Thinking about whisking your sweetie away for Valentine’s Day (or any day, just because you’re in love)? Well, here are my top 10 picks for hand-holding, eye-gazing and lip-locking. Each of these places will melt your heart and deepen the bond with your honey as you share their unique charms.
1) Tuscany, Italy – One of the most scenic regions of Italy incorporates the magical medieval hilltop towns of San Gimignano, Sienna, Arezzo, and of course Florence among others. Amazing history, art and architecture are everywhere, as is hearty food and fine wine. The perfect date: a hike in the countryside with a picnic lunch, then a visit to a local vineyard for wine tasting.
2) Paris, France – The City of Light is the quintessential lover’s haven. Everything from the marvelous art and architecture to the intimate cafes and amazing food is seductive. It’s as if the whole city conspires to create an atmosphere of love. The perfect date: Dinner and a sultry show at the Moulin Rouge, then a late night stroll along the Seine.
3) Buenos Aires, Argentina – The home of the tango gets top scores for unabashed sensuality. The city is vibrant and throbbing with energy. The Recolita Cemetary (Evita’s resting place), the refurbished Teatro Colon and the upscale Puerto Madero area illustrate some of the city’s grandeur. The perfect date: Spend the afternoon at the Sunday Flea market and antique shopping in the San Telmo neighborhood, and then lose yourself in the raw passion of the tango as the locals take to the public square to dance in the evening.
4) New Orleans, LA – A city known for indulgence, New Orleans offers plenty of ways to take your pleasure. Visit the French Quarter with its voodoo shops, restaurants and multiple bars, the famous above ground “cities of the dead” cemeteries, and the 19th century mansions of the shaded Garden District. The perfect date: A traditional N’awlins seafood dinner of oysters, crawfish or gumbo, take in some music on Bourbon Street, then a walk along the Moonwalk to view the Mississippi River.
5) Tahiti, French Polynesia – One of the most romantic tropical destinations, Tahiti is simply exquisitely beautiful. While the main city of Papeete has boutiques for shopping, a colorful local market, and a lively nightlife, the real draw is spending time together in a tropical paradise. The perfect date: A week long cruise throughout the islands of Tahiti.
6) St Lucia, Caribbean – From the stunning views of Les Pitons, to ziplining in the rain forest, there is plenty to see and do in this lush, mountainous Caribbean island. Visit the bubbling sulphur springs at the Soufriere Volcano, help count nesting turtles, or dance with the locals at a Friday night street party. The perfect date: A catamaran cruise along the spectacular coast, stopping to snorkel at one of the dozens of picturesque secluded bays along the way.
7) Capetown, South Africa – The majestic setting of this city is just the beginning of her charms. Take the Table Mountain cable car for panoramic views, visit Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years, or spend the day on the sandy shores of the extensive coast. The perfect date: Visit some of the award winning wine estates along the Stellenbosch Wine Route for tastings then dine on an African all-you-can-eat buffet turned Arabian Nights fantasy at the Spier Estate, complete with colorful Bedouin tents and cushioned gazebos.
8) Charleston, SC – 300 years of Southern charm is evident in this beautifully preserved city. Stroll along the colorful collection of houses known as Rainbow Row, or take a boat tour to Fort Sumter National Monument to see how history and architecture converge. The perfect date: Any combination of Lowcountry cuisine, like she-crab soup, fried chicken, shrimp and grits, hoppin’ John, or sweet tea, followed by some jazz at the Charleston Grill.
9) Quebec City, Canada – This French-speaking Canadian city dates back to the 1600’s and is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. Take a tour of the imposing Chateau Frontenac or just stroll along the pedestrian promenade called Terrasse Dufferin for views of the St. Lawrence River port below. Take the funicular or the steep stairs down to the oldest quarter in Quebec City, known as Basse Ville and stop by the Centre d’Interpretation to learn about the Quebecois French Canadian heritage. The perfect date: Quebec is all about wining, dining, so take full advantage of the sophisticated cuisine then stroll the cobblestones of old town where street musicians, singers and acrobats perform sidewalk entertainment.
11) Marrakesh, Morocco – From the stunning setting of ocher stucco buildings and lovely palm gardens to the market with snake charmers, acrobats and storytellers, this city is sure to strike a romantic chord. The perfect date: Summon your magic Genie to the plaza of Djemaa el-Fna for dinner and to watch the spectacle from the gaslit restaurant stalls or a romantic rooftop terrace restaurant. Even if you don’t make it for Valentine’s Day, put these romantic destinations on your wish list and when you do visit, let love bloom. What is the most romantic place you have visited with your Darlin’?