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Tag-Archive for "Romantic Getaways"

Romantic Getaways in Charleston Mar 27

Charleston, South Carolina is probably our favorite place for a romantic getaway. However, we are a little biased because Charleston is the place where we were married. We actually got married under a large Spanish oak tree and had our reception on the beach. The greatest thing about going to Charleston for a romantic getaway is that it is one of the few places where you can spend a day chasing after history going back hundreds of years and go to the beach and just relax the next day. There are many reasons why we think Charleston is a terrific place for a romantic getaway.

On our past trip to Charleston, we actually travelled in to Myrtle Beach and made the two hour drive to Charleston. One of the downsides for a romantic getaway to Charleston is that it can be expensive to travel there. However, if you fly in to Myrtle Beach and drive to Charleston, you can cut your travel costs by up to 50%! In this case we got great air fares on Spirit Airlines and used Dollar Rental Car. We figured that we saved ourselves about $500 flying into Myrtle Beach and driving. The Myrtle Beach airport has most of the major airlines and rental car agencies to choose from.
Although we have stayed in hotels near downtown and in vacation homes on Folly Beach, we actually stayed with relatives this past time. Charleston is so romantic, even though we didn’t stay by ourselves; we had a wonderful romantic getaway. We visited with family but also made time to share some romantic moments with each other. We took several walks through downtown Charleston where we are always amazed by the beauty of its architecture. We immersed ourselves in the history of the city and also enjoyed watching the sailboats leave the harbor. It is truly a wonderful place.
We also found time most every day to at least visit Folly Beach. We did spend the majority of a couple of days in a County Park on Folly Beach, just taking in the Sun and listening to the waves. We also enjoyed romantic walks along Folly Beach where we conjured up memories of our wedding reception on the beach. We just never get tired of it.

Charleston has a lot of great places for shopping and eating in the downtown area. My wife and I enjoy visiting the market area where local vendors sell everything from souvenirs to food items. The market area is also the place to catch a romantic carriage ride through the downtown area or various walking tours.

We really enjoy the food in the downtown area. On this visit, we had lunch at Hyman’s Seafood which has terrific crab cakes and great seafood. They also profess that attitude is everything and have a lot of neat t-shirts and souvenirs that talk about it. Our other lunch in downtown was a Jim and Nick’s on King Street which has great southern food. It is a local chain throughout the southwest and we somehow always seem to make it their on a trip to Charleston. On another day, we enjoyed a few beers and some great pizza at the Southend Brewery near the Market.

My wife set aside one night for a very special romantic dinner. We chose to have our dinner at the Peninsula Grill in the downtown market area. The inside dining area looked very well decorated and romantic but we reserved a table in the outside courtyard because we thought it was even more romantic. The courtyard is decorated beautifully with palm trees and white lights. The service is excellent. They don’t rush you and only seemed to be around whenever you needed them, which is perfect for a romantic evening. The food is fantastic. They have everything from steak to seafood to pork with unique and very tasty preparations. My wife and I really liked the Berkshire Pork Chop. If you like pork chops, you have to try Berkshire pork; it has a wonderful texture and taste. For dessert, the Peninsula Grill has many things but they have won awards for their coconut cake. It is a huge slice (easily big enough for two) and is like no coconut cake you have ever tasted. From the romantic atmosphere to the outstanding service to their unique and delicious menu, the Peninsula Grill is a great option for dinner on your romantic getaway in Charleston.

Charleston is truly a great city that has a lot to offer. The blend of history and the beach and wonderful food and shopping options make it a special place with a little for everyone. The next time you are looking for a great romantic getaway, we suggest that you take a look at Charleston.

Romantic Getaways in Myrtle Beach Mar 12

I wanted to take my wife for a weekend romantic getaway for her birthday.  I wanted to take her somewhere she could see the ocean.  After some research, I decided to take my wife to Myrtle Beach for a romantic getaway.

We have traveled to South Carolina several times before and used the Myrtle Beach airport before because there are a few discount airlines that fly in and out of there which keeps prices down.  In this case, we used Spirit Airlines and got a really great deal.  Myrtle Beach has very reasonable airline prices and also has all of the major rental car companies next to the terminal.

There are several hotels and resorts along the ocean but I wanted to find one that had some good specials and was very nice.  We stayed at the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes which was just 5 minutes from the beach.  The Marina Inn has a variety of accommodations from studio rooms to four bedroom suites with kitchens.  Our suite had a fireplace, king bed, full kitchen, and a patio with a view of the Intercoastal waterway and a golf course.  The furniture and the bed were very comfortable.  The Marina Inn has a beautiful outdoor pool for getting some sun and an indoor pool and fitness center if you want to stay in shape.   I thought that the hotel and grounds were very nice and the customer service was excellent.

One of the reasons that we came to Myrtle Beach was to spend some time on the beach.  The beach is just 5 minutes away and the hotel provides shuttles to the beach throughout most of the year or you can drive yourself.  The Marina Inn has beach access right next to the Marriott and provides everything you need to relax at the beach from chairs, umbrellas, hammocks, and a cabana which has casual dining and restrooms and changing rooms.  We went in the off season when there wasn’t shuttle service but the advantage was that we had the beach to ourselves.  We spent the better part of the weekend just relaxing at the beach.

Myrtle Beach does have a lot to do.  Of course, many people go to Myrtle Beach for the golf.  You can’t go too far in Myrtle Beach without finding a golf course.  This would include miniature golf courses, executive courses, and of course some signature golf courses as well.  Myrtle Beach does have a lot of other things to do from dinner shows to small amusement parks to aquariums.

If you like to shop, Myrtle Beach has a lot of options from outlet malls to traditional malls and unique entertainment / shopping areas.  We went to Broadway at the Beach which has a wide variety of shopping, dining, nightlife, and entertainment options.  The complex has themed architecture areas around a 23 acre lake which houses fireworks shows.  We enjoyed eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream while walking through the different shops.

There are a lot of different dining options in Myrtle Beach.  While we were there, we enjoyed some terrific chicken tenders from Zaxby’s as well as some terrific steaks from Ruth’s Chris Steak House.  We also had a terrific breakfast at the Waterscapes restaurant inside the Marina Inn.  We especially enjoyed their Banana’s Foster French Toast.  Since we were there for a long weekend we really didn’t get to experience all the dining options that Myrtle Beach had to offer but we did see a lot we would like to try the next time we are there.

My wife really liked her birthday romantic getaway to Myrtle Beach.  We were able to relax at the beach which was what she really wanted to do. However, the next time we go we may play some golf or do some of the great activities Myrtle Beach has to offer.  The next time you are looking for a romantic getaway along the ocean, don’t overlook Myrtle Beach!

Romantic Getaways in Amelia Island Mar 05

My wife and I are big fans of beaches.  There is something about the sand, the sun, and the waves that make for a great place for romantic getaway.  We are always looking for new places and my wife was looking through the internet for hotels close to the beach.  When she was looking, she noticed that there was a Ritz Carlton at Amelia Island near Jacksonville that was beachfront.  She also noticed that there were some great specials running for the Ritz Carlton including daily breakfast for the times we wanted to go.  I had never stayed at a Ritz Carlton before but always heard good things about them from my wife.  We decided that we were going to Amelia Island for our next romantic getaway.

We flew into Jacksonville which was a nice airport.  We were able to use some previous credit from a cancelled flight from Southwest Airlines and some good rates to get down to Jacksonville at a good price.  We rented a car at the airport and headed out toward Amelia Island.  A short 45 minute ride later, we were at the Ritz Carlton.

Right away, I saw what customer service at the Ritz Carlton was all about.  They really understand how to pamper their guests and make the vacation experience memorable.  Whether it is helping you with your bags, recommending places to go, bringing you a cocktail, or just walking by you down the hall, they really make you feel special.  Any request is granted with a smile and the phrase, “It’s my pleasure!” which has become the motto of the Ritz Carlton.  The interesting thing to me was that they really made me believe that it was their pleasure to serve us.  If you ever get the chance, I would highly recommend trying a Ritz Carlton for a romantic getaway.

The Ritz Carlton at Amelia Island is really a nice property.  The rooms are clean and comfortable and many have views of the ocean.  They have a really nice pool adjacent to the ocean.  The pool lounge chairs are set up with tiered views of the pool and the ocean.  They even had a variety of live bands playing music by the pool.  There is a bar and grill at the pool that serves cocktails, soft drinks, and sandwiches.  It is really nice to be lying by the pool, looking at the ocean, while the wait staff brings you cocktails with a smile.

The Ritz also had some excellent dining options.  Salt is a high end gourmet restaurant with expansive ocean views that looked really good and got great reviews.  As part of our hotel package, we had a couple of outstanding breakfasts at Café 4750 including a fabulous breakfast buffet complete with an omelet station and fresh cinnamon rolls.  The restaurant also serves delicious burgers and other lunch fare on the patio overlooking the pool.  We also had a great burger and appetizers at the Eight Burger Bar & Sports Lounge and even got to play a little pool.  The Ritz has live music and dancing every night in the lobby lounge. Finally, they have a fire pit just outside of the lobby lounge with comfortable chairs and great service.  There aren’t many things more romantic than sharing a couple of glasses of wine or cocktails while cuddling next to you sweetie in front of a roaring fire.

We came to Amelia Island for the beach and we weren’t disappointed.  We did spend quite a few hours on the beach right in front of the Ritz laying out on their comfortable lounge chairs, reading a book, and looking at the ocean.  We also enjoyed some long romantic walks along the beach.  We picked up a few sea shells and even saw a few baby sea turtles that were about the size of a silver dollar.  We also enjoyed bodysurfing and just playing in the water to help cool off from the August sun.  We probably spent more time by the ocean than anywhere else which is kind of the norm for us on our romantic getaways.

We primarily stayed on the property at the Ritz but did venture out a few times.  We did go to downtown Fernandina Beach which was about 15 minutes from the hotel.  It is a nice downtown with a variety of shops and restaurants.  We had a fabulous dinner at Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro.  The food was excellent (especially the Seafood Risotto), the atmosphere was pleasant (we sat next to a fireplace), and the service was excellent.

We also spent another afternoon having a lunch / dinner at a really neat bar called Sliders Seaside Bar and Grill.  They had very good live music at the outside tiki bar which was just steps away from the beach.  We really enjoyed our crab burger sandwiches while soaking in the sun and the live music.

Although it isn’t as well know as some other beach towns, Amelia Island has a lot to offer.  They have some very nice resorts with excellent service, good restaurants, and most importantly really nice beaches.  We had a wonderful time and will certainly look to Amelia Island for a future romantic getaway!

Romantic Getaways in Maui Feb 28

Maui is a great place for a romantic getaway.  This year my wife celebrated a milestone birthday.  Her number one item on her “Bucket List” was going on a trip to Hawaii.  I did some research about Hawaii and decided to make Maui the island to take my wife on a romantic getaway for her birthday.

In investigating Hawaii, I did research on the different islands.  They all have great beaches.  Oahu is the most cosmopolitan, Kauai is the most green, Big Island has live volcanoes, but Maui has a little of everything.  Maui has great beaches for anything from snorkeling to surfing, a volcano, and just a wide variety of things to do.

The downside of Hawaii is that the flights are really long, especially if you don’t live on the west coast.  I think you want to plan to stay for a week at minimum to allow for the jet lag to subside and so that you can immerse yourself in the Hawaiian culture.  When you land in Maui, you immediately see that things will be a little different.  The airport has open air areas where you can see some of the mountains in the area.  You really need a car to get around and since this was intended to be a special vacation, we decided to rent a convertible to feel the Hawaiian air.  There are a lot of rental companies from nationally known ones to locally owned ones but we chose to rent a Mustang convertible from Budget rental car.

There are a great many places to stay on Maui from high end hotels and resorts to condominiums.  There a lot of good websites but we found ours on VRBO.com.  We chose to stay near Kaanapali area because there are great beaches nearby and town of Lahaina with excellent restaurants, shopping, and nightlife nearby.  Our condominium was a two bedroom in a sixteen unit resort called Hoyochi Nikko only 50 feet from the ocean.  We were able sit on the balcony and watch the sea turtles swim and the whales breaching.  We also had access to the ocean where we could snorkel with a variety of fish and sea turtles from the back of the condo.  The condo was clean, had a full kitchen with modern amenities, and was very comfortable.  There are a great many resorts in the Kaanapali area for all tastes that you could find on VRBO.com, HomeAway.com, and through local websites.

There are a wide variety of restaurants in the area that are very good.  We spent several mornings at The Gazebo restaurant in the Napili Shores resort.  It had a great view of the water where you could see whales breaching while you eat.  The served really good omelets and macadamia nut pancakes that were outstanding and very reasonably priced.  They do serve lunch but we only ate there for breakfast.  We also ate at the Pineapple Grill at the Kapalua Resort which has great views of the golf course and the sunsets.  The food was outstanding and provided a nice variety of foods from gourmet meat and seafood dishes for dinners to burgers and salads for lunches.  Make sure you leave room for the best pineapple upside down cake my wife and I have ever tasted.  We went into Lahaina to eat one night and had an outstanding meal at David Paul’s Lahaina Grill.  They have outstanding service and feature a lot of dishes from both land and sea prepared in unique and delicious ways.  As we have mentioned in previous posts, we love Melting Pot Restaurants and they have a very nice new one in Lahaina right next to an Outback.  In other words, there are tons of choices for every taste not too far away.

Lahaina also has some nice shopping options through downtown.  There are a lot of art galleries, boutiques, and places to buy souvenirs.  Just off the main street, there is a shop called Hilo Hatties which is a great place to buy Hawaiian clothes and souvenirs. 

The area also has a lot of unique nightlife options.  There are a variety of Luaus in the area of which the Old Lahaina Luau appears to be the most well-liked.  We went to a magic show called Warren & Annabelle’s.  The night starts out with some appetizers and piano playing from a ghost.  The show is intimate and is every bit as much of a comedy show as it is a magic show.   The magic show is in the slight of hand variety instead of some of the grand dramatic tricks you would see in a Vegas show.  However, my wife and I were still trying to figure out some of his tricks all the way home.  This is definitely a must do if you are staying in the Lahaina area. 

Maui also has a wide variety of outdoor things to do.  We got up at 4 am one morning and drove up a 10,000 ft high volcano at Haleakala National Park to watch the sunrise.  It was a tremendous view and definitely a memorable experience.  You can take zip line tours either near Haleakala or in the West Maui mountains.  If you like scenic drives, you can take the Road to Hana which is a very, very windy road with a variety of waterfalls and beaches to see along the way.  If you are interested in windsurfing or surfing either from beginner to expert or participant to viewer, Maui has some great options.

My wife and I really like beaches and that is why we were most looking forward to going to Hawaii.  We went to Kapalua Bay which had great snorkeling and a nice walk along the ocean.  We also spent a day at Kaanapali beach which was great for people watching and some good snorkeling.  These are just a few of the many beaches in Maui.  As you can see, my wife and I we really like snorkeling.  There are a great many snorkeling shops where you can rent equipment or arrange for snorkeling tours.  My wife and I took a snorkeling tour with the Pacific Whale Foundation that went to Molokini Crater with its beautiful, clear water, and abundant fish.  We then went to another snorkeling area to swim with the sea turtles.  The nice part about of snorkeling tours with the Pacific Whale Foundation is that while you are traveling to the snorkeling spots, you get a great education about whales and other ocean life.

Our romantic getaway to Maui was truly a once in a lifetime experience.  We really can’t wait to go back to Hawaii.  The real dilemma is that we enjoyed Maui immensely.  We think that we want to try a different island but don’t know if we can withstand the urge to not go back to Maui.  When you are looking to put a trip on your “Bucket List”, we strongly suggest adding a romantic getaway to Maui on it.

Romantic Getaways in Grand Bahamas Feb 20

It was winter in Michigan and my wife and I were looking for a romantic getaway where we could be immersed in sunshine and much warmer temperatures.  We immediately thought of going to the Caribbean where we could see white sand beaches, beautiful clear water, and abundant sunshine.  However, trips to the Caribbean can be expensive so we undertook an extensive search to find something that would be in our price range. 

We went through a variety of websites looking for vacation specials in the Caribbean.  After some extensive research, we found a great deal in the Bahamas at the Radisson Our Lucaya Resort in Freeport, Grand Bahamas.  We booked a 5 day trip including hotel and airfare including transfers.  It was really easy to book and everything went as planned.

We got a room with an ocean view which gave us a beautiful view of the crystal clear waters and white sand beaches.  The view from the balcony was so good that we were able to see manta rays swimming in the water from our room.  We also had a great view of the pool which looked like a winding river from the resort to the ocean.  The “river” ended at an infinity pool that had a poolside bar that overlooked the ocean.  The resort offered a variety of water sports including jet skis and boats as well as fishing and snorkeling trips.  They also have a good sized casino if you feel like gambling and a full service spa and fitness center if you want to get into shape or be pampered. 

Our room was very clean and comfortable.  The service was excellent and the bell staff was very accommodating from the moment we stepped onto the resort.  They also have very good restaurants right on the resort for all tastes.  We ate several times at China Beach which was an excellent Asian style restaurant.  They also have a gourmet steak restaurant and a Caribbean style restaurant.  We also had a very good lunch at the Prop Club which overlooks the beach and the water.  Overall, we were very pleased with the food choices and quality.

Some people may be very content to stay on the resort enjoying the pool, the beach, and the great food.  However, there are entertainment, shopping, and dining options across the street from the resort in the Port Lucaya Marketplace.  The have plenty of shops with everything from jewelry to clothing to trinkets and souvenirs.  There are a variety of bars and restaurants for all types of cuisine and entertainment options.  We really liked Zorba’s restaurant which served Greek food and had a good breakfast.

The marketplace is connected to a marina which has a variety of boat tours and even has a world class dive shop called UNEXSO adjacent to it.  If you are interested in snorkeling or scuba diving, UNEXSO has a wide variety of snorkeling and diving trips and a wide range of classes for all levels of expertise.

My wife and I really enjoy snorkeling.  We were able to snorkel right from the beach of the resort.  We saw a variety of coral, fish, and almost a couple of manta rays.  We decided that we wanted to see a wider variety of coral and fish so we took a snorkel / sailing tour with Reef Tours which left from the Port Lucaya Marketplace.  The tour took place from a catamaran and allowed for an hour of snorkeling followed by an hour of sailing.  The snorkeling was amazing.  The water was crystal clear, the coral reef was beautiful, and fish were plentiful.  We did the tour on the last day of the trip and it was a great way to end our wonderful vacation.

Although Grand Bahama Island is not as pricey as some of the other popular Caribbean destinations, it is truly a great place to relax, get some sun, and find an adventure or two.  Don’t overlook Freeport and the Radisson Our Lucaya resort when you are looking for your next romantic getaway.

Romantic Getaways in South Haven Apr 20

 

My wife and I can always find romance by the water. Since we live in Michigan now, we are quite far from the ocean. Luckily, Lake Michigan isn’t too far away and one of our favorite towns along Lake Michigan is South Haven.

The beach in South Haven is a great place to share a romantic moment and a great place to relax. Many people are surprised by the beach and size of Lake Michigan. The sand on the beaches along Lake Michigan is beautiful in appearance, is soft to the touch, and is really nice to walk on. The lake water is definitely colder than the Atlantic or Pacific water but it is quite clear for the most part. It can be amazing to stand on the beach and look out into the horizon because you cannot see land anywhere you look and you start to get a feel for the size of Lake Michigan. Sometimes, if the weather is right, you can get waves that are high enough to make you think you are sitting oceanside. It is really peaceful to sit and read a book or people watch while looking over the lake. If you are looking for romance, it is really nice to take a walk through the beautiful sand holding the hand of your sweetheart.

The beach in South Haven is close to downtown and is split into two parts. We prefer the North beach because it is larger and a little quieter. There is a concession stand with snack food and hot dogs and also restrooms within walking distance. My wife always finds lighthouses to be very romantic because they are kind of a window to the past. You can see South Haven’s lighthouse while you sit on the beach which just adds to the scenery. Also, there is a pretty good sized marina with a channel separating the two beaches so you can also watch the boats leave for the lake.

If you are a couple that finds romance on the water, then South Haven marina is the starting point for a variety of cruises of Lake Michigan. The South Haven marina is also the home of the Michigan Maritime Museum for people who enjoy history.

The town in South Haven is a great one for walking around in. There are a lot of little shops and boutiques that are fun to walk in and offering anything from home décor to clothing to antiques. There are also a variety of pretty good restaurants to visit. Our favorite is Clementine’s which has great food and service in a nice atmosphere. We really like the atmosphere in the bar area and we really enjoy the onion rings for an appetizer. They have a lot of variety in their menu and have daily specials. The downside is that they don’t take reservations so it can take a long time to sit down and eat. The good thing is that you can put your name in and if the wait is long, you can walk round the shops and boutiques surrounding the restaurant.

If you want a break from the beach, you can take a walk along the scenic Kal Haven Trail or visit Van Buren State Park. There are several golf courses in the area including HawksHead Links which has been rated 4-1/2 stars by Golf Digest and even includes an Inn to stay at on the Golf Course. Speaking of places to stay, South Haven has a great deal of Bed & Breakfasts and Vacation Rentals many of which are within walking distance of town or the beach.

If you find sitting and walking on the beach with your special someone and are in the Midwest, you should consider South Haven as a place to stop. You can enjoy beautiful sand, scenic views of the lighthouse and Lake Michigan, and an enjoyable town to walk around in when you aren’t sitting on the beach.

Romantic Getaways on a Carribean Cruise Apr 06

One of our most memorable vacations was our honeymoon. We embarked on a 7 night Royal Carribean cruise to the southern Caribbean on the beautiful Monarch of the Seas. The ship is spectacular from its Viking Lounge located hundreds of feet above the ocean where you can experience amazing sunset views while enjoying your cocktails and appetizers. Enjoy five-star dining in one of the two main dining areas designed after Claude Monet or Vincent Van Gogh. For a more casual atmosphere try the Jade Restaurant featuring Asian-fusion. They have great sushi. The Windjammer Café has lighter fare with spectacular views. The burgers and sandwiches are delicious. Room service is also available if you want something truly intimate. There’s nothing more romantic than dinner on your private balcony while listening to the sounds of the ocean and watching the sunset with your loved one. Wherever you choose to dine, it will be an experience you’ll treasure forever.

There is a never ending list of things to do on the ship. For those of you who enjoy a little adventure try the Rock climbing wall. There is a state of the art fitness center, open-air basketball court, and an open-air track. The ship has two pools and two hot tubs for your enjoyment and of course the staff will be at your beck and call. There’s nothing more relaxing than soaking in the sun next to the pool while listening to island music and enjoying a tropical cocktail. If you feel the need to be pampered even more, just make an appointment at the spa and enjoy one of the luxurious manicures, pedicures or massages. If you love to shop you’ll be in heaven. They have several boutiques to choose from. As an added bonus you have duty free shopping aboard the ship.

Romance is in the air aboard the ship. Take a cooking class together or a wine pairing class and enrich your relationship through learning something new together. Dance lessons are a great way to bond with your loved one while laughing with each other along the way. These are but a few of the possibilities you can explore while aboard the ship.

Parties and themed nights will get you feeling young all over again. Masquerade ball, 50’s and 60’s night, toga party, and pirate themed night are just a few of the themed nights to enjoy dancing, laughing, loving, and eating with your sweetheart. There are themed lounges also and include disco, country, dance, latin, and piano lounges for your enjoyment. Try your luck at the casino. The staff there will be more than happy to teach you how to play the game.

If you like Broadway plays you’ll love there Las Vegas inspired shows and musicals. The comedy acts are hilarious. My husband and I can’t get enough of them. So the next time you are looking for a romantic getaway that features fabulous food and service, a variety of things to do, romantic activities, and world class entertainment, all while visiting exotic ports, please consider a cruise for your next vacation.

Romantic Getaways in Santa Barbara Mar 09

If you like to walk along the beach with a view of the mountains, drink fine wine, shop, and walk along streets with intriguing architecture you may want to consider Santa Barbara for your next romantic getaway.

Santa Barbara is only a couple hours drive from Los Angeles but it might feel like worlds away. The attitude is very laid back and courteous which is ideal for a romantic getaway. The beaches are a focal point, but the shops and art galleries that are found throughout downtown are equally as visited. For all of these reasons, Santa Barbara is often called The American Riviera.

The architecture is Spanish-Mediterranean and there is even a self-guided walking tour called the Red Tile Walking Tour of which you can pickup maps at the visitor’s center. Some of the highlights of the tour include the Santa Barbara Courthouse, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. The main street through downtown is State Street and has a variety of shops and boutiques and even has a shuttle if you get tired of walking.

My wife and I always find that for romantic moments, you just can’t beat a walk on the beach. Santa Barbara has some beautiful beaches for all tastes and moods. If recreational activities and people watching is your cup of tea, East Beach is probably your best bet. If you enjoy watching surfers and watching boats going in and out of the harbor, Ledbetter Beach is ideal. But if you are looking for a little more seclusion, Hendry’s Beach may be just right for you. All of these beaches have beautiful gold-sand beaches lined with palm trees and adequate surf. As a side note, those of you who love art and the water, you may really enjoy the Arts and Crafts Show that takes place every Sunday along the Santa Barbara waterfront. Finally, the sunsets in Santa Barbara are breathtaking and many locals and visitors gather on the waterfront every day to watch the sun go down.

Santa Barbara also has a lot of options for those of you wanting to look for those romantic moments on the ocean. There are whale watching tours that take place from December to March (your best bet to see whales on land would be from Shoreline Park) and there are a variety of other boat tours including some to the Channel Islands and others of the shoreline. If you are looking for a little more romance and seclusion, you can rent sailboats or take a cruise on a 50-foot Catamaran called the Double Dolphin.

If you and your sweetheart are wine lovers, Santa Barbara is the place for you. There are a lot of great vineyards in the area and a variety of ways to see them. There are bus tours, bicycling tours, private tours, and also self-guided ones. The wineries provide beautiful scenery and tasting of a wide variety of wines. The Santa Barbara wine country was actually a large part of the 2004 Oscar winning film Sideways and you can even pick up maps of the actual filming locations.

There are numerous fine romantic restaurants in Santa Barbara which combine ambiance, wonderful food and service, and world class wine lists to make for a very special evening. Some of these romantic restaurants include BouchonAldo’s Italian Restaurant, Seagrass, and Blue Agave. There is also a Melting Pot and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse if you are looking for some familiar romantic restaurants.

There are several romantic lodging options in Santa Barbara whether you want to stay by the beach or closer to downtown. The nice thing is that whichever you choose, the downtown and the beaches are just a relaxing stroll away. For those of you looking for a romantic retreat where money is no object, you may try the Four Seasons Resort if you want to be closer to the beach or The Canary Hotel or Simpson House Inn if you want to be closer to downtown. Some other lodging options close to the beach that aren’t as pricy include the Casa Del Mar Inn, Franciscan Inn, and Hotel Oceana.

For couples looking for a romantic getaway to a beautiful oceanfront town with a relaxed atmosphere and a wide variety of choices for lodging, dining and activities, Santa Barbara may be just the place for you.

Romantic Getaways in Everglades National Park Mar 02

My wife and I have always enjoyed traveling to National Parks for vacations. We find that being so close to nature can be very romantic. There is nothing quite like taking in a scenic view together and just being in the moment. The first National Park that we ever vacationed to together was the Everglades National Park and it still brings wonderful memories to us today.

The Everglades National Park has two main entrances, one close to Naples and the other closer to Miami. We visited the eastern portion of the park that was closer to Miami and that will be the basis for this blog. If you are interested in other portions of the park, you will want to visit the Everglades National Park website. The best time of year to visit is from November to April to avoid the mosquitoes that overwhelm the park in Summer.

To get to the eastern portion of the park, you can fly into Miami or Fort Lauderdale. You will travel to Homestead or Florida City which is just outside the park entrance. There are many mom & pop and chain hotels in these two cities if you are interested in staying close to but not inside the park.

Once you enter the park, we would suggest that you visit the Royal Palm visitor center. At the Royal Palm, you can access the Anhinga Trail boardwalk which is a must to get a good feeling for one of the types of ecosystems in the Everglades. You will also be very likely to see many different types of wildlife including birds as well as alligators congregating in watering holes along the boardwalk. Adjacent to the boardwalk, is the Gumbo Limbo trail which allows you to experience a stroll through a hardwood hammock.

The main park road from the park entrance to the Flamingo Visitor Center travels through eight distinct ecosystems. Some of the highlights of the drive include a dwarf cypress forest and multiple ponds filled with wading birds. There are multiple trails and boardwalks which allow you to visit these areas of the park where you can get out of the car and maybe share a romantic view in a secluded area with that special someone.

We stayed at the campground near the Flamingo Visitor Center which many campsites have views of the bay. My wife and I still fondly remember our campsite where we were able to setup a couple of chairs and watch the sunrise over the bay. After the sun came up, we then enjoyed eating breakfast while watching the many birds flying over the water. There are many hiking and nature trails for you and your sweetheart to find some scenic views and some quiet, romantic moments. At the end of the day, we enjoyed going for a moonlit walk along the bay and then enjoyed cuddling next to each other in our sleeping bags while looking up at the starry sky.

One of the highlights of our trip to the Everglades was a guided sunset cruise that we took from the Flamingo area. The sunset views over the bay were beautiful and we really enjoyed seeing all of the varied species of birds while learning a little about the wildlife and ecosystems found in the Everglades. It was very peaceful, romantic, and relaxing and is something that we would highly recommend doing.

The other highlight of our trip was when we rented a canoe in Flamingo. I had canoed several times before but my wife had never been in one. They gave us a quick instruction and we pushed off in the canoe. We passed alligators, birds, fish, and turtles along the way. We traveled under mangrove trees and saw various ecosystems during our trip. We were alone most of the time and just found ourselves enjoying the sounds and sights that nature provided us.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to the Everglades and hope that some of you couples who find being at one with nature romantic, consider traveling to the Everglades National Park.

Romantic Getaways in Panama City Feb 23


When you first think of Panama City and Panama City Beach, you probably don’t think of it as a place for a romantic getaway. Panama City has been known as a popular spring break and summer vacation for college students for years. However, if you know where to go, it can be very romantic. My wife and I spent one of our most romantic weekends ever in Panama City. It was actually where we were engaged to be married and now 12 years later, it always brings back fond memories for us.

Panama City Beach has beautiful beaches. The shoreline is 17 miles long so you should always be able to find your own semi-private spot. The sand is white and powder soft, the water is emerald blue, and there are many water activities available. We traveled from Atlanta both times we vacationed in Panama City and I think many people from Georgia and Alabama do the same.

St. Andrews State Park is a 1260 acre park located on the eastern tip of Panama City Beach. It is well known for its sugar white sands and emerald green waters, and has over one-and-a-half miles of beach on the Gulf of Mexico and Grand Lagoon. Water sports enthusiasts can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and canoeing. It has a campground, pier fishing, hiking trails, or you can take a ferry to Shell Island. Shell Island is a 700 acre park that is rather undeveloped with some of the best shelling around. There aren’t many things more romantic than walking with your sweetheart on the beach collecting seashells!

Across the bay from St. Andrews State Park is the Marriott Bay Point Resort which is where we stayed both visits. The resort is a quiet departure from the touristy section of Panama City Beach. The rooms are tropically decorated with private balconies with beautiful views of the gulf, lagoon, or the resort’s two golf courses. The golf courses are both beautiful and challenging with one of them having water on 17 of the 18 holes.  They have a spa on site if you really want to relax and be pampered.  The Kingfish restaurant is very good and offers a great breakfast buffet and even a champagne brunch on Sundays. The outdoor heated pool is very nice and even has a pool bar that you can swim up to. There is a boardwalk to a private beach with an open-air martini bar on the way to the beach. The beach offers a variety of water sports and also offers trips to Shell Island. Overall, the resort is a nice place to spend some quiet time with that someone special.

Our favorite restaurant in Panama City is Capt. Anderson’s. It is located on the waterfront and offers great seafood and steaks. You can even sit and watch the boats come in with the catch of the day. It is very popular so be prepared to wait in line but at least you will be close to the water while you wait. Some other nice restaurants in Panama City include Boars Head for steaks and The Boatyard for fresh fish and sushi.

Panama City is a great place for a romantic getaway if you know where to look. On the day that I proposed, we enjoyed relaxing by the pool, and even took a Wave Runner from the Marriott through St. Andrew’s Bay. We had a wonderful dinner at Capt. Anderson’s and then went back to the open air bar for some drinks and some live music. I convinced my future wife to join me for a walk on the beach where I recited some poetry and then got down on one knee to propose. I put a ring on her finger and my wife gave me a wonderful and passionate kiss and we have been happily married for over 11 years. Panama City will always be very special to us because it was the place where we began our beautiful life together! We hope that some of you don’t overlook Panama City when you are looking for that next romantic getaway.