Published February 06, 2014
Valentine’s Day is a lovely holiday, but it isn’t generally considered a day for travel. This year, though, it falls on the Friday before Presidents Day, so many Americans are planning to turn a three-day weekend into a four-day one and take a short trip.
According to our latest American Travel Behavior Survey, 42.3 million American adults said they'd prefer to plan a weekend trip around Valentine's Day more than any other "non-major" holiday of the year, and what’s great is that taking a trip at this time of year is more affordable than travelers might think, as many destinations are in their off-season.
That means there are some stellar deals to be found on our list of the most popular Valentine’s Day destinations of 2014.
1.) New York City
Topping the list is New York, which also sat atop the list of the most popular 2014 destinations in my most recent piece and is a spectacular place to spend the holiday. The city is home to some of the finest dining options in the world and offers a wide variety of options for an unforgettable date night.
When it comes to romantic getaways, there are few better places for a date than on the Observation Deck of the Empire State Building at sunset, or at a world-class steakhouse like Del Frisco’s. And since a large number of new hotel rooms are currently being added, prices are expected to stay low into and after the February holiday.
Sample deal: $121 per night for a 4-star hotel in the Midtown Central area.
2.) Las Vegas
One of the reasons Las Vegas is always popular during Valentine’s Day is because of the variety of options it offers, along with great hotel values. Vegas has more romantic options than almost any other city on this list, with upscale dining and world-class entertainment to be found throughout the long weekend.
Even better is that many of the most romantic experiences are free; you don’t have to pay anything to catch the beautiful fountains at the Bellagio or take your picture under the Eiffel Tower replica at Paris. Of course, visitors willing to spend a little can always take a ride on the gondolas of the Venetian, or check out one of the many Cirque du Soleil shows.
Sample deal: $100 per night for a 4-star hotel in The Strip - South area.
Unlike Las Vegas, The Windy City isn’t likely to be temperate during Valentine’s Day weekend, but who lets the cold get in the way of a night on the town? Couples and singles alike will find themselves right at home in Chicago, which offers some fantastic midwinter events for the explorer in all of us. In addition to mainstay landmarks like Navy Pier, the Willis Tower and the reflective metal “Cloud Gate” sculpture in Millennium Park, visitors will find plenty to see and eat in this crown jewel of the Midwest.
For the discerning theatergoer, Valentine’s Day falls during Chicago’s Theater Week 2014, making it the perfect time to catch a high-quality live show. Hotel prices are extremely low over the long weekend – with nightly rates under $80.
Sample deal: $78 per night for a 4-star hotel in the Chicago Loop – Theater District area
4.) Orlando, Fla.
Like New York and Las Vegas, Orlando is one of the top destinations for travel year-round, mostly owing to its great weather, attractions and affordable hotel rooms. For many travelers, theme parks like the Walt Disney World Resort offer the pinnacle of romantic experiences – with multiple parks to match any dream date. But amusement parks aren’t the only thing Orlando offers; the city is dotted with hundreds of lakes, there are some fantastic natural sights to behold and visitors can enjoy a lakeside dinner date at one of many upscale restaurants.
Sample deal: $64 per night for a 4-star hotel in the SeaWorld – I-drive South area.
5.) San Francisco
The City by the Bay is definitely a sought-after travel destination, and though most of that popularity is owed to landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf, there’s a lot more for visitors on the long Valentine’s Day weekend. From an evening kayak in the bay to an urban wine tasting session to a night on the town at the city’s famous JAZZ Center, the options are endless.
Sample deal: $133 per night for a 3.5-star hotel in the Union Square East area.
6.) Los Angeles
The City of Angels will always be a popular destination, with warmer weather, miles of beaches and world-renowned entertainment. As we dive deeper into the New Year, LA is looking to maintain its relatively low hotel prices, even during times like Valentine’s Day. And like many of the cities on this list, it offers a variety of activities for couples and singles alike.
For lovebirds, there are beautiful vistas at romantic spots like The Huntington Gardens and Library in San Marino and The Getty Museum in Brentwood. For singles who want to celebrate being non-coupled, LA offers fun “Anti-Valentine’s Day” celebrations, like the one at “Birds” restaurant in Hollywood.
Sample deal: $111 per night for a 4-star hotel in the El Segundo – Manhattan Beach area.
7.) Washington, D.C.
The nation’s capital is a fantastic spot to celebrate both Valentine’s Day and President’s Day, especially if you’re a history buff. Aside from the usual attractions – the White House, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and the Capitol – visitors can try a slew of other experiences, like a dinner cruise on the Potomac River or a special “Chocolate Tour” through the D.C. Metro area.
Visitors during the long weekend can also catch the George Washington Birthday Parade, which marches through the Old Town area of Alexandria, Va., and gives some historic flavor to an already spectacular, affordable trip.
Sample deal: $81 per night for a 4-star hotel in the White House – Downtown area.
This desert city may be the most surprising destination on the list, but we’ve been pushing this gem since last year as a top “Sleeper City” for its great deals and attractions. Active couples can hike one of Phoenix’s many trails, including The Apache Trail and Camelback Mountain. Afterward, there are some prime romantic date spots to be found, including the Compass Arizona Grill, a revolving restaurant that sits atop the Hyatt Regency Phoenix.
Sample deal: $96 per night for a 4-star hotel in the Scottsdale area.
9.) San Diego
It’s clear from our list that many travelers enjoy spending Valentine’s Day in warm-weather locations. Though San Diego may not offer the theme-park attractions that Orlando does, it delivers on every other romantic aspect, with top-notch spas at places like the Hyatt Regency in the Mission Bay area, and a dinner-and-music option at the San Diego House of Blues. During the day, couples can pay a visit to the famous San Diego Zoo or the scenic Hotel del Coronado.
Sample deal: $125 per night for a 4-star hotel in the SeaWorld – Mission Bay – Shelter Island area.
Much like Vegas, Miami is primarily known for being a party destination. Luckily, that’s not the only thing it shares with Sin City, as its scenic beaches and romantic settings make it a prime Valentine’s Day location. Couples can spend their evening on a luxury dinner cruise; these are hugely popular and can be found departing from North Miami Beach on the big night. Others can stop in for a high-end meal at one of the city’s many upscale restaurants, like the decked-out dining options of The Forge Restaurant in Miami Beach.
Sample deal: $139 per night for a 3.5-star hotel in the Miami Lakes – Hialeah North area.
Hotel sample rates are based on searches made on Hotwire.com on 1/28/14 for stays 2/14 – 2/17/14.