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Love Unplugged: Eight Romantic Cities off the Beaten Path

New York City and San Francisco get all the glory when it comes to romantic cities in the United States, but as a current resident of one of those cities (I’ll give you a hint: it’s known for its fog and sourdough bread), I can’t help but disagree with that. I’m sure plenty of people leave their hearts in San Francisco and feel enchanted by NYC’s vibrant culture. But neither of these crowded, oftentimes gritty cities—made all the more claustrophobic by throngs of tourists visiting them every year—is ideal for a truly romantic getaway. For that, you need a quieter atmosphere and a more picturesque setting. If sipping fruity drinks on a beach at sunset or watching the snow fall from inside a cozy cabin sound more romantic to you than waiting in line for the Empire State Building, make any of these places the next vacation destination with your special someone.

Mammoth Lakes, California


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Miles of forests, lakes, and mountainous terrain are yours for the exploring in this California town. The air is crisp and clean, the scenery is awe-inspiring, and the snow-filled winters and temperate summers make Mammoth a great place to visit any time of year. But the town’s best attraction is its crystal-clear sky. At night, you’ll swear you’ve never seen so many stars in your life. Even the Milky Way seems just an arm’s reach away.

Savannah, Georgia


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Those looking for an escape from the chaos of city life should head for Savannah, a city known for its calm, leisurely atmosphere. Take a stroll under the trees and through its many squares, dotted with gorgeous gardens and fountains and surrounded by fascinating historic buildings. Few other cities pull off classic Southern charm so effortlessly.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire


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With its strong ties to American colonial history and with the Atlantic Ocean as its backdrop, Portsmouth is a popular tourist destination, especially in the summer. The city’s layout makes it ideal for long, romantic walks on sandy beaches, down by the harbor, or along streets filled with small shops and restaurants.


Seattle, Washington


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Seattle’s moody, rainy weather can seem like a turnoff to some sun-loving couples, but when you think about the rhythmic patter of raindrops hitting the window as you snuggle under a blanket, does anything sound more appealing? Plus, a city celebrated for its fresh seafood and inventive menus might be the ultimate place to experiment with the aphrodisiac qualities of oysters.

Ouray, Colorado


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Nicknamed the Switzerland of America, this tiny Colorado community is surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and covered with beautiful flowers, towering trees, and expansive Victorian homes. A visit to the town’s famous natural hot-springs pool, which is open year-round and filled with actual hot spring water, is a must.

Kiawah Island, South Carolina


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This resort just outside Charleston attracts plenty of golf enthusiasts with its impressive course, designed by renowned players like Jack Nicklaus. But the island’s ten miles of beaches make it a lovely East Coast destination for watching the sun set over the ocean or listening to waves crash as you stretch out on the warm sand.

Mendocino, California


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Napa’s arguably the most famous wine region in California, perhaps even in the country, but Mendocino boasts an impressive selection of vineyards as well. In fact, it’s known as America’s Greenest Wine Region. Mendocino also offers the best of both natural worlds, with giant redwoods covering the landscape and the Pacific Ocean just minutes away.

Sedona, Arizona


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Whether you stay in one of the area’s numerous bed-and-breakfasts or at a spa resort, you’re sure to walk away from Sedona feeling refreshed, relaxed, and amazed by its breathtaking red-rock formations and pink- and purple-hued evening sky. However you choose to pass the day, whether it’s hiking or getting a massage, you can end it at one of Sedona’s most romantic eateries, L’Auberge Restaurant. It serves classy French-Mediterranean cuisine along the Oak Creek banks.

A truly romantic vacation shouldn’t involve visiting a bunch of tourist traps or scheduling everything down to the hour; it should be all about celebrating your love in places that inspire rejuvenation and happiness. Cities like San Francisco and New York are great, but you have to work hard for that kind of contentment when you’re forced to sidestep trash on the street and bump shoulders with frantic tourists and cranky locals to find it. A getaway with your special someone should be an escape from that kind of stress, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in these scenic destinations.


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