Big cities know how to dazzle, but when it comes to you and your love, nothing beats the fairytale shimmer of a small town. Whether it’s watching a sunset from a sandy beach, horseback riding in the great outdoors or sipping wine by a fire, these five romantic settings cater to couples.
Beaufort, South Carolina
Picturesque Beaufort (population of about 13,000), founded in 1711, embraces American and maritime history in a setting that will make you swoon. A stroll along Bay Street shows off its sea-facing mansions, including the restored Cuthbert House Inn and Anchorage 1770, stunning places to stay. Cuddle up on a horse-drawn carriage tour and clip clop under stately moss-covered oak trees, past historic churches and even a few Hollywood movie sites (Forrest Gump, The Prince of Tides and The Big Chill are a few favorites filmed around town). The view of a swirling pink and orange sunset from pretty Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park is mesmerizing, but it gets better on a sunset cruise with Coastal Expeditions. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot a dolphin or two. Dine on local seafood and Lowcountry specialties at Saltus River Grill, a modern restaurant with exceptional water views and outdoor seating that is among the town’s best.
Surrounded by sand and sea at the tip of iconic Cape Cod, this artsy and eclectic LGBTQ+ hub is known as Ptown (population about 3,500). If scrumptious seafood is your date night jam, you’re in for a treat as Ptown has many restaurants to choose from. Grab a craft cocktail at family-run Mac’s Fish House, committed to local catch, with happy hour oysters and clams at half-price. Rain, snow or shine, stroll through the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) to enjoy works from more than 900 artists — many who call Cape Cod home. Ptown has more than 30 miles of beaches to sink your toes into during the summer. When cold weather beckons you indoors, a decadent couple’s massage workshop at Sole Luna will warm things up, as will the in-room fireplaces at Gabriel’s Provincetown Hotel.
Take your love to 8,750 feet in Telluride, a picturesque Victorian mining town huddled beneath the jagged peaks of the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado. Telluride (population about 2,600) is known as a world-class ski destination; however, holding hands is much easier on the ice-skating rink or on a sleigh ride through the snow globe scenery. Outside of winter, Mother Nature does some of her best work in Telluride, when blue skies, purple lupine and quaking golden aspen trees create a stunning mountain tapestry. Experience the magic via guided horseback ride with Telluride Wranglers. Or simply saunter hand-in-hand around town to people-watch, shop and dine. Don’t miss the gondola, which connects Telluride to Mountain Village. The 13-minute ride is free, and the views are priceless. It’s walking distance from the Victorian Inn, a cozy four-season pied-à-terre.
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
Full of outdoor beauty and pampering pursuits, Berkeley Springs (population about 800) might soon rise to the top of your favorite romantic getaways list. The mountain town calls itself America’s first spa, so lean in and book time in a private bath at the Old Roman Bath House, a mineral spa operating since colonial times inside Berkeley Springs State Park ($27 per 30-minute, walk-in tub experience; $24 for seniors). It’s not every day you have a chance to lounge inside a salt cave, but the one in Berkeley Springs invites guests to absorb the mineral’s renowned healing properties during 45-minute sessions. You can take some inspiration home with you by shopping for candles and bath and body products at Mineral Springs Trading Co. Or prolong the wellness we-time at Country Inn of Berkeley Springs, whose onsite Renaissance Spa offers a package that includes an overnight stay, a couples massage and a bottle of sparkling wine upon arrival.
Wine in Texas? Yes, ma’am! As the unofficial capital of the state’s gorgeous Hill Country, Fredericksburg (population about 11,000) is a smooth blend of Southern hospitality and grapevines. About 75 miles west of Austin, Fredericksburg was founded by German immigrants in 1846, but more than 150 independent shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants give it a cosmopolitan flair. Highway 290, a.k.a Wine Road 290, between Fredericksburg and Johnson City, is sprinkled with more than 20 wineries, including Becker Vineyards, one of the oldest and largest in the state, and Grape Creek, a slice of Tuscany in Texas. Fredericksburg’s bustling Main Street has many tasting rooms where visitors can sip and sample, including Perspective Cellars, with 60 wines to choose from inside a historic German home. Or sip your wine at its piano bar every Saturday night. The Fredericksburg Inn & Suites is a five-minute walk from all the downtown action.