Lovely surroundings and cozy accommodations make it easy to connect-or reconnect.
1. Kauai, Hawaii
Hawaii's lush Garden Island can keep active couplesblissfully busy. Adventurous choices include snorkeling, scubadiving, hiking (where waterfalls compete for attention with oceanvistas), windsurfing, fishing, horseback riding, and golf, all ofit top-notch. But every visitor should also simply lie on the beachand enjoy scenery so pretty that it has shown up in a long list ofTV shows and movies, from "Fantasy Island" to South Pacific. The luxurious Princeville Resort, overlookingHanalei Bay, supplies exceptional views as well as soothingpost-exercise spa treatments; 800/826-4400 or princeville.com.
2. Big Sur, California
No place in the world offers a more sublime landscape. Italmost takes two to fully drink it in. Thoughtful couples, in fact,trade off stints at the wheel while traveling this awesomely ruggedstretch of Central California coast. Drivers negotiating the twistsand turns of Highway 1 as it clings to the cliffs can spareprecious little attention to admire the view. Fortunately, theWestern-accented Ventana Inn & Spa provides compensatorypampering; 800/628-6500 or ventanainn.com.
3. Sanibel and Captiva islands, Florida
Stunning sunsets, strictly limited development, and musicalbeaches create a truly enchanting hideaway. Gulf of Mexico currentstoss up millions of seashells, which sound like wind chimes as theytumble in the waves. No wonder Anne Morrow Lindbergh's visitsinspired her to write Gift from the Sea, her lyrical meditation about life andlove. The recently renovated resort Song of the Sea, where each ofthe 30 rooms features a kitchenette and a screened porch,exemplifies the islands' low-key charms; 800/965-7772 or songofthesea.com.
4. St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Fantasies of fleeing to an unspoiled tropical paradise reallydo come true here. A national park covers two-thirds of the20-square-mile island. Vast stretches of white-sand beaches drawonly handfuls of visitors. St. John's best lodgings keep the focuson the surroundings. Maho Bay, which pioneered deluxe tent camping,now offers four different resorts―some with more-conventionalstructures, all with fabulous views; 800/392-9004 or maho.org. Exclusive Caneel Bay,with its seven beaches and gloriously landscaped grounds, hasfinally installed air-conditioning but still resists in-room TVs,phones, radios, and clocks; 340/776-6111 or caneelbay.com.
5. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
New Englanders escape here in summer for beaches, naturalbeauty, history, great seafood, and quirky shopping. All thoseattractions also beckon in winter, albeit in a quieter way.Deserted shores invite hand-in-hand strolling accompanied only bythe placid splashing of the waves. Enough restaurants and shopsstay open year-round to keep the credit-card companies happy. InChatham, sweethearts can snuggle at the superb Captain's House Inn,where every one of the 16 rooms and suites includes a fireplace;800/315-0728 or captainshouseinn.com.
6. Savannah, Georgia
This historic and eccentric city richly lives up to itsreputation as a dreamy destination. Grand homes overlook landscapedsquares decorated with moss-draped trees and splashing fountains.Genteel retirees mix amiably with creatively costumed SavannahCollege of Art and Design students. For sumptuous lodging, we likeThe Ballastone (800/822-4553 or ballastone.com) and FoleyHouse Inn (800/647-3708 or foleyinn.com). Elizabeth on37th delivers gracious dining, with updated versions of traditionalcooking and a wonderful wine list; 912/236-5547 or elizabethon37th.com.
7. Santa Barbara, California
Beautiful beaches, charming Mediterranean architecture,excellent restaurants both casual and chic, acclaimed wineries, anda general air of laid-back sophistication add up to an enticingplace for couples to explore. Parks and gardens sprout everywhere,probably because the glorious weather encourages everyone to stayoutdoors. At Simpson House Inn, guests can play English lawncroquet among an acre of English gardens, all secluded behind tallhedges. Fifteen rooms, suites, and cottages feature luxurious butcomfortable decor; 800/676-1280 or simpsonhouseinn.com.
8. New Orleans, Louisiana
"We're coming back, and we're going to be bigger and better."Cynthia Reeves is speaking of The House on Bayou Road, her quiethideaway of an inn just off Esplanade Avenue near the FrenchQuarter. She could also be referring to New Orleans itself, sadderand wiser after its assaults by hurricanes, but still saucy as itprepares to welcome visitors once again in 2006. Cynthia hopes toreopen The House on Bayou Road (800/882-2968 or houseonbayouroad.com)in February 2006. The Hotel Maison de Ville and the AudubonCottages, an oasis of tranquility amid the swirl of the Quarter,also aims to reopen around the beginning of the year; 800/634-1600or hotelmaisondeville.com.
9. San Juan Islands, Washington
Peaceful and rustic, this cluster of islands north of Seattlealso packs a lot of surprises. For one thing, the sun shines muchmore often than the Pacific Northwest norm. Visitors know aboutsuch nature-based attractions as whale-watching, bicycling, andkayaking. But the uninitiated might not expect the quality andvariety of the artwork, especially on Orcas Island―or thellama and alpaca farms. Of the four islands accessible by ferry,Orcas has the most diverse landscape and biggest variety ofrecreation; San Juan offers a more historic feel; Lopez, theflattest, makes for the easiest biking; and Shaw appeals to loversof peace and quiet. The Trumpeter Inn Bed & Breakfast(800/826-7926 or trumpeterinn.com) on SanJuan Island appeals to everyone. Amenities include an on-sitemassage studio.
10. Mackinac Island, Michigan
Couples visiting during winter can have this frozen-in-timeVictorian vacation village almost to themselves. When snow worksits magic on the landscape, a cross-country ski excursion or ahorse-drawn carriage ride can seem like a Currier & Ives printcome to life. This time of year, the island relaxes itsno-motor-vehicles rules to allow snowmobiles. But horse-drawn draysstill provide hauling services. Bogan Lane Inn, with its livingroom fireplace and straightforward, cozy rooms, stays openyear-round; 906/847-3439 or boganlaneinn.com. Asspring blossoms begin to open, so do the bigresorts―including, on April 21, 2006, the majestic,1887-vintage Grand Hotel; 800/334-7263 or grandhotel.com.
published January 2006