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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 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 the Mad River Valley Feb 16

 

For my birthday several years ago, my wife took me on a romantic getaway for the weekend to the Mad River Valley in Vermont. Since my birthday is in February, you may have thought my wife was taking me to Sugarbush and Mad River Glen for a weekend of great downhill skiing! When my wife told me where we were going, I was a little puzzled because I have never downhill skied before and frankly don’t think I am coordinated enough to make it down the mountain without breaking something. However, she told me that we weren’t going skiing but we would have a great time, and she was absolutely right!

New England is full of romantic Bed & Breakfasts and we stayed at a great one this weekend called The Inn at The Round Barn Farm. The first thing you notice as you drive up was the unique architecture of the round barn attached to the main building. When you enter, you hear classical music playing and smell cookies and hors d’oeuvres to welcome you. The guest rooms are very comfortable and romantically decorated. There is a lap pool, a game room with an antique pool table, and a lot of books. The food is very good and very fresh as much of it comes from local farms including their own. The grounds are beautiful and you can go snowshoeing in the winter and hiking when it gets warmer where scenic views of the mountains are everywhere you look!

My wife arranged for us to go cross country skiing at Ole’s cross country skiing trails. Neither of us had ever been cross country skiing but they had a nice program for beginners. Within a half hour, we were out on the trails and it was a lot of fun. My wife was a natural but even though I fell a few times, we were laughing as she came over to help me up every time! It was very peaceful to be out on the trails surrounded by the beautiful scenery. We both enjoyed it immensely!

The next day, she arranged for us to have a horse drawn sleigh ride in the mountains. She called ahead to the Mountain Valley Farm to arrange for a private, romantic, sleigh ride. We were pulled by a team of two horses and we were given a bunch of blankets to keep us warm. We really enjoyed cuddling under the blankets while we observed the breathtaking scenery provided by the Mad River Valley and the surrounding Green Mountains. When it’s not snowing they have hay rides, wagon rides, and even formal carriage rides for weddings or other special events.

Even though we went to the Mad River Valley in the winter for our romantic weekend, it is a great place for romantic getaways year round. The scenery provided by the Green Mountains is always beautiful and provides for many outdoor activities. In the spring and summer, there are great hiking trails and places to go road and mountain bike riding. There are opportunities to go canoeing and kayaking on the Mad River, nice area golf courses, and even glider rides. For you fans of ice cream, you can take a tour of the Ben and Jerry’s factory in nearby Waterbury, VT.

If you have not been to Vermont in the fall, you have really been missing out! Throughout the state, there are no end of scenic drives where you can see beautiful mountain vistas full of the vibrant fall foliage colors. There numerous small towns which provide interesting architecture and covered bridges. We heard of a tradition where you have to kiss when you pass through a covered bridge and we always figure that we will do our part to keep the tradition alive!

The Mad River Valley is a beautiful place year round for a romantic getaway and provides you with a wide variety of outdoor activities to satisfy any couple!

Romantic Getaways to Cocoa Beach Feb 09

 

My husband and I recently escaped to the beautiful beaches of Florida. We live in Michigan and this time of year we deal with temperatures in the minus degrees. So when my husband mentioned escaping to mid-70 degree weather I was overjoyed.

Cocoa Beach is a short ride from the Orlando International Airport. Flying into Orlando is one of the cheaper airports to fly into.

I love staying in romantic inns, but they can be costly. An alternative is staying in a condo or timeshare. These places allow you to have a little bit of home while on vacation. It’s fun to eat out at nice restaurants, but my husband and I also enjoying making our breakfast in the mornings. Having a full kitchen is wonderful. We opted for a time share condo at the Ron Jon Resort. Our condo overlooked the Atlantic Ocean. It’s very romantic watching the sunrise over the Atlantic, especially while watching it from your balcony!

If you can’t find a condo or timeshare or would prefer a hotel, there are a great many hotels in the area, many of which are oceanfront. Click on the links below for some good oceanfront hotels.

If you’re a nature lover, don’t miss the Cocoa Beach Kayaking Guided Nature Tour. All the guides are incredible (and girls all the kayaks are tandem, so you can sit back, relax and take in the beautiful scenery while your beau does all the work). You’ll paddle at a leisurely pace along the Thousand Islands of Cocoa Beach. Bring your binoculars to observe the bird life in the most diverse estuaries in the Indian River Lagoon. Don’t forget your camera for your up close and personal view of bottlenose dolphins and the Florida manatees. If you forget your hat, sunglasses or bottled water don’t fret because there provided free of charge.

Another romantic sight seeing tour is Space Coast River Tour on the Blue Dolphin leaving from Merritt Island. It’s a relaxing and enjoyable two hour tour departing through the working Port of Canaveral and into the Banana River to see wildlife. The wildlife ranges from bottlenose dolphins, huge lovable manatees, brown pelican, osprey, endangered bald eagle, great blue heron and many more.

If your really into seeing the endangered Florida manatee and would like to know where to see many of them in one place, please email me and I will send you the directions.

A romantic restaurant not to miss is Milliken’s Reef, it truly has it all. The dining room is very romantic from its white tablecloths, candlelight and piano jazz bar. The ambience is relaxed. The seafood is incredible. You should definitely try their conch. They also have a Tiki bar outside overlooking the water. Milliken’s Tiki Bar has it all: from palm trees to tiki torches, live island music and sand for a dance floor. If you are just looking for good food and not the romantic ambiance, there are many great restaurants in the area including Grills, Jack Baker’s Lobster Shanty, and Slow & Low Bar-B-Que.

If you are looking for a room with a great view, a romantic dinner, a relaxing tour on the water looking at wildlife, Cocoa Beach is the place for your next romantic excursion. And by the way, there is nothing more romantic than just walking hand in hand with your sweetheart on the beach! Enjoy your trip!

Romantic Getaways in the Mid Hudson Valley Nov 15
Within easy travel from the big city hubbub of New York City is the Mid Hudson Valley in New York State. When you arrive, you won’t believe you are still in New York. There are beautiful mountain and river views, great restaurants, historical sites to tour, wineries, and did I mention great restaurants?
To get to the Mid-Hudson Valley you can take the commuter train or Amtrak from NYC to get to Beacon, Poughkeepsie, or Rhinebeck. The train ride takes about two hours and travels along the Hudson River. The further away you get from the city, the more scenic the Hudson gets as you begin to pass riverside mansions, mountains, and you can even get a view of West Point along the way. It is about two hours by car from any of the NYC area airports as well. For assistance in planing your travel to the Mid Hudson Valley, you can click on the link below.
You will notice the beautiful natural scenery when you arrive at the Mid Hudson Valley (especially after spending some time in NYC). The Catskill Mountains can be seen along the west side of the Hudson River and they provide opportunities for hiking and sightseeing and skiing in the winter. Some beautiful parks for hiking, biking, and having an afternoon picnic are Lake Mohonk and Lake Minnewaska in the New Paltz area.
Hyde Park is home to the Culinary Institute of America which has trained the world’s greatest chefs for years. One of the great things about the Mid Hudson Valley is that many of these great chefs stay in the area and open up restaurants. There are romantic restaurants for all tastes. The Culinary Institute has 4 restaurants with Italian, French, and Regional cuisine and the Apple Pie Bakery (a great coffee shop/bakery) but make sure to make reservations in advance.
For history buffs, visits to the Franklin D Roosevelt Home or the Vanderbilt and Staatsburgh Mansion in Hyde Park are both educational and have beautiful grounds for scenic walks and picnicking. If you are in the area around Christmas be sure and check to see if any of these mansions offer Candlelight Christmas tours as these mansions are beautifully decorated and the candlelight definitely sets a romantic mood.
There are some great wineries throughout the valley as well which offer tours, wine tastings, and some have restaurants. One of our favorites is the Cascade Mountain winery in Amenia which has a really nice restaurant (see above) and a variety of wines with interesting names. A good website with a list of 21 wineries with brief descriptions of their offerings is found at A Visitor’s Guide to Wineries in the Hudson Valley.
The Mid Hudson Valley has a lot to offer a couple looking for a romantic getaway. The food, history, and scenery all contribute to its appeal. One final note, there is probably no more beautiful time to visit the Mid Hudson Valley than in the fall. The colors of the leaves are breathtaking and rival the colors seen in Vermont and New Hampshire!
If you can’t make it to the Culinary Institute, there are great restaurants throughout the valley for a romantic dinner and night out. Here are some of the real romantic ones for you to try.
Beautiful “Gone With the Wind” style mansion built in 1900 with Hudson River views as well as romantic gardens for strolling hand in hand. French inspired American 4 star cuisine served by candlelight with fireplaces lit in colder weather. Rooms are also available; most with king-size beds, many with canopies and fireplaces, and all complete with country gourmet breakfast incuded.

Pricey, but well worth it for those special occasions. (And weddings there are fabulous!)

<Mohonk Mountain House – 1000 Mountain Restaurant Road, New Paltz, NY

This is an incredible place; a National Historic Landmark property high on a mountain top, it looks like a Victorian castle built around a crystal-clear lake. There are 2,200 wooded acres for hiking as well as tiny rustic gazebos tucked here and there all around the property that just invite a stop to admire the view (and perhaps steal a kiss?) as well as gardens and places to picnic (picnic lunches are available for purchase). Lunch is a buffet, but dinner is a four-course meal served in the main dining room with huge windows for diners to enjoy those spectacular views. Rooms are available in several price ranges, filled with antiques and lake, garden or mountain views, many with balconies and fireplaces. For overnight guests, there is horseback riding, carriage rides, boating, even a spa with massages and yoga available. Expensive, but a one-of-a-kind experience that would be a dream honeymoon place.

Terrapin – 6426 Montgomery Street, Rhinebeck, NY

Terrapin is a wonderful place to have dinner following an afternoon strolling around the beautiful old village of Rhinebeck, with it’s tiny shops and fascinating homes on the side streets. Located in a renovated 1825 former church building, it has an informal bistro for a light meal or tapas, as well as a lovely formal restaurant. Cozy banquette seating around the sides provides several intimate corners just made for lovers, and the food is exceptional. Called New American Cuisine, it blends classical French with influencesof Asia, Italy and the American Southwest. Prices are reasonable for the high quality of food and service offered.

Les Baux – 152 Church Street, Millbrook, NY

A charming little cafe with authentic French food (the owner/chef is from France). Les Baux would be a wonderful place to stop and relax after a day in the country. Millbrook is a town for strolling in and out of antique shops, or perhaps a drive through the surrounding countryside, filled with beautiful estates and farms. The French onion soup well deserves the Best of the Hudson Valley award it recently won, incredibly rich and satisfying. Steak frites are especially delicious, tender steak and piles of fries done just right. Tables are close together, but small enough that whispering or sharing sweet desserts can still encourage romance.

Le Petit Bistro – 8 East Market Street, Rhinebeck, NY

A small, intimate restaurant with pine walls, fresh flowers and candlelight on the main street of the village. Cuisine is French with Mediterranean influences. The lighting is especially flattering, and the service is friendly and helpful. Food is always fresh and interesting, the wine list is excellent, and there is a cozy little bar that makes any wait for a table a pleasure.

Cascade Mountain Winery – Flint Hill Road, Amenia, NY

A fantastic drive through farm country on winding roads brings you to a tiny European style chalet offering wine tastings as well as tapas style restaurant food in a charming atmosphere. Open for tastings every day, the restaurant is open only on week ends. The wine is amazingly good for such a small operation, having won many awards over the years., and the food matches well. Hard to find, perhaps, but a hidden jewel at the end of a really beautiful drive, especially in Fall foliage season or Spring, when many of the farms in the surrounding countryside may have lambs, calves and colts frolicking in the fields.

Charlotte’s – Route 44, Millbrook, NY

Another destination that will bring you through beautiful country roads, Charlotte’s is a magnificent old building with views of rolling soft green hills and horse farms. In summer, a patio makes al fresco dining a true delight, and in cooler weather the four fireplaces inside with candlelight and fresh flowers provide a cozy ambiance. Coming into the dining room from a cold winter’s night and feeling the warmth of the fireplace and the glow of the candles is incredible. The menu changes with the seasons, with emphasis on fresh local produce and game.

Depuy Canal House – High Falls, NY

In a building built in 1797 to be used as an inn for travelers on the now defunct canal, dinner there feels a bit like dining in a charming museum. Open only Friday through Sunday, filled with antiques and lit mainly with candles, the various small rooms with their fireplaces are fascinating to walk through. Once you’re seated, be prepared to be amazed at the menu; ala carte or as a five-course meal, the food is unlike any you will have seen before. Called New American Cuisine, it is not at all what you might expect from the surroundings – the Carrot Pasta rolled with ricotta cheese served on tomato sauce is just one example. Between courses, diners are encouraged to wander upstairs to a small balcony where you can look down into the kitchen. If there isn’t a crowd, the servers try to seat people as far apart as possible, so you may even find yourselves all alone in one of the smaller rooms – how romantic is that? All this ambiance doesn’t come cheap, but as a special occasion place, it’s one of the best. There are also rooms available in another building, light-filled, decorated nicely with antiques and quite reasonably priced.

Locust Tree Inn – 215 Hugeuenot Street, New Paltz, NY

Located next to the fairway of a golf course, this is a Dutch colonial home built in 1759. There are three indoor dining rooms, including a tap room with a great bar, as well as patio dining in summer with breathtaking views of the Shawangunk Mountain range. Each of the rooms has a wood-burning fireplace decorated with comfortable antiques, and the over-all feeling is of a stylish, yet friendly European country house. Northern European cuisine with French, Northern Italian, Austrian and German influences with emphasis on fresh, local ingredients.

Le Chambord – 2737 Route 52, Hopewell Junction, NY

A real “occasion place” located in an 1863 Georgian style mansion that will have you feeling like Scarlett and Rhett as you stroll around the ten acre property. Expect four-star dining along with impeccable formal service, exquisite French nouvelle-classical food and a wine celler that is unequalled in the area. The artwork is worth noting, as the owner is a renowned collector. A cozy bar in the basement is a charming way to begin a romantic evening, and rooms are also available, each uniquely decorated with antiques and including a sumtuous continental breakfast.

Plumbush Inn – Route 9D, Cold Spring, NY

A historic 1867 gentleman’s farmhouse in historic Cold Spring (a wonderful place to shop for antiques before dinner). Rustic American cuisine is served in dining rooms complete with woodburning fireplaces or on a charming verandah overlooking perriennel gardens in nice weather. Rooms are well appointed and spacious with comfortable brass beds and include a continental breakfast delivered to your room in the morning – what luxury!

Shadows on the Hudson – 176 Rinaldi Drive, Poughkeepsie, NY

Perched on a cliff forty feet above the Hudson River, Shadows offers five different dining areas to choose from. Pass by the huge bar and opt for one of the quiet side dining rooms, either the casual and warm Sunset Room (word has it this has been the setting for many proposals) or if you like ultra-modern, choose the Winter Room, all white leather, lucite and silver, with a unique fireplace set high in the wall. In nice weather, of course, the terrace provides incredible views of the river, especially if you’re in time for a sunset. Start off with one of their award-winning cocktails and if the weather’s fine, possibly end the evening with an after-dinner drink at the Terrace Bar with its view of the Mid-Hudson Bridge.

Ship Lantern Inn – 1725 Route 9W, Milton, NY

In a building dating back to Revolutionary War times, with rather old-fashioned nautical decor, enjoy being thoroughly pampered. Servers wearing tuxedos treat everyone like a VIP, with never a hint of rushing you through excellent cocktails, fresh shellfish from their raw bar, all the way through to coffee and marvelous desserts. Dinner here is an event, with tableside preparation of Caesar salads, Chateaubriand for two, and Bananas Foster – when was the last time you had an expert cooking at your table just for you? A great place to take someone you want to impress, but not overly expensive considering the quality of food and service.

Stissing House – 7801 South Main Street, Pine Plains, NY

Built as an inn in 1782, both Washington and Lafayette dined here. Renovated several years ago, but with an eye to keeping the ancient feel of the place, it boasts a large dining room with low beams, long bar and a wood-burning oven turning out awesome appetizer pizza. The remaining spaces are a charming rabbit warren of small rooms that give more intimacy to those diners wanting a quiet evening, one is so tiny there is only one table – how would that be for a proposal spot? The food is French-American, with those pizzas definitely worth a try for a pre-dinner nosh.

Old Drover’s InnDover Plains, NY

Built in 1750 as a place for drover’s to stop on their way to market with their cattle, the inn now boasts high-quality cuisine in several charming dining rooms complete with fireplaces. It also operates as a B&B, with exquisite rooms, all king-sized beds, most brass or canopied. Breakfast is fabulous, you won’t need to eat again until dinner! Expensive, but worth it for a special treat or occasion.

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