Small Town Romantic Escapes

By: Lori K. Baker

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July 4, 2011

Turn any day into a special "holidate" with an Arizona romantic getaway.

About the author

Lori K. Baker

Lori K. Baker

Lori K. Baker is an award-winning journalist and nationally published writer whose work has appeared in some of the nation's top magazines - Family Circle, Glamour, Ladies' Home Journal, Parenting and others - as well as Arizona Highways, where she worked as a research editor. Writing about travel and health are her specialties. To learn more about her work, visit her Web site,

Whether you’re looking for a sweetheart deal or don’t mind dropping big bucks, here’s your guide to four out-of-the-way destinations for the perfect rendezvous a deux – places where the two of you can escape, feel deliciously alone and rekindle the flame.

Rooms with a View

It’s a timeless moment meant to be shared – gazing in awe at the vast chasm that the Colorado River sliced deep in the Earth over millennia.

El Tovar Hotel in the Grand Canyon, the grandly rustic hotel that’s equal parts Swiss chalet and Old West cabin, perches about 100 yards away from the South Rim and offers majestic views from its dining room.

Inside this grande dame of all national park lodges, you can clink glasses of Champagne over dinners of roasted duck with citrus marmalade or hand-cut grilled Black Angus New York strip as you watch the sunset paint indigo shadows across the canyon’s buttes, spires and mesas.

Built in 1905 for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and decked out with Craftsman-style furniture (down to the rocking chairs on the front porch), reproduction Remington bronzes and moose and elk trophy heads, El Tovar is an ideal spot to plot your adventures exploring the South Rim, which draws fewer crowds in the winter months.

If you plan far enough in advance, you can book a room with rim overlooks.

Uncorked and Unexpected

Great swaths of long grasses ripple in the breeze and windmills pivot lazily on the hillsides along Arizona Highway 83 leading to Sonoita and Elgin, the southernmost of Arizona’s wine regions.

Oozing the romance of the Old West, this locale has been the backdrop of movies that run the gamut from Oklahoma! and Red River to Tin Cup and Young Guns.

After exploring the local wineries, head southwest to Patagonia, where crystalline skies and the violet-tinted Santa Rita and Patagonia mountains cradle this tiny hamlet. A walnut-tree lined park ribbons through the heart of this old mining town that’s now filled with galleries and funky shops.

For an overnight stay, you might choose one of the hotels in Patagonia or a quaint bed and breakfast, such as The Duquesne House, a historic adobe that sits on the town’s original main street.

In the morning, take a long, luxurious walk through the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, a rich riparian habitat renowned for its world-class birding. The towering cottonwood trees draw rare and exotic birds such as flycatchers, thick-billed kingbirds and black phoebes…and lovebirds, of course.

Pining for Payson

Fragrant Ponderosa pines, sandstone and limestone cliffs, crisp mountain air (elevation 4,291 feet) and moonlit skies ablaze with thousands of twinkling stars. It’s pure poetry, even for novelist Zane Grey, who chose Payson’s Mogollon Rim (he called it the “Tonto Rim”) as the setting for some of his Western novels.

For a Western storybook romance, stay overnight at the Verde River Rock House Bed and Breakfast, located on a quiet private road along the banks of the scenic East Verde River.

In this Payson bed and breakfast, Belgian chocolate-dipped strawberries will await your arrival in your suite with a private massage studio, soft premium linens and a creekside deck with twin hammocks and a Jacuzzi hot tub.

For a quiet adventure built for two, pedal through town aboard a whimsical vintage Schwinn tandem bike or explore the nearby Tonto Natural Bridge, believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in North America.

Cabin Fervor

Not far from the village of Greer, nestled in the forests and meadows of the White Mountains, romantics escape to Arizona’s Hidden Meadow Ranch.

This boutique guest ranch, with spacious hand-hewn log cabins, offers an enticing Roses and Romance package that includes a candlelit rose-petal bath, chocolate-covered strawberries and a dozen roses – all in the warmth of a cozy, private cabin.

On snowy winter days, the grounds are a wonderland of pine boughs drooping with freshly fallen snow and white drifts glistening in the sun like crushed crystals – making it nearly impossible to resist sledding, snowshoeing or heading to the nearby Sunrise Ski Park for cross-country or downhill skiing or snowboarding.

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