By: Susan Gerle

Nothing is nicer than running away for a romantic weekend with someone special. There are so many choices in Canada and the USA but here are 10 of the top places that are easily accessible from major international airports.

Western Region of North America

1. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver is a beautiful, clean, safe, romantic city. The downtown area is surrounded by a 22 km seawall, the perfect place to stroll arm in arm. Walk through Stanley Park, stop at the Vancouver Aquarium, feed the ducks and geese. There are a number of places to dine on your walk through the park. Or head for Denman or Robson Streets and enjoy all the available ethnic fare.

Yaletown is another dining area that is very upscale. Don’t be surprised if you catch site of a Hollywood star or two. There are many quaint boutique hotels overlooking the water or consider a high-end place to stay in Coal Harbour overlooking Canada Place. Take an evening dining and dancing cruise on one of the yachts anchored in the harbor.

2. Lake Louise, Banff, Columbia Icefields, and Jasper, Alberta, Canada

Fly into Calgary International Airport and rent a car to do a circle tour of the Rockie Mountains. Don’t forget your skis or hiking boots, depending on the time of the year. A great place to begin the trip is Kananaskis, near Canmore, Alberta. It’s only an hour out of Calgary before the mountains begin to rise in majesty from the prairie plains. Continue on to Lake Louise and the famous Fairmont Chalet overlooking the beautiful torquoise lake. During the winter, the view is that of a fairyland.

Banff is the next stop nestled amongst the magnificent peaks. Take a couple of days to look in the shops and hike the local trails. There is an international flavor in Banff and many compare it to the Swiss Alps. Visitors come from all over the world and many young people choose it as a place to live and work.

The Columbia Icefields are located north of Banff and people have the chance to actually walk on this magnificent glacier. There are also tours available n the huge cats.

As you make your way toward Jasper, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. Often in the early fall you will see bear, moose, deer, mountain sheep,and elk at the side of the highways. Just remember they are wild animals so take your pictures from the car.

Athabasca Falls, outside of Jasper, is a wonderful area to meander and take time for a picnic. The smooth rock formations and the soothing sound of the water put any couple in a romantic mood.

The Village of Jasper stands proud against the mountain backdrop. This is a main train stop for VIA Canada rail line. It’s similar to Banff in many ways but is worth stopping for a visit and doing some hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing. For the real adventuresome people, check into rock climbing.

Finish your romantic circle tour with a half-day drive back to Calgary.

3. San Francisco, California, USA

The hills of San Francisco are dotted with funky, brightly painted condos and crooked streets. It’s definitely a walking city for people in good shape so consider paying the extra dollars to stay downtown in one of the romantic hotels and enjoy the city on foot. There are always tours of Alcatraz leaving from Fisherman’s Wharf or just hang out in the wharf area for a fantastic seafood meal.

You can get a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge from many spots in the city. Just ask your hotel concierge where the best place is.

Of course, you can’t go to San Francisco without a ride on the cable cars. Consider taking the cable up the hills and walking back down! The history of the city is very interesting and there are many places to visit during your stay. San Francisco’sChinatown is also a must-see area. It’s ornate gates welcome tourists from all over the world.

4. San Diego, California, USA

San Diego is a wonderful, romantic playground. There are places to walk and boat and swim or even plan a day cruise offshore. If you have made this your romantic destination for 3 or 4 days, consider taking in the San Diego Zoo. You’ll spend your hours observing the antics of the animals in a very natural setting. Of course, you can always get on a bus to tour the facility.

The original “old town” offers many good Mexican restaurants and the main street stays awake late into the night. Take a walk out to the end of the peer. It’s a perfect spot to watch the sunset and enjoy the local surfers’ last evening runs.

If you have rented a car, take a drive up the coast and spend some time checking out the city of La Jolla. Checking out the cliffside parks and tidal pools are a great way to spend a romantic day.

Eastern Region Of North America

5. Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Halifax is one of the most historical areas in Canada and was where many immigrants landed in Canada between 1860 and 1930. It is also the jump-off point for a great romantic getaway. Peggy’s Cove, a lighthouse situated on rock bluffs along the coastline is quaint, peaceful, and the perfect setting for romantic pictures. Continue farther along the coast and you will experience the town of Lunenburg where the Bluenose and Bluenose II tall ships were built. If you are lucky the Bluenose II may be available for a sail, either out of Lunenburg or Halifax Harbor.

Take a trip across the tiny province to Annapolis Royal Valley. The springtime is the nicest when the valley is in full bloom and is only a 2 ½ hour drive from Halifax. Then of course, there are the fall colors to enjoy. A romantic time to be walking through the colorful leaves hand in hand.

If you don’t get to any other sites in the Halifax area, take in Cape Breton Highlands. It was recently rated the most beautiful island in the world. And is only a 5 hour drive north.

6. Old Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Winding, narrow streets, quaint cappuccino cafes, artists painting their pictures in quiet alleys set the stage for the international historical city of Quebec. Couples would swear they were in France because the official language is French and the mood definitely European.

Old Quebec represents Canada’s fight to keep the new land. The 4 century old walled city is an Unesco Heritage Site and represents the cradle of French civilization in North America.

Stay in one of the historical hotels or B and Bs for a romantic weekend. In the wintertime you even have a choice of staying in an Ice Hotel or Igloo.

Battlefields Park, overlooking the river and Plains of Abraham is one of the most beautiful parks in the world. You can take a leisurely stroll through thegrounds or head down to watch the changing of the guards.

7. New York City, New York, USA

John Lennon Memorial, Central Park

John Lennon Memorial, Central Park

Whether it is the middle of summer or a cold day in winter, New York is one of the most romantic cities in the world. It isn’t that it is a beautiful city. It just has such a wonderful sense of ownership and pride.

Take a stroll through Rockefeller Center at any time of the day or night, and there will be people around. Keep an eye out for famous stars attending events close by. During the winter, strap on your skates or take a picture next to the most famous Christmas tree.

The shopping is fantastic and even taking your sweetheart for a walk along 5th Avenue is a special treat. And who wouldn’t want to enjoy a romantic carriage ride around Central Park? Or walk through the park and stop for a ride on the turn-of-the-century carousel. There is a sense of peace around the dedication to John Lennon at the special Strawberry Fields Memorial, also in the park.

If you choose, you can walk for miles around the New York Harbor, or take a ferry over to Ellis Island and also visit the Statue of Liberty. And don’t forget to experience that romantic moment overlooking the city from the observation deck of the Empire State Building.

Then there is Times Square. The noise and the people and the food and the light shows and the spontaneous music concerts draw huge crowds every night. And there is no other place in the world to think about spending New Year’s Eve!

8. Boston, Massachusettes, USA

The city of Boston represents the history of the United States better than any other city in the USA. The Freedom Trail can be experienced in a matter of 3 hours and is a beautiful, romantic walk through the old stone churches and brownstones. You can almost hear Paul Revere’s famous ride through the streets.

Take time to check out antique shops and silverware stores in the city core. Drop by Cheers Pub and Restaurant and capture some more memories of days gone by.

The monument on Bunker Hill has 294 steps. It’s a tiring climb but well worth the iew from the top.

It is less than an hour’s drive from Boston to Plymouth. Even though there is not much to look at anymore, the feeling of where it all started is evident in this small community. It is well worth that romantic moment.

Of course the top romantic place close to Boston is Cape Code. It’s only a 2-hour drive from the city, and the peace and ambiance of this wonderful spot is hard to resist. Spend a quiet weekend biking around the cape or just enjoy the ocean from your front porch of a B and B.

9. Charleston, North Carolina, USA

Imagine Scarlet O’Hara in “Gone With The Wind” and you have a picture of one of the most romantic scenes in the world. The heat of Charleston wraps itself around all that is feminine as well as historical.

Reminders of the civil war permeate the area as you and you partner stroll through the streets. Take a tour of an antebellum mansion and fantasize about the beautiful women and handsome men dancing in the magnificent ballroom.

Visit a plantation that is still in operation 3 centuries later. Experience the heady smell of magnolia trees in bloom. Walk through forests dripping with Spanish moss and feel a sense of early history.

There are studios where you can dress up in 19th century garb and have your photos taken. Climb into a horse drawn surrey and enjoy a relaxing and romantic tour of the city.

Dine out at one of the many fine restaurants in the area. Seafood is a southern favorite and don’’ forget to order a mint julip.

10. Titusville, Florida

Titusville, Florida is not usually high on the list as a romantic destination but it offers much more than many people realize. There is nothing more spectacular or romantic than sitting on the shores of the water after dark watching a rocket being launched from Kennedy Space Center.

How about canoeing across the shallow waters and having a gentle Manetee dump your canoe because he wants to play with you? Then there’s location, location, location! Less than an hour away is Disney World and Epcot Center, both romantic places to hang out. Take a trip to Kennedy Space Center for the day too. All the information you ever wanted to know about that romantic symbol, the moon, is there. There is also a great nature sanctuary located on the property.

Titusville is also very close to some of the best seafood restaurants in the world. If you feel like taking a romantic walk along a famous beach, West Palm Beach or Daytona Beach are both located just a few miles away.

About the author:

Susan Gerle Has traveled down the east and west coasts of North America and the spots she has written about are some of her favorites.