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There’s probably never a time when you’re not in need of a vacation—especially a couples getaway designed to rekindle your romantic spark. Of course, you could spend anniversaries and birthdays on candlelit dinners or cheesy gifts, but, when it comes down to it, travel memories are bound to last way longer.
But booking a trip on a budget is hard, especially nowadays. That’s why we tapped three travel experts for some genius cost-cutting tips. Below, Amanda Williams, Oneika Raymond, and Lee Abbamonte share romantic destinations that won’t break the bank while still packing a ton of excitement. They also recommend downloading travel apps like HotelTonight and Hopper, which crawl the web to find the cheapest fares on the internet.
So, what are you waiting for? Start adding these 30+ trip ideas to your travel bucket list and get ready for your next rom-com-worthy vacation. (P.S.: Don’t forget to get these travel essentials, weekender bags, and trip-friendly outfits.)
The Big Easy just might be the perfect couples getaway, with romantic B&Bs, rousing nightlife, delicious restaurants, and an endless array of sights. Check into the classic French Quarter hotel Bourbon Orleans, with rooms from $144 per night, before grabbing a bite at Café Beignet and a drink at The Sazerac Bar at the Hotel Roosevelt. Other highlights include Preservation Hall, the African lion habitat at the Audubon Zoo, and the iconic music club The Spotted Cat. A must is the Sazerac House, a cocktail museum with spirit tastings devoted to the iconic drink.
In the mood to ski? Known to many as the ski capital of the East, Stowe is the perfect place to go with your partner to enjoy a romantic weekend on the slopes. Located right at the bottom of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, Stowe is a delightful small town that invites visitors to escape into the beautiful surrounding nature. It is famous for its ski trails but also offers other activities you can enjoy, such as ice skating in Spruce Peak Village or a private dinner with a view. If you want to spend your days skiing down iconic trails while cuddling by a warm fire at night, Stowe is your best choice. The Golden Eagle Resort has rates as low as $170 for rooms right at the foot of the slopes.
Full of soul and incredible music, Memphis truly is for lovers. The historic South Main Arts District’s Central Station Hotel features an endlessly cool vibe and musical-themed artwork befitting the area’s blues legacy. Nearby, check out the Memphis Blues Hall of Fame, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the Memphis Rock ’N’ Soul Museum to get a taste of the birthplace of rock ’n’ roll. Also, don’t miss Sun Studio, where you'll get a personalized tour and can even snap a picture with the very microphone Elvis used to record his first album. And, of course, no visit to Memphis is complete without a trip to Graceland to see the King’s home. Then, snuggle up with a cocktail and truffle fries at Mollie Fontaine, an eclectic Victorian mansion turned bar.
Mexico City is for lovers. Why, you ask? The colonial architecture and sprawling parks are enough to help rekindle the flames. Visit the Frida Kahlo Museum for a dose of art or catch the ballet at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. A gondola-like boat ride at Xochimilco makes for a perfect date. The best part is that the current exchange rate of U.S. dollars to pesos makes it possible for you to splurge on four-star hotels, like the mind-blowingly gorgeous Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, for low costs. Use the extra cash for dinner at Limosneros, where diving into the Wagyu tacos is recommended. And of course, tequila and mezcal abound at some of the most charming cocktail lounges, including Casa Franca, where you’ll hear live jazz nightly.
Steeped in romance, Barcelona is easily one of Europe’s most enchanting cities for couples—and with some cheap flights options from the East Coast, often affordable, too. Just off the Passeig de Gràcia thoroughfare, Hotel America Barcelona offers sleek and stylish rooms from $70, with a rooftop terrace boasting city views. Artistic influences reign: Check out the colorful, 42-acre Gaudí-designed Park Güell, including the Gaudí House Museum, as well as the famed La Sagrada Família church, begun by Gaudí in 1882 and still under construction. With a delicious food culture focused on small and shareable bites, it’s easy to nosh your way through Barcelona. Try Escairón for inexpensive Galician cuisine, Lluritu for seafood, and Catalan classics at La Cova Fumada.
Beloved by Angelenos as a relaxing retreat and perfect place to decompress together, an increasing number of flights to Palm Springs are available (from all over the country) for low prices. Once there, try the elegant 1930s Spanish Revival boutique Andreas Hotel and Spa (there are Jacuzzi tubs, rain showers, and a pool). The city is synonymous with midcentury modern architecture, which is easy to enjoy in the Uptown Design District, or take in contemporary paintings and sculpture at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Other favorites include the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, shopping till you drop at the Cabazon Outlets, or hiking to a waterfall at Tahquitz Canyon (with a stop at the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum). Eat at stylish Birba for farm-to-table food and killer pizza or weekend brunch.
Lee Abbamonte, who has traveled to every country in the world, lists this stunning island off the coast of North Carolina for its resemblance to any tropical Caribbean destination. Enjoy the white sand and turquoise waters of Horseshoe Bay Beach and try the locally sourced seafood and crab cakes at Mad Hatters. Book a stay in the shoulder seasons (fall or spring) for lower prices.
Few countries on earth as are majestic as Iceland, which offers couples a bounty of natural beauty (northern lights!) and once-in-a-lifetime experiences (skinny-dipping in the Blue Lagoon, anybody?). Forty minutes outside Reykjavík, the geothermal-adjacent Frost & Fire hotel offers rooms from about $200, balcony views of Mt. Reykjafjall, plus hot springs, sauna, tubs, and an outdoor thermal pool. Must-dos an easy drive away include whale watching, Reynisfjara black sand beach, and the Strokkur geyser.
A getaway to one of America’s sexiest locales is always a good idea, and with inexpensive nonstop flights from every major city, Miami is easy to reach, too. Stay at Loews Miami Beach, located directly on the sand. Late February is an ideal time to go, with the South Beach Food and Wine Festival, while food hall Politan Row Miami provides a myriad of incredible dining options beloved by celebs like Jennifer Lopez.
Long considered one of Europe’s most romantic cities, Prague is not only cheaper than many European getaways but also offers lovers a great spot to reconnect over a long weekend. Enjoy affordable luxury at Augustine Hotel—a former 13th-century monastery now owned by Marriott. Take in sights like the views from Petřín Park or the famed Charles Bridge. Stroll along Vltava river or take a cruise and wander through the medieval Old Town—and, of course, no visit is complete without hanging a padlock on Lovers’ Bridge. Many airlines fly nonstop to Prague.
Sprawling lakeside resort The Broadmoor offers couples getaway rates from $250, as well as a massive complex with golf, tennis, a spa. For a meal that’s kind to the budget, try rustic Gold Rush-inspired Restaurant 1858—with waterfall views. It’s no surprise that many of the area must-sees are outdoorsy or natural wonders, such as the magnificent Garden of the Gods red rock formations, Pikes Peak (which inspired the song “America the Beautiful”), and Seven Falls. Stop by the U.S. Air Force Academy for a tour and to see the stunning Cadet Chapel.
With flights from as little as $300 from the U.S., Bangkok can be not only surprisingly affordable to get to but can also provide a wonderfully romantic getaway for those with a few extra days and the willingness for adventure. Rates are available from around $100 at the riverfront Praya Palazzo, a secluded Thai-Italian Paladio-style hideaway accessible only via private barge. Must-visits during a quick trip include the former royal residence The Grand Palace, the iconic riverside Wat Arun Temple of Dawn (see it lit up at night to be really wowed), bar- and restaurant-packed Khao San Road, and the most sacred Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
This charming city is steeped in history. A weekend is just enough time to enjoy the thriving food scene, go for a long walk down the oak-lined Wormsloe Historic Site, or check out the historic downtown district on a horse-drawn carriage. For beach bums, nearby Tybee Island is ideal for a sunny day out. Amanda Williams recommends staying at quaint boutique hotels like the brick-lined River Street Inn or the modern Hotel Indigo. And don’t sleep on the plant-based fare at Fox & Fig.
While hardly synonymous with budget, there’s no denying that San Francisco is one of the most beautiful (not to mention romantic) cities in America. Luckily, it is possible to enjoy a weekend in the City by the Bay without breaking the bank: Stay just over the bridge in Marin County at waterfront The Gables Inn Sausalito. With rooms from $190, it provides stunning city views and offers a romance package, including a dozen red roses and a bottle of sparkling wine. Take a cable car around the city, soak up the views from the Presidio (and rediscover your inner kid at its Walt Disney Family Museum), snap a 'Gram in front of the famous Painted Ladies townhouses, learn about chocolate-making and share a sundae at Ghirardelli, and end up in Chinatown for dinner at so-called Eataly of Chinatown food hall China Live.
Thanks to a myriad of cheap flight deals to London, it’s entirely possible to fly across the pond and enjoy a long weekend getaway. Stay at Z at Gloucester Place Hotel, which has rooms from around $100 per night, offers free wine and cheese, and is a short walk from the Baker St. and Marylebone tube stations. London is a wonderful walking city, making for a pleasant stroll through iconic neighborhoods like Chelsea, Mayfair, St. James, and Marylebone. Many of London’s best tourist sights are free, meanwhile, including the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, the Tate Modern, the British Museum, the National Gallery, and Hyde Park (perfect for an alfresco picnic).
With its miles of beaches, laid-back joie de vivre, and wine culture, it’s no wonder sun-soaked Santa Barbara is known as America’s Riviera. Check into the Cheshire Cat Inn—with rooms from about $250—a whimsical family-owned B&B with an Alice in Wonderland theme and walking distance from thoroughfare State Street. The city’s Funk Zone boasts more than 20 tasting rooms along the Urban Wine Trail (stop by Au Bon Climat and Margerum just up the road), as well as craft brews from spots like Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company. Harborview crab cakes and oysters at Brophy Bros followed by sunset at Montecito’s secluded Butterfly Beach are the perfect ways to cap off a day of romance.
Packed with history—not to mention secret nooks and crannies, cobblestone streets, and Instagrammable backgrounds—romantic Charleston is the perfect city for strolling hand-in-hand. Stay at the elegant Planters Inn, in a building dating from 1844 and with a courtyard garden (rooms from $239). Use it as a jumping-off point to explore sights like opulent 19th-century townhouse Nathaniel Russell House, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and its stained-glass windows, and the elegant Southern mansions in the landmark Historic District and overlooking The Battery (including Rainbow Row). There’s also a robust military history, with Fort Sumter and Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, not to mention spooky ghost tours aplenty.
Make the trek up to New York’s iconic Niagara Falls and discover why the natural wonder was considered the honeymoon capital of the world. Stay at historic art deco boutique hotel The Giacomo, located only minutes from the waterfalls, with whirlpool baths and rooms from $136. The hotel is steps from Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, where couples can indulge their inner chefs together, with Oban Inn and special-occasion Revolving Dining Room at Skylon Tower popular for meals. The Maid of the Mist boat tour, visiting both American Falls and jaw-dropping Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side, is a top attraction.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
The rich-in-history island has been slammed with natural disasters and—with tourism making up 10 percent of Puerto Rico’s GDP—is in need of tourism dollars as they continue rebuilding. As a result, San Juan could be an unexpected but wonderful couples’ escape. (Bonus: No passport necessary.) Check into the dreamy 18th-century boutique hotel The Gallery Inn in Old San Juan, with rates from $155 per night. Once settled, visit the 16th-century fort Viejo San Juan or 16th-century Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Take a peek at La Fortaleza, the walled compound where the governor lives, and don’t forget to visit San Juan Bautista cathedral, Puerto Rico’s oldest cathedral (and second oldest in the Americas.) Try Cafe El Punto for Puerto Rican and Creole food beloved by locals. While there, make sure to support local businesses, and consider volunteering with or donating to a group such as Para la Naturaleza.
Paso Robles, California
Equidistant from San Francisco and Los Angeles in California’s Central Coast, the charming wine village of Paso Robles is home to some of America’s best wines—not to mention a fun retreat for couples. Stay at luxurious The Piccolo Hotel, a boutique with rooms from $226, and make time for Paso’s best wineries, including Turley, Opolo, Adelaida, and Calcareous. For a sober retreat, take in the waters at Franklin Hot Springs and check out the Field of Light art installation by artist Bruce Munro, with 15 acres of colorful LED lights.
Maia Efrem, a New York-based writer, is now that much closer to Oprah! A graduate of Columbia University's Journalism School, she's a lover of all things pop-culture, Soviet, and Bruce Springsteen.
Nadine Jolie Courtney is a lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in Town & Country, Robb Report, and Angeleno; a graduate of Barnard College, her fourth book, All-American Muslim Girl, was named a Kirkus Best Book of 2019. She lives in Santa Monica, California, where she posts too many photos of her daughter on Instagram.
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