Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and other special days are just around the corner, and folks are racking their brains for inspiration on where to take their loved one for a super romantic day, or perhaps to pop the question. The Blue Ridge Highlands region is full of lovely old inns, awe-inspiring vistas, and romantic dining spots, so it was hard to pick out just a few, but here are seven – one for each day of the week.
You hear of a lover’s leap and you get chills. Imagine loving someone enough to want to end your young lives together rather than be parted. Wouldn’t Patrick County’s lovely views at Lovers Leap make for a dramatic (or even melodramatic) place to make or re-affirm your lifetime commitment? Legend has it that a young settler and an Indian maid, Morning Flower, fell into a forbidden love affair and jumped off Lovers Leap Mountain together rather than end it. If you listen, you might hear them whispering in the wind. To make an overnight, consider nearby Primland Resort or Hotel Floyd.
Originally built in 1832 as a private residence, “the Martha,” as the Martha Washington Hotel & Spa is affectionately known, pays homage to its gracious Southern roots and historic legacy. Its fireplaces, parlors, elegantly appointed rooms, manicured grounds (where music is played and afternoon tea is served in spring) create plenty of romantic nooks, and the gazebo is reputed to have witnessed a great number of marriage proposals over the years. And if you want to pose for a post card to announcement for your friends, the Abingdon Convention & Visitors Bureau’s human-sized LOVE letters just happen to be installed on the Martha Washington lawn this season. The Martha is offering three great packages: the Barter Theatre and Spa packages, as well as the Suite Deal, featuring the Barter, spa, and champagne. Call 276-628-3161 or visit www.themartha.com.
If you’re the outdoor type, a bicycle ride or walk along this lovely trail through Washington County meadows and forest might put you in a romantic mood. The trail’s long longest trestle, crossing the confluence (get the symbolism?) of the Middle and South Forks of the Holston River is especially scenic and has hosted at least one wedding. You’ll be able to stop at quaint Alvarado Station for great barbecue.
This Radford area stone cottage is the epitome of a romantic inn buffered from the world by acres of gardens and the New River. Details are important here. From the heated towel racks to the Swedish mattresses to the light instrumental music emanating from ceiling speakers, each element contributes to a serene atmosphere. Plush robes, Italian linens, and fresh flowers intensify the pampering. The property was designed by a marital/sexual therapist with a keen sensitivity to comfort and sensuousness. The Oriental Lily suite features a Japanese soaking tub, gurgling waterfall, and a dimly-lit loft bedroom in earth tones. The Lily of the Valley room includes a fireplace above the soaking tub. The Enchanted Garden room feels like the Garden of Eden. (540) 731-4970; www.nesselrod.com
The sweeping vista from the Roanoke Star on Mill Mountain makes for a prime location for big thoughts and long range plans. Mill Mountain’s overlook provides a wide view of Roanoke, with an observation deck spacious enough to get down on one knee. A visit during the daytime gives you the view and access to Mill Mountain Zoo and hiking trails. But from twilight until midnight, you can enjoy the illumination of 2,000 feet of red, white, and blue neon tubing on the 6-story star. All set for starry-eyed romance?
Do it up a bit in the city? The most posh hotel in Roanoke would be Hotel Roanoke, a national landmark built in 1882. Its guest list boasts of Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Britney Spears. It even offers romance packages that include a room with a view, strawberries and wine, breakfast for two (either in the dining room or room service) and a late checkout. Their elegant Regency Room dining area has just been remodeled, and they have dancing to live music Valentine’s Day and the weekend afterward. With elegant parlors, passages, and cubbyholes everywhere, there are so, so many romantic spots in Hotel Roanoke. (540) 985-5900 www.hotelroanoke.com
Cascades’ diamond-shower waters may seem to numb the logical of the brain, whether you take a dip or not. The pounding majesty of this 69-foot waterfall and boulder-strewn creek in Jefferson National Forest is just that beautiful. What better place for romantic pronouncements than at the foot of one of the most gorgeous falls in the Southeast. Either way you arrive, by the streamside Lower Trail or the more aerobically challenging Upper Trail, your adrenaline will be up – and that’s all the better for romance. Round the last cabin-sized boulder and there you are, staring as the magnificent falls leaps over a rock ledge into misty mayhem below. The next thing you say will be important.