Romantic Road Trips

Continued from article in Feb. issue (P. 6)

Cumberland Gap

For those who get a romantic spark from nature, add Cumberland Gap to the itinerary. The town is nestled at the foot of the towering Cumberland Mountains and is a majestic passageway through the mountains between Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. Visit Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and sneak a kiss at Pinnacle Overlook (elevation 2,440 feet), which delivers panoramic views of the three surrounding states. To reach the overlook, start at the park’s Visitor Center and take the four-mile-winding Skyland Road up the mountain (the road is closed to vehicles longer than 20’ but a shuttle ride can be arranged). Decades ago, Cumberland Gap was known as “The Wedding Place” of the Tri-State area. Passenger trains arrived daily with thousands of couples who wanted to tie the knot in the historic hamlet. Today, the town still has a quaint Wedding Chapel plus a small downtown with a collection of cute shops and restaurants, including the family-owned Pineapple Tea Room. It’s a perfect spot for couples to get warm and cozy while enjoying a specialty coffee or tea and hand-made pastries.

San Antonio, TX

San Antonio Botanical Gardens.

Slow down and get in touch with each other and nature at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. Follow winding paths through stunning flower beds and be amazed by the intriguing “Origami in the Garden” exhibit. Made from single pieces of folded paper and displayed within beautiful garden settings are sculpture-size galloping ponies, emerging butterflies, soaring birds, and gliding airplanes. Also, don’t miss the Kumamoto Enan, an authentic Japanese Garden designed by landscape artists and craftsmen from Japan. The garden features serene water elements, granite lanterns, and stone walkways. For a deeper connection, take the Sunset Flow Yoga class that’s held each Monday evening at the garden.
Within the city, the San Antonio River Walk captures a slice of the romantic atmosphere usually found along the riverbanks of European cities like Paris and Venice. Take an early morning stroll along the walk to enjoy its towering trees, intimate restaurants, and inviting green spaces. Look for the Selena Bridge, an arched stone bridge where a love scene from the movie Selena was filmed. The bridge is a natural stopping point and delivers a picturesque view of the River Walk.
RVers can spend the night at Blazing Star RV Resort that combines modern luxury with picturesque countryside. Amenities include an exercise facility, lagoon pool, bocce ball courts, and horseshoes.

Albuquerque, NM

Hit new romantic heights in Albuquerque. Soar above the Land of Enchantment on a private balloon flight. At sunrise or sunset, enjoy the breath-taking scenery of the Rio Grande Valley as it’s bathed in vibrant shades of orange, pink and purple.
Scale a mountain together aboard the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway. Take in the 11,000 square-mile, panoramic mountain-top view and connect on an unforgettable hike. Six hiking trails that range from easy to extremely difficult are accessible from the peak in the Cibola National Forest and deliver desert, mountain, and meadow vistas. Before leaving Sandia Peak, linger over a drink or meal at the Ten 3 restaurant, which specializes in local cuisine.
Within Albuquerque, stroll through Old Town’s narrow streets, weave through century-old adobe buildings and houses and peruse artisan shops and galleries. Finish the day with a visit to Apothecary Lounge’s rooftop bar with views of the Sandia Mountains and downtown skyline.

Sedona, AZ

If red and pink are the colors of love, Sedona is the epicenter. Take the Red Rock Scenic Byway and keep an eye out for romantic stops along the way like Cathedral Rock Vortex. The vortex energy is said to be feminine and delivers feelings of softness, receptiveness, and compassion. For couples who connect with golf, along the Byway are three golf courses that are open to the public.
Don’t miss the Sedona-Oak Creek Airport, one of the most scenic airports in the country. The airport is located on top of a high mesa overlooking the city. Sit outside at Mesa Grill and watch as helicopters and Cessna and Beechcraft planes take off for new adventures.
Travel 25 minutes to Clarkdale and book first-class passage on the Verde Canyon Railroad to take in the “love birds.” According to the railroad, in February, “The bald and golden eagle populations are at their peak and the clear waters of the Verde River are a perfect respite for a variety of migrating raptors … looking for romance.” Enjoy an intimate table for two in front of a picture window that delivers sweeping views of the amazing red rock formations and native flora and fauna. During Valentine’s weekend, there’s a special Chocolate Lovers package with a curated selection of artisan pastries and chocolates plus a champagne toast.
RVers can spend the night at Verde Ranch RV Resort, ranked as a top RV park and just 30 minutes from Sedona.

Ouray, CO

Often called the Switzerland of America, Ouray is an old mining town with abundant southwest charm and winter alpine beauty. The setting in a box canyon surrounded by the San Juan Mountains makes it a true jewel. For steamy romance, couples can book a soak in the mineral-rich, sulfur-free waters of Wiesbaden Hot Springs or Ouray Hot Springs Pool, surrounded by 13,000-foot snow-capped mountain peaks.
Other Ouray adventures include the Box Canyon Waterfall and Park. The park is just a 5-10 minute walk from Main Street and is a rare opportunity to see climbers from around the world scale dramatic and towering walls of ice. Lessons are available for first-timers who’d like to give the sport a shot. For couples who enjoy the vitality crisp winter air brings, local outfitters provide snowshoes, cross-country ski equipment and snowmobile rides that lead to pristine, snow-covered meadows and forests.
In many ways, the town of Ouray is a magical step back in time to a quieter way of living. Most of the businesses on Main Street are family-owned by local townspeople. There’s also a preponderance of painters, stained-glass craftsmen, woodworkers, silversmiths, and photographers who create magnificent and unique works of art, inspired by the majestic mountains and unparalleled scenery of the area.
RVers can spend the night at Ouray Riverside Resort and enjoy 10 acres along the Uncompaghre River, surrounded by mountains and waterfalls.

Mendocino, CA

This charming town located on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean is an enchanted, unspoiled gem. Beautiful Victorian homes, saltbox cottages, well-kept gardens, and artsy shops are the perfect ingredients for a slow exploration of this diminutive town. Stop for an artisanal indulgence at the Mendocino Chocolate Company or enjoy dinner at Cafe Beaujolais, a laid-back white-tablecloth French restaurant located inside an 1893 Victorian farmhouse.
Just down the road in Fort Bragg, visit Glass Beach, one of the most romantic places in the area. Stroll a beach pebbled with smooth sea glass treasures of all shapes, colors, and sizes just waiting to be discovered. Fort Bragg is also home to Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens — a rare public garden that fronts the ocean shore. The colorful floral displays are an amazing backdrop for thunderous waves that buffet the coast. Finally, explore another love language and book a whale watching charter boat to see California Gray Whales as they migrate north to Alaska from Baja California.
RVers can extend the beauty of a visit to Mendocino with beach-side camping at Westport RV Park.


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