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8 off the beaten path places to spend Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is all about showering your loved one with affection. It’s a chance to do something extra special and unexpected for that special someone in your life. While many choose to celebrate with dozens of roses, boxes of gourmet chocolates, and fine wines, there’s no better way to shake things up than by taking your Valentine on a romantic getaway.

While there are many cities, like Paris and Vienna, that are well-known for their romance, you don’t have to leave the country to celebrate your love. To help you find the perfect place to take your sweetheart, we’ve put together a list of the best off the beaten path destinations to spend Valentine’s Day right here in the US. Because this holiday is about spending time with the one you love, ditch the crowds and the clichés at other locations, and head to one of these top destinations. These cities are great alternatives to more well-known Valentine’s Day destinations, so you and your sweetheart can enjoy some quiet time together.

Beaufort, South Carolina

Historic mansion in Beaufort, South Carolina

Previously voted one of “America’s Happiest Seaside Towns” by Coastal Living, a trip to Beaufort with your Valentine will leave you just that: happy. This beautiful South Carolina town is known for its antebellum architecture, rich heritage, superb dining, and friendly residents. Wander through the neighborhoods arm in arm to see how well history has been preserved here. Janet’s Walking History Tour is a must-do in Beaufort, and guides you past key homes and important buildings in town. Hunting Island Lighthouse is the only lighthouse open to the public in South Carolina, and the view is worth the climb to the top. You’ll have a bird’s eye view of the Atlantic and the perfect photo-op with your someone special. Follow the Spanish Moss Trail past draping oak trees and great marshes to really get a feel for this Lowcountry destination.

Fort Collins, Colorado

Downtown Fort Collins, Colorado

Situated north of Denver and near the border of Wyoming, Fort Collins is the perfect destination for a Valentine’s Day getaway. Home to Colorado State University, the city has a vibrant atmosphere that couples both young and old will enjoy. There are lots of brew pubs and breweries in town, so hop from place to place for a taste of everything. New Belgium Brewing offers amazing brewery tours and Odell Brewing Co. will suggest the perfect pairing based on your mood. Anheuser-Busch also has a major Budweiser presence in Fort Collins for those who want to stick with the classics. Other fun things to do here include checking out the Avery House, a Victorian-era home, and exploring the exhibits at the Global Village Museum of Arts and Cultures.

Hood River, Oregon

Hood River mountains and fields are shown at sunset

Hood River is located in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge, and the city is home to sprawling orchards, scenic vineyards, and a plethora of attractions. During a romantic retreat here, take a self-guided tour of the Hood River Fruit Loop, a picturesque 35-mile loop of farm stands, U-pick farms, vineyards, and wineries.  Taste award winning wines at places like Marchesi Vineyards or Mt. Hood Winery, and purchase some to enjoy at your cozy rental. If you prefer beer, go on a brew pub crawl through town. When you’re not imbibing or feasting on the local cuisine, go snowshoeing along Mirror Lake Trail or venture just a short walk from your car at the Columbia River Gorge for a glimpse of Horsetail Falls.

Bradenton Gulf Islands, Florida

Historic Anna Maria City Pier

Everywhere you go in the Bradenton Gulf Islands you’ll find romance. From long walks on the beach to romantic dinners overlooking the ocean, there’s something for every couple. Spend your days relaxing on the beach and swimming in the sparkling, blue waters. In the evening enjoy dinner at Beach Bistro, one of the most romantic restaurants in all of Florida. The restaurant’s food is award-winning and with waterfront seating, you’ll be able to take in a colorful sunset while you dine. For ultimate relaxation, treat yourselves to a couples massage at Sea-renity Beach Spa & Eco Boutique. They offer the island’s only beach massage in a private tiki hut. It’s the perfect way to end your romantic getaway in the Bradenton Gulf Islands.

Tucson, Arizona

Cacti shown at sunset in Tucson, Arizona.

Tucson is one of the warmer destinations on our list and is ideal for those looking to spend time outdoors for Valentine’s Day. Sabino Canyon in Coronado National Forest has an abundance of opportunities for outdoor recreation including hiking, biking, and swimming. The stunning desert landscape and the sheer size of the giant cacti in Saguaro National Park will take your breath away. Drive through the park or take a nature walk to see all of the wildlife and plant-life that call the Sonoran Desert home. After exploring outdoors, pamper yourself and your loved with a luxurious spa treatment at Canyon Ranch before indulging in exquisite cuisine at one of the many local restaurants.

Oceanside, California

Oceanside Beach, CA

Less than an hour drive north of San Diego, Oceanside is the perfect place to escape for a Valentine’s Day spent by the beach. Stroll hand-in-hand along Oceanside Pier, a hub of activity, and enjoy browsing at the local shops, people watching, fishing, and more. The pier is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so make sure to catch a breathtaking sunrise or sunset during one of the days you visit. Relax in the sand at Harbor Beach or play a round of golf at one of the nearby courses. On a Thursday evening, visit Oceanside’s Sunset and Farmers Markets to pick up gourmet foods and fresh ingredients, so you can cook a romantic meal from the comfort of your vacation rental. Another perk to staying in Oceanside is that it’s centrally located between Los Angeles and San Diego, making it easy to take a day trip to nearby attractions like Disneyland, Sea World, and the San Diego Zoo.

Newport, Rhode Island

Lighthouse on the coast of Newport, Rhode Island.

Nothing says romance quite like breathtaking, ocean views, dramatic cliffs, and opulent mansions. Surround yourself and your loved one with all of the above during a getaway to Newport. Since Valentine’s Day falls during Newport’s off season, you’ll enjoy added privacy and your choice of luxurious oceanfront rentals. Go for a scenic ride along Ocean Drive circling Newport and admire the magnificent shoreline. If there’s no snow, bundle up for a walk along the Cliff Walk before indulging in a bottle of wine from one of the local vineyards, such as Newport Vineyards. Nestled along the Atlantic coastline, this town was made for celebrating Valentine’s Day.

Palm Springs, California

Yellow desert flowers on a hillside overlooking Palm Springs, California. Snow covered peaks of the San Jacinto Mountains in the background.

Simply looking to relax with your sweetheart? Palm Springs is the place for you then. With abundant sunshine throughout the year and temperatures that rarely dip below 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime, this city welcomes both snowbirds and lovebirds in February. Lounge by the pool at a Palm Springs vacation rental or cool off in comfort at one of the many spas in the city. Go shopping along Palm Canyon Drive or ascend the cliffs of Chino Canyon on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The ride takes you from the desert to the mountains and lasts about 10 minutes. Later, find love in the air at the Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway or head straight to a romantic dinner at Le Vallauris.