sin City” side of Vegas, slink over to the Burlesque Hall of Fame.
- Challenge your beau to Kiss by Monster Mini Golf, a trippy mini-golf tribute to the rock band.
When you say you are “visiting Carmel, California,” you actually have to be a little more specific. Located on the coast, about 100 miles south of San Francisco, Carmel Valley stretches far inland to include fabulous wine country, while Carmel Highlands consists of 300-foot cliffs overlooking the ocean. Then of course you have Carmel-by-the-Sea, which is a fabulous little ocean village featuring museums, galleries, scenic bluffs, and the gourmet dining establishments you would expect. Oh yeah, there are also lots of tributes to the town’s former mayor, Clint Eastwood.
If you and your partner both like to golf, there are numerous spectacular courses in the area, not the least of which is world-famous Pebble Beach, which borders the town to the north. If only one of you wants to hit the links, the other will no doubt be occupied for those hours spending time at the area spas, shops, bistros, wine tasting rooms, and plenty more.
Top 5 To-dos
- Take the Grapevine Express into the valley as it hits numerous wine tasting rooms.
- Wade in, surf, or play sand volleyball at Carmel Beach.
- Visit Cannery Row, home to 25 restaurants, shops, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
- Tour Carmel Mission Basilica.
- Play a round of golf at Pebble Beach.