Top Romantic Destinations
The Pacific Northwest has an abundance of stunning locales that make for a perfect romantic date or getaway, whether that be a stroll along the beach, gazing at the stars or sipping local wine over a candle-lit dinner. Here are our top picks for intimate getaways in our area.
With its high peaks, vast mountain forests and picturesque coasts, the Pacific Northwest is apt to take anyone’s breath away. Its beauty is undeniable, and that’s why it makes the perfect getaway for couples who are celebrating special occasions or looking for memorable moments together.
What’s more romantic than a space that is so vast that you and your other half feel you have it all to yourselves? The Pacific Northwest’s pristine and withdrawn nature makes it just that place.
Take it from Marina Resto, a dating expert from Seattle and a former columnist on love and dating topics at The Seattle Times. “The romantic thing about [the Pacific Northwest] is there’s so much variety,” Resto says, highlighting that in Washington alone couples can take a ferry across Puget Sound and head straight up to Canada — all in a day.
Resto herself found love during the pandemic. She says the Pacific Northwest landscape is even better for long-term couples than those headed on a first date. For example, she and her partner took a road trip this past winter.
“We rented a camper van and drove to Walla Walla for wine tasting. Then, we drove to Coeur d’Alene and did some cycling, [visited] a hot spring in Idaho, drove to Sun Valley, went skiing and came back to Seattle,” she says.
The Pacific Northwest is indeed abundant with spots for misty beaches, early sunsets, wine tasting and starry nights. Here are just a few places for adventure-seeking lovers.
Best Beach Walks
Located on the Pacific Coast right along the Olympic Peninsula, Second Beach is a beautiful and easily accessible beach. Surrounded by headland cliffs, you can reach Second Beach via an easy 2-mile hike through old-growth rainforest. The trail eventually opens to the famed sea stacks, sprinkled with evergreens, a unique feature of coastal beaches in the Pacific Northwest.
This beach is a great place for walks, especially on days where the tide is at its lowest. Couples can explore the sea anemones, crabs and sea stars that take cover under the high tides. Second Beach is open to overnight camping and campfires (just make sure you reserve a spot ahead of time.)
Depending on the time of year, Cape Lookout is an excellent place to catch a glimpse of migrating whales. The beach is miles long, which means you can let time slip by as you and your partner slowly traverse the coast.
Cape Lookout is located right under a small network of trails that give hikers beach and ocean vistas from above — in case you want to take that beach walk view to the next level. Although beach camping is unavailable, there are many nearby camping sites available all year long (with options to rent a yurt.)
Sunsets and Sunrises
Imagine waking up with a 360-degree view of not one, but three mountain peaks. Now, imagine waking up to a rising sun that is glistening off Mount Rainier, Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens. High Hut is an alpine hut located on a steep peak in the Cascades.
The 4-mile climb up to High Hut is well worth the effort for the view. Just make it an early morning weekend hike or a cross country ski challenge.
Surrounded by Lake Coeur d’Alene, Tubbs Hill is nearly 120 acres of wilderness. The Peninsula provides beautiful views of the forests of Cougar Bay Nature Preserve just across the lake, which makes it a great place to catch a sunset. Tubbs Hill is a perfect combination of outdoor beauty with city amenities, because it overlooks the city of Coeur d’Alene.
The park has miles of trails including a 2-mile interpretive trail. Its proximity to the city means couples can catch the sunset on the lake and then head over to the city to grab some food. If the weather isn’t optimal to watch the sunset, check out Coeur d’Alene’s waterfront restaurants nearby.
Best Wine Spots
Whether you and your soulmate are on a weekend getaway or on an extended road trip through the Pacific Northwest, don’t miss Woodinville wines. Woodinville is home to more highly rated vintages than any other wine region across the globe at more than 90. Woodinville also has Washington state’s oldest winery.
Built in 1976, the French-style building was named Chateau Ste. Michelle and has produced several award-winning wines. The Chateau is just one highlight in Woodinville, as there’s an assortment of fun wine-tasting tours available as well as restaurants and outdoor activities.
Oregon’s wine country is massive. Wineries dot the Interstate 5 corridor with the Oregon Coast hugging them from the west. The grapes in Oregon are nestled between the cool ocean breeze and the Cascade range to the east, which protects them from the dry, desert climate of eastern Oregon, according to winemakers.
With more than 700 wineries lining the Willamette Valley, couples are bound to find the wine that best suits their tastes. Wineries in the valley are best known for their Pinot Noirs. After picking out the best wine, couples can head over to explore some of the best coastlines of the Pacific, like the aforementioned Cape Lookout.
Gathered around a warm fire alongside your significant other can be more special with a twinkling sky. Head to Tolmie Peak, next to Mowich and Eunice Lake in the Mount Rainier National Park.
The lookout tower is a hefty hike, but the real magic is at the campground below. After hiking up to the tower during the day and settling down for the night at Mowich campground, take in the view of the Milky Way while listening to the calming sounds of the nearby lake. The campground is first come, first served, so get there early.
The skies of Idaho are special. So special that they set the “Gold Standard” for night sky stargazing, according to the International Dark Sky Association. The region’s skies are so dark and so untouched by light pollution that it’s the only International Dark Sky reserve in the country. Currently only 16 other places in the world have earned that title.
The Sawtooth Wilderness, located right beneath that very sky, is packed with trails, campsites, lakes, and mountain ranges and forests that are quintessential to the Pacific Northwest. So, if what you’re looking for is a getaway spot with skies so dark that the blueish, purple tones of the milky way pop then head to the Sawtooth Wilderness. The sky is so dark that even the aurora borealis is visible. Check NASA for Northern Light forecasts ahead of time.
Road Trip Tips
Before you go: Get ready for your road trip with a AAA Membership. Get peace-of-mind on the road plus travel and insurance services and much more.
Save on hotels and rental cars: Unlock savings on hotels with a AAA membership. Plus, AAA members save up to 20% with Hertz.
Save on car insurance: AAA members save up to 8% on car insurance.
Get battery service: AAA Mobile Battery Service uses state-of-the-art technology to accurately diagnose battery-related problems. We’ll even replace your battery with a brand-new one if necessary, at a special member price.
Save with AAA member discounts: AAA membership gives you access to exclusive entertainment discounts nationwide.
–Written by Agueda Pacheco Flores, last updated in January 2023.
–Top photo is of Youngberg Hill, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Photo: llana Freddye/Willamettewines.com