Looking for something beyond the classic dinner-and-a-movie date night for you and your sweetheart? From arts festivals and nature centers, to mountains and beaches, to vibrant nightlife and secluded retreats, there are plenty of unique events and destinations to choose from for a romantic winter trip. Below are the top things to do and places to see for Valentine’s Day 2023 that are sure to impress.
Winter in Santa Fe is a magical season—not only is the snow light and fluffy, the skies a bluebird blue, and the sun warm, but The City Different’s vibrant world-class performing arts and culture scene ramps up to offer a rich array of events in music, comedy, theater, dance, and education via the inaugural Art + Sol Santa Fe Winter Arts Festival, a nine-day celebration (February 11-19) and landmark collaborative effort among prominent arts organizations, including Santa Fe Pro Musica, Santa Fe Symphony, and Performance Santa Fe.
Located less than an hour from Colorado Springs in a scenic mountain setting awaits a unique and educational wildlife experience. The Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center is home to wolves, coyotes and fox that each live and thrive in large wooded enclosures that provide privacy, sanctuary and stimulation for these amazing and beautiful animals.
On a special February 12th tour, visitors will experience the thrill of the intense gaze of these beautiful creatures and learn the heartwarming story of Sabin, and the romantic story of “The Lovers”, Chinook and Nikita, for whom it was love at first sight. Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center visitors can take an hour tour to meet all of the resident animals, learn their histories and gain a better understanding of how they and their habitat are being threatened and what people can do to help. Each tour culminates with a group “wolf howl.” Your tour guide starts the howl, you join in, and, with luck, all the wolves soon begin to howl, creating a magical and serene experience for everyone. Reservations are required for The Lovers tour, and strongly recommended for other tours.
For a unique hotel experience, book a room at the Glen Eyrie Castle, a 67-room English Tudor-style castle situated in the northwest foothills of the Garden of the Gods Park and built by General William Jackson Palmer, the founder of Colorado Springs. Castle tours and teas held in the Castle Music Room are also available to book.
Travelers searching for new experiences in the new year should look no further than coast Mississippi, also known as the Secret Coast—a breathtaking 62-mile coastline, perfect for the wildlife and nature-lover in your life. For a unique experience, treat your sweetheart to a romantic Valentine’s Dinner Under the Sea in Mississippi Aquarium‘s mesmerizing Aquatic Wonders. Enjoy an elegant dinner with seating for two thoughtfully placed at windows in the Oceans and Swirl habitats. For the ultimate Valentine experience, reserve your table in the Aquarium’s 360 degree tunnel, Undersea Passage.
Or, try some of the area’s newest dining options. The upscale restaurant Radish, which opened in late 2022 in the heart of downtown Long Beach, offers an ingredient-driven menu that showcases the fresh, authentic flavors of the South. Head Chef William Rester uses traditional techniques and preparation styles, paying homage to the farmers who harvested the land in the nineteenth century, to cultivate a menu including small and large plates, sandwiches, and a full cocktail menu. Mangiamo Italian Restaurant, which opened in Gulfport in November, is an authentic Italian restaurant with a vast menu that combines Italian cuisine and Gulf-fresh seafood favorites. The menu features pasta dishes, like Seafood Lasagna and Penne a la Vodka, large Italian-themed entrees, and pizzas that have taken much of the city by storm.
Spend the night at the historic Gulf Hills Hotel & Resort in Ocean Springs, which holds a unique place in Coastal Mississippi history. Recently under new management, Gulf Hills features new upgrades and restorations that pay homage to the history of the property and notable guests like Marilyn Monroe. The renovations include a remodeled indoor ballroom, the Pink Pony Lounge – a favorite spot where Elvis Presley played piano – and the addition of an outdoor chapel for wedding parties.
If the beach or the crowds aren’t quite your vibe, head to the seclusion of the mountains in North Carolina. Book a cozy cabin in Jackson County, the perfect spot to enjoy nature and time together but still close enough to nearby dining options that are sure to compete with any big city’s upscale restaurants.
Listen to the roar of the Tuckasegee River while dining outside on the Foragers Canteen spacious patio. This local restaurant serves up a fusion of locally sourced, farm to table ingredients. It’s also near the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, so it’s possible you’d also hear the trains as they come by.
For a unique fusion dining experience, try Chef Santiago Guzzetti’s Italian-Appalachian cuisine at ILDA. Diners will find Instagram-worthy plates such as Saffron Paccheri pasta with butternut squash, brown butter, sunflower seed pesto and fried sage and Taleggio Crostinis to share featuring local filone and grilled, preserved grapes. Unique cuisine combination continue over at Guadalupe Cafe, which also features locally grown ingredients and regeneratively raised beef from Mountainside Family Farm. Most wouldn’t think of the tropics when they think of dining in the mountains, however Guadalupe’s incredibly creative tropical fusion cuisine is not to be missed with a menu inspired by Spain, the Middle East and the Caribbean. If you try one thing, let it be the tacos. Adventurous flavors include red curry shrimp, blackened plantains, peanut chicken, mango pork, and much more. For dessert, savor fresh chocolate from the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory.
Located just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards is more than just a farm as their website explains—”it’s a love story.” The lovechild of proprietors and husband-and-wife team, Lynn Easton and Dean Andrews, Pippin Hill represents the marrying of their complementary talents in a place they love—the undulating green hills of Virginia’s wine country. The grounds are composed of vineyards, kitchen gardens, flower gardens, eight acres of natural areas made up of native flowers and grasses, as well as dedicated livestock areas and an apiary.
Make reservations on the Veranda to enjoy tableside food service, suggested wine pairings, and self-guided wine flights. Can’t get the reservation you want? Lawn seating is available for walk-ins. Afterwards, enjoy additional food and wine on the grounds with self-guided tours of the gardens, chicken coop, apiary, and seasonal wildflower meadow. More in-depth estate tours and tastings can also be reserved. Visitors can even book a water color painting class, where students will learn basic watercolor mixing and brush techniques to paint bouquet of flora and fauna inspired by the Pippin Hill Farm gardens, or take part in a cooking class that culminates with a family style dinner in the Tasting Room.
Guests can stay nearby at the Crossroads Inn, recently purchased by the Easton and Andrews in 2022. This historic inn has been accommodating travelers since it was built in 1820 and is listed on the National Historic Register as a designated Virginia Historic Landmark. Originally known as the Crossroads Tavern, the Inn has served no other purpose since its completed construction than as a stop for the weary traveler. Because of the remarkable preservation and detailed rooms, the Inn can provide guests a modern glimpse of how early 1800’s taverns were built. Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren, Teddy Roosevelt, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt are just some of the distinguished former guests.
No date? No problem. Valentine’s Day isn’t just for the couples! Considered the Las Vegas of the East Coast, Atlantic City is the perfect weekend getaway for the girls. Covered in casinos, luxurious resorts, acclaimed restaurants along the beach and high-end shopping, there’s no excuse to not be booked and busy in Atlantic City! Soak in the scene and enjoy a fresh margarita accompanied by live music at girl’s night out hotspot Gypsy Tequila Bar, or take a gamble in Ocean Casino Resort’s 135,000 square foot paradise.
Looking to take the night to the next level? Explore the legendary, indoor The Pool After Dark inside the classic Harrah’s Resort for a one-of-a-kind nightlife experience that will keep guests satisfied until next Galentine’s Day!