Forget the chocolates and the flowers. They're both just temporary gifts, and they've both been done.
This Valentine's Day, gift your lover the experience of a vacation (or even just a staycation) in Colorado. With its purple peaks, isolated mountain cabins, frosty rivers lining cozy canyons and ever-blue skies — yes, even in winter — the Mile High State is perfect for romance.
Here are our favorite romantic cities in Colorado.
Loveland, the City
With a name like this, it's a given. Loveland is Colorado's sweetheart city.
But the charm goes far beyond its name. This city rests at the mouth of the Big Thompson Canyon, a straight shot up to Estes Park, Trail Ridge Road and the Rocky Mountain National Park. Loveland boasts a variety of esteemed art-themed parks, romantic walking paths, an adorable downtown with locally owned restaurants and multiple downtown theaters.
Grab dinner at the delicious Fourth Street Chophouse and then head down the street for drinks at Door 222, which boasts a sexy, dim atmosphere with specialty crafted cocktails.
One unique thing Loveland does every Valentine's Day is it lines the streets with personalized red hearts. Order one for your loved one, or read them together and look for the occasional wedding proposal.
Best of all, Loveland organizes a special V-Day celebration every year, the two-day Fire and Ice Festival, so there's plenty to do and see around town.
Loveland, the Ski Resort
Yes, Colorado has two Lovelands. But it doesn't matter which one you visit for Valentine's Day; they both celebrate in different ways that are equally as entertaining.
The mountain (several hours west of the totally unrelated city) is a popular destination for people who want to say their wedding vows — on skis. The Loveland Ski Area conducts a mass wedding ceremony (with as many as 80 couples) every Feb. 14 at Chair 2. It's quite the site to see, as many of the lovers hit the slopes in full bridal gear. We're talking veil and dress, tux and bow tie.
The party after the vows includes a cake, toast and a competition for the best-dressed newlyweds — not something you usually see at a reception.
If there's one thing Colorado has down, it's ability to make you feel like you're on top of the world. Cañon City is home to the Royal Gorge Bridge, the world's highest suspension bridge, above the Arkansas River. Share a kiss at nearly 1,000 feet above the waters below. When constructed in the '20s, this bridge was considered one of the most astonishing wonders of Colorado, and it still is today.
Even if heights aren't your thing, the park surrounding the Royal Gorge is full of interesting sites to see, including the WaterClock, one of only three time-keepers of its kind in the world. It counts time via water in buckets. If you believe you love will last forever, count your buckets (and blessings) at Canon City's famous WaterClock.
Stay in a romantic cabin in Estes Park. This small mountain town is full of cabins to choose from, whether you want luxury or isolation or riverside or part of a small community.
Estes Park is also home to the famous mansion resort, The Stanley Hotel. While this hotel is said to be haunted, its old architecture and elaborate, Victorian decor makes it feel sultry and elegant. The mountain views are breathtaking. And if you happen to hear a bump in the night, snuggle closer under the covers.
For the ultimate alpine indulgence, stay at the Della Terra Mountain Chateau, where rooms include private balconies with hot tubs. Guests can use the spa with a sauna or sit by the stone fireplace — and waterfall. The suites come with walk-through jetted showers, and all of the grounds are beautifully inspired by nature.
The chateau itself is secluded and romantic, perched at the Fall River entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park. It's easily one of the most romantic getaways in Colorado.
Estes Park itself offers an adorable, old-timey downtown that always seems to be bustling with wildlife. Keep your eyes open for deer, elk, mountain goats and more, depending on the time of year.
Estes in the winter time is less busy than in the summer time, which transforms the downtown area into a charming, more intimate getaway. In the summer, it's more family-friendly, with an exciting, upbeat energy; in the winter, it's softer, slower, sweeter. Perfect for a day with your sweetheart. While downtown, stop in one of the famous, historic taffy shops and pick up some sweets.