Okay, so national parks may not come to mind when you hear the word, “romance” but our country’s protected lands are actually perfect settings for those seeking a romantic getaway. Whether you and your loved one want to get away from work, need a break from the kids, or just want to spend some quality time together, the national parks offer a beautiful escape.
While all of the parks offer different forms of beauty, a few stand out with the most potential for romance. These parks have it all: opportunities for serene hikes, places to swim and soak in the sun, amazing places to eat, and some of the most comfortable and cozy places to stay. Check out these top picks and grab your sweetheart for a retreat!
Arches National Park
It’s hard not to fall in love while hiking around and viewing the spectacular natural wonders on display at Arches National Park. Frankly, the park is just plain beautiful and when you’re there, in the thick of it, you get this sense of peace, relaxation, and total appreciation. And whoever you are with, well they are feeling the same thing!
Whether you have one day or a full weekend, Arches has a lot to offer, but at a comfortable and casual pace. First, figure out what time of year you want to visit. I recommend the spring, when the park is full of wildflowers, though all seasons have their own sense of beauty. Next, decide whether you want to drive or hike to the major attractions. Try to hike and walk what you can. It allows you to really feel the natural beauty of the land. Don’t miss Landscape Arch - the world’s longest natural arch, Delicate Arch - the icon of the park, or the Fiery Furnace - a maze of passages and columns to explore.
This is a slow-paced park, one that a couple can stroll through appreciating its beauty and one another!
Virgin Islands National Park
Grab two Piña Coladas and hit the white sandy beaches of Virgin Islands National Park for the perfect romantic retreat. What better way to reconnect and unwind than getting some sun and waves together?
Today, Virgin Islands National Park covers nearly 75% of the island, and that includes 5,600 acres of offshore aquatic habitat. This means you can have fun on and off the beach. Be sure to check out Cruz Bay when you arrive to find numerous tourist opportunities, including mountain biking, snorkeling, scuba diving, tours, and more.
Obviously, you will need to pack your bathing suit and sunscreen, but also plan to take your hiking boots. The park offers 20 miles of hiking trails, some along the coastline and other through subtropical forests. Don’t miss the Reef Bay Trail for an easygoing three-mile descent through forest and cactus woodlands. You will even have the opportunity to visit an old sugar mill and pre-Columbian petroglyphs.
This park offers two different vacations: one for the couple who needs some R&R in the sun; another for the couple who wants to play in the water and explore nature.
Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
Get warm together in this chilly park! Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve boasts 3.3 million acres of breathtaking scenery, from rivers of ice to glistening fjords. It is a place that will blow you away and leave you both in awe of the beauty of nature.
The park is reached by plane or boat only, which starts your vacation with a feeling of intimacy and seclusion. What better place to get away from the stress of daily life than in a secluded park together. And there are plenty of ways to explore the park. Boat tours and glacier cruises are a popular option, both allowing amazing opportunities to see wildlife, snow-capped mountains, and deep fjords.
The area is also known for its quaint inns and bed & breakfasts, all offering adorable places to stay. After a fun-filled day of exploring Alaska, you and your sweetie can cozy up to a mug of cocoa and each other!
Acadia National Park
Quaint. Adorable. Charming. These are the best words to describe your romantic getaway in Acadia National Park. Not only can you get a fun-filled park vacation, you can also get away to one of the most charming seaside towns on the east coast.
Within Acadia, you and your loved one can choose from all the typical and enjoyable park activities: hiking, camping, bird watching, biking, and more. For a secluded moment, try taking a blanket and hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain for a romantic sunset (or sunrise). You may also enjoy a stroll along the coastline. Depending on the time of year, you may be able to see a whale in the distance! (You may also want to check out whale tours that are affordable in town.)
Be sure to step outside of the park and into Bar Harbor to experience the quaint seaside town. Locals are extremely nice and welcoming, and it’s a great town to do a little shopping. It’s also a great spot for a warm cup of lobster bisque! (Or lobster ice cream if you’re feeling adventurous!)
Acadia is a great weekend getaway full of charm that will have you and your loved one feeling cozy and relaxed.
Haleakala National Park
It may be impossible to not have a romantic vacation in Hawaii. Warm air mixed with tropical breezes, refreshing ocean water, local seafood, and the occasional Mojito adds up for quite the retreat. And this national park mixes beauty with action.
There are two different ways to enjoy Haleakala National Park: You can hike the volcanos and even the famous crater at 10,000 feet (It is quite the place to enjoy the sunrise); or you can explore the waterfalls and pools at Ohe'o Gulch, also known as the Seven Sacred Pools. In fact, there’s a lot of beauty to explore. Highlights include 27 miles of hiking trails in the Wilderness Area, the Kipahula area of the park, and Waimoku Falls. Also be sure to stop by the Visitor Center to learn about cultural demonstrations offered in the park.
Drive-in campgrounds and backcountry campgrounds offer exciting places to stay, including cabins. I recommend the backcountry for a more isolated and romantic escape. In fact, you and your sweetie can hike only 4 miles and stay in a wilderness cabin.
Pack your sunscreen and hiking boots for an exciting and romantic getaway now!
Saguaro National Park
It’s more than just cactus. Saguaro National Park is one of the most stunning in the country thanks to a backdrop of red rocks, desert landscapes, and iconic cactus. Trust me, when the sky turns shades of bright red and orange, you will feel relaxed and at peace in this western park.
The Rincon Mountain District offer ample opportunity for romantic horseback riding, hikes to view native plants and animals, and areas to stop for a picnic. You may also choose to tour the Tuscon Mountain District for more guided activities like nature walks and guided hikes.
Be sure to check out the Alta Vista Bed & Breakfast, rated on many sites as a romantic place to stay. This could be due to the beauty that surrounds it. The inn is perched high with panoramic views of the Santa Catalina Mountains in the North, the Rincon Mountains in the East, and the Tanque Verde Valley all around. The inn’s garden is a sweet spot for bird watching, while the Alta Vista’s spa offers romantic and relaxing massages for you and yours.
This park is one of the best to evoke a “Wild West” feeling, yet feels relaxing, warm, and romantic at the same time.
Gettysburg National Military Park
I know what you’re thinking: war and romance? But Gettysburg National Military Park is more than a lesson in history. In fact, the area is just as famous for its B&B’s, which any romantic can appreciate.
The military park has a day’s worth of activities for you and yours. From guided tours to hikes and bike rides, the park has much to offer. The Licensed Battlefield Guide is your best bet to learn the importance of the park and all that it stands for. Your own personal guide will drive you and your loved one around the park for your very own private history lesson. But if you want to trek out solo, don’t miss attractions like the Soldier’s National Cemetery or the Gettysburg Museum of the Civil War.
While you’re planning your trip to the park, be sure to check online for packages specific to romantic getaways. Many sites, like Gateway Gettysburg, offer packages for couples that include accommodations, spa deals, and dining recommendations. There are of Gettysburg has many places to shop and restaurants of fine dining.
A great trip for the history buff couple! Learn about the Civil War, have a romantic dinner in town, and finish the evening with some chocolate-covered strawberries in a quaint Bed & Breakfast!
Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site
This is a call to the early lovebirds. Whether you need a cool spot for a first date or want to get away for your first, but not too intense, trip together, Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site is perfect. This park is relaxed and not overflowing with feelings of love and passion. In fact, I would call it a place to stroll hand-in-hand.
You and your date can spend the day strolling the park, examining the stunning and unique architecture built for Gilded Age millionaires. Enjoy a guided tour of the Vanderbilt Mansion, and then continue on to the manicured gardens and grounds of the site. The site is located in Hyde Park, which offers two other historic sites to explore: The Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site and Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site.
This is a perfect day-trip for the city couple looking to get away from the day. The site is located in the Hudson River Valley, just 90 minutes north of New York City. Pack a picnic and take your date on a romantic stroll at this national historic site!
New Orleans Jazz Historical Park
Not into ballroom dancing lessons? Have no fear. New Orleans Jazz Historical Park is a national park for all music lovers that will get couples on their feet and having a blast. New Orleans is no stranger to fun times - Mardi Gras, jambalaya, live jazz, and “The Hurricane” cocktail are just a few. And one historical park takes the sweet sound of jazz, missed with the history and culture of the area to make for a romantic getaway that’s impossible not to enjoy.
Start your trip at the Visitor Center, located in the French Quarter, for information on tours, dance performances, music demonstrations, and other interpretive activities.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
As one of the largest urban national parks in the world, Golden Gate National Recreation Area is the perfect setting for a romantic weekend. Whether you’re looking for a quiet getaway, a historical setting, or an outdoor adventure, this park’s got it all.
For the action, visitors have plenty of opportunities for biking, hiking, camping, horseback riding, swimming, fishing, and even auto touring. Speaking of tours, check out Alcatraz for a unique and historical activity. And if you want a truly unique tour, check out the night tour. A little creepy but you will have your loved one to grab when you get scared!
This is also an ideal spot to take a drive. Sometimes there is nothing more romantic that a scenic drive. And trust me, watching the sun set over the giant bridge is a sight to behold. Keep on driving into the city for a delicious bit to eat and cap off the night with a view of the bridge all lit up. It’s pretty spectacular.