Valentine's Day is upon us. It's that special time of the year when love, romance, and togetherness are celebrated above all else.
With that in mind, I combed the web for ideas of how to celebrate this most romantic of holidays with your significant other...and your RV. Whether you're a full-timer, most-of-the-timer, weekend warrior or casual camper, there's something in here for you.
Since RVing is all about going places, I thought I'd start with the obvious. Now, I'm a pretty well-traveled fellow, but in the interest of being thorough, I perused a bunch of "Most Romantic Destinations" kinda posts. I've aggregated them here for your convenience.
Wine Country - Napa Valley topped nearly every list I found. And you can't argue with the weather nor the availability of fine vintages. Plus services like Harvest Hosts make it incredibly easy to access these areas with your RV. If wine's your thing but California is not, head north aways to Willamette Valley, Oregon, for more scenery and world-class pinot noir. Honestly, just put your finger on a map between San Francisco and Seattle, and you'll likely land on a perfectly good spot for a romantic getaway.
Charleston, SC - This iconic southern city showed up on almost as many lists as Napa Valley, and for good reason. The best seafood I've ever had was in Charleston, and if that's your jam, I'd recommend booking a food tour. There are iconic art galleries, historic tours, and plenty of shopping. You could get out of the city and see beautiful old plantations. However, my recommendation: walk hand-in-hand with your sweetheart around downtown Charleston. It's right on the ocean, and it's drenched in history. The houses are gorgeous, especially Rainbow Row and the Battery. And at some point, you and your lover will round a corner and before you will be a secluded, old, cobblestone road, lined with beautiful brick walls and trees dripping with Spanish moss, and it will set your heart a-flutter. Steal a kiss or two, and then go find the Piggly Wiggly house and get a pic of the gate.
East TN - Ah, my old stomping grounds. I grew up just outside of Knoxville. I'm well aware of how well the view from the Foothills Parkway can set the mood. Or that the Great Smoky Mountains is full of beautiful hiking trails, like Grotto Falls, and gorgeous vistas. Or that the attractions, such as Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville provide great fun for you and your sweetheart. I know that people come from all over the country to get married in Gatlinburg. And if you're looking for good restaurants, just venture down to the foothills. Knoxville has some of my favorite eateries. In fact, the best meal I've ever had (yes, best seafood was Charleston, but best meal ever) was at Lonesome Dove in Knoxville's Old City. I know I'm biased, but I encourage you to see for yourself. P.S. If you cross the eastern border in to North Carolina, there's plenty of good stuff on that side as well.
Door County, Wisconsin - The Midwest was grossly absent from most of the lists I looked at, so this one comes to us from our blogger, Kelly Barnett of rvthereyetchronicles.com. She says, "It feels like stepping back in time...no rush, no fast food restaurants, just peace & quiet and beauty. We always pick up a sandwich from a shop in Bailey's Harbor and then drive out to the Cana Island Lighthouse. We make our way across the causeway and then find a spot on the rocks along Lake Michigan and enjoy a romantic picnic lunch under the shade of the lighthouse.<3"
South Dakota - There wasn't much love for the American West on those lists either, but South Dakota, specifically the Black Hills and Badlands made a few appearances. For starters, its the home of Mt. Rushmore - and we all now how hot that landmark is. But there's plenty of good hiking in the area. In fact, our blogger, Lisa Brown of Always On Liberty, named the Badlands National Park one of her top hiking destinations. Horse Thief Lake offers a plethora of site-seeing opportunities, not to mention picnic spots. However, not the most clement weather this time of year, so maybe save this one for a midsummer romantic getaway.
Inks Lake State Park, TX - This one comes from another of our bloggers, Emily from OwnLessDoMore.us. She writes: "Sept. 2015: We'd parked our Bighorn for a weeklong stay at Inks Lake State Park in Texas, where we found this awwww-inspiring stone heart that someone had left beside one of the hiking trails. We're used to finding rock cairns when we hike, but this was our first -- and only -- heart. One, two, three... awwwwwwww."
Virginia - It's for lovers. Need I say more?
So there you have it, some of the most romantic spots in the country. Obviously, there are plenty of other great spots out there for a romantic getaway, and we'd love for you to inform us of them in the comments. But, let's be honest, the location doesn't matter as much as the company. We got a comment on Facebook yesterday that reminded us of this point:
As far as the most romantic RV parks or campgrounds, I can't really speak to those. In my research, the Hershey Highmeadow Campground in Hershey, PA, showed up often. I'll just provide this list from the Denver Post and this list from www.roadtripamerica.com. They list romantic parks from all over the country. What are the most romantic campgrounds you've stayed at? Tell us in the comments.
So you've hooked up at the ideal campsite or you're boondocking under the stars. No matter where you and your significant other ended up, you're still going to have to do something to celebrate Valentine's Day. The old stand-by of making a reservation at a swanky restaurant will certainly work, but you're an RVer. Think outside of the box.
Here are a few ideas:
- Take a hike - We've already hit on this quite a bit, but it is a great couple's activity. You get a little exercise, you get to take in nature's beauty, and you get a chance to bond with one another. Substitute a scenic bike ride or rent a canoe, any form of passive exercise will do.
- Gaze at the stars - An especially good option for full-timers and boondockers. Once the sun goes down, simply sit down and look up. I can identify maybe 3 constellations, but being able to point out Orion's Belt to my inamorata has never let me down. You can augment the experience with a telescope or an app like SkyView.
- Picnic - pack a lunch and a bottle (or 2) of wine and enjoy a meal together surrounded by nature's grandeur. Combine with a light hike for a full afternoon. Bonus points for a lakeside venue.
- Make dinner - cooking for my significant other has never let me down. Browse Pinterest for RV-friendly recipes (I'd recommend something that sounds fancy but looks easy), find a local farmer's market to acquire your fresh ingredients. Certain ingredients, like oysters and chocolate, are known aphrodisiacs, so you might want to make sure you've got a few of those in your recipe. Cook a delicious dinner, in or out of the RV. Don't burn anything, and maybe light a few candles to set the mood.
- Movie - this will work better for some than others. If your partner isn't a big movie buff, choose an alternative. But if you both enjoy cinema, a good movie is perfectly fine. However, I challenge you to elevate the experience. Hang a white bed sheet on the side of your trailer and project a movie on to it from a digital device for a Drive-In kind of experience. Check for a small, local theater in the area where you're staying and see if it's showing anything interesting. Again, a movie isn't the best option for everyone. If you think you can get away with popping in an old DVD in your RV on V-Day...you probably can't.
- Sight-seeing - The "romantic" aspects of this activity can vary, but I'll refer you to Kelly's earlier blurb. There's something about lighthouses, vineyards, beautiful architecture, scenic views, etc. that can get the romantic vibes going. If your significant other scares easily, maybe save the ghost tour for next time.
Obviously, the list could be much, much longer. And I imagine a few of you will help cover my omissions in the comments. This article is more for inspiration, to get the cogs turning. There's more to date night than dinner and a movie (a fact I'm reminded of all too often). You're an RVer, or maybe a potential RVer, you could celebrate Valentine's Day anywhere. So, get creative, plan ahead [bookmark this article and make reservations for next year], and have a Happy Valentine's Day.