Travel

#Adventuress Twitter Travel Chat

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I'm starting a Twitter chat!  (If you're not on Twitter and you just said "huh?" keep reading....)

One of my favorite things about joining Twitter has been participating in chats on various travel topics. Not only have I gotten to know a lot of amazing travelers, bloggers and members of the travel industry, I have learned so much more about traveling our world.  I have also won some fantastic prizes in chat giveaways:  a $500 Expedia coupon from #ExpediaChat (Wednesdays at 1:30 pm EST) and a $100 Visa gift card from the #TravelSkills chat (Fridays at 12:00 pm EST)!

The topic of my weekly Twitter chat will be the Adventuress Travel Chat, using the hashtag #Adventuress.  Every Thursday from 11-11:30 am EST/8-8:30 am PST, we will cover a different aspect of women's travel.  Don't worry if you aren't an adrenaline junkie (I'm not!) - the word adventure covers all types of travel, even spa and shopping!  And don't worry if you aren't a woman either - we always like to have the male perspective.

Let's say you aren't on Twitter and have no idea the purpose of a hashtag but still want to participate in the #Adventuress travel chat.  Register for an account on Twitter and pick a "handle" or name.  (My Twitter handle is @msadventuress.)  Once you are registered, it's easy to join in a chat.  At the appointed time (30 minutes every Thursday starting at 11 am EST/8 am PST), visit @msadventuress Twitter page and/or type #Adventuress (don't forget the extra "s"!) in the Twitter search box.  You will then see all the tweets involved in the chat because they add the hashtag #Adventuress to their tweet.

As the host of the chat, I will ask questions that are labeled Q1, Q2, Q3, etc.  Answer each question by beginning with the corresponding question/answer number - A1, A2, A3, etc.  Then type your answer and add #Adventuress to the end of the answer.  Here's an example:

@msadventuress:     Q1 What is your favorite island in the world and why? #Adventuress

@yourcleverhandle:  A1  I love Maui.  Best surfing ever! #Adventuress

In addition to talking all kinds of travel topics, I will occasionally have some fun co-hosts join me. Not to mention there will be some pretty cool giveaways.... you must follow @msadventuress (and any co-hosts that week) and participate in the chat to be eligible.

See you on Thursday, March 6th for the first #Adventuress Travel Chat!  

The Non-Tourist's Guide to Seattle: Part One (Where to Stay, Where to Play)

View of Downtown Seattle and Mt. Rainier from Kerry Park.  Photo by Randall J. Hodges Photography.

View of Downtown Seattle and Mt. Rainier from Kerry Park.  Photo by Randall J. Hodges Photography.

Since Seattle isn't a travel destination for me (considering it's where I live), people often ask me what they should eat, drink, see and do when visiting.  With every request, I think that I should gather this information in one place.  So with a new blog, it seems like a good time to finally bring this list to fruition.

Below you will find information on my favorite hotels, shopping and sightseeing.  (Restaurants, cocktail bars and nightlife will be featured in Part Two.)  For visitors pressed for time who need to narrow down the list, an asterisk denotes my absolute favorites.

Still have questions about Seattle? Leave me a comment and I'm happy to provide the answer!

Where to Sleep:

*Four Seasons Seattle (Downtown) - Perfectly situated near Pike Place Market and across the street from the Seattle Art Museum, the real star of the Four Seasons Seattle is its view of Elliott Bay.  Hang out at the rooftop's infinity pool with views of the water below.

Infinity pool and rooftop views of Elliott Bay from the Four Seasons Seattle.  Photo by Four Seasons Seattle.

Infinity pool and rooftop views of Elliott Bay from the Four Seasons Seattle.  Photo by Four Seasons Seattle.

Hotel Monaco (Downtown) - A Kimpton brand, Hotel Monaco is a luxury boutique hotel perfectly situated in the heart of downtown Seattle.  Sazerac restaurant located just off the lobby has a great happy hour.

W Seattle (Downtown) - Seattle's W Hotel is the epitome of the brand: contemporary and hip.  TRACE restaurant and bar offers ample lounge seating and a 10-seat sushi bar.

What to See/Do:

Ballard Locks (Ballard) - Watch salmon pass between the salt water of the Puget Sound and fresh water of Lake Washington and Lake Union, viewable through glass panels below the water line.

Chihuly Garden and Glass (Downtown) - Seattle area native Dale Chihuly's glass art has been featured in exhibitions all over the world.  Opened in 2012, a number of Chihuly's works are on display in his hometown at this exhibition hall, glasshouse and garden.

Outside the Chihuly Garden and Glass glasshouse.  Photo by Chihuly Garden and Glass.

Outside the Chihuly Garden and Glass glasshouse.  Photo by Chihuly Garden and Glass.

Chinatown-International District (International Distict) - Chinatown-ID boasts being the only neighborhood in America where Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Vietnamese and Southeast Asians live and work side-by-side.  Visit Uwajimaya, the largest Asian grocery store in the Pacific Northwest. 

*Downtown Waterfront (Downtown) - Seattle's Downtown waterfront offers a variety of activities - the Seattle Aquarium, cruise ship and ferry docks, seafood restaurants, parks, shopping and its newest feature, the Seattle Great Wheel.

Downtown Seattle's Great Wheel and waterfront.  Image by Shutter Wonders.

Downtown Seattle's Great Wheel and waterfront.  Image by Shutter Wonders.

*EMP Museum (Downtown) - A museum dedicated to popular culture, specifically Seattle's music roots, EMP features Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix exhibitions, a sound lab and guitar gallery.

Fremont Troll (Fremont) - A giant troll (sculpture) resides under a bridge in Fremont, clutching a Volkswagen Bug.   Enough said.  It's worth seeing.

The Fremont Troll.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

The Fremont Troll.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Gum Wall (Downtown) - It's exactly what it sounds like - a large wall of visitors' gum.  Pretty disgusting and has (not surprisingly) ranked as one of the top five germiest attractions in the world.

Gum wall in downtown Seattle.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Gum wall in downtown Seattle.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Japanese Gardens (Madison Valley) - Located within the Washington Park Arboretum, the Japanese Gardens is three and a half acres of garden constructed by Japanese designer Juki Iida.

Japanese Gardens near Seattle's Arboretum. Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Japanese Gardens near Seattle's Arboretum. Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Lenin Statue (Fremont) - A Seattle area resident teaching English in Slovakia found a 16 foot bronze statue of Vladimir Lenin in a scrapyard and brought it back to Seattle.  The statue now resides just three blocks from the Fremont Troll.

Lenin statute in the Fremont neighborhood.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Lenin statute in the Fremont neighborhood.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

*Pike Place Market (Downtown) - Market stalls sell everything from flowers to fish, produce to spices.  Restaurants.  Crafts.  Buskers.  Shopping from vinyl records to comic books.  Don't miss the fishmongers throwing fish.  If you only have one stop to make in Seattle, it should be Pike Place Market.

Pike Place Market clock.  Photo by Pike Place Market.

Pike Place Market clock.  Photo by Pike Place Market.

Seattle Art Museum (Downtown) - Seattle Art Museum is comprised of three venues - Seattle Art Museum (SAM), Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM) and Olympic Sculpture Park.  First Thursdays of the month at SAM and SAAM are free.

Seattle Central Library (Downtown) - The 11-story steel and glass building that houses Downtown Seattle's Central Library is worth a stop for architecture buffs.

Photo of Downtown Seattle featuring the Central Library. Photo by Seattle Public Library.

Photo of Downtown Seattle featuring the Central Library. Photo by Seattle Public Library.

*Space Needle (Downtown) - On clear days, the Space Needle provides some of the best views of the city, mountains and water.  On more typical (cloudy) days, just take a trip to the base of the Space Needle - probably not worth paying for the trip up.

View from the base of the Space Needle at night.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

View from the base of the Space Needle at night.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Woodinville Wineries (Woodinville) - Just a 30 minute drive from Seattle, Woodinville is home to over 90 wineries.  Combine your visit to Woodinville with dinner at either The Herbfarm (reservations well in advance are necessary) or Barking Frog and a stay at Willows Lodge.

Where to Play Outside:

Alki Beach (Alki) - Summertime (and any sunny Seattle day) draws Seattleites to Alki Beach where kids play in the sand and dip their toes in cold Elliott Bay.  A 2.5-mile walkway lines Alki Beach and is full of walkers and roller bladers.  Great views of the Seattle skyline from across the Bay.

Alki Beach with views of Olympic Mountains. Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Alki Beach with views of Olympic Mountains. Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Discovery Park (Magnolia) - Seattle's largest park, Discovery Park is 534 acres of hiking trails and spectacular views from Magnolia Bluff overlooking Puget Sound and both the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges.

Green Lake Park (Green Lake) - A 2.8-mile path around Green Lake is perfect for walking, running, roller blading and biking.  During the summer, swimmers, rowers and kayakers enjoy the lake while there are ongoing games on the tennis courts, baseball and softball fields.

Rowers on Green Lake at Green Lake Park.  Photo by Pelusa Chirinos.

Rowers on Green Lake at Green Lake Park.  Photo by Pelusa Chirinos.

*Kerry Park (Queen Anne) - With amazing views of the Seattle skyline and Mount Rainier (when visible), Kerry Park is the perfect place to take photographs of the city.

Where to Shop:

If you're looking for a mall, check out Pacific Place in Downtown Seattle or University Village in the University District, both of which have upscale shopping like Barneys, Tiffany & Co., Kate Spade and BCBG.  If you're looking for shopping unique to Seattle, try one of these:

Ballard Farmers Market (Ballard) - Open every Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm year round, the Ballard Farmers Market is one of the largest in Seattle, offering flowers, fresh produce, cheese, meat, seafood, poultry, bread and baked goods.

*Elliott Bay Book Company (Capitol Hill) -Though an independent bookstore, Elliott Bay Books is massive and multi-level with over 150,000 titles and cafe.  Author readings and events are not to be missed.

Main floor of Elliott Bay Books.  Photo by Elliott Bay Book Company.

Main floor of Elliott Bay Books.  Photo by Elliott Bay Book Company.

Fran's Chocolates (Downtown) - Based in Seattle, Fran's is the (wo)man when it comes to chocolates.  Unless you want a new addiction, don't go near the salted caramels.... 

Interior of Fran's Chocolates in Downtown Seattle. Photo by Fran's Chocolates.

Interior of Fran's Chocolates in Downtown Seattle. Photo by Fran's Chocolates.

Horseshoe (Ballard) - Located on Ballard Avenue (lots of great boutique shopping along the street!), Horseshoe stays true to its name with a wide selection of boots as well as contemporary women's clothing from brands like Trina Turk and Splendid.

Luly Yang (Downtown) - Even if you aren't in the market for a couture wedding dress or evening gown, it's worth at least a walk by Luly Yang's gorgeous 4th Avenue windows.

Window shopping at Luly Yang in Downtown Seattle.  Photo by Luly Yang Couture.

Window shopping at Luly Yang in Downtown Seattle.  Photo by Luly Yang Couture.

Nordstrom (Downtown) - Ok, so it's not exactly local shopping, but Nordstrom is homegrown in Seattle. As the flagship store, the Downtown Seattle location is the one to visit. Make an appointment (the service is free) with personal stylist rockstar Lisa Proko.

Open Books (Wallingford) - A quaint space in the Wallingford neighborhood, Open Books is a "Poem Emporium" - one of only two bookstores on the West Coast dedicated entirely to poetry.

*Sell Your Sole (Belltown) - An upscale consignment store filled with luxury brands (Louboutin, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent) at fractions of the cost., Sell Your Sole's owner, Natalia Biner Wittke, has a fantastic eye and brings great finds into the store.

Sell Your Sole Consignment boutique in Belltown.  Photo by Sorella Photos.

Sell Your Sole Consignment boutique in Belltown.  Photo by Sorella Photos.

Watson Kennedy (Downtown) - This 1st Avenue store has just about everything you could imagine to make a beautiful home: gourmet foods, tableware, stationary, books, glassware, candles, wrapping paper and cards, soaps, vintage furniture. . . the list goes on.

Watson Kennedy storefront on 1st Avenue in Downtown Seattle.  Photo by Watson Kennedy.

Watson Kennedy storefront on 1st Avenue in Downtown Seattle.  Photo by Watson Kennedy.

Where to Ferry:

A visit to Seattle is not complete without taking a ferry to one of its nearby islands in the Puget Sound.  Four islands that I especially love:

Bainbridge Island - Named among the best places to live in the U.S., Bainbridge Island is also a great place to visit for a day of shopping, dining and outdoor activities.  The island is reached by a 35 minute ferry ride from Downtown Seattle.

Lummi Island - The New York Times has called The Willows Inn's restaurant on Lummi Island one of "10 restaurants worth a plane ride."  If you're already in Seattle, no plane ride necessary; it's just a car and ferry ride away.

Chefs in action in The Willows Inn kitchen.  Photo by The Willows Inn.

Chefs in action in The Willows Inn kitchen.  Photo by The Willows Inn.

Vashon Island - A mere 20 minute ferry ride from the West Seattle ferry dock, Vashon Island is a quirky little island and artists' retreat.  Check out the quaint shops, restaurants and galleries in town.

Whidbey Island - Like Lummi, Whidbey is just a car and ferry ride away from Seattle.  Stay at the Inn at Langley for beautiful waterfront views from each guest room.

Sunset view on Whidbey Island from Inn at Langley guest room.  Photo by Inn at Langley.

Sunset view on Whidbey Island from Inn at Langley guest room.  Photo by Inn at Langley.

Haute Miami: Escape the Cold with a Weekend in South Beach

Delano Hotel pool.  Photo courtesy of Morgans Hotel Group.

Delano Hotel pool.  Photo courtesy of Morgans Hotel Group.

Winter is keeping a firm grip on the U.S., which means it’s time to begin plotting your plan of escape. If you think a trip to Mexico will be necessary to find sun, warmth and beach, think again. Simply head south to Miami, specifically the South Beach area, which is at its peak during the winter months when the rich and famous come to play.

South Beach offers a wide range of accommodations for every taste—Small boutique hotels, sprawling resorts, art deco classic, modern and contemporary. It’s a peaceful sanctuary and a vibrant scene. Delano Hotel, positioned in the heart of South Beach, strikes the perfect balance. Delano is a self-contained resort, offering a private beach, pool, spa, fitness center, restaurants, bars and nightlife. A Philippe Starck and Ian Schraeger designed collaboration, Delano is frequented by celebrity clientele like George Clooney.

Delano Hotel lobby.  Photo courtesy of Morgans Hotel Group.

Delano Hotel lobby.  Photo courtesy of Morgans Hotel Group.

Upon entering Delano, billowing white curtains beckon guests into the lobby and down the long hall of the first floor. Mirrors, chandeliers and whimsical pieces of furniture are scattered throughout, such as a towering banquette à la Alice in Wonderland and a gold chair with high-heeled shoes as feet. In sharp contrast to the lobby, the hotel’s rooms and suites are decorated with glamorous simplicity in all white. If you feel the urge to work out, Delano is equipped with a fitness center, or even better, head to Club Essentia for a massage. The hotel’s design and amenities aside, Delano’s staff and service are what make this property shine. To say that the Delano concierge is accommodating would be an understatement. That impossible restaurant reservation? Skipping the line for nightclub entry? Ask and you shall receive.

Delano sits beachfront with complimentary oversize beach chairs and umbrellas available to guests. Back inside Delano’s gates, the pool is surrounded by lounge chairs and along one side, white cabanas complete with a butler. The “Water Salon” features underwater music and wrought iron furniture in the shallow end. Delano’s pool bar serves up drinks and food poolside all day. To be a little closer to the action, guests can opt to stay in two-story bungalows that line one side of the pool. The Orchard connects the pool area to the hotel and is designed to be an indoor space outdoors with seating, such as an antique daybed and an oversized chess set placed on the lawn.

Rent the Princess Chelsea, a 51-foot luxury yacht.  Photo courtesy of Yacht Charters in Miami.

Rent the Princess Chelsea, a 51-foot luxury yacht.  Photo courtesy of Yacht Charters in Miami.

Though everything you could want can be found on Delano’s property, get out and explore South Beach. When you tire of the pool and beach, charter a private yacht for the day. Yacht Charters in Miami offers a selection of vessels to choose from, including a 51-foot luxury yacht, Princess Chelsea, complete with a private crew and jet ski. If you want a break from the water, Delano is within easy walking distance to Lincoln Road, a pedestrian mall consisting of outdoor cafes, boutiques and art galleries. Or for those who take their shopping seriously, visit the Bal Harbour Shops, an indoor mall filled with two stories of the big name designers: Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Hermès.

Al fresco dining at Delano Hotel's Bianca.  Photo courtesy of Morgans Hotel Group.

Al fresco dining at Delano Hotel's Bianca.  Photo courtesy of Morgans Hotel Group.

When staying at Delano, you don’t have to travel far for the perfect meal. Bianca is a modern Italian restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dine inside or al fresco on Bianca’s terrace. Umi Sushi & Sake Bar in Delano’s lobby serves sushi to guests seated at a long community table. Miami is known for its steakhouses and while celebrity magnet Prime 112 is always a steady standby, change it up at Meat Market on the Lincoln Road Mall. True to its name, Meat Market is housed in a sexy space with beautiful people, but the real draw is the reserve cuts of meat and accompaniments like gouda tater tots and sweet potato fries with honey crème fraiche. If Asian fusion is more your style, visit London export Hakkasan at the Fontainebleau Resort.

LIV Club at the Fontainebleau Resort.  Photo courtesy of LIV.

LIV Club at the Fontainebleau Resort.  Photo courtesy of LIV.

Nights in South Beach do not end quietly after dinner. Delano offers several nightlife options. Sip a mojito in the lobby’s Rose Bar.  Lounge outside and people watch at the pool bar. Or check out top DJs spinning at the hotel's subterranean club, FDR at Delano. One of the hottest clubs in South Beach is LIV at the Fontainebleau Resort, frequented by celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Rihanna. Unless you opt for bottle service, don’t expect an easy entry. Simply plan ahead and the Delano concierge will provide you with the LIV manager’s name and number. One phone call will generally get you whisked in the door.

Shore Thing Sundays pool party.  Photo courtesy of the Shore Club.

Shore Thing Sundays pool party.  Photo courtesy of the Shore Club.

Arrange for a late flight out of Miami on Sunday (or even better, Monday morning) because as the weekend draws to a close, the party is just getting started. Sunday afternoon pool parties at the nearby Mondrian and Shore Club hotels dispel the idea that Sunday is a day of rest. Drinks flow and beach balls fly while a DJ plays music from hip hop to house. When not dancing, party-goers lounge on beds surrounding the pool. Or forego the party altogether and simply recover from Saturday night with a nap by the Delano’s pool. It’s South Beach. Anything goes.

Where to Stay:

Delano Hotel
1685 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
305.672.2000

Where to Play:

FDR at Delano
1685 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
305.924.4071

LIV
4441 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33140
305.674.4680

Mondrian South Beach
1100 West Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
305.514.1500

Shore Club
1901 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
305.695.3100

Yacht Charters in Miami
305.490.0049

Where to Eat:

Bianca
1685 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
305.674.5752

Hakassan
4441 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33140
786.276.1388

Meat Market
915 Lincoln Road
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
305.532.0088

Umi Sushi & Sake Bar
1685 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
305.674.5752

Where to Drink:

Rose Bar
1685 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
305.674.5752

I originally published this article on JetsetExtra.com on October 25, 2010.  Recently revised to reflect openings and closings in South Beach.

15 Romantic Spots Around the World

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

Deserted beach in Upper Shoal Bay, Anguilla.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Deserted beach in Upper Shoal Bay, Anguilla.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

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  

Pont des Arts (Love Lock) bridge in Paris overlooking The Seine. Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Pont des Arts (Love Lock) bridge in Paris overlooking The Seine. Photo by Rebecca Garland.

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

Couple on a rowboat in Central Park in New York City  Photo by Sonia Maria Face.

Couple on a rowboat in Central Park in New York City  Photo by Sonia Maria Face.

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

The spa at La Mamounia in Marrakech.  Photo courtesy of La Mamounia.

The spa at La Mamounia in Marrakech.  Photo courtesy of La Mamounia.

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

View of the bioluminescent bay in Vieques from a pontoon boat.  Photo courtesy of Puerto Rico Snorkeling.

View of the bioluminescent bay in Vieques from a pontoon boat.  Photo courtesy of Puerto Rico Snorkeling.

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

Adirondack chairs overlooking Napa's vineyards at The Carneros Inn.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Adirondack chairs overlooking Napa's vineyards at The Carneros Inn.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

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

Peering in at a bench in a private park in Brompton Square, Kensington, London.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Peering in at a bench in a private park in Brompton Square, Kensington, London.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

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 balloon ride over Scottsdale.  Photo by Hot Air Expeditions staff.

Hot air balloon ride over Scottsdale.  Photo by Hot Air Expeditions staff.

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

Pool at Katikies Hotel overlooking the Caldera in Santorini, Greece.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Pool at Katikies Hotel overlooking the Caldera in Santorini, Greece.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

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

The Rock Bar at Ayana Resort in Bali overhangs the Indian Ocean.  Photo courtesy of Rock Bar Bali.

The Rock Bar at Ayana Resort in Bali overhangs the Indian Ocean.  Photo courtesy of Rock Bar Bali.

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

Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

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

Couple walking to their wedding on the beach at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Couple walking to their wedding on the beach at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

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

A couple taking a gondola ride in Venice, Italy.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

A couple taking a gondola ride in Venice, Italy.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

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

Waterfront view from a guest room's balcony at the Inn at Langley.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Waterfront view from a guest room's balcony at the Inn at Langley.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

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

Water villa at One & Only Reethi Rah, Maldives.  Photo courtesy of One & Only Reethi Rah.

Water villa at One & Only Reethi Rah, Maldives.  Photo courtesy of One & Only Reethi Rah.

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?