February 3 2009 by Julie Drossos
It's no secret - we're all trying to find ways to save a few bucks and lower our expenses these days. We're looking for ways to enjoy life and treat ourselves, but on a much smaller budget. With Valentine's Day just around the corner, there's no reason that you and your special Valentine (or your best friend for that matter) shouldn't treat yourselves to a nice getaway.
Here are just a few ideas. Skip the long flights and stress of air travel. Forget about spending hours getting to a destination only to lose out on precious quality time and sightseeing. This year for Valentine's Day, get lost close to home!
If you live in the northwestern United States (or if you're like me and you live in Vancouver, Canada...an enjoyable 3 hour ride away) Seattle is a tried and true spot for the perfect romantic getaway. If you've seen the movie "Sleepless in Seattle" (or even this season of "The Bachelor"), you know that there is plenty of romance to be enjoyed in Seattle. Some fun and romantic things to do include:
Visit the world-famous Pike Place Market. Shop from the bountiful selection of fresh produce and fish, then stop by Sur la Table where you can prepare your recently purchased ingredients fresh. Stop by the ORIGINAL Starbucks for an authentic Seattle latte and then grab one of Pike Place Market's delicious fresh baked pastries. Last but not least, you absolutely must drop into the Fish market to take in the smelly but lively action of the fish mongers. If you're lucky they'll even let you have the honor of "catching a fish"! Don't know what I'm talking about? Check this out.
Visit the Seattle Space Needle. The iconic space needle is like the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco and the Sydney Opera House to Sydney, Australia. Enjoy the view of the city from 600ft up... heck, go just to say you've been there!
Take a walk through Pioneer Square. This is the heart and soul of Seattle. Full of historic buildings, great shopping and art galleries. It's also a great place to find cheap eats. You'll find a number of lounges with live music and dancing and some excellent jazz bars as well.
When you think of getaways in Colorado, most think of Telluride, Colorado Springs, Vail, Aspen...but Breckenridge quite often gets forgotten, when in reality it is a great little spot worth visiting. Personally, I'd never heard of Breckenridge until I watched last season of "The Bachelorette" (Jesse, the man who won the Bachelorette's heart and has since been dumped, Lived in Breckenridge; I think my guilty pleasure for reality romance TV is pretty evident by now!) Anyway, Breckenridge is located in the central Rocky Mountains, less than 100 miles west of Denver.
If you ski or snowboard, you're in paradise. Breckenridge boasts world-class skiing conditions and prices are more affordable than you'd find in some of the more renowned ski resort areas.
If you're like me and you're not much of a skier or snowboarder, you can take your loved one for a romantic outdoor skate or a scenic snowshoeing excursion. Cross country skiing is also a great option - nowhere near as "scary" as downhill might seem but an excellent workout and fun way to take in the beautiful Rocky Mountain scenery.
Feeling lazy? Cozy up to your mate on a sleigh ride or take a dog sled tour or snowmobile ride!
Want to add a little thrill to your activities? Head to Carter Park for an exhilarating sled ride.
Greater Portland & Casco Bay, Maine
For you east-coasters, Maine may be a good option for a romantic getaway. A fairly easy drive from Boston and other surrounding areas, or a train or bus ride away from New York or Chicago, Portland, Maine is a perfect place to visit for a weekend getaway.
For a wonderful walk and stunning views of Casco Bay and Portland, take the causeway from Falmouth at the mouth of the Presumpscot River to Mackworth Island . The one-mile trail that encircles the island takes about an hour to complete and the views are gorgeous. Along the way, stop to watch boats and ferries motor though the Atlantic waters while seagulls, osprey, and shorebirds glide overhead.
Drop in for delicious food and libations at The Great Lost Bear, a restaurant and beer bar. This spot is a Portland institution and though it's located about two miles from Old Port but well worth the journey across town to get there. You'll enjoy a huge eclectic menu with something for absolutely anyone's taste buds: spicy junk food, a large vegetarian selection, decadent and messy desserts. If you're a beer connoisseur you'll enjoy their 54 taps with 15 Maine microbreweries. This great spot was named one of the top ten beer bars in the United States.
For $10 per adult (or if you go Fridays between 5pm-9pm it's FREE!) the Portland Museum of Art is a great place to visit. It's not a huge museum, but it has a very interesting collection. It is Maine's oldest and largest museum and is comprised of three historic buildings, representing three centuries of art and architecture. The collection includes work from American and European painters representing several movements, including Impressionism, Post Impressions, Modernism, Cubism, Surrealism, Realism and Contemporary Art. Any bonafide art connoisseurs will be impressed and surprised with the collections here.
Do you have other close to home Valentine's Day getaway ideas? Leave a comment and let us know.