Travel is romantic just like pizza is delicious. Broken down into its most basic ingredients: you’re visiting somewhere different (the dough), inspiring (tomato), beautiful (cheese) and exciting (spices). It’s so good you’re compelled to want to share it with someone special. Which is to say: travelling is a dish that twangs the heartstrings, and more pertinently: I must remember to eat before I start writing a new column.
In honour of the 14th day of the second month — designated a global celebration of love — here’s some handpicked ideas around the country for a Bucket List Canadian Valentine’s Day — and beyond.
Escape to Rockwater Secret Cove
With its luxury tent-houses, hydrotherapy soaker tubs, heated floors and ocean views, Rockwater Secret Cove used to be my secret romantic getaway. Then word got out and the resort became deservedly popular. Also, I got married and had kids, so cheeky weekend getaways now mean my wife and I get to watch one and a half episodes of whatever show is trying to be the next Game of Thrones.
Ski into Skoki Lodge
Romance means many things to many different people. For some, it’s roses and chocolates. For others, it’s cross-country skiing 11 kilometres through a UNESCO World Heritage Park over two mountain passes to rustic wooden cabins with no electricity or running water. Skoki is world renowned for its tranquility, hospitality, and a remoteness that would leave even the most determined paparazzo in the powder. This is why William and Kate visited during their one night off during a busy official visit to Canada shortly after they got married.
Starbathe in a Dark Sky Preserve
We don’t look up at the stars nearly enough. Canada has 20 Dark Sky Preserves, 13 of which are managed by Parks Canada. These are areas that are protected from artificial light and therefore ideal for astronomy — and cuddling up on a blanket, contemplating eternity. Many Dark Sky Preserves are a surprisingly easy road-trip from major population centres, although of course it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the weather before packing up the car.
Soak in Silence at Nordik Spa-Nature
No words can describe the relaxing feeling of floating in a warm saltwater pool located in a low-lit underground chamber. In fact, no words should be spoken: that’s one of the rules at Chelsea, Que.’s Nordik Spa-Nature, which bills itself as the largest spa in North America. Much like their sister property, Thermëa in Winnipeg, it’s an immaculate complex of pools, saunas, massages and steam rooms for true couples therapy.
[Your Name] and the Chocolate Factory
Romance comes in many forms, and for my wife, its ultimate form is chocolate. I appreciate a good slab of cocoa, but the beans elevate her soul. If you share the sentiment, consider a chocolate tour at one of the many fine chocolatiers around the country. Erico’s Chocolate Museum is just one of several top-notch chocolate escapes in Quebec City. You can join an Ultimate Chocolate Tour with Tasty Tours in Toronto, or drive out to Niagara for the CFX Chocolate Factory Experience. Not all chocolate tours are created equal. True story: my wife once faked labour so we could escape a particularly terrible chocolate tour in Vancouver.
Under the Covered Bridge
Hartland, N.B. has the world’s longest covered bridge, a throwback to a golden age of bridges when all sides were covered to protect both bridge and occupants from the elements. It also afforded the only privacy young couples might find from the prying eyes of their minders. The longer the bridge, the longer the snog, so to speak. Today, the traffic must keep flowing inside this National Historic Site, but a century of sneaky glances, held hands, flushed cheeks and smacking lips has left a romantic legacy. Couples can take their time and steal a smooch on the adjacent walkway.
Toast the Northern Lights
A short plane ride (or longer snowmobile ride for more adventurous couples) from Yellowknife is the Blachford Lake Lodge, a luxury retreat ideal for romantic winter aurora watching. Guests can stay in the main lodge or rent their own cabin, with access to groomed Nordic trails, ice fishing and snowmobile rentals. At night, the Northern Lights can be marvelled at from the comfort of the hot tub, fireplace, or even under the duvet cover. No wonder this time of year is popular for marriage proposals.