25 Best Last Minute Romantic Getaways
Short getaways offer a great way to renew your energy, and choosing the right place with care is important. Depending on where you live, you can plan a beach trip combined with kayaking, bird watching, and a quick visit to a museum in a major city. You can climb mountains, explore caves, tour vineyards, and appreciate timeless art, all in one short, fun weekend. Photo: wavebreak3/Fotolia
Located in northeastern Florida at the confluence of St. John’s River and the Atlantic Ocean, Jacksonville has it all. Soak up the sun on more than 20 miles of wide sandy beaches such as Jacksonville Beach or Neptune Beach. Go see thousands of birds at Betz-Tiger Point Preserve or enjoy the wilderness from a kayak at St. Marys River Paddling Trail. Play a round of golf at Ponte Vedra Beach’s TPC Sawgrass. Visit the romantic 1.5-acre Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens with 5,000 works of art. Stroll through Riverside Avondale Preservation, one of Florida’s historic districts, check out the lively Riverside Arts Market, and taste the local goodies at the adjacent farmers’ market while being entertained by street musicians.
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» Palm Springs
A popular holiday destination for the rich and famous from nearby Los Angeles since the early 1900s, Palm Springs is an exciting city in southern California at the edge of the Sonoran Desert. Famous originally for its hot springs, the Palm Springs of today is a holiday destination for those who enjoy wonderfully preserved mid-century modern architecture and excellent shopping in the downtown Palm Canyon Drive district. Take a bike tour of celebrity mansions and residences. Take a tour of Joshua Tree Park in an open Hummer. Hike through miles of trails in the magnificent Sonoran Desert. See Palm Springs and the surrounding desert from 5,783 feet up from the Aerial Tramway.
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» Columbia MO
When you are visiting a college town that has three colleges, you know that it is going to be lively. With Stephens College, the University of Missouri, and Columbia College, Columbia, Missouri, is cultured, artsy and knows how to enjoy life. Start your visit by checking out the Francis Quadrangle with its historic columns and watch the students milling around. Visiting Rock Bridge Memorial State Park will give you an opportunity to hike, relax, or explore Missouri’s famous caves. Shelter Gardens is a delight for all senses, with diverse flower gardens where there is something blooming at all times. Shryocks Callaway Farms are a blast into the past, with a corn maze that is pretty cool. Catch a game at Mizzou Arena, there is always something going on. Check out what local artists are doing at the Columbia Art League and try hidden local treasures with Columbia Culinary Tours.
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South Carolina’s cities never lack charm but Greenville is in its own category. Where else can you find a waterfall in the downtown core? Or a bridge that looks like it is floating along in the mist? All that natural bounty is part of the Falls Park on the Reedy, where you can bike, hike, enjoy magnificent gardens, or have a nice meal in one of the romantic restaurants overlooking the river. Don’t miss the Greenville County Museum of Art, which showcases a few centuries of artworks by Southern artists. Learn more about South Carolina at the Upcountry History Museum. Catch a show or a concert at the Peace Center
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Lenox would be a small, sleepy, very affluent New England town nestled in Western Massachusetts if it weren’t so attractive to the rest of the world. And for a good reason. Spending a weekend in Lenox means having a choice of listening to some really good music at Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony Orchestra summer home, watching a latest play by Shakespeare and Company, or feeling the past at the beautifully restored Edith Wharton’s mansion, The Mount. If you feel like more culture, visit the Ventfort Hall Museum or see a superb collection of Cubist art at the Frelinghuysen Morris House and Studio. For a taste of nature’s beauty, take a stroll through the magnificent Pleasant Valley Sanctuary or explore the trails at the Kennedy Park.
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Once known as the “Rocktown, ” Harrisonburg is now better known as a place where history, magnificent nature, and a vibrant cultural scene blend harmoniously to provide a wonderful destination for a weekend or a longer holiday. Stroll through the beautifully restored Harrisonburg Downtown Historic District, enjoy unique local food and craft beer, and walk through the green parks unique to the historic Shenandoah Valley landscape. Find out at the Hardesty-Higgins House Visitor Center what is happening at the moment. Visit the OASIS Fine Art and Craft artist cooperative, where 45 local artists showcase their works. Enjoy exquisite quilts made by generations of Harrisonburg ladies at the Virginia Quilt Museum. Immerse yourself in the heady fragrance of the White Oak Lavender Farm. Take a tour of local breweries; you won’t want to miss any.
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A modern, vibrant city that German settlers built where the Licking and Ohio Rivers meet, Cincinnati is a place with much to see, whether you are interested in beautifully restored 19th-century architecture such as Findlay Market, or you prefer to get immersed in 6,000 years of art, as it is displayed at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Popular food tours will take you to the hidden eating and drinking nooks known only to the locals. Try to catch a game at the Great American Ball Park. Take a deep breath at the Krohn Conservatory and see the city the way birds do from Carew Tower.
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» Fort Lauderdale
A city of beaches and romantic canals, with a thriving art scene and the massive Everglades nearby, Fort Lauderdale is the place for a fantastic vacation. Catch some rays at the city’s huge sandy beach, take a romantic gondola ride down one of many canals, and stroll through the famous Arts and Entertainment District or even more famous Las Olas Boulevard. Take a tour of Millionaires’ Row or sit in one of many quaint cafes on the Strip and watch beautiful people pass by. Romance is in the air in Fort Lauderdale, whether you take a gondola ride or the Jungle Queen Riverboat Cruise along the New River. You can also enjoy the International Swimming Hall of Fame or get some fresh air on a hike through Hugh Taylor Birch State Park.
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You can spend weeks in Boulder and still not see and experience everything that is going on in its vibrant, quirky, lively, and exciting downtown. You might want to start with one of the tours, such as Local Table Tours, which are perfect for foodies, or Banjo Billy’s Bus Tour, which brings you aboard a hilarious old school bus. If you prefer exploring on your own, start with four blocks of outdoor Pearl Street Mall with its 150 boutiques, street musicians, splashing fountain, and all sorts of eateries. If you are an art lover, visit the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, an artist’s co-op known as the Boulder Arts and Crafts Gallery, and the more than 20 galleries representing local artists. Denver is a delight for foodies, and you can enjoy the food with the view from such rooftop spots as the West End Tavern or Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant. For more high-end dining, indulge at OAK at Fourteenth or Frasca Food & Wine. You will find music everywhere in downtown Boulder, from the street performers in Pearl Street Mall to musicians at The Laughing Goat or The Attic. Do not miss some of the best micro-breweries in the country, such as Mountain Sun or Walnut Brewery.
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The largest city and the capital of Idaho, Boise is located in southwestern Idaho on the Boise River with the magnificent Rockies as its background. Boise is known as the City of Trees, and nature is an important part of the city’s identity. The riverfront trails run through the city, and the nearby Boise National Forest covers 2.5 million acres of spectacular recreation among the rivers, mountains, canyons, and forests. The city’s downtown is a delight of ornate art deco buildings, including the Boise Art Museum with its contemporary art collections and sculpture garden. Just around the corner is the imposing sandstone structure of the Idaho State Capitol building and the 19th century Old Idaho Penitentiary, with gallows, historical weaponry, and prison cells. The Idaho History Museum and the Pioneer Village are great places to learn more about the city’s past. Boise is artsy, quirky, lively, and a joy to explore. Don’t miss their interesting craft breweries. 25 Best Last Minute Romantic Getaways - Photo: knowlesgallery/Fotolia
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Not many people will think of Pittsburgh as a destination for a fun getaway, but that is only because they do not know enough about it. Pittsburgh is fabulous to explore and you can start by taking a walking tour of its downtown area to see the city’s famous skyscrapers, old and new, and get the feel for the city’s spirit. Drive up Mount Washington in the evening to see a view of the city that will take your breath away. Enjoy some truly fine jazz at The Cabaret at Theater Square, or at the Backstage Bar at Agnes R. Katz Plaza. Visiting the Andy Warhol Museum is an absolute must, and you will also enjoy the huge art collection at The Frick Pittsburgh. To learn more about the five billion years of the history of our planet as well as the 250 years of the history of Pittsburgh, you should visit the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the Senator John Heinz History Center, or the Fort Pitt Museum.
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» Fire Island
Fire Island is just a ferry ride away from the south shore of Long Island, but is world away into the pristine, unspoiled wilderness with 32-miles of fine white sandy beaches and quaint communities that have their own unique spirit. Robert Moses State Park on the western tip of this thin barrier island has nice picnic spots and the picturesque 19th-century Fire Island Lighthouse. Take a stroll along the wooden walkways of the shady, romantic Sunken Forest, surrounded by massive dunes. Have a plate of fish at the Surf’s Out bar and restaurant on Kismet beach, overlooking the water. If you feel adventurous, learn to parasail at the Fire Island Parasail in Ocean Bay Park.
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There is a strong mountain vibe in Asheville. After all, it is high up in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. But there is so much more to Asheville than climbing its steep hills. There is so much history and architecture, like the magnificent dome-topped Basilica of Saint Lawrence or the enormous 19th-century Biltmore Estate, where among other treasures you can see some priceless Renoir paintings. More art, but more modern, can be seen in the downtown Art District, with so many museums and galleries, or in the River Arts District, where old factory buildings have been converted to artists' studios. You can learn about Asheville’s spooky past during the Asheville Ghost Walking Tour and Mystery Museum and appreciate the local native plants at the North Carolina Arboretum.
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Bayfield is a small town in Wisconsin on the shores of magnificent Lake Superior. The town started its life as a lumbering and fishing community, and today it is a popular tourist destination and a gateway to the 22 beautiful Apostle Islands. Bayfield is known for its rich art scene and many festivals, such as the very popular annual Apple Festival, Bayfield in Bloom, the Festival of Arts and Gallery Tour, and the Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race. Visitors interested in the town’s history and heritage should visit the Bayfield Heritage and Museum Bayfield Maritime Museum. The 950-seat canvas tent theater Big Top Chautauqua offers excellent summer entertainment and performers such as Willie Nelson. The nearby Apostle Islands National Lakeshore offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation, such as sailing, kayaking, camping, scuba diving, and hiking. 25 Best Last Minute Romantic Getaways - Photo: Allen Gray/Fotolia
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Taos is an artsy, quirky, historic town in northern New Mexico’s high desert, snuggled into the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It is famous for its unique ancient adobe buildings, such as the Taos Pueblo, which Native Americans inhabited for centuries. With so many artists who made Taos their home, the town, especially Taos Plaza and the Taos Historic District is full of colorful, charming galleries and museums, such as the Harwood Museum of Art and the Taos Art Museum. Frontiersmen like Kit Carson have also left their traces on Taos, and you can see exhibits that describe their lives at the Kit Carson Home and Museum. Go across the magnificent Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and take a hike through the vast Wild Rivers Recreation Area to fully understand the majesty of the 800-foot deep Río Grande gorge.
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Beaufort is a small city on Port Royal Island and is one of the oldest cities in South Carolina, known for its beautifully preserved antebellum mansions and meticulously restored historic downtown district. The city’s scenic location on the Beaufort River combined with its rugged coastline and rich history attract thousands of tourists. Beaufort is also known as one of the best American small cities to live in. The John Mark Verdier House Museum, a Federal-style 1800s mansion that is now a house museum, is a great place to get the feel of Beaufort’s rich past and learn about its history. Strolling through Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park along the Beaufort River provides great views of the Woods Memorial Bridge and the boats on the river. The city is also known for its rich art scene and many lively festivals. 25 Best Last Minute Romantic Getaways - Photo: chromoprisme/Fotolia
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You can eat and drink your way through Sacramento and enjoy yourself without even knowing that there is so much more in this fun California city. While it is known as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, with fabulous farmers markets and restaurants of all kinds, Old Sacramento will remind you that the city had its heyday during the Gold Rush era, with wooden sidewalks and wagon rides. The city also has a very rich and lively cultural and art life, with murals all over the city and some of California’s best impressionists featured at the Crocker Art Museum. Try to catch a play or concert at the Community Center Theater or the Music Circus. With the American River and the Sacramento River meeting in the city, Sacramento has wonderful hiking and biking trails along the riverbanks. And no visit to Sacramento would be complete without a tour of the local wineries and vineyards that dot the hills and the picturesque Sacramento River Delta.
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Fredericksburg is a small, charming city in Virginia on the Rappahannock River, less than 50 miles from Washington, D.C. Fredericksburg was an important Virginia port during the colonial era. Today, the city is a popular tourist destination with a historic downtown, home to chief owned restaurants and unique shops. Visitors can enjoy outdoor adventures at Lake Anna and on the Rappahannock River, and can learn about the Civil War. Fredericksburg was the site of the first and second battles of Fredericksburg. These crucial moments in the country’s history are preserved in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, and thousands of Union Soldiers were buried in the park’s Fredericksburg National Cemetery. For more on the history of the era, visit Kenmore, a colonial-era mansion surrounded by lush gardens, and Chatham Manor, the 18th century planation that served as a Civil War headquarters and was the site of a slave rebellion. The Rising Sun Tavern was a pub built in 1760 by the younger brother of George Washington and is now nicely restored and open to visitors. 25 Best Last Minute Romantic Getaways - Photo: margie/Fotolia
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In Albuquerque, you can travel through time. Stroll through New Mexico’s super modern large city with its massive skyscrapers until, just around the corner, you come across the 18th-century world of Old Town Albuquerque, founded in 1706. Enjoy the architecture of ancient adobe buildings or ornate San Felipe de Neri Church. There are five museums to investigate as well as many quaint restaurants and souvenir shops where you can pick up original Native American handicrafts. Visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center to see native artifacts, art exhibits, and dance demonstrations. A ride on the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway will give you a chance to see the Rio Grande River and the entire city from high up. Go even higher with the Albuquerque25 Best Last Minute Romantic Getaways - Photo: ricktravel/Fotolia
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» Portland, Maine
Sitting on a peninsula in Casco Bay, Portland is a wonderful walking city in Maine, where your explorations can be pleasantly broken by short stops at many, many local breweries or quaint restaurants. You will love the Old Port waterfront with real, working fishing wharves, quaint cobblestoned streets, fishing piers and 19th-century houses. Not far away is Western Promenade Park, located on a bluff and with fantastic views of the river and the mountain. The West End district is elegant, with a number of beautifully restored Victorian homes, including the one housing the Victoria Mansion museum. The Congress Street arts district is full of art galleries showcasing what local artists are up to. The fascinating red octagonal Portland Observatory is located high up on Munjoy Hill, surrounded by small brick and wooden houses. Don’t miss the highly respected Portland Museum of Art, and if you are looking for a romantic outing, take a private lighthouse sightseeing charter on a Vintage Lobster Boat.
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When the Dutch settled on the shore of Lake Macatawa in today’s Michigan, they made sure that they brought everything that makes home: windmills, tulips, wooden clogs, and delicious food. You can try to imagine what a traditional Dutch village looked like in the 18th century by strolling through Nell’s Dutch Village, a quaint replica of the real deal. Or you can visit, or even climb, the huge, original De Zwaan windmill built in 1761, located in the Windmill Island Gardens. On a nice day, the large sandy beach in Holland State Park on nearby Lake Michigan is full of locals and visitors enjoying an all too short summer. For a great view of the lake and the city, make an effort to climb the 240 steps to the top of Mount Pisgah, actually a massive sand dune. If you can, time your visit to Holland to come in the spring, when the whole town is one huge colorful island of blooming tulips. It cannot get more Dutch than that.
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Moab is a launching point for visiting some of the most magnificent parks in the country: The spectacular red rock landscape of Arches National Park, an “Island in the Sky,” Canyonlands National Park, and the gorgeous Dead Horse Point State Park with the breathtaking views of the meandering Colorado River some 2,000 feet below. After you spend days of biking, hiking, or four-wheeling through any or all of the parks, you will come back to charming Moab, with a lively music scene, excellent bars and restaurants, and a few attractions you might want to see. The David DaVinci Theater offers magic and illusions, while the Moab Backyard Theater is a fun outdoor theater beneath a big cottonwood tree. Dark Sky Programs and Full Moon Hikes will take you back to the parks to show you the rocks and the sky as you have seen nowhere else. Find the time to see spectacular photographs at the Tom Till Gallery or to learn about the history of filming in the Moab area at the Moab Film Museum.
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» Newport Beach
They know how to have fun in Newport Beach: There is no month that there is not some kind of festival: Yacht Race Newport to Ensenada, Newport Beach Film Festival, Newport Beach Independence Day on the Bay, Restaurant Week, Hyatt Regency Summer Concert Series, and at the end of the year the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. If you miss them all, it does not mean you will not enjoy your stay in Newport Beach: The beach itself is spectacular. The harbor is full of lovely boats, you can stroll along two fantastic piers, Newport Beach Pier and Balboa Pier, or you can surf off Wedge Beach, famous for its big waves. Learn stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking at the Newport Aquatic Center in Back Bay, go hiking in Crystal Cove State Park, try wine tasting, take a sunset cruise, play golf, stroll through the city and get to know its ten distinct neighborhoods, or visit highly respected Orange County Museum of Art.
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Flagstaff is well-known to the outdoorsy types: Located at 7,000 feet of elevation, surrounded by desert, mountains, and a massive forest of ponderosa pines, it is a gateway to the San Francisco Peaks and Humphreys Peak as well as the famous Arizona ski resort Snowbowl. But there is more to Flagstaff than extreme sports and breathtakingly beautiful nature. It is also a place where about 100 members of the Anasazi and Sinagua tribes once lived at what is today Wupatki National Monument, in the fascinating cliff dwellings. In addition, a short drive from Flagstaff will take you to the crater of a volcano that last erupted 900 years ago. The Museum of Northern Arizona is a fascinating place to learn about landscapes, diverse cultures, ecology, tribal life, fine arts, and the natural sciences of the plateau. Riordan Mansion is another beautiful place to visit. Built in 1904 in the Arts and Crafts style for Riordan families, this mansion is a lovely reminder of the way of life of wealthy families in a small logging town.
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Houston is a metropolis in a true sense of the word, and being in Texas, everything in Houston is bigger than anywhere else. Located on Galveston Bay, Houston is a powerful mix of super modern city, commercial and business center, science and space exploration, and beautiful, timeless architecture and art. Visiting the Space Center Houston, where NASA’s astronauts train, is a must, as is a visit to Minute Maid Park to catch a ball game. Stroll through the Historic District and enjoy beautiful 19th-century architecture and fancy restaurants. Try to catch a play at the Houston Grand Opera in the Theater District, visit the Museum of Fine Arts or Rothko Chapel in the Museum District. A pub crawl with the Old Town Houston Historic Pub Tour will show you a different side of Houston. Relax and take a deep breath at the beautiful Buffalo Bayou downtown park.
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25 Best Last Minute Romantic Getaways
- Jacksonville, Photo: Courtesy of jovannig - Fotolia.com
- Palm Springs, Photo: Courtesy of Byron Moore - Fotolia.com
- Columbia MO, Photo: Courtesy of Henryk Sadura - Fotolia.com
- Greenville, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Lenox, MA, Photo: Courtesy of lspi138 - Fotolia.com
- Harrisonburg, VA, Photo: Courtesy of steheap - Fotolia.com
- Cincinnati, Photo: Courtesy of robert mobley - Fotolia.com
- Fort Lauderdale, Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
- Boulder, Photo: Courtesy of MaciejBledowski - Fotolia.com
- Boise, Photo: Courtesy of knowlesgallery - Fotolia.com
- Pittsburgh, Photo: Courtesy of zimmytws - Fotolia.com
- Fire Island, Photo: Courtesy of Francois Roux - Fotolia.com
- Asheville, Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
- Bayfield, Photo: Courtesy of Allen Gray - Fotolia.com
- Taos, Photo: Courtesy of flocu - Fotolia.com
- Beaufort, Photo: Courtesy of chromoprisme - Fotolia.com
- Sacramento, Photo: Courtesy of Zack Frank - Fotolia.com
- Fredericksburg, Virginia, Photo: Courtesy of margie - Fotolia.com
- Albuquerque, Photo: Courtesy of ricktravel - Fotolia.com
- Portland, Maine, Photo: Courtesy of haveseen - Fotolia.com
- Holland, Photo: Courtesy of csterken - Fotolia.com
- Moab, Photo: Courtesy of Bill45 - Fotolia.com
- Newport Beach, Photo: Courtesy of Phil - Fotolia.com
- Flagstaff, Photo: Courtesy of HildaWeges - Fotolia.com
- Houston, Photo: Courtesy of CrackerClips - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of wavebreak3 - Fotolia.com
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