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Tag-Archive for "Wineries"

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 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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