Looking to escape the everyday grind with a picture-perfect romantic holiday?
We’ve looked all over the USA and plucked out 10 weekend getaways that cater to couples of all tastes. From mountains to beaches, big cities to small towns, sprawling national parks to epic West Coast drives, here are the best places in the US for a romantic escape from it all.
1. Big Sur, California
Best for couples who love the open road
Enjoy quality time with breathtaking views on one of the country’s most celebrated road trips. Big Sur’s wild stretch of Hwy 1 matches unparalleled vistas with hidden beaches and hiking opportunities, bubbling hot springs and excellent dining options – which makes it ideal for a couple looking to hit the road and reconnect with nature, without going totally rustic.
What’s more, the drive is better as a duo: if you take turns, you’ll both have a chance to look out the window, and to get behind the wheel. (Just be sure to check your route before you set out, as rockslides, flooding, wildfires and auto accidents can all trigger closures.)
Start north of Big Sur at Carmel-by-the-Sea, and give yourself time to explore a village renowned for its artistic charm, from its galleries and shopping to its 18th-century mission. On your way south, stop at Point Lobos State Park to watch the sea lions cavorting on the coast, then pause near the highly Instagrammable Bixby Bridge to snap a pic or two.
2. Key Biscayne, Florida
Best for sun-seeking couples
Less than 10 miles from downtown, Key Biscayne isn’t technically part of Miami. Yet it’s close and continuous enough with the city that it could be an outer neighborhood – if it didn’t feel so darn different. From skyscrapers and scene-y clubs to quiet white-sand beaches, bike-friendly streets and water sports galore, this barrier island promises to transport you and your loved one far from the urban clamor.
Between its 19th-century lighthouse – the oldest standing structure in all of Florida – and its 1.25-mile natural beach, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is a must-visit. Couples can recharge together under an umbrella, or paddle a kayak for two on the ocean waves. If you’re arriving by sea, head straight for Boater’s Grill, where you can dock at No Name Harbor and tuck into bacalao fritters and fresh-caught snapper.
The Rusty Pelican is another local institution that’s going strong after more than half a century. Reserve a table for brunch or time it to sunset to make the most of the magnificent waterfront location on Rickenbacker Marina.
3. Monadnock Region, New Hampshire
Best for small-town-loving couples
The southwest corner of New Hampshire is dotted with historic towns that exude charm – and provide a backdrop for romantic touring. Make a weekend of it by hitting the back roads and driving your way from village to village, one white-spired church and town green at a time.
Harrisville (population 953) boasts a beautifully preserved red-brick mill complex once powered by the waterfall that flows next to it; today, it’s home to knitting outfitter Harrisville Designs. After a walk around the village (it won’t take long), stop for lunch at the picture-perfect Harrisville General Store. Nearby Hancock (pop 1654) has one of the loveliest Main Sts around, lined with historic homes with huge porches and white-picket fences; the storied Hancock Inn, dating to 1789, is scheduled to reopen in 2024. Peterborough (in these parts, a small city – of 6284 people) is the regional hub for the arts, and its small streets are filled with galleries, small museums and original shops. (It’s also a creative muse itself, supposedly serving as the inspiration for Grover’s Corners in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town.)
You won’t have to drive far to see the massif that lends its name to the area. If you’re after a bit of exertion after all that car time, Monadnock, one of the world’s most-climbed mountains, offers a moderate hike with a major payoff: 360° views from its rocky, 3165-ft summit that on clear days stretch as far as Boston.
4. Williamsburg, New York City
Best for gourmet couples
Even in New York City’s standout restaurant scene, North Brooklyn boasts a particular embarrassment of riches. By basing yourself in Williamsburg, you’ll be at the center of the action.
Whether you’re after a fun date over cha siu “McRibs” and “MSG martinis” or a morning-after brunch of salted-egg-custard french toast, Cantonese-American Bonnie’s is a hot ticket. In South Williamsburg, elegant Aldama serves elevated takes on the street foods of central Mexico, while over by the BQE, Llama Inn’s dimly lit dining room sets the scene for romance over beautifully rendered Peruvian fare.
On the northern edge of the neighborhood, KRU does modern twists on Thai classics in industrial-chic, apothecary-esque environs. And for a casual bite, Taqueria Ramírez slings meaty Mexico City–style tacos from a subway-tiled storefront in Greenpoint. Come prepared to queue up for your tripa, campechano, longaniza, suadero and al pastor on weekends.
5. Joshua Tree National Park, California
Best for outdoorsy couples
The two distinct desert ecosystems of Joshua Tree National Park present myriad opportunities for open-air bonding – think spring wildflowers, all sorts of animals, stunning sunsets and epic stargazing. If you prefer to stroll hand in hand, there are short walks and nature trails, with more-strenuous treks – plus biking, backpacking and rock-climbing – if you’d rather work up a sweat. (However you get out and about, pack more water than you’ll think you’ll need in this hot, dry, gorgeous place.)
You’ll find on-site campgrounds – but renting romantic accommodations nearby takes things up a notch. Barely 10 miles from the park gate, Cascade Trails Mustang Sanctuary offers five glamping tents alongside equine experiences, such as sunset trail excursions and private stargazing rides (bookable even if you’re not staying overnight).
Take a dip in the heated pool, then cozy up in a sleek Airstream trailer at AutoCamp Joshua Tree, or hit the mineral spa and pool at the adults-only, 420-friendly, clothing-optional Mi Kasa Hot Springs. Celebrating something special? Peruse Plum Guide’s listings for the perfectly private, modern abode.
6. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Best for couples who love mixing old and new
A city founded by the Spanish more than 400 years ago is today a center of artistic innovation. Strict planning laws mandate the use of adobe in all construction (even gas stations!), giving Santa Fe its signature earth-toned look and sense of architectural harmony and continuity. Yet riots of color and imagination lie behind those earthen walls.
In and around the historic Plaza, world-class museums showcase paintings by famous resident Georgia O’Keeffe, as well as new work by local Indigenous artists. Further afield, the Museum of International Folk Art teems with everything from brightly painted masks to carved dolls to beaded jewelry and much, much more (it’s the world’s largest such collection).
But perhaps no site exemplifies Santa Fe’s vibe of free-spirited inventiveness better than Meow Wolf. An artist collective has transformed a former bowling alley (donated by another Santa Fe creative, George RR Martin, of Game of Thrones fame) into an immersive wonderland, with trippy lights, hidden passageways and a head-scratching narrative to guide visitors through all the madness. Rather than stepping into history, here you’ll feel you’ll have stepped into another dimension.
7. Aspen, Colorado
Best for high-rolling couples
Ritzy Aspen is a legendary celebrity hangout, particularly during the peak winter months, when the perfect powder, jaw-dropping real estate and impeccable dining options draw a steady crowd of A-listers – and prices to match. That said, it’s not all snow days: with biking, hiking and cultural events during the other months of the year, it’s a true four-season destination. While planning a budget weekend here would be a tall order, this is a great place to go all out.
If you’re that other kind of high-rolling couple, there’s plenty for you as well. Like the rest of Colorado, Aspen has a selection of recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries; Dalwhinnie is worth a stop for the eye candy alone. A tasteful boutique with a cowboy–cousin–of–Ralph Lauren aesthetic, it caters to the VIP market, juxtaposing pre-rolled joints, jars of flower and deluxe accessories with clothing, jewelry and home goods worth tens of thousands. As you’d expect in a place like this, prices are higher than at your average dispensary.
8. Rogers Park, Chicago
Best for culture-oriented couples
Hyde Park and Bucktown–Wicker Park are well known for their architectural bona fides and trendsetting, art-inspired style. But to mingle with a young crowd of diverse creatives, the Far North Side community of Rogers Park is the place to head. With 60-plus languages spoken and too many cuisines to count – from Caribbean to Mexican to Ethiopian to Japanese – this is the Chicago neighborhood that, based on recent census data, “most closely matches the racial and ethnic breakdown of the entire city,” per the Chicago Sun-Times.
During the day, check out the Mile of Murals on Glenwood Ave, wander through the galleries and studios of the Glenwood Arts District and stop by the Leather Archives & Museum for a peek at the history and culture of leather, kink, fetish and BDSM.
By night, catch original works at the Factory Theater, world music and magicians at Rhapsody and stories from underrepresented communities – expressed via stage combat! – at Babes With Blades. Then grab a nightcap at the romantic Le Piano, an intimate bar and performance space anchored by – yes – a grand piano.
9. Washington, Virginia
Best for history-loving couples
About a 90-minute drive west of DC in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, the country’s original Washington sits in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Expect a quaint small town with world-famous accommodations.
Relais & Châteaux’s Inn at Little Washington is home to the only three-Michelin-star restaurant in the DC metro area. Since it’s beloved for its tasting menus, you just might spot members of the other Washington’s elite at the next table over. (You may also recall its unique approach to filling the dining room post-lockdown).
You won’t have to travel far to enjoy more of this charmer of a town. Sip a glass of locally made wine at Gadino Cellars or Little Washington Winery, duck in and out of the village’s shops and galleries, or head underground to check out the biggest caverns in the eastern US. You can also do some paddling on the Shenandoah River, motor south to spectacular Skyline Dr and hit the rest of nearby Shenandoah National Park for adventures both on foot and two wheels.
10. San Juan, Puerto Rico
Best for LGBTIQ+ couples
One of the most welcoming destinations in Puerto Rico – and the entire Caribbean – for LGBTIQ+ travelers, San Juan is a warm-weather retreat with gay-friendly neighborhoods, accommodations, nightlife and restaurants. To keep things lively, a Queer Filmfest takes place in May, as well as an epic Pride celebration in June. And all of this is just a couple of hours by plane from most cities on the East Coast.
You and your partner can hit one of two unofficial gay beaches, then prepare for a big night out at one of the capital’s fun LGBTIQ+ bars, whether you’re catching a drag show at Kweens Klub or Zal Si Puedes, dancing up a storm at La Placita, downing cheap, strong drinks at Tía Maria’s Liquor Store or making new friends at La Sombrilla Rosa.
Looking to treat yourselves to a nice meal? Order broiled lobster and booze-filled coconut drinks at the gay-owned Ostra Cosa, or head to Jose Santaella’s gay-friendly namesake for beautiful contemporary Puerto Rican fare in an equally beautifully designed space.
As for accommodations, Coqui del Mar is an adults-only, gay-owned guesthouse in Ocean Park, with a clothing-optional pool and first-floor studios complete with two-person walk-in showers. You can also join group excursions to the rainforest and the beach. The all-vegetarian, gay-owned boutique Dreamcatcher is also in Ocean Park, while the adults-only Condado Ocean Club faces the sea in – you guessed it – Condado.