Vacations with family and friends are priceless. Sharing the memories of a trip to a special place with your parents, grandparents, children or close friends is often a lot of fun. It can also be a lot of chaos. Organizing accommodations and activities for large groups and trying to please everyone each day can be a real challenge. Everyone has a different idea of what a vacation entails, so while these trips will be cherished memories, often we could use a trip with only our spouse to truly relax.
Daily monotony, errands, schedules and other curveballs life throws often leads us to forget about the day we said “I do,” or “Will you marry me?” Sometimes all we need to rekindle the feelings of those special days is a short trip away with only your true love by your side. A surprise weekend getaway is often a welcome reprieve, and the thoughtfulness of scheduling a trip and surprising your loved one with everything planned out is sure to be a well-received gesture. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to get planning and make this year’s holiday of love one that will not soon be forgotten.
As you plan your long weekend away think back to the time you were dating and what you both enjoyed doing most. Granted life changes a lot through marriages, children, home purchase and job transfers, but harkening back to the early days will often bring back long-forgotten memories. Maybe you were broke college kids when you first met; if so, find a local dive on your trip for a slice of pizza and cheap domestic beer for old time’s sake. If you enjoy your local farmers market, take a stroll through one, or if you spent every weekend skiing or hiking the woods, find a location with trails you haven’t yet explored.
As a spouse, you know best what your husband/wife enjoys most and can plan accordingly. You’ve found dates that work, a location that’s perfect and accommodations that are just right, now what to pack. A fun romantic weekend shouldn’t be sidetracked by worrying over things you might have forgotten, so take a little extra time before the trip, and don’t forget a few easy things that we might often overlook.
Cash – Still accepted everywhere! Some smaller businesses are still “cash only,” so having some on hand to grab a coffee, gift or snack is easier than trying to track down an ATM.
Bottle Openers – You remembered your favorite bottle of wine or craft six-pack, but when you’re ready for that drink, whoops! Stash both a wine opener and bottle opener so you don’t have to run to the drug store on your romantic night in.
Swimsuit – Even if it’s the dead of winter you never know when you might need it. You might find out your destination has a hot tub, heated year-round pool or is near natural hot springs.
A Surprise – Though the trip itself is sure to be filled with plenty of fun, a small gift or card upon check in will start your trip off on the right foot.
Appropriate Footwear – Comfortable shoes for walking in town, hiking boots for any kind of exploring and don’t forget dress shoes if you plan on going out for a nice dinner.
Deck of Cards or your favorite game – Keep the TV off at night and play a game instead, something not too competitive as to not spoil the evening!
Luckily the West is rife with quaint small towns, glamorous cities and relaxing bed and breakfasts. Here are some of our favorite areas to explore with your special someone.
Walla Walla, Washington – Located in the Southeast corner of the state a stone’s throw from the Oregon border, Walla Walla is the destination for wine lovers. With 120 wineries to choose from in the Walla Walla Valley, you’ll find a tasting experience that’s perfect for your trip. Many are located downtown making it easy to stroll from one to the next while enjoying the quaint downtown. Transportation and tours are easily arranged to those located on the outskirts of town. The award-winning wineries have attracted many well-respected chefs who often partner with wineries for specialized wine pairing dinners. There are plenty of bed and breakfasts, and the Marcus Whitman Hotel is a true gem of the state. Enjoy fine dining and fine wine in this charming community.
Winthrop, Washington – The Methow Valley is a place to unwind, unplug and find peace in its tranquil rolling landscape. For those who like to stay active during the weekend, Winthrop is home base for numerous hiking trails in the summer and the largest groomed cross-country ski trails system in the nation at more than 120 miles during winter. The Western flair of the storefronts downtown makes for a fun stroll through the town’s shops and restaurants, and the North Cascades Highway is a beautiful drive any time of year. While there are some upscale accommodations here, try out the more basic rooms and enjoy a conversation with your loved one with a hot drink under a warm blanket.
Oregon Coast – There are few things more soothing than hearing waves breaking on the shore, and you’ll find miles of that familiar sound up and down the Oregon coast. While bustling in the summer, colder seasons are a little more relaxed allowing for a somewhat easier time getting around. You can park in the town that best suits your interests or decide to spend a night in multiple locations. A stroll on the beach at sunrise or sunset is always a perfect start or end to the day. Enjoy fresh brewed coffee in the morning, lunch made from local ingredients and many fine water-view restaurants for the perfect romantic weekend.
McCall, Idaho – As you head north from Boise, first-time visitors to Idaho are shocked to find that it’s not all flat potato fields. McCall is a town of roughly 3,000 people situated on beautiful Lake Payette. The town is known for its bountiful recreation year round. During the winter months, you are just 15 minutes from Brundage Mountain and less than 45 minutes from Tamarack Resort. You can also cross-country ski or arrange to rent snowmobiles. In summer, the lake is alive with water sports, and hiking the nearby Payette National forest or rafting the famous Snake River and Hells Canyon is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can also seek out relaxing hot springs in the surrounding areas, some of which are developed pools and others a day hike in to a natural setting.
Whitefish, Montana – Northwest Montana is blessed with amazing scenic beauty, and Whitefish is the perfect home base for exploring. If you want to leave the car at home, hop aboard the Amtrak anywhere from Seattle to Minneapolis and it will drop you off in the heart of downtown. While wealthy out-of-state homeowners have built massive homes and ranches in the surroundings, the town itself has kept its Western charm with a great mix of Montana casual steakhouses, breweries, outdoor shops and art galleries. A stay at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake puts you waterfront, and the hotel can arrange transportation to Whitefish Mountain or Glacier National Park with a relaxing trip to the spa at the end of your day exploring.