Travel guides find romance in unlikely places
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- You could always do roses, champagne and a candlelit meal in an overpriced eatery.
Or maybe this is the Valentine's Day to think outside the box of chocolates -- skating to the zoo, say, or taking in a puppet show.
Whether you're sticking close to home to honor the patron saint of love or hitting the road for a post-Valentine's outing, there are all kinds of ways to be romantic without relying on the tried and true.
"Too often people just think there are romantic restaurants and romantic bars, and that's it, and maybe romantic hotels," said Cynthia Hacinli, co- author of "Romantic Days and Nights in Washington, D.C." "There's more to every city than that."
The Washington guide is part of a 16-book series from Globe Pequot Press devoted to romantic outings in cities across North America. Love stops include Atlanta, Georgia; Houston, Texas; Montreal and Vancouver in Canada; Chicago, Illinois; Los Angeles, California; and New York.
Targeting travelers, locals
Hacinli, who wrote the book with her husband, William S.D. Connor, geared the book both to travelers and Washington residents.
"People in this city, and this is true of any urban city, are often very busy and don't have time to think about romance," said Hacinli, a restaurant critic and food and wine editor for Washingtonian magazine.
"We sort of put the book together as little adventures you could have together, whether visiting from out of town or actually living in the city."
Among the adventures in their book, Hacinli and Connor recommended donning skates for a trip to the National Zoo.
"In-line skating is one of your better sports for couples," they write. "You can hold hands. If one of you falls down -- bound to happen -- the other can provide solace."
Other segments include a "Paris on the Potomac" itinerary, a tour of the National Gallery, and "When East Met West," a look at Asian Washington.
The premise behind the guides, said Laura Strom, the series' executive editor, is simple: Cities are even more exciting when you can share them with a loved one.
"We wanted to make the guides appeal to all different kinds of romantics, so the themes of the getaways are pretty diverse -- everything from picnicking in the park and tandem kayaking to museum and theater-going to taking in a local ballgame," she said.
Other suggestions in the series include visiting the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, enjoying an intimate picnic on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, or admiring Georgia O'Keeffe's artwork in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The New Orleans guide features "A Cook's Tour for Lusty Appetites," while the New York book includes a "Moonstruck" itinerary and one called "Romance? In Brooklyn? Who Knew?"
Exploring something new
Part of the appeal lies in the way they're written, Strom said.
"We tried to avoid the 'hearts and flowers' brand of romance in favor of a more sophisticated -- but fun -- voice," she said.
Hacinli said a key to romantic adventure, no matter where you are, is the readiness to explore new places.
"Romance is risky, so maybe the thing that stokes the romance is to take risks together, not dangerous risks but maybe little risks," she said. "So many people I know are always going back to the same haunts and same places, and I think that gets you in a rut -- and death to romance."
Ship it to me, valentine
The Globe Pequot Press
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