Love may be in the air at all times, but come the dead of winter, many need a little extra heat to help keep warm. That doesn’t mean you have to only hit the hotter climates — truly romantic vacations will keep you toasty no matter the weather. From a charming town in the Midwest to the top of a snowy mountain to inspirational graffiti, here are five low-key destinations to get you in the mood for love.
Step into the picturesque village of Ephraim, a charming hamlet in Door County that speaks to its Norwegian past both in architecture and style. This, combined with blankets of fluffy snow, gives the area a cozy feeling, something that can be enhanced with a romantic sleigh romp or trolley ride around town. To add to the down-home vibe, book one of the hot tub or fireplace suites at the Village Green Lodge (10013 Poplar St., 920-854-2515, villagegreenlodge.com) and tuck into an evening of warm snuggles. In the morning, the inn offers a full, homemade breakfast to get you going, the perfect precursor to a day wandering around local galleries. Later, warm up with a bowl of Bohemian Potato Chowder or whatever special soup Czarnuszka Soup Bar (9928 Water St., 920-634-9649) has on the menu.
It’s hard not to find romance on the ski slopes of Vail Mountain — ’tis the season after all. But it turns out this seven-mile-long ski town has a lot more to offer than just snow and chairlifts. For starters, cozying up in an outdoor hot tub as the temperature drops below freezing, which you can do at the Four Seasons Vail (One Vail Road, 970-477-8600, fourseasons.com/vail). The hotel has two couples’ suites in its award-winning spa, where you can get a dual massage. Later, hold your honey’s hand and take the gondola up the mountain to The 10th (970-754-1010, the10thvail.com), an alpine-inspired, ski-in-ski-out eatery featuring literally elevated cuisine by chef Vishwatej Nath.
This bustling Texas city might not be a small town, but the vibe is homey and, given that the average temperature in January and February remains in the 50s, it’s a great place to take a break from the bleakness of NYC’s winter. It’s also the home of the famous “I Love You So Much” mural at the South Congress location of Jo’s Coffee (1300 South Congress Ave., 512-444-3800, joscoffee.com). Snap a picture with your significant other, grab some coffee and then catch a show at the historic Continental Club (1315 South Congress Ave., 512-441-2444, continentalclub.com) or the dimly-lit, jazzy Elephant Room (315 Congress Ave., 512-473-2279, elephantroom.com). Consider booking your stay at the newly-opened Westin Austin Downtown (310 E. Fifth St., 512-391-2333, westinaustindowntown.com), which is walkable to the hottest spots in the city and offers a special romance package for two that includes champagne, a couple’s massage and a chocolate tasting.
Vieques Island, Puerto Rico
If you are in the mood for a beach locale, this small intimate spot located a mere eight miles off the main island is great for adults looking to reconnect. Wander around the pristine beaches, watch for wild horses and marvel at how your darling looks illuminated by the creatures in the bioluminescent bay, which happens to be the brightest in the world. Stay at the W Retreat & Spa (State Road 200, 787-741-4100, wvieques.com), a charming property featuring colorful rooms, a spa, the option for a candlelit meal at the palm-lined cliff, fireside cocktails and the peace and quiet of a child-free beach.
Finger Lakes, New York
Of course, if you want to stick close to home, the Finger Lakes region upstate is only a half-day train ride away. Here you will have plenty of opportunities to get some tasty wine, with three trails to choose from — Seneca Lake, Keuka Lake and Cayuga Lake — that feature dozens of wineries. For some top picks, though, stay at Glenora Inn (5435 State Route 14, 800-243-5513, glenora.com), a pleasing property overlooking Seneca Lake that just so happens to also be a winery. And stop at Red Newt Cellars (3675 Tichenor Road, 607-546-4100, rednewt.com), on the east side of Seneca Lake for even more vino and a solid meal featuring local fare.