Finding Romance in Winter Hot Spots
The truest winter axiom in travel is this: when the weather outside is frightful, getting away on vacation is so delightful. In fact, the very idea of a vacation was invented, some believe, not as a retreat from work, but as an escape from the chilly winter winds to exotic shores of sunshine and fruity drinks with umbrellas.
Travel agents have understood this for years, sending their clients to the hottest destinations around the globe from the beginning of November to the end of February. Add romance into the mix, and you have the makings of an unforgettable winter getaway for you and someone special.
To uncover the destination that’s right for you this winter or the next, check out these romantic ideas at the hot spots travelers favor each winter, as compiled by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members know that love at first sight applies not only to your partner, but also to beaches, mountain vistas and much, much more.
Romance in the U.S.–
Fifty States of Bliss
Many Americans won’t have to travel far to find romance, as the United States hosts a bevy of sizzling surprises. These five locales are favored each winter by travelers far and wide, and while some are well known for one particular attraction—such as a giant amusement park run by a famous, friendly mouse—you’ll be surprised at the romantic options within the city limits.
Orlando is more than the house a mouse built. Sure Disney World is the star attraction, but one reason families come here every year during the winter months is for mom and dad to have some peaceful, romantic tine alone while the children are blasting off to Mars on Mission: SPACE.
Orlando was a popular vacation spot long before the theme parks arrived. From romantic picnics in the park to horse-drawn carriage rides at dusk, the city abounds with handholding options. The trick, according to travel agents, is to offset the family vacation with romantic activities, such as a trip to Butterfly World, a hot air balloon sight-seeing tour, or a charming retreat to one of Orlando’s many quaint B&B’s.
Peaceful is not often a word you hear in connection with Las Vegas, and neither is romantic. Yet both words perfectly describe many experiences couples relish in this bright-light city, such as an impromptu waltz to the sounds of a Sinatra classic while you watch the water dance in front of the Bellagio.
Or maybe a view of the Strip and beyond from the top of the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas is more your speed, followed by a gourmet French dinner that will make you want to pop the question again and again. Gondola rides along the canals at the Venetian also warm the heart, as you’re swept up in the amore of the Italian streets.
New York, New York is not only another fabulous casino on the Vegas Strip, but the city is another romantic wintertime destination in itself. Romance is a 24-hour-a-day option in NYC, where you can begin the day with a carriage ride through Central Park. The Clermont Riding Stables will let you forego the carriage and simply take the horses out for a special light gallop around scenic paths.
Later, you can stroll hand-in-hand through the streets of Greenwich Village, take an elevator to the top of the Empire State Building for a breath-taking view or casually glide across the waters on the Staten Island Ferry. Wherever the day takes you, the night will bring you back to Broadway for a heartwarming musical.
Miami can warm your heart along with your entire body, for this rare gem of a city is hot, hot, hot! From sun-roasted beaches to sizzling Cuban food, Miami has a thousand and one ways to heat up your romance. By day, you can sit at a sidewalk café and watch couples walk by until the sun sets, and then stroll the streets of South Beach’s Art Deco District. By night, head out on the town, savor the spicy cuisine and dance until dawn at a trendy nightclub.
If the beaches of Miami sound appealing, but not the frenetic pace, then Hawaii is calling your name. Romance and paradise go hand-in-hand for couples on the Islands of Aloha, defined by moonlit walks on the beach where only palm trees hear your whispers, clear ocean views from the balcony of your suite and leisurely horseback rides in the surf. Hawaii adds a special backdrop that is simply unavailable anywhere else.
Speaking the Language
of Love, Internationally
It’s a big world out there, and romantic destinations are plentiful, especially during the winter. When considering an international vacation, travel agents suggest thinking in regions or countries first, and then narrowing down your itinerary to cities and events.
Mexico is an exotic country rife with romance, especially in the wintertime when temperatures at the beaches sometimes fall into the low eighties. With its close proximity to the U.S., numerous resorts and friendly people, it’s the perfect locale for couples to get away from it all.
Mexico’s classic romantic destination is undoubtedly Puerto Vallarta. PV, as it’s known today, was once a beautiful secret, a hideaway for those in the know and a brilliant surprise for a lucky few. In PV, relaxing on the beach with your loved one is not a waste of time; it’s an art form.
There is an energy in Acapulco that lasts throughout the night. A city that never sleeps, Acapulco is the perfect place to have dinner at midnight, dance until dawn and then sleep all day on the beach under the warm blanket of the sun. Acapulco Bay, one of the most beautiful bays in the world, is the heart and soul of this vibrant city, shimmering with the reflection of mountains during the day and twinkling with the city’s lights at night.
Cancun is the reason most people travel to Mexico. Home to the perfect romantic getaway, it has become Mexico’s calling card to the world, perfectly showcasing the area’s breathtaking natural beauty and the depth of its thousand-year-old history through nearby Mayan ruins. People who live in Cancun never run out of things to do, and neither will you at this alluring locale.
A few miles east, the Caribbean Islands shimmer in the sea like an illusion, yet the unforgettable times you’ll have there will be very real. In the Caribbean, the water is a color you never knew existed, and the white and pink sand squeaks beneath your bare feet as you walk along the beach. All-inclusive is the best way to enjoy the tropical life, and packages are available to most of the islands, so ask your travel agent for details.
Jamaica, one of the most alluring of the Caribbean islands, is a travel brochure to paradise conveniently packaged into one amazing island. White sand beaches, jungle mountaintops, clear waterfalls and dazzling sunsets make this magical island picture-postcard perfect, while the reggae music, colorful art and zesty food leave a wondrous aftertaste.
Puerto Rico mixes modern conveniences with four centuries of Spanish culture to create an intrigue visitors love. San Juan, the country’s spirited capital, is a bastion of Spanish colonial architecture, with restaurants and nightclubs that attract some of the most animated people in the islands. It’s the music that moves their feet and makes them roar, for the brash Latin sound is a source of pride for Puerto Ricans. Dancing here is mandatory.
Aruba will find a way to spoil you. Whether your poison is beautiful beaches, luxurious resorts or flashy casinos, this island paradise off the Venezuelan coast will surround you with pleasure until you promise to come back again and again. A geographically unique and beautiful island renowned for its hospitality, Aruba is for couples in search of good times as treasure hunts, beach barbeques and fish fries are held nearly every night with steel drums playing in the background.
For sheer tropical beauty, no island compares to St. Lucia. Known for its rainforests and waterfalls, St. Lucia (pronounced LOO-sha) is virtually unspoiled, sprinkled with luxurious resorts and friendly villages amid luscious valleys, wild orchids, banana plantations and a bubbling volcano. Love is definitely in the air on this island.
Europe may not have the sunshine that the Caribbean has, yet travelers still flock here each winter. For every village, every country boldly stands out with a prominent air of significance—both historic and cultural—unmatched anywhere else in the world. To describe every romantic spot in Europe would take a thousand poets a thousand years, yet a few must be mentioned.
Enchantment and excitement rule in Britain, the official region comprising of England, Scotland and Wales. Britain excels as the land of legend, where folklore and romance blend together, backdropped by ancient castles and vibrant cities. Begin a legend of your own with a romantic escape here.
France welcomes couples like no other place, where living well and loving life is an art form the French love to teach. France not only beckons, it lures you: to Paris with romantic walks along the Seine and picnics in the Tuileries Gardens; to Provence and the Riviera to bask in the warmth of the Mediterranean sun; to the vineyards of Burgundy, the enchanting castles of the Loire Valley; to the gardens of Versailles and Monet. Allow France to teach you, and it’ll be a lesson not soon forgotten.
Italy is a feast for your senses, intellect and heart. Rich with art and architecture, it is best experienced simply by living the Italian style, feasting on regional cuisines and enjoying the countryside. Rome, Venice, Florence and Milan top most visitors’ lists, offering unmatched icons of history and high fashion. Yet travel agents encourage their clients with to consider the picturesque villages that line the Italian Riviera and dot the shores of the northern lakes.
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Romance can be found throughout the world, and the places listed above encapsulate only the cork of the champagne bottle. Hopefully your winter travel will be romantic wherever you decide to spend it, but it helps to match a destination perfectly with your personality and expectations.
Matching destinations to people is a core responsibility of a travel agent. Seek the advice of a travel professional, and the vacation of your dreams will be your reward.
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