If it’s adventure you and your S.O. crave, then cancel that reservation you just made at that schmoozy, overpriced restaurant nearby, skip shopping for a gift and plan a day or weekend trip to a small town instead. And for those in a new relationship, this is actually the most ideal way to spend the holiday because having fun on Valentine’s Day is crucial, but it’s a little early for anything over the top.
And planning a trip to a quaint, picturesque small town instead of a bustling city that will tempt you to overschedule to fit in all that city’s must-do adventures will give you a chance to slow down, relax and reconnect.
Ahead, we’ve gathered the most romantic small-town getaways you should consider first.
For couples who love to spend their time outdoors together, Aspen has it all. Take a quiet hike to a secluded spot, hop in a hot air balloon and take in the sights from high up in the sky, or reserve a night at a romantic hotel, like the St. Regis Aspen Resort and order room service in your robes — whatever you end up doing, you’ll feel the love in the crisp, fresh Rocky Mountain air.
Sag Harbor, New York
With a population of just over 2,000 people, this small, small town in New York is downright charming. Sprawling with picture-perfect homes with freshly manicured roses greeting guests and rich with history (the town was once a thriving whaling port in the 18th and 19th centuries), Sag Harbor will make you rethink small towns forever. Plus, celebrities Ellen Pompeo, Jimmy Buffett and Christie Brinkley have homes here.
Little else beats a sunset on this small fairy-tale beach city on the Monterey peninsula. Go for a walk or hike on the Scenic Bluff Path that stretches along the coast; or get cozy next to a roaring (but contained!) beach fire, which is absolutely permitted on Carmel Beach. Once you head into town, head straight to one of many wine shops and wineries.
Greenville, South Carolina
Described as having “high-wattage charm” by The Washington Post, Greenville will reel you in with its Southern charm, and by the end of the trip, you may never want to leave. Spend the afternoon at Falls Park on the Reedy, and you’ll fall in love with its riverside gardens and waterfall views. In the evening, explore the downtown area, boasting over 200 retailers and restaurants within a 10-block radius.
Just shy of 4,000 people, Senoia may not seem like the most romantic place — especially once you find out that it was at one time the filming location for The Walking Dead. But wait! Does it help that Fried Green Tomatoes, Driving Miss Daisy and Footloose were all filmed here too? You won’t be able to resist Greek revival mansion-turned-B&B the Veranda Historic Bed & Breakfast Inn, nor will you resist eating the famed fried green tomatoes from Redneck Gourmet and Katie Lou’s Cafe. Plus, look at that crimson-red barn above. Adorable.
With just north of 10,000 people living among the red rocks of the breathtaking town of Sedona, this is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream vacation. With plenty of hiking trails and opportunities up and around red-rock buttes and along canals that snake through Oak Creek Canyon, be sure to pack your hydration pack and plenty of sunblock because you’ll be out and about all day. Splurge and stay at a local resort too; they’re worth every penny. Not only do they boast superior views of the canyons and buttes, but the service is impeccable.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Nestled in the heart of the Ozark Mountains exists a city known for its chapel in the woods (Thorncrown Chapel), its ghost tours, its rolling hills and its natural springs. Eureka Springs, with a population hovering just above 2,000, will also keep you busy at Lake Leatherwood, Onyx Cave Park and Basin Spring Park. And don’t forget to stop by “The Ozarks’ Strangest Dwelling,” Quigley’s Castle — a historic house, museum and garden.