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Six Adventurous Valentine's Day Trips

Ditch the roses and chocolate

Ditch the roses and chocolate

Goal: To Travel

Go big on Valentine’s Day. Because nothing says true love like a trip to Machu Picchu. Spend a week hiking through rugged and remote mountain villages in the Peruvian Andes. Mountain Lodges of Peru offers customizable five- or seven-day, lodge-to-lodge hiking trips [from $3,240, all inclusive] for couples, where you’ll spend your days exploring archeological Inca sites and logging miles through the mountains and your nights in luxury lodges, complete with outdoor hot tubs, private chefs, and Peruvian cooking classes. 

Goal: To Relax

You and yours truly will head to Wilbur Hot Springs in a remote corner of northern California—about two and a half hours from San Francisco—for one reason and one reason only: to unplug (there’s no cell reception and no wifi). The place is part health center, part spa, part Japanese-style onsen retreat. There’s a reason the sign on the road in says, “Time to slow down.” Book a room in the hotel or a private cabin [from $235], then spend your days doing yoga, getting a massage, cooking in the communal kitchen, and soaking in the outdoor mineral hot springs, which are said to be therapeutic for mind and body.  

Goal: To Ski

Head to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where a ski trip for two can include everything from blower powder to mountain-top peanut-butter-and-bacon waffles to a sleigh ride through an elk refuge. The Bentwood Inn, a cozy log cabin lodge, offers four- and five-night winter ski packages [from $1,470 for two] for two that include lavish accommodations, ski passes, dinners and breakfasts, fresh chocolate chip cookies, and yes, a moonlit sleigh ride. 

Goal: To Learn Something New

Sure, you could go out for white tablecloth dinner on Valentine’s Day, along with everyone else. Or the two of you could learn how to whip up balsamic beer French onion soup or chocolate pots du crème from world-class chefs at the Cook Academy at the Essex, a culinary resort in Burlington, Vermont. The hotel offers a romantic getaway package that includes meals, a couples’ massage, and a bottle of sparkling wine.

Goal: To Go Rustic

At the Doe Bay Resort on Washington’s Orcas Island, you can pitch a tent, book a charmingly rustic cabin, or stay in a glorified yurt or dome overlooking the coastline. In the winter, bring your own bedding to winter camp in the domes or choose one of their powered and heated yurts for a less rugged experience. An on-site café serves food from the resort’s own organic garden and on Valentine’s Day weekend, a live folk/rock concert will take place in the evenings. Want to glam up the trip a bit? Skip the ferry ride and reserve two seats in a seaplane from Seattle’s Lake Union.

Filed To: Valentine's Day / Hiking and Backpacking
Nicolas Henderson/Creative Commons )

San Marcos, Texas

Billed as the world’s toughest canoe race, the Texas Water Safari, held each June, is a four-day, 260-mile jaunt from the headwaters of the San Marcos River northeast of San Antonio to the small shrimping town of Seadrift on the Gulf Coast. There’s no prize money—just bragging rights for the winner. Any boat without a motor is allowed, and you’ll have to carry your own equipment and overnight gear. Food and water are provided at aid stations along the way. Entry fees start at $175 and increase as race day approaches.

The Ring

(Courtesy Quatro Hubbard)

Strasburg, Virginia

The Ring is a 71-mile trail running race in early September along the entire length of Virginia’s rough and rocky Massanutten Trail loop. To qualify, you need to have run a 50- or 100-mile race before the event and win a spot through the lottery system. Entry is free. Complete the run and you’ll become part of the tight-knit Fellowship of the Ring and be eligible for the Reverse Ring, which entails running the trail backwards in the middle of winter.


(David Silver)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Each spring, competitors gather in Santa Fe’s historic plaza with a simple goal: be the first to reach 12,308-foot Deception Peak, 17 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain away. Competitors run or bike the first 15 miles to the local ski area before transitioning to their waiting ski-touring setups for the final push to the top. Time stops only when they’ve skied back down to the tailgate in the resort’s parking lot, which is funded by the modest entry fee of around $25. To add to the sufferfest, some participants sign up for the Expedition category, in which they strap their skis, skins, boots, and poles to their bikes for the long ride up. Start dates vary depending on snow conditions, but look for the event page to be posted on Facebook in late March or early April.

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