There’s something about summer that stirs up love in the air. It could be the warm weather, or maybe it’s the endless opportunities for outdoor fun. But we think it’s the anticipation of a romantic vacation, and we’ve found the sweetest destinations for an extended summer date.
Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
Head out west to one of Mexico’s best-kept secrets. Although growing in popularity, Riviera Nayarit isn’t nearly as crowded as its fellow west-coast neighbor Los Cabos or the bustling eastern paradises of Cancun and Riviera Maya. This 192-mile stretch of coast is dotted with secluded seaside towns, charming eateries, and laid-back beaches bordered by the Pacific Ocean and lush mountains, making it a perfect choice for a loving rendezvous.
The Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
Croatia has quickly become one of Europe’s hottest destinations, and it’s not just because of the worldwide exposure it’s received as a major filming location for hit movies and TV series like HBO’s Game of Thrones. Medieval cities and towns, a naturally stunning coastline, and the clear, sapphire water of the Adriatic Sea definitely boost its appeal. Grab your loved one for strolling through the medieval streets of Dubrovnik, shopping in outdoor markets, and for long days spent in the sun in remote coves or on chartered yachts.
Related: Quest for the Iron Throne
You don’t have to leave the country for a truly relaxing retreat. Just outside Phoenix lies an area boasting world-class spas surrounded by stunning desert horizons. Pick one of Scottsdale’s many renowned resorts and get ready to be pampered into a state of pure bliss. With more spas per capita than anywhere else in the country, we’re positive you’ll find a couples massage – or two, or three – that’s perfectly rejuvenating. Once you’re feeling recharged, you’ll find a bustling nightlife and high-end shopping in downtown Scottsdale. Or get back to nature with a romantic hike through the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.
Southeast Asia is a treasure trove of beautiful countries and cultures, and the island of Bali is a precious gem offering luxurious getaways and experiences that are surprisingly very affordable. Retreat to a Balinese spa resort amid mountains blanketed by tropical rainforest. Indulge in a candlelit dinner on the beach. Rise early for a hike up Mt. Batur to watch one of the most breathtaking sunrises you’ll ever see. You’ll quickly discover that the Balinese people are not only very hospitable, they’re also master craftsmen, so take the opportunity to shop for handmade souvenirs. You can even commemorate your trip with custom-made couple’s rings from local jewelry artists.
It’s hard to picture anything more romantic than cuddling up in a gondola with your sweetheart while a gondolier glides you through the waterways of Venice. This city sings of love with its molto bella architecture and labyrinth of narrow alleys brimming with secret spots to steal a few kisses. Sneak away to a quaint restaurant to get your fill of people-watching, wine, and Italy’s famously superb cuisine.
This island haven has been called the “Hawaii of the Caribbean” and for good reason. Its mountainous landscape looks remarkably plush due to the full foliage that covers St. Lucia from peak to shoreline, and love is in the air at most of the first-class resorts here. Lovers will find golden beaches and rich waters perfect for snorkeling, and the iconic Piton Mountains are the best backdrop for a sunset cruise around the island. Chocolate could easily be considered the food of love, and the decadent beans grow in abundance on St. Lucia. Make a date out of a Chocolate Experience tour, where you’ll make your own sweet treat starting from bean to bar.
Related: Excite the Senses in St. Lucia
Napa Valley, California
Put yourself in a romantic state of mind in California’s famous Napa Valley. Not only is this area covered by dreamy, rolling green hills, it also happens to be overflowing with wineries that produce some of the world’s best vintages. It wouldn’t be fair to pick a designated driver from the two of you, so book a coach tour of the area and sip to your heart’s content. You can always pick up a bottle or two of your favorites to bring home – if they make it that far.
Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Costa Rica calls to active couples looking for unique natural wonders and experiences, and in the Guanacaste province, you can have your beach and adventure, too. This northwestern area has seaside resorts perfect for unwinding on the sand while being pampered. But when you’re ready for a little action, travel inland for volcanos, rainforest, and wildlife. Climb into the canopy to spend some quality time with exotic birds and monkeys, then zip-line back to earth for horseback riding around the rainforest. Race down river with whitewater rafting, or take to the water at a slower pace by soaking in natural hot springs. You know what they say? Couples who adventure together, stay together.
We’ve all seen the photos of secluded islands floating in a blue abyss with branches of overwater bungalows stretching out into the surrounding turquoise lagoon. While the intimacy of staying in your very own overwater villa creates an indescribable magic, the Maldives create numerous ethereal moments for couples looking to get off the grid. Step straight into the water from your not-so-humble abode and discover an undersea garden of bright corals and vibrant fish. Every one of the 1,200 islands found in this Indian Ocean paradise claims to have the whitest and softest sand beaches, but we’ll let you be the judge as you hop between islands on the local ferries.
Québec City, Canada
While Québec captivates visitors no matter the season (yes, even during the frozen winter months), the summer’s warm weather allows for long days spent exploring the city’s cohesive contradiction of greenspaces and urban sophistication. Québec City transports you to old world France without ever leaving North America’s borders. Wind your way through Old Town’s cobblestone streets, shopping in boutiques and eating in cafés established in 17th and 18th century houses. If you crave an escape from the cosmopolitan hustle, retreat to the vast Battlefields Park for a picnic in the grass or a summer concert. Québec’s compact size makes it easy for conquering all the sights together.
Whatever the cause, we can’t deny that summer’s loving vibes are stronger than the sun. Call your travel agent today to start planning a romantic summer escape for two.
By Jen Lewallen