Head away from the crowds and to these unpretentious small (and large) towns for something different.
When it comes to planning a weekend of romance, seaside resorts and rustic mountain lodges are a dime a dozen. Next time you’re in the mood for love, forego the usual suspects and head to one of these unexpectedly dreamy destinations.
While Charm City‘s other nickname, “Bodymore, Murdaland,” might suggest this isn’t the ideal place to woo your Valentine, this city has its own gritty charm—as well as being historic, walkable, and full of sights. Check out the happening Inner Harbor and ogle the fish at the National Aquarium. Stroll historic neighborhoods like Fell’s Point and Mount Vernon, or catch a game in one of the most beautiful ballparks in America.
Where to stay: Hotel Brexton, 10 blocks north of the Inner Harbor, which was built in 1881 and recently renovated to a sleekly updated version of its former grandeur.
Folly Beach, South Carolina
Charleston’s beach town is an obvious summer getaway destination, but it’s in the off-season when the crowds have dwindled that this hotspot becomes a windswept lovers’ paradise. Stroll Folly Pier, the East Coast’s second longest, for gorgeous water views. Take a boat trip into the estuary to catch sight of wild bottlenose dolphins. Walk through an old Coast Guard station to view the spooky 19th-century Morris Island Lighthouse, sitting just offshore.
Where to stay: Beachside Boutique Inn, a unique and classy joint where you can rent the honeymoon suite with spa bathroom and outdoor shower situated in the remarkable “Wooden Castle.”
While most Pacific Northwesterners might be familiar with Centralia as a sign on the I-5 between Olympia and Portland, those who stop in are pleasantly surprised by the romantic heart of this historic little town. Hit the antique shops or the annual Centralia Downtown Street Fair in August. Hike to the century-old fort amongst the fir trees at Borst Lake. Or nip an hour south to see Mount St. Helens, one of the most active volcanoes in the U.S.
Where to stay: The Olympic Club, which has been hosting train robbers, bootleggers, and bandits since 1908, and is still steeped in period atmosphere.
Roswell and Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
Just a 90-minute drive apart, these two strange and wondrous places will bring you closer to your sweetheart by allowing you to marvel together at some of the world’s greatest mysteries. Go in July to catch the UFO Festival with its evening light parade. Explore Carlsbad Caverns National Park, including cave tours and other activities like full moon walks and star-viewing parties.
Where to stay: Country Club Bed & Breakfast, where Victorian antiques mix with Southwest décor, and a hearty, home-cooked breakfast will set you up for a day of wonderment.
Salt Lake City, Utah
While the Crossroads of the West is known more for being Mormon than for setting the heart aflame, it’s a unique spot to stroll, hike, and admire the unusual surroundings with your beloved. Research your roots at the Family History Library. Drive through scenic Big Cottonwood Canyon and stroll in Temple Square. See a concert at the Tabernacle, or read a book at the gorgeous main branch of the city’s public library.
Where to stay: Anniversary Inn B&B, where you can choose among lavishly designed rooms with themes ranging from Wild West (with a covered-wagon bed) to Phantom of the Opera.