You probably know the most famous romantic places in the world – but if you’re looking for inspiration, popping the question or planning a destination wedding, consider something unexpected. Or do just want to get away to a super romantic place? Here are seven special places you’ll want to add to your list…
1. Lago di Orta, Italy
Lago di Orta is the least well known of the Italian Lakes and quite possibly, the most beautiful. The small medieval town of Orta San Guilio is still unspoiled by the traffic you’ll find in places like Como and Maggiore. The streets are filled with outdoor cafes and small shops selling olive oil, pottery and lace and there’s an outdoor antique market on Wednesday mornings.
At certain times of year, you may also see a parade of classic cars passing through the narrow streets or discover a jazz concert or arts exhibition.
Orta is also home to the fabulous Villa Crespi, a restored Moorish home once owned by a textile baron and now turned into a four-star hotel with a Michelin two-star restaurant. Totally romantic!
2. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
San Miguel is a quaint town founded in 1541 in the hills of central Mexico – filled with Baroque architecture it is now an enclave for artists, architects, craftspeople, writers, retirees and expatriates.
This cosmopolitan mix means there are excellent restaurants, art galleries and boutiques around every colorful corner. What you won’t see are parking meters, traffic signals or fast-food chains. The streets are cobblestone and the churches in the historic center are beautifully preserved. In addition to all the international style, there’s also a traditional Mexican open air market. And, you’ll find many stylish vacation rentals available through services such as IHA.
3. Sundance, Utah
With a rustic resort founded by legendary actor Robert Redford, how could this place NOT be romantic? Think thick log walls, cowboy boots and beautiful, well-scrubbed people wearing turquoise jewelry…that’s Sundance Resort.
Tucked against a majestic mountainside not far from Park City and Provo, Sundance is a highly ranked ski resort in the winter and a creative retreat all year round. The resort encompasses a sprawling 5,000 acres with a culture that focuses on art, nature and community.
There are nature programs, an art shack that can be rented as studio space, exhibits and live performances at The Owl Bar…
You’ll also find a spa if you’re craving some additional relaxation and pampering.
Sundance is a great place for nestling into a cozy cabin with your true love – and makes a fabulous spot for a winter destination wedding.
4. Neve Tzedek, Israel
Neve Tzedek was founded in 1887 on the outskirts of Jaffa and now features beautifully-restored Art Nouveau and Bauhaus buildings, a cultural center, narrow, walkable streets and some of Tel Aviv’s hippest cafes and bars.
You’ll want to take everything in at a slow pace, wandering in and out of the many fine boutiques and galleries that line Shabazi street – and enjoying the mashup of languages from the international tourists who wander along with you. Take time to explore the side streets, as well. Spend some time at the local bakery, visit a spa or enjoy a dance performance at Suzanne Dellal Centre.
Just a few steps away is The Station, a restored Colonial-era train station that features even more excellent shops and restaurants. Plus, you’re a short walk to the beach, the bustle of Jaffa or the tantalizing sights and smells of the Carmel Market.
5. Sonoma Coast, California
When you hear Sonoma, you think of wine country, right? But on the very edge of the continent, you’ll find the rugged Sonoma Coast, with high cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and its rocky shores.
Romantic accommodations include Timber Cove Inn (which is currently undergoing renovation). I personally can’t wait to see what they do with the interiors – I already love the place!
There are winding trails along the edge of the cliffs, gorgeous vistas in every direction – even a giant, stylized Totem pole rising from the rocks.
At night, even through most of the summer, a fire pit offers needed evening heat – and the Inn thoughtfully provides every guest with a s’mores kit, too!
6. Chetek, Wisconsin
The original inhabitants of this part of Wisconsin were the Ojibwa Indians. Today this (very) small town boasts less than 600 families. The main reason you should visit Chetek is Canoe Bay, a couples-only retreat that Condé Nast Traveler calls the best in the midwest.
If the pictures of Canoe Bay have you conjuring up memories of summer camp, it’s for good reason, since this resort started out as one. Today its a casual-chic camp for grown ups, with a gourmet restaurant featuring site-grown ingredients, a lake for swimming in, canoes and kayaks in the boathouse and more.
Breakfasts are delivered to your cabin in a handmade wooden crate, and dinners can be taken overlooking the lake. If you want something even more special, rent out the private wine cellar for a dinner for two.
In winter you can go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing – even ice-fishing. Summer is for lounging by the lake, swimming or going for meandering bike rides. There’s also a well-stocked library that overlooks the lake. Canoe Bay is a perfect romantic retreat, no matter the season.
7. Kayenta, Utah
Just outside of St. George and close to all the stunningly beautiful National Parks of Utah, lies Kayenta, a special enclave nestled into a rocky red landscape.
This is desert living at its most stylish – with everything from an art village to a meditation labyrinth…
Houses are built into the landscape in such a way that they are almost invisible until you’re directly in front of them. Even the outdoor lighting is focused so that it doesn’t compete with the blanket of stars above.
Make time for an interaction with the wild mustangs that live nearby. With a facilitator from the “Where Heart Meets Horse” program, you will learn how these beautiful creatures interpret your body language, communicate and learn to trust you, in an experience that is deeply spiritual.
Plus, at the Tuacahn Amphitheater just a few minutes away, you can take in great performances all year round. And if a big, elegant resort with food, spas and adventure activities is your style, check into the nearby Red Mountain Resort.