If the mere mention of Valentine’s Day sends a chill down your spine, we feel you. If you haven’t planned anything romantic yet and are running out of time, we have a few ideas to help you impress your partner by sweeping them away for a last-minute getaway. Check out these seven options for a quick weekend jaunt that won’t break the bank and put you in the doghouse.
Aphrodisiac oysters and chocolate — Portland, Maine
Maine is already on the radar of seafood-loving and nature-appreciating couples, but you’ve probably only visited in the summer, a common mistake that until now you could be forgiven for.
There are two primary reasons why you and your honey should get up to the Pine Tree State for Valentine’s Day: Oysters are an aphrodisiac, and Portland certainly doesn’t shut down when the snow falls. You may not be fishing off the coast or camping in Acadia National Park, but a mid-February weekend is the perfect time to drown yourself in craft beer and sensual seafood, minus the crowds and prices of the summertime rush. There’s also chocolate — and more beer — at Allagash Brewing’s “From Maine, With Love” events. The brewery is hosting daily shenanigans beginning February 9 and running through Valentine’s Day, featuring massages, a truffle-making lesson, a baking workshop, and beer and chocolate pairings.
If you’re already on the East Coast and road-tripping up to Maine, this romantic getaway will be a bargain. The city’s best Airbnbs are much cheaper this time of year. You can stay in a private home right in town for around $50 per night. Stoke your wanderlust even more by attending the Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival at the State Theatre on either February 11 or 12, or opt for a romantic and sustainably-sourced dinner at Fore Street Restaurant after checking the brewery out — though you’ll need to show up right at 5:00 PM to snag seats at the bar on the big night itself.
Star-and-moon-gazing on the coast — Glendale/Los Angeles, California
If you’re itching for a mid-winter beach session, Valentine’s weekend is prime for heading to Los Angeles. Flights into LA are famously cheap from most major US cities, including from New York where they’re right around $300 round-trip that week. Set the mood with a multi-course dinner and jazz concert with singer Alexis Nicole Jackson at Griffith Manor Park. The show and a three-course dinner are just $75 per person. Plus, the event organizers have your back when it comes to gifts — they (for a fee) will have a gift waiting on the table for your partner when you arrive.
After dinner, head just up the street to The Chained Rabbit for a craft cocktail, or head down to Hollywood. February is awards season, which means star-gazing is at its finest throughout La La Land right now. Even if you don’t see “The Gos” lounging at a nightclub off the strip, you can still hit Hollywood Boulevard and make your way down the Walk of Fame for the budget-friendly cost of $0.
The wine-soaked weekend getaway — Fredericksburg, Texas
Yeah, yeah, Texas isn’t Napa Valley. But Fredericksburg, an hour and a half due west of Austin, is under the radar of all but the hardiest wine connoisseurs in the US.
Over Valentine’s weekend, the Texas Hill Country Chef’s Wine Paired Experience welcomes guests to the Flat Creek Estate, allowing them to enjoy tastings of the region’s wineries paired with fresh farm-to-table food. Rooms at hotels and lodges in Fredricksburg are available for under $100 per night on Valentine’s weekend, but Travelocity is currently running a free flight special if you book from a selection of hotels on its site.
The hunny bunny ski trip — Salt Lake City, Utah
Ski trips are expensive. Once you compiled the cost of lift tickets, flights, lodging, and overpriced resort food, the sum can be enough to momentarily jolt your heart rate. At the ticket window, you’re often looking up to $200 per day just to get yourself on the mountain — and that’s if your partner stays barside in the lodge.
It doesn’t have to be this way. If you really need a mountain getaway this Valentine’s, the cure for this wallet buster is the Ski City Super Pass. Included are a lift ticket and ground transportation from Salt Lake City to one of four mountains nearby — Brighton, Snowbird, Alta, and Solitude — for no more than $110 per person per day. The pass also gets you discounted gear rental in case you aren’t equipped upon touch down in Salt Lake. The catch is that you have to book at least three days, but Valentine’s Day is on Friday, so this is just an excuse to start your weekend early.
Lodging doesn’t have to break the bank, either, as staying in a big city means you’re escaping resort hotel rates. The centrally located and hyper-romantic Little America Hotel has a $112 special on Hotels.com. Combine these offers, along with round-trip flights into SLC for $300 depending on your starting point, and skiing Utah powder is actually affordable. You’ll save enough to enjoy that après-ski session, and nothing brings a couple closer together than a mug of peppermint schnapps and hot chocolate after a cold day on the mountain.
5. You-know-what on the beach — Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Your partner will never forget the time you texted to say, “Honey, we’re going to Hilton Head Island in two weeks.” Even if they haven’t heard of Hilton Head, they’re going to be stoked — the island just off the South Carolina coast is the best beach destination in the American South. It’s driveable from Atlanta to Richmond, meaning regional couples can get there for the cost of a few tanks of gas. And, when the romance moves indoors, the all-inclusive Sonesta Resort is offering a three-day, two-night special for $199.
The resort looks out over Shipyard Beach and is adjacent to the scenic Coligny Beach Park, the perfect place to end a long walk on the beach as the sun sets over the island on Valentine’s night. To occupy the rest of your trip, take a stand-up paddleboard out on the water, and if you do need to escape the resort, head over to Harold’s Diner for the best milkshake you and your partner will ever taste.
Flying high in the Midwest — Kansas City, Missouri
You may already be tired out of hearing about Kansas City, but here us out. KC brings two things to the dating game that most cities don’t have — world-class dining at unbeatable prices and a romantic Valentine’s Day sunset zip line tour. You read that correctly — on this most romantic of evenings, you and your partner could sail across the Kansas River with ZipKC as the sun sets over the plains.
Afterward, wine and dine with your beloved in the Power and Light District at County Road Ice House for the best of KC-style barbecue, craft beer, and good vibes. KC is among the few big cities in the United States where you can dine in a trendy spot and not have to worry about your heart skipping a beat when the bill comes.
Finding rhythm — Missoula, Montana
Montana is defined by big skies, wide open land, and romance. Okay, we may have added that third one, but you can prove it true by taking advantage of cheap flights from the West Coast, coming in between $199 and $333 from cities like Los Angeles and Seattle. Book a room at the Residence Inn Missoula Downtown — only $149 per night that weekend — and forget everything you thought about long-term stay hotels. This one is both welcoming and romantic. It took over the old Mercantile building, once a hub for local commerce whose finer points are now preserved in the lobby via a collection of local art exhibits. Your room will be a full-on apartment, complete with a living room, kitchen, and a bed with a view.
For dinner, make a reservation at the Pearl Cafe for Montana fare (local meat and roasted vegetables) and a solid wine menu with options for cocktails. Your after-dinner plans are set — Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is playing at The Wilma downtown, just two blocks from the hotel. If a nightcap is in order, head over to the Union Club Bar to toast to an epic night.
A version of this article was previously published on February 1, 2019, and was updated on February 4, 2020 with more information.