(MONEY Magazine) – Ah, romance. It means different things to different people. Some go for the traditional accoutrements: candlelit dinners, roaring fires, cozy inns and the like. For others, any time spent together can be romantic, no matter where they are or what they're doing, as long as it's a break from routine. Whatever does it for you (and your companion), we think you'll find some inspiration in this gathering of 50 great romantic getaways, which we selected by polling dozens of travel experts and well-traveled friends around the country. Most of our suggestions can be easily done in a single weekend (depending on where you live). For space reasons, the prices we include aren't exhaustive but do give a sense of what a typical room for two will cost each night in high season; call for specifics as well as seasonal and package rates. (Web addresses are listed on page 14.) And finally, while Valentine's Day comes only once in 12 months, romance is a year-round thing--as are these destinations.
Willamette Valley, OREGON
WHY: A burgeoning wine scene (think Napa Valley 20 years ago) where it's still possible to sit with the winemakers while sampling the fruits of their labor and admiring the pastoral views
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: Try the valley's reputable Pinot Noir. Both Rex Hill Vineyards and Panther Creek Cellars offer tastings--or buy a bottle and go for a picnic alongside one of the valley's many covered bridges.
WHERE TO STAY: Built in 1912, Springbrook Hazelnut Farm Bed and Breakfast (800-793-8528) is an Arts and Crafts-era mansion with formal gardens and a working hazelnut orchard. Ask for the secluded Rose Cottage, which is surrounded by an heirloom rose garden ($95 for a standard room; $195 for the cottage).
GETTING THERE: A scenic half-hour drive south of Portland
WHY: The entire town (which is perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific) is on the National Register of Historic Places thanks to its exquisitely preserved Victorian architecture. Plus: some of the country's largest redwoods
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: Make a reservation at the cozy Cafe Beaujolais (707-937-5614). Housed in an 1893 Victorian farmhouse, this Mendocino institution began using local organic produce, artisanal cheeses and boutique wines long before doing so was in vogue. But take your aperitif at the Mendocino Hotel. The lobby bar, dating back to 1878, has a rugged grandness that seems to demand you have a strong drink.
WHERE TO STAY: Cypress Cove ($250; 800-942-6300), a mile outside town, is the perfect alternative to the typical B&B Victoriana. Choose between two coolly Modernist oceanfront suites, each with a wood-burning fireplace, private deck, floor-to-ceiling windows and kitchenette.
GETTING THERE: A 3 1/2-hour drive from San Francisco
Yosemite National Park, CALIFORNIA
WHY: The awesome scenery, including giant sequoias, glacial lakes, vast meadows, waterfalls and, of course, legendary Half Dome
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: Avoid the crowds. The majority of tourist activity takes place in the summer months and is concentrated in Yosemite Valley, which comprises just 6% of the park. Set out on a trail and you're guaranteed some seclusion--especially in the spring or fall.
WHERE TO STAY: The Ahwahnee Hotel ($359; 559-252-4848), located within Yosemite, is a worthy destination in and of itself. Built in 1927, it's one of the most opulent lodges in all the Americas, with fireplaces large enough to walk in and a dining room where Ansel Adams took his morning meal.
GETTING THERE: A 6 1/2-hour drive from L.A.; 4 1/2 hours from San Francisco
Santa Barbara, CALIFORNIA
WHY: The opulent Spanish-Mediterranean atmosphere and architecture has long made it a haven for the rich and beautiful--yet Santa Barbara maintains a warm, genuine openness to visitors.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: Have a drink on the terrace of the Biltmore Hotel's fabulous La Sala lounge. And schedule time at Lotusland (805-969-9990). Open to the public by appointment only, the 37-acre former estate is a botanical wonderland; its pool, for example, is a lotus-filled water garden.
WHERE TO STAY: Play Hollywood hideout and stay at the exclusive San Ysidro Ranch ($399; 800-368-6788).
GETTING THERE: A 1 1/2-hour drive north from L.A.
Santa Fe, NEW MEXICO
WHY: The Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Health Spa, fashioned after a Japanese hot spring, or onsen
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: Before slipping into one of the private outdoor hot tubs, opt for some spa treatments--like a Japanese Nightingale Facial or an invigorating Thai massage.
WHERE TO STAY: Ten Thousand Waves ($210; 505-982-9304)
GETTING THERE: Fly via Denver; from Santa Fe, the spa is just four miles north.
San Antonio, TEXAS
WHY: The vibrant night life, featuring unbeatable Tex-Mex food and live music, along the city's brilliantly redeveloped Rio Grande waterfront
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: Stroll the charming River Walk, with its arched stone bridges, water buses, restaurants and shops. Plus, visit the Alamo.
WHERE TO STAY: The Spanish-colonial-style La Mansion del Rio, overlooking the River Walk ($230; 800-292-7300)
GETTING THERE: Direct flights from Dallas, Cincinnati, Memphis, Atlanta, St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo.
WHY: The southwest version of peace and quiet, with awesome vistas of red-rock canyons, cedar forests and nary another soul--or sound
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: Nothing, really, except relax. Maybe get a massage or read a book by the pool. And if you really want some outdoor activity, hike or ride horses through the canyons.
WHERE TO STAY: One of the adobe casitas at the Enchantment Resort ($375; 800-826-4180)
GETTING THERE: A two-hour drive from Phoenix; less than an hour from Flagstaff
WHY: Simply put, the scenery: towering red-rock buttes and mesas and the winding Colorado River
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: Hike or bike in the nearby Arches National Park, kayak or raft the Colorado or just soak in the view.
WHERE TO STAY: Sorrel River Ranch ($229; 877-359-2715), which features a spa and the River Grill restaurant
GETTING THERE: A 3 1/2-hour drive from Salt Lake City; or a 1 1/2-hour drive from the airport in Grand Junction, Colo.
Park City, UTAH
WHY: Three world-class ski resorts within five miles, each an easy drive from Salt Lake City International Airport
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: Take a sleigh ride for a five-course dinner by a fire in a traditional Mongolian yurt, or round tent (435-615-9878). Or declare your love at 80-plus miles per hour at the Olympic Bobsled Track (435-658-4200).
WHERE TO STAY: The New Claim Condominium Suites (888-870-7529), where a two-bedroom apartment with fireplace and kitchen rents for about $300 during the winter months
GETTING THERE: A 45-minute drive from Salt Lake City
Ouray and Ridgway, COLO.
WHY: A.k.a. the Switzerland of the U.S. At 7,000 feet, the rugged mountain beauty is truly awe-inspiring. These two towns are eight miles apart and linked by the San Juan Skyway, which has been called the most beautiful drive in America.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: Get wet--that is, in one of the many outdoor springs that are nestled among the staggering vertical peaks of the San Juan Mountains. At night, watch an explosion of stars fill the sky as you're steamed by Mother Nature.
WHERE TO STAY: Orvis Hot Springs ($75; 970-626-5324) in Ridgway has earned a loyal following for its no-frills rooms and shockingly beautiful outdoor bathing pools. Clothing is optional--but there are private tubs. And you can soak without staying over. For more upscale digs, try the historic Wiesbaden Spa ($150; 970-325-4347) in Ouray, known for cozy, European-style elegance.
GETTING THERE: A two-hour drive from the Grand Junction airport
WHY: Serious dude-ranching at the Bitterroot Ranch (800-545-0019), a family-owned dude ranch that treats guests and horses humanely; no Western costumes or forced square dancing. Beginners are welcome and nurtured accordingly.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: "Connect with your horse and see this beautiful world through their eyes," proclaims the irresistible owner, Bayard Fox. Daily rides take you through sagebrush plains and rocky gorges. A sleeping-bag snuggle on an overnight camping trip isn't bad either.
WHERE TO STAY: One of the 12 cabins built along a trout-filled stream. Each has a private bath, and most have a room with a fireplace ($695 per person for a half-week package).
GETTING THERE: A two-hour drive from the Jackson Hole airport
WHY: A jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou--the Canoe Bay Inn offers the quietness of nature, fine dining and luxurious cabins in the woods.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: Enjoy a glass of wine on your private deck before dining at the inn's top-rated Relais & Chateaux restaurant.
WHERE TO STAY: Canoe Bay ($400; 715-924-4594), where most cottages come with a view of Lake Wahdoon and a fireplace
GETTING THERE: A two-hour drive from Minneapolis; six from Chicago
WHY: Midwestern hospitality, gourmet food and the famous covered bridges of Madison County (admit it, the book made you cry).
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: Drive about an hour from Newton through rolling hills to find those covered bridges.
WHERE TO STAY: LaCorsette Maison Inn ($100; 641-792-6833), a beautifully preserved 1909 Mission-style mansion that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Owner Kay Owen is a well-regarded chef with a French flair.
GETTING THERE: Three hours from Omaha; just outside Des Moines
WHY: On the shore of Lake Michigan, Saugatuck is the Cape Cod of the Midwest. Its Oval Beach is regarded as one of the country's best.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: A dune buggy ride in Saugatuck Dunes State Park (where the sand dunes reach 350 feet high); blueberry picking (if you're there in July or August); and a picnic on the beach
WHERE TO STAY: The Wickwood Inn ($250; 800-385-1174), a bed and breakfast owned by Julee Rosso of The Silver Palate Cookbook fame and her husband Bill Miller. It's a safe bet that breakfast will be tasty.
GETTING THERE: 2 1/2 hours from Chicago and Detroit
WHY: All things French--which, for whatever reason, Americans find irresistibly romantic. Plus, a favorable exchange rate, making it easy to indulge in extra luxuries
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: Dine at Toque--a lush yet relaxed local favorite where you're encouraged to linger--the tasting menu, for example, lasts an average of four hours. Then head to Mont-Royal Park. Overlooking the city, it's the perfect place for a twilight ride in a caleche (that's French for carriage).
WHERE TO STAY: Tucked away behind heavy iron gates in Old Montreal (which is the best section for a stroll), Hostellerie Pierre du Calvet ($265; 514-282-1725) was built in 1725 and has only nine rooms, each sprawling and furnished with antiques, a fireplace and a heavenly bed.
GETTING THERE: Fly direct or ride the Adirondack, a 10-hour Am-trak train from New York City.
WHY: It's your quintessential New England town--quaint, friendly, and surrounded by lush rolling hills and small farms.
WHAT you have to do: Take advantage of the Woodstock Inn & Resort's Classic Romance package, which includes two nights' accommodations, breakfast and dinner for two, and a bottle of champagne when you arrive.
WHERE TO STAY: The Wood-stock Inn & Resort ($195 a night, $672 for the package; 800-448-7900)
GETTING THERE: A 2 1/2-hour drive from Boston; 51/2 from New York City
Saugerties, NEW YORK
WHY: An overnight stay at an 1869 lighthouse on the Hudson River
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: Walk--at low tide--from the lighthouse to the mainland along the trail lined with ash, pussy-willow shrubs and red maple trees. (During some months the trail is underwater at high tide.) And have dinner at Cafe Tamayo, a highly regarded restaurant in Saugerties that is run by James Tamayo, a graduate of the nearby Culinary Institute of America.
WHERE TO STAY: Saugerties Lighthouse ($160, $320 for the whole lighthouse; 845-247-0656)
GETTING THERE: At the foot of the Catskills along the Hudson River, Saugerties is a two-hour drive from New York City.
The Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay, MARYLAND
WHY: Simple pleasures abound in the small towns of Easton, St. Michael's and Oxford--like the sound of fishing boats coming and going as you appreciate the merits of a true Chesapeake crab cake.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: Find a dead-end street that faces the bay--just about every village has one--and take in a sunset. As the color fades to darkness, the water fills with the lights of sailboats.
WHERE TO STAY: The Inn at Easton ($200; 410-822-4910) is charming without being frilly. Among other things, it's memorable for the richly painted rooms and extraordinarily luxurious Italian bed linens.
GETTING THERE: One hour by car from both Washington, D.C. and Baltimore
Charleston, SOUTH CAROLINA
WHY: It's where 350 years of history meets southern hospitality. You'll find antebellum mansions, a bustling port, moss-draped live oaks, cobblestone streets, world-class southern cuisine and perfectly preserved historic sites.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: At 5:45 p.m., grab a bottle of wine, hail a vis-a-vis (one-horse carriage) and ride through the storied district. By six, you'll be deep in the Charleston experience just in time to hear every church bell in town announce nightfall.
WHERE TO STAY: Constructed in 1844, the Planters Inn ($250; 800-845-7082) is the only luxury boutique hotel located right on the venerable city market.
GETTING THERE: Fly direct to Charleston Airport.
Golden Isles, GEORGIA
WHY: JFK Jr. got hitched here--it's that romantic. The Golden Isles are part of an easily accessible chain of barrier islands off the Georgia coast. From tony golf resorts to unspoiled private beaches, they offer something for everyone.
WHAT you HAVE TO DO: Visit Little St. Simons Island, a privately owned 10,000-acre natural paradise, which has been virtually unchanged for centuries. Day-trippers are welcome.
WHERE TO STAY: The Lodge on Little St. Simons (888-733-5774) has just five cottages that can accommodate no more than 30 guests at one time. It offers a three-day package, including accommodations and meals, for about $1,275 for two people. The Lodge on Sea Island ($400; 866-465-3563)is a luxury resort with three excellent golf courses, including one by renowned architect Tom Fazio.
GETTING THERE: You can reach all the islands by bridge from Brunswick (which is an hour's drive from Savannah) except for Little St. Simons, which requires a ferry. And flights from Atlanta go to Brunswick and St. Simons and Jekyll Islands.
Hot Springs, ARKANSAS
WHY: Old-world-style spa pampering. Back in the day, Hot Springs was the opulent winter resort for the Vanderbilt crowd. The buildings on Bathhouse Row are a tribute to Classical Revival architecture. The natural mineral waters that the spas were built around are said to have healing properties.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: Visit Buckstaff Baths (501-623-2308) to "take the waters" in impeccable spa facilities that have been in continuous service since 1912. Enjoy the soothing rub, sitz bath, loofah massage and steambox. It is luxurious kitsch--you'll feel like a cross between Andrew Carnegie and Lucille Ball.
WHERE TO STAY: The Arlington Hotel ($120; 800-643-1502) is a full-service spa hotel close to the Hot Springs Country Club. The 1902 Majestic Hotel (800-643-1504) offers similar spa services at similar rates.
GETTING THERE: An hour-long drive from Little Rock, or fly direct to Hot Springs Airport from Dallas on Mesa Airlines
South Beach, MIAMI
WHY: Sexy and sophisticated night life that tumbles along a sparkling beachfront. Candy-colored Art Deco architecture provides a signature backdrop for lush tropical beauty with rich Latino flair.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO: See and be seen. Rent a convertible and loop up Collins Avenue and down Ocean Drive for the ultimate in cruising and viewing. Then stop at Joe's Stone Crab (305- 673-0365; open October through May) for the world-famous crab claws.
WHERE TO STAY: The impossibly cool Delano Hotel ($450; 800-555-5001) is Ian Schrager's opulent vision. Whether or not you stay there, by all means have a drink in America's first indoor-outdoor lobby. A few blocks back from the beach you'll find better rates at classic boutique hotels. Consider the Hotel Chelsea ($125; 305-534-4069), a Deco gem.
GETTING THERE: A quick 15 miles from Miami International