Monthly Archives: May 2016

All about romantic city to visit

Consider yourself warned: Charleston, SC, is hard to shake.

“If you come to Charleston and experience it like us locals do, it will forever take place in your soul,” says David Szlam, a co-creator of Virgil Kaine ginger-infused bourbon. “Dining at Bowens Island Restaurant is especially romantic, watching the sun set over tidal creeks while enjoying some fresh steamed oysters—the list goes on and on.”

Charleston, with its cobblestoned streets, genteel mansions, and dynamic food scene, took top honors as the best city for a romantic escape in the America’s Favorite Places survey. Readers ranked cities in up to 67 categories, including wine bars, parks and gardens, live music, and brunch—the kinds of offerings that often attract couples.

And don’t underestimate the allure of a warm climate: San Diego, voted No. 1 for its weather, came in fifth among the best cities for romance. “The days aren’t only filled with sunshine, but there’s the warmth from people who are almost giddy to live here,” says Gina Stark, owner of a fashionable downtown women’s boutique. “You can sail, and within minutes of docking be enjoying an outdoor concert at Humphreys by the Bay or sipping happy-hour drinks in the heart of downtown.”

Whether you’re looking to steal away for a weekend with your longtime honey or spark a new relationship, these cities will set the mood for love.

Best Destination in America

images-16In some cities, a night out means martinis, high heels, and velvet ropes. In others, even your good jeans might be too formal for the singles bar scene—and “after five” is open to interpretation.

“In Austin, people love to drink at all hours of the day,” says Lindsey Reynolds, a local food publicist. “Flip-flops and jorts—short jean shorts—are found everywhere, even at more upscale places.” That mellow attitude makes it easy to mingle, so it’s no surprise that the Texas capital made the top 10 again this year for its singles scene, according to Travel + Leisure readers.

In the annual America’s Favorite Cities survey, readers ranked 35 cities on dozens of features, from hotels to wireless coverage, as well as the qualities that make for a vibrant nightlife, such as live music, cocktails, and attractive locals. In thesingles/bar scene category, New Orleans took the No. 1 spot yet again—thanks in part to that year-round Mardi Gras vibe, but also because of a certain homegrown effervescence, aside from any booze.

“We talk to strangers. We dance in the streets. We wear costumes for no reason,” says Colleen Rush, the editor of NewOrleans.com and a happy single herself. “It’s not difficult to dive in and meet people here.”

In Los Angeles, it’s all about dressing to impress, preferably on a swanky rooftop, while in San Diego, hipster beer purists mingle in microbrew tasting rooms. In New York, the No. 1 ranked city for diversity, there’s a bar for every taste—even a Lower East Side speakeasy-type joint that reportedly offers a cocktail with extremely aged spirits for $150 (a reminder to think twice before asking, “Buy you a drink?”).

Even in the cities with legendary nightlife districts—such as the Vegas Strip, or Miami’s South Beach—locals are quick to point out that the best scene is off the tourist path. “Most people think Bourbon Street is New Orleans,” says Rush, but she recommends Frenchmen Street instead, with its eclectic range of food and drink options and lots of live music—another category that New Orleans won in the survey.

Of course, a singles scene doesn’t need to involve any bar stools at all. In Austin, even the jogging trail around Lady Bird Lake can be a pick-up spot; according to Reynolds, “it’s meat-market city.”

Tips to find the romantic hotel for your trip

What’s more romantic than staying at a former 19th-century monastery with vibrant sofas, bleached wood floors, and a bamboo garden that doubles as an echo chamber? How about setting this hotel, the Centurion Plaza, among the canals of romantic Venice.

Fortunately, the days of the heart-shaped hot tub are over. Today, the features that define the world’s most romantic hotels are much more understated. Of course, no matter what the aesthetic of the hotel might be, a classic romantic location—Venice, Napa, Bali, or New York—will always add to the magic.

And while everyone has their own definition of romance, some trends have emerged. One of them: cold is cool. Hotel Kakslauttanen & Igloo Village—hidden away in Finland’s Lapland wilderness—has created a personalized approach to the ice-hotel concept. Year-round, you’ll find 20 domed “igloos” made out of thermal glass—perfect for stargazing from your underground room. But if you go between December and April, you can stay in a real igloo, built from actual snow and outfitted with fluffy down sleeping bags. Plus, you’ll have a first-row seat for the multihued laser show that is the northern lights (Eskimo-kissing optional).

Closer to home, you’ll find the perfect setting for a seaside stroll. At Big Sur’s Glen Oaks, a brisk hike to secret Pfeiffer Beach will deposit you in soft purple (yes, purple) sand. Back at the hotel, the natural theme continues—cottages sit between the river and the redwood trees, each outfitted with cast-iron stoves and showers built for two.

And what’s sexier than James Bond? Jamaica’s GoldenEye—the cliff-top retreat once owned by Bond creator Ian Fleming—brings a celebrity twist to the romantic experience. Couples love to book Fleming’s original three-bedroom villa, which still features the writer’s Jamaican red bulletwood desk. It’s the perfect place to write a love letter to your mate, or maybe the next great spy novel.

We all know there are as many ways to define romance as there are humans, but this list of the world’s most romantic hotels has something for (almost) everyone.

Tips to find the best sunset in Maui

1.Haleakala Summit

Haleakala is more than a one-trick pony when it comes to watching the sun. Already famous for its breathtaking sunrise, the summit offers views from the Big Island to Moloka‘i (almost the entirety of Maui) that are just as spectacular at sunset. On days when the summit is above the clouds, explosive oranges and pastel pinks seem to float on a sea of white. Warm jacket required!

2. Keawakapu Beach

Every beach in Kihei is a prime sunset-watching viewpoint, but hidden Keawakapu is special for its perfect angle and a stretch that’s refreshingly free of crowds. The middle of the beach is often emptiest, and the sun hits the beach in a particular way that reflects off the smooth wet sand.

3. Lahaina Pali Trail

This is the best place on Maui to watch the sunset—but getting here requires a little bit of work. A 15-minute hike from the Ukumehame trailhead lets you climb 500 vertical feet, and the panoramic view gazes due west over a white-capped swath of ocean (in winter, you can count the whales you spot). Be sure to pack a flashlight for the walk back down.

4. Aboard a Ka‘anapai Sunset Sail

It’s not just the sunlight reflected on water that adds to the offshore romance. Nor is it the calming ukulele rhythms that float from the deck of the sailing catamaran. It’s the view of West Maui bathed in twilight, a rainbow stretching over Ka‘anapali, or a full moon rising over Mauna Kahalawai to complement the setting sun.

5. Kahekili Beach Park

Pack a beach chair and a cold drink and then settle in for the show at this sweeping shoreline. Not only does the beach face due west; the surrounding grassy park and towering palms create the perfect sunset amphitheater. The ample parking and restrooms are a logistical bonus, and the beach is over a mile long if you feel like a sunset stroll.