Valentine's Day has me contemplating the most romantic places I've ever visited. I've compiled a list of a few of my favorites (and one I haven't been to... yet!) that fit the bill. So in no particular order, here are 15 of what I consider some of the world's most romantic spots.
1. Upper Shoal Bay, Anguilla
Anguilla boasts some of the most flawless beaches in the Caribbean - bright white sand and clear blue and aqua waters. Shoal Bay is the island's most famous beach and as a result, stays pretty busy. Keep walking until you turn a 90 degree curve onto Upper Shoal Bay, and you will often find that you are the only two people on the beach. And that is a romantic place to be.
2. Love Lock Bridge, Paris, France
I mean, it's Paris. You could go anywhere in the city and be guaranteed romance. But if you want to pledge your undying love to your significant other, head to the Pont des Arts (aka Love Lock) bridge at sunset. Don't forget your lock and key (and a Sharpie to inscribe your names). Take a blanket, a bottle of wine and food for a picnic. Place your lock on the bridge and throw the keys over to symbolize "unlockable love."
3. Central Park, New York City
New York City is like Paris - you could go just about anywhere and find a romantic spot, Central Park in particular. Whether it's winter and you go ice skating or summer and you go on a picnic or rent a rowboat at the Loeb Boathouse, Central Park is full of romance for couples. And even though it's New York City, you can always find a quiet refuge somewhere in the park's 840 acres.
4. La Mamounia in Marrakech, Morocco
Between shopping in the Souk, visiting Le Jardin Marjorelle and camel treks in the desert, Marrakech is a romantic city in and of itself. But consider the glamorous and exotic La Mamounia hotel as your romantic refuge when Marrakech's sights, smells and sounds become a little overwhelming. A visit (or several visits) to La Mamounia's spa is a must.
5. Bioluminescent Bay, Vieques, Puerto Rico
A small island off the coast of Puerto Rico, Vieques is home to one of the world's only bioluminescent bays. Take a kayak out with Abe's Bio Bay Tours and paddle out into the middle of the bay where, if there is little to no moonlight, tiny organisms in the water glow a beautiful blue - and yes, romantic - light.
6. The Carneros Inn, Napa, California
Guests of The Carneros Inn reside in individual, private cottages on sprawling acres overlooking vineyards in the Carneros region of Napa, CA. Between beautiful scenery, wine tastings, all those Michelin-starred restaurants (serious bonus points if you book The French Laundry!) and trips to the spa, you've just completely upped the romance ante in your relationship.
7. Private Park in Brompton Square, Kensington, London
When I took my first solo trip, London was one of my stops. One night while staying in my Kensington apartment, I went out for a walk and stumbled upon this private (padlocked) park in Brompton Square. There was one lone bench, and as I peered in across the fence, I couldn't help but daydream about sitting on that bench or having a picnic in that tiny private park with a significant other.
8. Hot Air Balloon Ride, Scottsdale, Arizona
Hot Air Expeditions in Scottsdale, Arizona takes romance to another level - literally. They take passengers on daily hot air balloon rides over the desert that end with champagne and either a catered brunch or evening hors d'oeuvres, depending on the time of flight. The experience is so romantic that they've witnessed several marriage proposals mid-flight.
9. Katikies Hotel, Santorini, Greece
Katikies is a boutique hotel in Santorini, Greece perched on the cliffs of the Caldera. The hotel's whitewashed buildings serve as the perfect backdrop to showcase the Aegean Sea below, and rooms give guests the feeling of complete privacy. It's not hard to figure out why Santorini has been named as "one of the most romantic places on Earth."
10. Rock Bar, Bali, Indonesia
Ayana Resort Bali's Rock Bar is exactly that - a bar perched on a rock that juts out over and hangs 45 feet above Jimbaran Bay in the Indian Ocean. Sunset is one of the most popular times to frequent Rock Bar, but after dark, with the bar lit up over the ocean, might be the most romantic.
11. Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, California
Here's a recipe for romance: take a beautiful rotunda and place it beside a pond filled with geese and swans in a quiet park in San Francisco. Add in a diamond ring and a marriage proposal and you are off the Richter scale. (Except you are in San Francisco, so Richter scale analogizes aren't a great idea...) Regardless, I saw a wedding there once, and I understood why. Highly romantic spot.
12. Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, Maui, Hawaii
Similar to the Palace of Fine Arts, I saw a wedding while I was at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. I saw two, actually. And apparently I missed some because they average a wedding every other day throughout the year. There is a reason for that. It's the Four Seasons. In Maui. Romance all but guaranteed.
13. Gondola Ride in Venice, Italy
Venice was surprising to me. I expected cheesy, touristy, and what I got was beautiful, romantic. Except I was alone, so what I really got was a little depressed. Kidding. I mentally filed Venice away as a place I want to go back to with a significant other. You should too. And splurge for the gondola ride. It doesn't get much more romantic.
14. The Inn at Langley, Langley, Washington
I had to throw in one spot close to Seattle. The Inn at Langley is a small bed and breakfast in Langley, WA on Whidbey Island, just a short drive and ferry ride from Seattle. All guest rooms offer a 180-degree waterfront view. Go during an active meteor shower, sit on the balcony at night with your significant other and a bottle of wine and watch the show in the sky.
15. Overwater Bungalow, Maldives
I've never been to the Maldives, but I can't think of a spot higher on my list of places to visit. And even without seeing it, the Maldives also happens to be what I would consider one of the most romantic places in the world. Complete privacy in an overwater bungalow in the Indian Ocean? It really doesn't get much more romantic than that.
Now that you've read some of my favorite romantic places, what would you put on your own list? Anywhere I've missed?