It’s easy for couples to get wrapped up in the fast pace of life and forget to spend quality, unplugged time together. Birthdays are the perfect occasion to pick a spot on the map, forget your hassles and reconnect. We believe that celebrating each other is key, and we also believe in doing it on a budget that actually suits you. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of romantic and affordable destinations for your next getaway together, plus free activities to put on the itinerary. For each of the gems we’ve uncovered, a little research on vacation rentals and last-minute availability in budget hotels will deliver accommodation results that won’t shatter the bank. We’re actually jealous we’re not going with you.
Cozy up in this historic seaside town with your favorite person. Easily one of the state’s most picturesque coastal delights, you’ll love Portland for its dedication to the arts, its buzzing dining scene and its sheer charm. If you do nothing more than stroll around the Old Port, hike just one of the city’s 70 miles worth of trails and end the day with a delicious seafood dinner overlooking the sea, we think you’ll be thrilled.
If you make it there on the first Friday of the month, you’ve done well. Portland’s art galleries and museums open their doors for free and Congress Street comes to life with live music, performances, and local vendors for Art & About. No stress if not: marvel at the Portland Public Library (it’s truly something else), swim or kayak at East End Beach, explore the Portland Fire Museum, wander around the Casco Bay Islands, or fly a kite together at the lovely Bug Light Park all…for free.
We dare you to not be charmed by Georgia’s oldest city. Savannah’s historic River Street will get you gasping, but that’s only the beginning. The eccentricity and authenticity of Savannah, its antebellum architecture and horse-drawn carriages make it the perfect spot for a couple of days of romance, and we promise you don’t need to be a ghost hunter or preservationist to enjoy it.
Try to make it to Forsyth Park in Savannah’s Historic District on a Sunday morning for a Farmers’ Market that will give your local one a run for its money. If you’re into markets, continue to City Market where simply strolling through the open-air scene is just as fun as throwing down your credit card. Take a free cruise on the Savannah Belles Ferry to get a glimpse of the Southern city from the water. And of course, if you’re inclined, you can’t miss Savannah’s eerie graveyards.
Asheville, North Carolina
The Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway are markers for this gorgeous mountain town, which – with its unexpectedly amazing art scene – doubles as the perfect romantic retreat. Fall is undeniably the best time to visit Asheville, when the reddened leaves and cool temperatures make the vibe cozier than ever. Set yourselves up here and pack a picnic for breathtaking drives along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Stroll through downtown Asheville where the Grove Arcade has been restored to its original 1929 grandeur. Meander along the River Arts District and relax in Pack Square Park, where if you’re lucky you’ll catch a festival or outdoor concert. If you’re history buffs, you can’t miss the incredible Biltmore Estate. Bring your hiking boots for some more serious exploring outside town, or simply enjoy the city’s own historical delights together.
It’s not just a gaggle of luxurious resorts, we promise! With stunning architecture and epic coastal scenery, Monterey can’t be missed and can easily be done on a shoestring budget. Accommodation options are aplenty in the popular Californian town, which is the perfect hub for exploring the surrounding coast and national parks.
Wander around the Monterey Bay Aquarium, or put on your sneakers for a stroll through the picturesque and photo-worthy Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Hold hands and gawk at the adorable Carmel-by-the-Sea, a seaside village lined with cobblestone streets and tiny stores and cafes. Pack a picnic and pick a spot on the miles upon miles of beautiful beaches, or hop in your rental car, pick a playlist and cruise along the famed Big Sur coastline.
They say the energy is different in Sedona. Nestled between striking red sandstone formations in the desert, there must be a reason this Arizona desert town has attracted an extraordinary number of artists, musicians, and culture lovers. Camp, or pick yourselves a cute motel or Airbnb, and see how long it takes you to reach your best zen state.
Take time out to reflect together at Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park. Start yourselves a tiny band at Freenotes Harmony Park, where a whole host of outdoor musical instruments offer a different take on finding your harmony. Hop in your rental car and cruise along the 7.5 miles worth of Red Rock Scenic Byway. Hike the Red Rock State Park together, explore the Vortexes, and finish off with a cool beverage in a hot tub somewhere.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Some call Santa Fe the creative arts capital; we understand why. Take your favorite person to New Mexico’s capital for a weekend guaranteed to take you a step back in time, quench your cultural thirst and charm your heart. A countless array of accommodation options make this city perfectly viable for the budget-savvy traveler.
Your romantic weekend must include a few hours of gallery hopping along Canyon Road, where countless artists work and display art from their studios. Don’t miss the Museum of Contemporary Native Art (where admission is only $5). Explore the Pueblo-style architecture that lines the streets of Santa Fe, and hang out in the city’s Plaza where you’ll be delighted by live music as well as cheap, made-to-order fajitas. Definitely pack your hiking boots to explore the outlying trails, like the Atalaya Mountain Trail or La Tierra.
Sanibel Island, Florida
Get ready for sunsets, lighthouses, and stunning ocean views. The secluded and much quieter offshoot of Fort Myers will win you both over, we’re sure of it. Pack your comfiest seaside getup and prepare to do a whole lot of beach strolling and hand-holding. Periwinkle Way will charm you with its shabby chic vibe and countless galleries, restaurants and bars, and that’s just the start.
If you like nostalgic fun, you can’t miss out on a wander down Bowman’s Beach, famed for its epic shell collecting. Line your pockets with gems and continue to Captiva Island for even more romantic beach exploring. Sample the town’s seafood offerings, for which it is rightfully well known. Get a dose of history at the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village and if animals are your thing (you’re human, aren’t you?), take a roam through the mangroves at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
No matter where you travel to celebrate your birthday this year, the most important thing is spending quality time with the one you love. Hopefully this guide has you inspired to make your next getaway one that you’ll both remember for years to come. Looking for more birthday planning inspiration? Check out this guide to 5 unique and affordable ways to celebrate your birthday!