Whether you’ve been with your partner for a while or just started dating, planning your first trip together can be both exciting and a tad nerve-wracking. Planning a trip and traveling with someone requires compromise, honesty and plenty of patience so it’s always best to discuss details early.
This way, if you’re on the hunt for the best ice cream spots on the West Coast and your partner dreams of staying at a fire lookout, you’ll be able to plan a trip together that caters to your different interests and possibly lets you learn a great deal about each other along the way.
To help you plan, we put together a list of some of the most romantic trips in the U.S. Get the lowdown on things to check out, where to stay and great date ideas to pick the perfect town for you and your bae.
Keep reading for tips on how to plan a trip for the first time including splitting responsibilities like renting a car or booking hotels, sticking to a budget and compromising on activities.
Romantic West Coast Locations
The West Coast is the best place if you enjoy every type of landscape and outdoor activity. Whether you love the beach and dreamy sunsets or prefer hiking to some stunning desert vistas, there’s no shortage of romantic spots in the list below.
Down on the West Coast – Big Sur, CA
A must-see on the West Coast, Big Sur is perfect for those looking to get some spectacular coastline views and visit charming beach towns along the way. Great for beach lovers and nature enthusiasts, a trip through Big Sur will give you plenty of memory-making opportunities.
While traveling through Big Sur, be sure to keep an eye on your budget. Many of the small towns along the way rely primarily on tourism so expenses can rack up pretty quickly. Plan ahead for things like food and lodging to help you stay on budget.
Whale Watching – Whidbey Island, WA
Located about 30 miles from Seattle, this small, picturesque island offers the perfect atmosphere for a relaxing and romantic getaway. If you and your partner love the ocean, book a boat tour along Deception Pass to get unobstructed views of tree-covered terrain and magnificent marine life including Orcas and Humpback whales.
Whidbey Island is also perfect for an active couple that enjoys water sports, hiking and nature walks. For a treat, stop by the island’s Chocolate Flower Farm for handmade goodies like fudge, chocolate mint tea and jams.
Out in the Wilderness – Bend, OR
If you’re looking for a small city surrounded by walking trails, wilderness areas and stunning old volcanic sites, Bend, Oregon is your destination. With lava caves, waterfalls, alpine lakes and tranquil neighborhoods, you’ll have no shortage of romantic activities.
During the summer, plan a picnic by the pristine Paulina Lake or plan your trip during the winter to hit the slopes.
Wine Tasting – Healdsburg, CA
If you’re wine lovers but prefer a more low-key, budget-friendly scene to Napa Valley, Healdsburg makes for an unforgettable weekend trip. Visit its beautiful Historic Plaza replete with art galleries, museums, breweries and, of course, lots of delicious California wines.
After all the fine dining and wine tasting, head out for a day of cycling, canoeing or walking through the town’s colorful gardenscapes.
Romantic Mountain Region Locations
The mountain region of the U.S. is filled with hidden gems for a romantic mini vacation. From the vibrant art scene in Santa Fe to the stunning winter mountain village of Whitefish Montana, you’re sure to find something you’ll both enjoy.
Off-Roading – Telluride, CO
Another great town for winter sports lovers. If you and your partner first bonded over your love of adventure, Telluride is the perfect spot to enjoy some of your favorite activities together. In addition to being a great town for skiing and hiking, Telluride also offers some intermediate off-roading sites, like Ophir Pass, for a thrill ride and stunning mountain views.
Hiking Through the Arches – Moab, UT
Known for its many beautiful arch formations and Native American rock art, Moab, Utah is perfect for couples who love the desert and historic sightseeing.
Besides checking out their off-roading sites, hiking trails and gorgeous red rock vistas, you can’t miss rafting down the Colorado River during your visit.
Cozy Up – Whitefish, MT
Although its name might not sound entirely romantic, Whitefish, Montana is home to an inviting town, a world-class ski resort and lush expanses of Glacier National Park.
To fully experience what this town has to offer, we recommend booking your trip during the winter. The town’s Christmas-decorated streets, snow-covered rooftops and mountain peak backdrop is sure to set the perfect mood for your trip.
Art Lovers Rejoice – Santa Fe, NM
An art lover’s dream, Santa Fe is the ideal first trip destination for couples with an eye for beauty and all things eclectic. For activities, you’ll find an array of art galleries, folk art museums, rich history and quirky installations like Meow Wolf.
If you’re looking for a truly unique first-time road trip experience with your partner, Santa Fe is a must on your list.
Stargazing – Sedona, AZ
A beautiful destination for remarkable, rocky terrain. Great for couples that enjoy nature and warm desert sunsets, Sedona creates an ideal setting for a most romantic road trip.
In addition to excellent rocky trails and impressive monuments, you can also plan a relaxing day to enjoy the picturesque village of Tlaquepaque and Sedona’s various clay spas. With such clear skies, you also can’t miss a night of stargazing.
Romantic Central Locations
Whether you live near Wisconsin or Texas, a romantic destination is sure to be nearby. Rent a car and head to one of these cities that are sure to surprise you with their warm hospitality and fun places to explore.
Lakefront Views – Ephraim, WI
If you’re both looking forward to some peaceful time alone, Ephraim is your town. This bustling waterfront town is great to visit during the fall or spring months.
During the fall, you’ll be able to enjoy the gorgeous burnt orange landscape while the spring guarantees colorful and fragrant flower gardens. Whether you visit an art gallery, go kayaking or visit one of its adorable wineries, you’ll both feel recharged by the end of your trip.
Charming German Hideaway – Fredericksburg, TX
Located near the center of Texas, the city of Fredericksburg is known for its wineries, German heritage and countryside feel. With beautiful flower farms, over 40 wineries, plenty of fine dining options — including German cuisine — and a charming Main Street, it’s a must for a weekend getaway.
We recommend booking a cabin or staying in one of the town’s family-owned bed and breakfasts to get the full experience. For antiques, art and one-of-a-kind finds, take a stroll through Main Street and their Warehouse District.
Antique Shopping – Fairhope, AL
We had to include this quaint little town for old souls looking for a bit of southern charm. Another great waterfront spot to simply relax and enjoy the local culture, Fairhope offers small streets lined with gorgeous floral displays, tons of opportunities for water sports and historical tours.
For a romantic and slightly cheesy activity, don’t forget to head to Anderson Dock to write your names on the boards of the Hardy Gallery.
Vibrant Nightlife, Small Town Feel – Franklin, TN
Just a 30-minute drive from Nashville, the city of Franklin boasts a vibrant music scene, historic landmarks and lively entertainment. To take in all this city has to offer, take an evening stroll through downtown for dinner, antique shops, galleries and live shows.
If you and your partner enjoy food or music events, be sure to check out the city’s calendar to visit during one of their lively festivals. There are also plenty of Civil War sites if either of you enjoy history.
Cruising Down the Bayou – New Orleans, LA
For an unforgettable nightlife scene, incredible cuisine and a melting pot of cultures, the Big Easy is a no brainer for a first time getaway. The singular aesthetic of New Orleans’ French Quarter and upbeat atmosphere make for one of the most romantic spots on our list.
For a truly unique experience, try something new by booking a ghost tour, taking a boat through the Bayou or simply exploring what Bourbon Street has to offer.
Romantic East Coast Locations
From the white sandy beaches in Florida to wine tasting in Virginia, your options for a romantic getaway on the East Coast are endless. For a unique experience, try choosing a destination you and your partner aren’t familiar with to explore together.
Picture-Perfect Ocean Views – Rosemary Beach, FL
A beach lover’s paradise, Rosemary Beach is one of our favorite towns for couples. Usually with a smaller crowd than other nearby beaches, Rosemary Beach gives you plenty of ways to relax, including shopping, biking, paddle boarding and swimming.
Book a spa treatment for two at the town’s famous Pearl Spa, walk through the colorful streets or take a day trip to one of the many surrounding beach neighborhoods –– most of them under an hour away!
Free-Spirited Getaway – Burlington, VT
If you can’t decide on activities, book your trip to this quirky city in Vermont overlooking Lake Champlain. Perfect for free-spirited couples who enjoy spending time both outdoors and exploring the city’s vibrant nightlife.
Burlington is great to visit during the winter if you want to hit the nearby slopes, or during summer to spend the day at North Beach Park. Although known for its eco-conscious and forward-thinking vibe, the city’s Church Street Marketplace and collection of historic buildings makes for a romantic getaway.
Enchanting Southern Charm – Savannah, GA
A list of America’s most charming cities isn’t complete without Savannah, Georgia. With horse-drawn carriages, cobblestone streets and antebellum architecture, this city simply screams romance.
Take a stroll through Savannah’s historic district under its live oak-lined streets or book a culinary tour for an unforgettable few days in this coastal city.
Zip-Lining Through Bear Mountain – Shenandoah Valley, VA
Home to wineries, national parks, caverns and adorable mountain towns, Shenandoah Valley is perfect for couples looking for adventure and small-town charm.
For an adventure-packed day, head out to explore the area’s famous Luray Caverns and zip-line through Bear Mountain. In the evening, make dinner reservations at one of the local wineries or head to one of the nearby towns including Shenandoah and Staunton.
Cascade Hopping – Albany, NH
A small town perfect for those looking to be around nature and do some easy hiking. Albany is also a great town to visit for fall foliage, water sports and tranquil lake views.
When you’re there, don’t forget to take a trip to the famous Diana’s Baths — a series of small waterfalls accessible through an easy mile-long hike. For a cute photo op, stop by the town’s rustic Albany Covered Bridge located near the Swift River.
Planning a Trip for Two
If this is your first trip together, it’s important to keep your budget, itinerary and overall plans as balanced as possible. Discuss ahead of time how you would like to split your days and expenses to avoid any tension before the trip. Decide who will take care of certain tasks like booking hotels, renting a car and making dinner reservations.
Follow the tips below for a smooth and romantic first trip together.
By following these tips, you’ll be ready for a romantic trip you’ll both enjoy and hopefully cherish for years to come. Remember that this trip is just for the two of you so do your best to fully disconnect from work and your daily routines.
If you’ll be flying out, renting a car will make it easier to explore your destination and take quick day trips to nearby attractions or towns.