Destinations: Romantic Getaways

Romance can be defined in many different ways. And while each of the following destinations can be equally exciting and romantic, one may appeal to you more than the rest, depending on your lifestyle. Check out these venues to decide which makes the best romantic getaway for you. h3. Venice, Italy Venice is still considered a classic city of romance. In February, half of the tourists are gone, and the markets are still open. However, there is a busy surge of tourists in this city during the end of January and beginning of February for the Carnival of Venice. If you want to enjoy countless concerts, plays, and productions that celebrate Venice and don't mind the crowds, try catching the carnival. You'll understand why Venice is celebrated for its decorative porcelain masks. But if you'd rather wander the city undisturbed, plan the trip a little later in the month. The best thing about Venice is that once you are there, everything is easily accessible by foot. Markets, museums, and other attractions in the city are all within walking distance because no cars are allowed on the island. The city itself is a beautiful maze of twisted walkways interrupted every so often with canals and quaint bridges. Be sure to catch a gondola ride from one of the many gondoliers parked in the canals around the city. And peek into some of the glass shops--Venice is known for its gorgeous glass creations. You can purchase jewelry, dishes, vases, or almost anything you can imagine. Some of the most famous art galleries are located in the heart of Venice. Gallerie dell'Accademia contains the most important collection of paintings of the Venetian school by artists Bellini, Giorgione, Tintoretto, and Titian. For modern art lovers, you must schedule a stop at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. Guggenheim had a personal collection of various artists' pieces, which are now on display for the public to enjoy. There is more than art on display in Venice, so check out the glass museums, naval museums, and music museums as well. Whatever you do in Venice, it will be a magical vacation. The charm and accessibility of the city make it a top destination. h3. Sedona, Arizona A masterpiece of the Southwest, Sedona is a perfect place to see the beauty of red rock formations, experience Native American art and culture, and relax in a cabin for two. In fact, Sedona is revered by USA Weekend as one of the top ten most beautiful places in the U.S. For the adventurous couple, Jeep tours and hot air balloon rides offer exciting ways to view ancient Indian ruins, rugged canyons, and dramatic red rock formations. You could even plan a day trip to the Grand Canyon, which is only two hours away. If you prefer a slower pace, Sedona has several spectacular golf courses to choose from. There are also more than thirty art galleries sprinkled throughout the city that range from traditional Southwestern style to works of modern art. For the ultimate day of relaxation, try one of the luxurious day spas in the area. Many offer breathtaking views or private creek-side cabanas. No matter what you prefer, Sedona has it all. It is the perfect getaway from life, worries, and cold weather. h3. Aspen, Colorado A winter wonderland nestled in the Rocky Mountains, Aspen has plenty of romantic atmosphere. Whether you and your love want to escape to a cozy cabin with a great view or enjoy some world-class skiing, you can't go wrong with a trip to Aspen. There are four ski resorts close to the town--Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands, and Snowmass. They are all connected by a bus service so you can visit all four on the same lift ticket. Aspen Mountain provides the intermediate and more advanced skiers a prime day of skiing. Buttermilk, on the other hand, is tailored to the beginning skier and is set up with a two-mile-long terrain park for snowboarders. Aspen Highlands is a mix of the two with more than fifty percent of its seven hundred and ninety acres crafted to satisfy expert skiers. Snowmass is perfect for the intermediate skier with over half of the resort's runs geared toward those with beginning or intermediate skills. You can also explore the beauty of the Colorado wilderness on snow shoes, snowmobiles, and cross-country skis. As for lodging, snuggle up in a cabin in the woods or reserve a condo right at the foot of the ski mountain. Whatever the case, February is a prime time to hit the slopes in Aspen because the snow is at its best. h3. St. Lucia, Caribbean If your idea of a Valentine's Day vacation includes basking in the sun on a white sandy beach, plan a trip to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. Voted the best wedding and honeymoon destination in 2002, 2003, and 2004, this tropical haven exudes romance. Although the island is small, St. Lucia is packed with things to do, including diving, snorkeling, yachting, wind surfing, and hiking. There are several beautiful beaches to choose from, but Anse Cochon Beach and Reduit Beach are among the most popular. Anse Cochon Beach is located near Souifere on the southwest side of the island and is only accessible by boat, which makes it more secluded and more romantic. It features a shallow reef that is great for snorkeling. Reduit Beach is located near St. Lucia's capital city, Castries. It's a favorite among tourists because of all the amenities provided right along the beach front. There are opportunities for almost every water sport, as well as plenty of restaurants. With its beautiful beaches, nineteen thousand acres of rainforest, and twenty-nine miles of trails sprawling across this emerald gem, St. Lucia is a luxurious, relaxing, and exotic getaway. h3. San Francisco, California San Francisco is a bustling city with a romantic feel. In fact, the Romance Writers of America voted San Francisco the most romantic city in the United States for six years in a row. Take a leisurely stroll down one of the city's beaches--not for a swim but for a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Both Baker Beach and Ocean Beach provide a stunning view, each from different sides. You may also want to consider chartering a sailboat to take you around San Francisco Bay for the afternoon, or longer. Boats are available for rent with a skipper who can guide you around the bay and even drop you off at Angel Island for a romantic picnic. Some traditional San Francisco activities include riding a cable car, walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, visiting Ghirardelli Square where delicious Ghirardelli chocolates are made, having a bite to eat in Chinatown, touring Alcatraz prison, and walking or driving down Lombard Street. Beyond the classic activities, there are plenty of opportunities to personalize your romantic sightseeing. San Francisco is famous for its seafood, so be sure to stop by one of the many restaurants on Fisherman's Wharf. After a romantic dinner for two, why not enjoy a concert? San Francisco has both an excellent symphony and chamber orchestra. Go to sfsymphony.org or sfchamberorchestra.org for more information.
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