Though filmmakers favor New York City as the setting for love stories, the smaller towns outside the city -- despite their lack of airtime -- can be just as, if not more, romantic. Charming Victorian homes, vast forests, and winding rivers throughout New York state offer boundless opportunities for relaxation, adventure, and inspiration with your other half.
Easily accessible from New York City by car or train, these five spots in the Empire State are worth including in your romantic repertoire. And with fall foliage just around the corner, now is the perfect time to go.
Just 90 miles north of New York City and a quick jaunt from the Poughkeepsie Metro-North train station, Mohonk Mountain House feels like it's a world away from the city. This enchanting Victorian castle above Lake Mohonk originally opened in 1869 and the owners have kept much of its original charm intact. Today, the 1,325-acre resort offers endless activities. Take a carriage ride, hike one of the 85 miles of nearby trails, book a spa treatment, or just relax on the veranda with cocktails in hand, watching the sunset over the mountains.
The guestrooms at Mohonk feature fireplaces and/or balconies overlooking the surrounding gardens, lake, and mountains. Guests seeking a bit more privacy may opt for one of the resort's rustic, more secluded cottages, located two miles from the Mountain House, with their own kitchens and outdoor areas.
Though it is less-frequented than other towns in the Hudson Valley, Nyack is just a short drive from New York City over the Tappan Zee Bridge -- perfect for a day trip or an overnight. (Alternatively, you can take the Metro-North from Grand Central Station to Tarrytown, and take a short cab ride to the hotel.)
The village is known for its bohemian vibe -- with colorful boutiques and cozy wine bars, like The Avida Wine Bar. Nearby, Nyack Beach State Park, which courses the Hudson River, is a popular spot for nature lovers.
The ultra modern Time Hotel just opened here, offering loft-style accommodations in a former factory. Guests can enjoy a romantic meal at the boutique property's steak and seafood restaurant BV's Grill or, in summer, spend the day in one of the hotel's poolside cabanas. The hotel is brand new, so it is still working out a few kinks, but the staff at the property is incredibly friendly and accommodating and makes sure every guest feels attended to.
Saratoga Springs, named for its access to nearby natural mineral springs, is an oasis for spa-lovers, but the town also packs a lot of excitement around its famous racetrack. In the heart of its downtown -- which is lined with tiny cafes, antique shops, and eateries -- the family-run Saratoga Arms Hotel offers the personalized feel of a B&B (including a farm-fresh breakfast daily) with the quality service of a boutique hotel. The restored Victorian home, originally constructed in 1870, features a wrap-around porch, vintage artwork, and winding staircases.
For a romantic dinner, visit the new modern steakhouse Salt & Char by award-winning chef and restaurateur Gray Kunz. Quickly becoming a hotspot for locals and visitors alike, the restaurant uses produce from local farmers in dishes like the roast rack of lamb with spiced eggplant and minted carrot sauce. A table on the terrace outside, overlooking the street lamps on Broadway, makes a sweet backdrop for the evening.
If you hear Thousand Islands and think of salad dressing, you're in dire need of a trip upstate. The region's real claims to fame are its award-winning wineries, like Coyote Moon Vineyards, its dynamic art scene, and stunning views along the St. Lawrence River.
In the village of Clayton, the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel sits on four acres overlooking the river and features the sort of service that's earned it a AAA Four-Diamond rating. A large dock next to the property, featuring 49 boat slips, makes the resort appealing to boaters and non-boaters alike. Guests who want to relax on the property can take a dip in the indoor pool and Jacuzzi, or sink into one of the resort's Adirondack chairs in front of the fire. The hotel restaurant Seaway Grille, which looks out to the water, is the perfect spot for a romantic sunset dinner.
For those who want to venture out, the 2.5-hour sightseeing cruises offered by Uncle Sam's Boat Tours in nearby Alexandria Bay are a great way to see the nearly 2,000 islands that comprise the region, with an optional stop at the turn-of-the-century Boldt Castle on Heart Island.
With quaint farm-to-table restaurants, spas, outdoor adventures, and quality live music, the Catskills offer a romantic weekend getaway that can feel as remote or as busy as you want it to. New to the area is The North Branch Inn, a historic nine-room Bed & Breakfast that comprises two small buildings: The Main Inn House, where the parlor and the Restaurant and Bar Room are located; and the Library House across the street, which has an intimate sitting area by a wood-burning stove.
Originally built in 1868, the inn has maintained its rustic romantic charm. Its restaurant utilizes fresh local ingredients and hosts occasional five-course Sunday supper clubs. Each overnight visit includes a savory and sweet breakfast buffet, as well as homemade cookies and brownies each night, adding to the intimate experience. For date night, guests can sip handcrafted cocktails at the North Branch Inn's bar and challenge each other to a bowling game at the property's 100-year-old two-lane bowling alley. You can also drive 15 minutes to the Inn’s sister property, The Arnold House, for live music and bonfires in the summer months.