Valentine’s Day opens the season for love. Although known as the lover’s holiday, Valentine’s Day is not just for couples. The old-fashioned Valentine’s Day may have been driven by greeting cards and being a day of romance for couples, but today, romance comes in all forms. Whether you have a partner, a best friend, a child, a parent, someone you care about, or just want to treat yourself, Valentine’s is a great day to celebrate you and your wanderlust. So here are 8 of the most romantic places to spend Valentine’s Day with yourself and your loved ones.
Before we share our favorite romantic getaways, let us recount the story behind the holiday we know and love.
The Legend of St. Valentine
There are many legends surrounding Valentine’s Day from all over the world, but the most famous myth centers on Saint Valentine. Although there were several Christian martyrs named “Valentine,” Valentine’s Day honors two specific martyrs. There were actually two Saint Valentines, whose deaths are associated with February 14th: Saint Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni.
Saint Valentine of Rome
Saint Valentine of Rome is the most famous Valentine and usually the face of the story. He was a third-century priest martyred in 269 AD. Buried on February 14th, he became part of the calendar of saints in 496 and his relics were stored in the Catacombs of Saint Valentino. They were later taken to the Church of Santa Prassede, and today Saint Valentine’s skull, adorned with a flower crown, sits in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin.
According to legend, Emperor Claudius III spoke to Valentine personally after imprisoning the priest in Rome. There, Valentine restored the sight of his jailer’s blind daughter. She and her household then converted to Christianity. However, Claudius encouraged Valentine to convert to Roman paganism after taking a liking to him. Valentine clung to his Christian faith and tried to convert the emperor to Christianity. Claudius then executed him. Before his death, Valentine wrote a letter to the jailer’s daughter and signed it, “your Valentine.”
Want to see Valentine’s skull for yourself? While you are there, be sure to put your hand in the mouth of truth! Book a Valentine’s trip to Rome and stay either here or here at one of Jenny’s favorite romantic luxurious Rome hotels. Take this private small group tour of Rome’s hidden gems!
Another legend says that believing wedded men would be incompetent soldiers, Claudius banned them from marriage. Saint Valentine then secretly officiated Christian weddings for soldiers so they would not have to go to war. Valentine was also believed to distribute heart-shaped parchment cutouts to soldiers and Christians as a reminder of their wedding vows and the love of God. This could be the origin of the heart’s popularity on Valentine’s Day.
Valentine of Terni
Saint Valentine of Terni was a bishop in Interamna (now Terni) in the third century, martyred in Rome in 273. This Valentine’s relics were taken to the Basilica of Saint Valentine in Terni, where they remain. Although Valentine of Terni and Rome were two separate saints, some scholars say they were the same person under different circumstances.
Regardless of who the real Saint Valentine was, the Feast Day of Saint Valentine had always been February 14th, the date of his burial. Despite its removal from the General Roman Calendar in 1969, Valentine’s Day is still celebrated around the world on February 14th.
Now Valentine’s Day is an occasion to celebrate love in all shapes and forms. And what better way to celebrate than to go on a romantic vacation with a cherished companion? You can start by taking a look at 8 of the most romantic places to spend Valentine’s Day.
1) Paris – 8 of the most romantic places to spend Valentine’s Day
Some call Paris the most romantic city on Earth, making it one of the best cities for a romantic stay.
Paris – Eiffel Tower
There are plenty of sights to see in Paris for a Valentine’s Day outing, including a visit to the Eiffel Tower. Built in 1889, the Eiffel Tower is a French landmark that stands at 1,063 feet. It has 8 elevators (lifts) and 4 levels available to explore.
The esplanade is the level on the ground, the area directly underneath the tower. Here, you can see the tower’s architecture from below, accompanied by a plethora of restaurants, boutiques, and recreational areas. You can then take the stairs or elevator to the 1st floor, which features an iconic glass flooring that displays Paris beneath your feet. The 2nd floor provides a stunning view of the city’s landmarks, from the Louvre to Notre Dame. It also features three Michelin star restaurant Le Jules Vernes, and a macaroon bar, along with boutiques and a buffet.
Known as the Top, the final level brings you to the very top of the tower. The sounds of city life no longer reach you here. You loom over Paris with nothing but wind in your ears, while enjoying a glass of champagne from the Top’s iconic champagne bar. Consider spending part of the day exploring the Eiffel Tower. Then have dinner at the Jules Verne. End the evening with champagne at the top while overlooking the cityscape.
During Valentine’s week, Paris is one of the busiest cities in the world, of course! Due to the popularity, I found the best way to visit the Eiffel Tower was with a small group tour. It allowed VIP access to all 3 floors, skipping the long line, and included champagne. You were really only with the “tour” to get in, so it was great! Also try one of these tours that include a romantic river cruise.
Paris – Moulin Rouge
Book a show at the Moulin Rouge on your special Valentine’s complete with VIP seating and champagne or dinner. Famously featured in a number of films, books, documentaries, and songs, Moulin Rouge is a historic cabaret that conjures up images of Parisian romance. Home of the can-can dance, Moulin Rouge was known for its lavish shows, risqué dancers, and the iconic windmill looming over its building. A symbol of romance and pleasure, the club retains that vibe today. Damaged by fire in 1915, it was restored in 1921 and remains open now.
Moulin Rouge offers both afternoon and evening shows, with or without meals. Definitely one of the 8 most romantic places to spend Valentine’s Day, Moulin Rouge is a great way to celebrate love in the day. So let the cabaret transport you back to Paris at the turn of the century.
Then, return from the Eiffel Tower and Moulin Rouge to the Peninsula Hotel for a five-star night of luxurious rest.
2) New York City – 8 of the most romantic places to spend Valentine’s Day
New York City is a number of things at once. It is magical, old, new, and yes, romantic. One of the liveliest places in the United States, New York City is also another place to spend Valentine’s Day. There are more than enough options to choose from for a day in New York, ranging from museum visits to Broadway shows and everything in between, but consider doing the following for a romantic evening.
First, book a night at the Plaza Hotel. One of the most famous luxury hotels in the area, this five-star hotel has appeared in over 50 films set in New York City. Almost a New York landmark in itself, the Plaza Hotel is also within walking distance of Central Park. Take a TV or Film Tour of other famous NYC sites.
The Plaza features the Palm Court, an upscale restaurant that serves dinner and afternoon tea, as well as a champagne bar and cocktail lounge.
You can enjoy fine dining within the Plaza before making a stop at one of the city’s many chocolatiers. Take the ultimate chocolate tour in NYC or a cupcake walking tour! Sample some sweets and buy a delicious gift for your loved ones (or yourself to savor later).
Take a stroll through Central Park and have dinner at the Loeb Boathouse Central Park. Something of a hidden gem, this lakeside restaurant sits at the center of Central Park, providing exquisite views and a casual upscale meal.
3) Iceland – 8 of the most romantic places to spend Valentine’s Day
For a less conventional way to spend Valentine’s Day, travel to Iceland for a romantic stay with nature. Sleep under the stars in the 5 Million Star Bubble Hotel and maybe even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Guaranteed to provide you with a memorable stay, the 5 Million Star Hotel encloses each room in a transparent bubble in the middle of nature. Isolated from the buzz of the city, you will sleep and wake to the view of a galaxy of nighttime stars or beautiful skies. For couples, the hotel also offers a special rose petal-setup that includes roses and folded swans, along with fruits and a bottle of Prosecco.
While here, you can also take a guided tour of Iceland’s Golden Circle or South Coast. The Golden Circle tour takes you on a trip through the Thingveller National Park, the Geysir hot spring, the Gullfoss waterfall, and the Secret Lagoon hot spring. In the South Coast tour, the guide will take you to the Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss Waterfalls, as well as the Black Sand Beach. On these trips, you have the chance to admire Icelandic nature and even enjoy a dip in iconic hot springs or the chance to walk through black sand. This, without a doubt, makes Iceland’s bubble experience one of the most romantic trips you can take.
4) Palm Desert – 8 of the most romantic places to spend Valentine’s Day
Located in Coachella Valley and Palm Springs, Palm Desert is a luxurious Californian city known for its abundance of country clubs, boutiques, art galleries, and spa resorts. Today it is a shopping and recreation paradise, with something for everyone, including travelers coming for a Valentine’s trip.
Spend your romantic day in Palm Desert, strolling through El Paseo, admiring the various art galleries. Shop until you drop while looking through the many high-end chain stores and boutiques at El Paseo too. Then stop at the Palm Springs Art Museum at Desert Palm for a look into the sculpture garden. Or book a show at the McCallum Theatre, which offers everything from concerts to musicals and plays. For more time outdoors, visit the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens for an immersive wildlife experience. Have dinner at one of the many upscale restaurants in the area, such as the Kaiser Grille or the Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar at the Gardens.
Alternatively, celebrate and relax by enjoying a Palm Desert spa. Try the grand JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa with its famous boats that take you through the resort to the restaurant. Want a more intimate experience? Try the lovely Spring Resort and Spa. It is a Jenny Favorite offering great natural soaking springs, a pool, a fantastic spa, and morning yoga. The few rooms, situated around the pool, are intimate and comfortable. Some contain a kitchen and private terrace.
For a pleasant day trip, take a drive on scenic route 74 to the Coachella Valley Vista Point. Bring lunch, a camera, or go for a hike.
Just here for the day, then soak in the hot springs at the Desert Hot Springs in Greater Palm Springs. These springs gather cool and warm water from an underground aquifer. A pure oasis of relaxation, a dip into a hot spring is the perfect romantic getaway.
5) Napa Valley – 8 of the most romantic places to spend Valentine’s Day
Napa Valley is another of the 8 most romantic places to spend Valentine’s Day. Renowned for its numberless vineyards and place in the gourmet food industry, Napa Valley sits within Napa County in San Francisco, California. Sharing a bottle of wine on Valentine’s Day can be very romantic. So what better way to feel the romance than spending Valentine’s visiting a Napa winery (or a few)?
Visit exclusive wineries on one of these many tour options. Or book a chauffeur-driven car to visit your choice of tasting rooms and vineyards. Refine your taste buds and leave with a bottle of wine to gift your loved ones. Then dine at one of many Michelin star restaurants like the Restaurant at Auberge or La Toque. Enjoy upscale French cuisine, pair your food with Napa Valley wine, and settle in for a mouthwatering evening. For a quirkier and equally romantic meal, book a seat on the Napa Valley Wine Train and dine on the locomotive as it takes you through the valley. Soak in the sights you pass.
Walk off your meal with a romantic stroll through the idyllic hills, and end your Valentine’s with a day at one of Napa Valley’s numerous luxurious stays. You can book a room at the R Inn Napa for a bed and breakfast experience, the beautiful Archer Hotel, or the Auberge du Soleil resort, and many more. Every Napa Valley stay offers you its own special experience.
6) Multnomah Falls and McMenamins- 8 of the most romantic places to spend on Valentine’s Day
If you love the outdoor vibe, Multnomah Falls provides the perfect Valentine’s getaway. Located between Corbett and Dobson, Oregon, Multnomah Falls is a waterfall near Multnomah Creek.
Named after the Multnomah tribe, the waterfall has its roots in an ancient legend. A young Multnomah woman jumped off the cliff, sacrificing herself to the Great Spirit so she could save her people from the plague. Her people were spared and in the wake of her death, water rushed from the cliff. Another myth says the waterfall was created to satisfy the wishes of a princess who wanted a secret bathing spot. Looking at the waterfall today, it is more than a legendary sight. Standing over 600 feet, the waterfall is an entrancing vision of cascading cool water against a lush woodland backdrop.
Before planning your day hiking to Multnomah Falls, first book a room at the historic McMenamins’ Edgefield Hotel. Formerly a “poor farm,” the hotel is now 74 acres of comfort, including furnished guest rooms, restaurants, a brewery, winery, veranda, garden, and spa. Be sure to enjoy your time at Ruby’s Spa and soaking pool, a fantastic perk of staying at Edgefield. The outdoor soaking pool contains heated saltwater and is the perfect refresher before a spa appointment or morning activity.
End your evening with a meal at McMenamins Little Red Shed. A restaurant at Edgefield, it is a cozy cottage with a rustic romantic theme. Sit by the crackling fire inside while enjoying a locally made drink and gourmet pizza, all while surrounded by nature outside.
Also see Jenny in Wanderland detailed article on McMenamins in Best Weekend Getaways.
7) Whistler – 8 of the most romantic places to spend Valentine’s Day
For a romantic day on the go, consider booking a stay at the Whistler Blackcomb ski resort in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. One of the biggest ski resorts in North America, it boasts 200 ski trails, with 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) at the longest runs. In addition to skiing opportunities, the resort features plenty of seasonal activities such as mountain tours, biking, sledding, tubing, and more. The resort offers onsite equipment rentals and lessons as well.
After skiing to your heart’s content, be sure to visit the picturesque Whistler Village. One of the largest resort villages in the world, it is home to a variety of restaurants, bars, cafes, boutiques, shops, and stone walkaways. The holiday vibe is eternal at Whistler Village, nested between the Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. End your Valentine’s evening in the village by enjoying an evening fireplace and a hot beverage at one of the many restaurants or take a delightful dinner tour. Book a room at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler to unwind and treat yourself to the luxury that is Fairmont, with views, a mountainside pool, and spa.
8) Terni – 8 of the most romantic places to spend Valentine’s Day
Last but not least, we recommend a visit to the Province of Terni in Umbria,
With the time in between, indulge in Terni’s Valentine’s Day festivities.
Terni – Festivities
On February 14th, you can spend the day at a large Valentine’s fair that lights up the city streets. The Fair of Saint Valentine involves around 300 stalls of food, games, music, and festivities. Here, you will certainly feel the love in the air.
The Sunday before Valentine’s, couples intending to wed within the year can visit the Basilica of San Valentino to say their vows before Saint Valentine’s urn to receive his blessing. In the month of February, the basilica also hosts the Feast of the Promise for lovers to renew and exchange vows in honor of an ancient couple that Saint Valentine married. The feast usually features live music, dancing, and contest for participants to enjoy.
However, you can visit the basilica and pay homage to Saint Valentine any time, though doing it on Valentine’s gives it special meaning. So after visiting the city fair, stop at the basilica to see Saint Valentine’s final resting place and leave a message of love in Saint Valentine’s well.
Make time to visit the numerous chocolate shops in Umbria for a romantic and edible gift. You can also go to nearby Perugia and visit the famous Perugia Chocolate Factory for a chocolate lover’s paradise.
Aside from the Feast of the Promise, Terni is also home to the Valentine’s Day Marathon and Cioccolentino. The former is a race in the name of love, and the latter is an annual food and wine festival featuring chocolate tastings, workshops, contests, and more.
Terni – Marmore Falls
If time allows, visit the Cascata delle Marmore (Marmore Falls) on the outskirts of Terni. This waterfall is a manmade wonder created by the Romans to transport water from its lake to farmers below. The water splashes down, based on a schedule, and there are plenty of angles to observe. When the water releases, step back and take in the stunning image of its cascading rapids and vibrant hills. As memorable as Terni is itself, the Marmore Falls are a sight to behold and certainly make a wonderful memory for you and your loved ones.