Romance comes alive with sunshine and beautiful scenery, as indicated by the winners of our 10Best Readers Choice contest for Best Anniversary Destination. Readers of 10Best and USA TODAY cast their votes over a four-week period and the results are in.
Couples looking to do more than just laze on the beach – though there is that option – love St. Lucia for its wealth of activities, including hiking in the lush interior, diving offshore reefs, whale-watching in Vigie Cove or unwinding in the sulfur springs of Soufrière. Pair all that with some of the Caribbean's most luxurious digs, and St. Lucia becomes simply irresistible. Photo courtesy of iStock/Thinkstock
Charleston, South Carolina
Historic Charleston, with its cobblestone streets and moss-draped oaks, is often regarded by media as the most romantic city in America. The city is actually geared for adults, and especially for couples, who find romantic lodging, beautiful scenery, horse-drawn carriages, world-class food and a setting which lends itself to intimacy. From beautiful plantations and dramatic cemeteries to ancient churches and waterfront promenades, Charleston offers up one beautiful setting after another. Photo courtesy of iStock/Thinkstock
The City of Love earned its nickname for a reason. After all, what better place to steal a kiss from the one you love than from atop the Eiffel Tower, or perhaps while cruising the Seine. Couples can also share a bottle of red at a sidewalk cafe in picture-perfect Montmartre. But what keeps hopeless romantics coming back again and again is the sense of timelessness and grandeur that can be found in Paris, even off the beaten track. Photo courtesy of iStock/Thinkstock
Tiny Telluride, with its hip vibe and laissez-faire attitude, is the perfect place to cozy up to someone special. Its walkable downtown invites exploration and there's a handsome bar or cozy fireplace around every corner. Add in world-class food, great shopping, unlimited opportunities for recreation or spa time, and you've got the makings of a very memorable couples getaway. Sunset on the mountains at the east end of Colorado Avenue is not one you'll forget. Photo courtesy of D.J. Henson
Hundreds of romances – on the silver screen and in real life – have played out on the bridges, canals and piazzas of Venice, Italy's City of Light. Even its most iconic attraction, a gondola ride along the Grand Canal, seems made for lovers. With more works of art per square mile than practically anywhere else on the planet, it's obvious that Venice is a seasoned veteran in the arts of inspiration and seduction. Photo courtesy of iStock/Thinkstock
Amalfi Coast, Italy
With colorful villas clinging to the cliffs, pebbled beaches, hidden grottos, clifftop vistas and sun-kissed piazzas, Italy's Amalfi Coast offers as many flavors of romance as there are gelato. Couples love this 31-mile stretch of coastline along the Sorrentine Peninsula for its visual variety – precariously perched Positano, medieval Amalfi, clifftop Ravello and ancient Paestum all delight lovers. Photo courtesy of iStock/Thinkstock
Montreal, North America's most European city, brings all the fairy-tale romance of Paris without a transatlantic journey. Anyone who'd been to this lovely French Canadian city knows just how romantic it can be, particularly during the winter months. When temperatures drop, Montreal transforms into a postcard-perfect Christmas village complete with sleigh rides and skating rinks where couples glide along hand in hand. But summer offers dining al fresco, concerts and beautiful strolling. Photo courtesy of iStock/Thinkstock
Multicolored cliffs covered with whitewashed villas spilling down toward the azure waters of the Aegean Sea – Santorini is a sight to see, and a sight many consider to be the pinnacle of beauty in the undeniably beautiful Greek Isles. Anyone who's graced Santorini's shores knows you don't have to look far for romance; it's in the sunsets watched from a rooftop bar in Oia; in the sultry mud baths of Palea Kameni volcano; in the city's vibrant nightlife; and its multi-hued beaches. Photo courtesy of iStock/Thinkstock
Sedona's breathtaking setting is so dramatic, it instantly pushes real-world thoughts far, far away, setting up the perfect opportunity for romance. Whether hiking through red rock canyons or relaxing in a peaceful spa is more in tune with a couple's style, they easily find a way to luxuriate in free time while in Sedona. Savvy romantics know to head to airport road for sunset from atop the rocks, but intimate lodging, dining, nightlife and spa options are abundant here. Photo courtesy of iStock/Thinkstock
Couples who prefer romance paired with secret waterfalls come to Kauai to enjoy the unharnessed natural beauty of Hawaii's oldest island. Kauai trades in high heels, nightclubs and shopping malls for hiking boots, pristine beaches and majestic cliffs. Its romance factor is undeniable. Just ask Elvis, who (fictionally) tied the knot here in his 1962 film Blue Hawaii. Photo courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson
The winners in the 'Best Anniversary Trip' contest category for 10Best Readers' Choice are as follows:
Carley Roney is cofounder and chief content officer of XO Group Inc. (NYSE: XOXO; www.xogroupinc.com), a global media and technology leader devoted to weddings, pregnancy and everything in between. After the nightmare of planning her own wedding, Roney and her partners founded The Knot in 1996 and quickly took the wedding world by storm. Today, The Knot Wedding Network (also encompassing the leading gift registry website WeddingChannel.com) reaches nearly every U.S. bride annually on the web, in magazines and books, on television, and through social media and mobile applications. Inspired by thousands of loyal users, Roney created The Nest and The Bump brands for young couples and first-time parents–offering multi-media content, tools, and community platforms designed specifically for the unique needs of couples setting up homes and getting ready for baby.
As President of The Tropical Travelers, Jennifer Byrne has been creating memorable vacations for 19 years. Since founding the company in 2001, her passion for travel has served her clients well. Jennifer has extensive expertise in planning honeymoons and vacations throughout the tropics. Jennifer has worked closely with Tripology for a number of years, as well as previously sitting on their board and speaking to the travel industry on their behalf. She has also been named one of Travel Agent magazine’s Top 25 Travel Agents in 2012.
Emma Jupp, president of Liberty Travel, has nearly two decades of history in the travel industry. Jupp oversees 170 of Liberty Travel’s businesses, 900 consultants and a corporate team of marketing and social media executives. Her team opened Liberty Travel's innovative flagship on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Jupp’s passion for the travel agent community dates back to 1995 when she became a travel consultant.
Malaka Hilton is recognized for her expertise as a creator of leading-edge and escorted travel experiences throughout the world. In addition to operating Virtuoso-member travel agency Admiral Travel International since 1997, she launched an experiential tour company, AuthentEscapes, in 2008 to serve bucket list travelers in search of intrepid, exotic and culinary-focused trips. Ms. Hilton maintains a portfolio of high-profile clients, business partners and celebrated AuthentEscapes hosts such as Salvatore Ferragamo and Hawaiian Fusion Chef Roy Yamaguchi. Malaka's savvy for business and passion for travel have elevated her to prominence among her Virtuoso peers, distinguishing ATI among the best of the best as a winner of Virtuoso’s prestigious Chairman’s Award in numerous years.