Hollywood has been making movies about falling in love since the 1920s, but it’s not all fairy-tales and fantasy. There’s real romance in America, from sun-soaked beaches and cosy cabins with bubbling hot tubs, to quaint old cowboy towns and dude ranches where you can hike snow-topped mountains and ride horses across open prairies in absolute isolation. Here are the top ten romantic getaways in the USA.
1. Carriage rides & cupcakes in New York City, NY
Few cities can compete with New York City when it comes to romance – or the romantic movies set here. You can share candlelit dinners in some of the nation’s fanciest restaurants, re-live (ahem) Meg Ryan’s finest moment in When Harry Met Sally at Katz’s, and sample a range of sweet treats from cheesecake at Junior’s to Magnolia cupcakes, both of Sex and the City fame.
You can still take those horse and carriage rides through Central Park, or head to the top of the Empire State Building one starry night (An Affair to Remember and Sleepless in Seattle) – and if things go well, there’s always breakfast at Tiffany’s.
2. Horses, bikes and rafting in Grand Teton National Park, WY
Fresh mountain air, clear starry skies and the chance to bond over rafting, mountain biking, horse riding or just frolicking in pristine alpine meadows, followed by sunset cocktails overlooking the Rockies and nights in a snug boutique cabin.
The Tetons provide one of America’s most mesmerizing backdrops to a host of activities, and you can avoid the crowds staying the national park’s cosy Jenny Lake Lodge.
3. New England charm in Nantucket, MA
Nantucket drips with New England charm, an island of cool sea breezes, quaint B&Bs and fine seafood restaurants off the coast of Cape Cod. Explore Nantucket Town, its fine museums and restored mansions monuments to the vast profits made in the era of Moby Dick, or take lazy bike rides across heaths, moorlands, and mile after mile of fine, sandy beaches.
Share some fresh clams or lobster rolls before retiring to an antique-filled inn and a soak in a claw-foot tub.
4. The Old South and sunset dining in Charleston, SC
The gorgeous streets of Charleston evoke the elegance of the Old South and Gone with the Wind. There’s a wealth of handsome antebellum hotels, old churches, historic mansions, art galleries and tasty Southern cuisine, not to mention nearby beaches for summer lounging. Watch the sunset over tidal creeks while enjoying freshly steamed oysters, or sipping mint juleps in Poogan’s Porch.
5. Style in the sun at South Beach, Miami, FL
South Beach boasts some of the most exclusive, stylish boutique hotels in the nation – think fabulous spas, bathrooms designed for two and huge, luxurious beds – lining one the nation’s biggest and most happening swathes of sand.
It’s not just surf, sun and pool parties though. South Beach is an architectural Art Deco wonderland, and there are Latin dance clubs, Cuban coffee shops and plenty of art galleries for cultural diversions off the beach.
6. Creole cooking and jazz nights in New Orleans, LA
Nowhere in America is quite as sensual as New Orleans. Its blossom-strewn balconies, its blend of Creole-French style, the swirling waters of the Mississippi, the aromas of jambalaya, and a dizzying, jazz-infused, booze-soaked nightlife.
Take a tour of one of the city’s opulent cemeteries to see the resting place of the legendary “voodoo queen”, join a Sunday afternoon musical parade in Tremé, or just soak up the all-night scene on Bourbon Street.
7. Sun, surf and spas in Maui, HI
Hawaii had to figure somewhere on this list (just look at it), and tropical islands don’t get anymore romantic than Maui, for obvious reasons: it’s a palm-smothered paradise of deluxe resorts, exotic jungle spas and jaw-dropping beaches – with plenty of cosy cabanas for privacy, candlelit dinners on the beach, sunset cocktail cruises, luau feasts and watching an achingly beautiful sunrise atop Haleakala Crater. It’s perfect for couples.
8. Hot tubs and ski lifts in Aspen, CO
Aspen is the perfect winter destination for romantics. It’s pricey, but few resorts offer the chance to spend your days zipping over perfectly manicured slopes before enjoying a fine meal and retreating into a glitzy hotel room, warmed by a real log fire – think hot tubs in the snow (seriously) and bottles of champagne.
9. Wine weekends in Napa Valley, CA
Wine lovers flock to California’s Napa Valley, but it’s also an incredibly romantic location – once the day-trippers depart, you’ll be left with tranquil vineyards, cosy wine bars and serene boutique hotels.
Napa’s high-end restaurants are a real treat – Thomas Keller’s French Laundry and Ken Frank’s La Toque are here – and of course wine connoisseurs can indulge in tastings at some of America’s most vaunted labels such as Cakebread, Chateau Montelena and Failla.
10. Southwestern spirituality in Santa Fe, NM
The mystical desert landscapes of the American Southwest are prime road-trip country, and few destinations can compete with Santa Fe, one of the region’s most romantic cities. Elegant adobe-style resorts, Spanish pueblo architecture, an arid desert climate and a rich Native American heritage add to its appeal.
Browse markets and boutiques loaded with hand-woven Navajo rugs, traditional lamps and kiva fireplaces, or just relax and enjoy the panoramas of gnarled cacti and sunburnt mountains that envelope the city.