Courtyards surrounded by ivy-covered walls, balconies with dramatic seaside views, quiet back roads in historical towns, and ocean piers offering visions of dazzling sunsets all call one thing to mind: romance. These cozy, atmospheric locales exist all over America and provide ample opportunities for intimate, memorable picnic meals with the one you love. Just pack your picnic basket and an overnight bag and you’ll be ready for a romantic weekend unlike any other.
1. Big Sur – Nothing can compare you for the awe-inspiring, breathtaking views you’ll encounter in this region of California’s Highway 1. Even seasoned travelers who think they’ve seen it all are blown away by the sheer beauty of the dramatic rocky cliffs overlooking serene blue ocean waves. The scenic, meandering drive is an essential part of the experience – you’ll want to stop at every lookout. In warm weather, plan to spend the night at one of the open campsites on the water – it’ll be an unforgettably romantic experience.
2. New York City – The city that never sleeps has an almost palpable energy to it that no other city can come close to. There are so many romantic places and activities, you’d have to make multiple trips to do them all. Ice skating in Rockefeller Center is at the top of the list for winter picnic spots; make sure to bring a couple mugs of hot cocoa. In any other season, take a carriage ride through Central Park and stop for a picnic meal you’ll never forget. Rooftop overlooks, glamorous city lights blending into the starry skies, and the exciting bustle of Times Square add to the cosmopolitan appeal of this chic and sophisticated metropolis.
3. Oahu – This beach blanket paradise is not only one of the most romantic spots in the USA, it’s known for its incredible beauty worldwide. Spend the day snorkeling, lounging in the sun, munching on a delicious tropical picnic meal and watching the sun set over the clear blue waters. Intimate hikes, coastal cruises and horseback riding are only a handful of the romantic activities couples can partake in while visiting this Hawaiian island. The most colorful fish can be found in Hanauma Bay; Diamond Head, the island’s 350 acre crater, offers incredibly striking views.
4. New Orleans – The Big Easy is more often mentioned of late in the context of hurricanes than of tourism, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it isn’t worthy of a visit. The millions of people who have been lucky enough to experience this city can describe it in one word: ‘magical’. The legacy of its heady past is everywhere – in its wrought iron balconies, courtyards full of blossoming Magnolia, and the delicious scent of Creole and Cajun cooking wafting through the air. New Orleans has a sensuous, seductive allure that gives romantic picnics with a loved one a bit of extra spice.
5. Miami – This wild and wonderful city enjoys a rich cultural diversity, making it one of the most interesting places in America to visit. Whether you’d prefer to lounge on the soft white sands of the shore, explore the fascinating ethnic shops downtown or take in the glitz and glamour of South Beach from your hotel room terrace, Miami has something for everyone. The weather is perfect year-round, giving you plenty of choices for outdoor fun including sailboat rides, bicycles built for two, wind surfing, jet skiing and swimming. Get some Cuban sandwiches from Little Havana and take them on your adventure – you’ll be happy you did!
6. Savannah – Go on a romantic getaway to this riverfront gem of the South, where cozy bed and breakfasts can be found on ever corner, and secluded nooks in the many private parks offer up enticing picnic spots. Lush greenery strewn with Spanish moss, stunning architecture, trolley rides and horse-drawn carriages contribute to the city’s unique, laid-back vibe. Get a room with a balcony overlooking the river or one of the parks for a spectacular picnic breakfast.
7. Santa Fe – The breathtaking mountainous desert scenery, spectacular sunsets, decadent cuisine and abundance of revitalizing spas make Santa Fe a standout destination for any couple looking for romance. Pamper yourselves with massages and facials, take a ride on the historic Santa Fe Southern Railway, luxuriate in a hot tub under the stars and feast on southwestern cuisine. Pack your picnic basket and head up to the Cross of the Martyrs off Paseo de Peralta for a panoramic view.
8. Grand Canyon – The Grand Canyon is often touted as the most stunning natural sight in North America, and it’s easy to see why. Summer is the most pleasant time of year to spread your picnic blanket out on the rim and enjoy the incredible scenery. The Grand Canyon also offers opportunities for a variety of outdoor adventures, from hikes to mule rides. Sunsets at this American landmark are striking explosions of vivid color, and provide a unique and memorable atmosphere for a romantic picnic for two.
9. Jackson Hole – It seems as though the picturesque Wyoming valley of Jackson Hole has been on every top ten list made in the past few years. This frontier-town-turned-ski-resort is quickly becoming the favorite winter destination of anyone who seeks a unique romantic adventure. Incredible skiing, hiking, fishing, camping, rafting and climbing opportunities abound, so have all of your picnic gear ready. There’s an undeniable romantic charm in cozying up with your partner in front of a fire, wrapping yourselves in a blanket and savoring a hot beverage.
10. Charleston – This genteel port city offers up an atmosphere of carefree tranquility. Cobblestone streets, grand antebellum plantations, and walkways cooled by island breezes give it is quaint, historic vibe. Perfect picnic spots are everywhere – enjoy the swings at Waterfront park; window shop on King Street, enjoy the lush courtyards of the churches and visit the ‘Angel Oak’ on James Island – a 1400 year old oak tree.
Stephanie Gottschalk writes the blogs ‘Picnic Fun - Tips and Recipes’ (http://www.picnictips.com ) and ‘The Joy of Water Fountains’ (http://www.waterfountainguide.com ) for Specialty Living Inc. , an Asheville, North Carolina-based company that aims to share their love of people, nature and life through high quality water fountains and picnic baskets.