Whether you want to live it up near the city lights or get away from it all under the starlight, national parks provide a wealth of amorous adventures for you and your Valentine.
1. Watch the sun set at Lipan Point, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.
It’s hard to find a more perfect setting for a picnic than a sunrise or sunset over one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Any of the South Rim overlooks would make a spectacular site for an al fresco meal under a colorful sky; Lipan Point tends to be less crowded, with marvelous views.
2. Kayak and camp at Cape Sable, Everglades National Park, Florida.
An empty beach with mangrove trees, sea birds, and gorgeous sunsets is a perfect way to escape a long, cold winter. Cape Sable is the southernmost point of Florida’s mainland and an ideal spot for enjoying long afternoons and evenings on quiet, sandy shores. The best part about camping with a kayak or canoe is that you don’t have to carry all of your provisions on your back—you can pack a few special meals and other small luxuries in your boat to enjoy by the campfire.
3. Snuggle under the stars at Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.
If watching the constellations is your kind of nightlife, this underappreciated southwestern park won’t disappoint. The world’s first International Dark-Sky Park, Natural Bridges offers some of the darkest night skies on the planet with as many as 15,000 stars visible in a single night. Plus, the shorter daylight hours and colder, drier air make winter an even better time for visibility—just pack an extra blanket and some hot cocoa.
4. Treat yourselves at Cavallo Point, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California.
If your idea of a romantic night is wining and dining near the city lights, San Francisco’s five-star lodge at Fort Baker—with views of the Golden Gate Bridge—is a sumptuous splurge. Sign up for a Valentine’s Day cooking class with sustainable foods, get hot-stone and seaweed massages at the spa, or just share a luxurious room after a night in the City by the Bay; whatever you choose, it’s a special spot to cuddle up.
5. Share a smooch above Buffalo National River, Arkansas.
The Whitaker Point Trail to Hawksbill Crag is technically outside national park boundaries, but this beloved hike overlooks the Buffalo, America’s first national river. With a breathtaking view of the dramatic valley and rushing waters below, it’s no wonder a local journalist recently named the spot the “best place in Arkansas to get kissed.”
6. See the northern lights from a hot tub in Denali National Park, Alaska.
Alaska’s latitude offers regular opportunities to see the northern lights, and some say that the winter months create more intense color displays due to the deeper darkness. Visitors to Denali can experience both the vast wilderness and modern luxuries, such as hotels with hot tubs just outside the park boundaries.
7. Watch whales at Channel Islands National Park, California.
Enjoying the wild beauty of these remote islands is a treat in itself, but if wildlife watching is your passion, a boat tour with park concessioner Island Packers will provide opportunities to see porpoises, orcas, dolphins, and yes, many kinds of whales. Go early in the morning for the best viewing opportunities.
8. Tour the monuments at night, National Mall, Washington, D.C.
A pleasant walk through the heart of the nation’s capital will bring you face to face with larger-than-life presidents and visionaries and elaborate structures and statues honoring our nation’s veterans. These fascinating pieces of history are even more beautiful lit up at night, and offer a great way to finish off a long day at the nearby museums and galleries—or to start off an evening before heading to one of the excellent local restaurants and clubs.
9. Get away from it all at North Cascades National Park, Washington.
Accessible only by a ferry ride or a float plane, few places in the country are more remote and romantic than Stehekin, a small community on the banks of Lake Chelan, surrounded by the rugged mountains of the Cascade Range. There are no roads connecting to the area and no cell phone reception—though there are hiking trails, an excellent pastry shop for sweets, and delightful places to spend the night, whether you pitch a tent or book a quaint waterfront cabin.
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About the author
Jennifer Errick Managing Editor of Online Communications
Jennifer co-produces NPCA's podcast, The Secret Lives of Parks, writes and edits a wide variety of online content, and manages NPCA's style guide.