There are still a few weeks to go before Valentine’s Day, but it’s never too early to start planning the romance. And because you’re getting ready now, you can do more than just a heart-shaped box of chocolate and flowers—though we know couples always appreciate those tried-and-true gestures.
This year, take advantage of what our great state has to offer and turn the holiday into a little day trip. Here are a couple of ideas.
Make a reservation at Chart House in Weehawken. A candlelit dinner is a must for Valentine’s Day couples, and this restaurant along the Hudson River checks off all the boxes for a romantic evening. First impressions alone will make the night, with a waterside stroll to the entrance setting the mood. Inside the main dining room, where a recent remodeling project modernized and brightened the décor, floor-to-ceiling windows line the perimeter and offer an unobstructed panorama of the New York City skyline. Dimly lit chandeliers overhead and the twinkling lights across the river add to the ambience when the sun sets. The food, too, makes a lasting impression: Share with an order of aphrodisiacal oysters on the half shell to start, then feast on a selection of steaks and seafood dishes.
Take a stroll through Cape May. Being romantic isn’t just about love; it’s also about enjoying a charmed life. Visualize more idyllic times when you and your sweetheart walk hand-in-hand through the historic district of this Jersey Shore town. Here, you can marvel the architectural character of the Victorian style buildings, including elaborate mansions, mom-and-pop shops and enduring hotels. Congress Hall, for instance, was first built in 1816 and underwent several restoration projects, though much of the original style was preserved, including a three-story veranda with mansard roof. And of course, there’s Cape May’s beach, where you can cuddle with a loved one under a blanket or take a walk to the nearby Cape May Lighthouse.
Book a stay at the Grand Cascades Lodge in Hamburg. There are countless places to spend a romantic night in New Jersey, but this Adirondack-style hotel, part of the Crystal Springs Resort within the Kittatinny Mountains, is a must for all couples. Once inside, you’ll fall in love with the dark wooden beams, natural stonework and high ceilings as well as the rustic palette of green, brown, yellow and red. And all new suites—created by New York City-based INC Architecture & Design—take luxury living to the next level, with amenities like gas fireplaces available for both the living room and outdoor patio. A deluxe shower, bathtub, gourmet kitchen and more come in every room, so you and your sweetheart may never leave.
Enjoy a show at The Strand Theater in Lakewood. The historic theater celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2022, and it’s never looked better. Though originally built for vaudeville acts in the 1920s—and later expanded to host acts like Don McLean, George Carlin and Taylor Swift—the Strand and its Art Deco-style architecture have always been the star of the show. With 1,032 plush seats spread out over multiple tiers, visitors have several vantage points from which to take in the scenery of the theater, from the proscenium arch to the grand chandelier. Added to the List of Registered Historic Places in New Jersey in 1981, the theater underwent a full, 10-year renovation to modernize and restore that was completed in 2003.
Taste the wines at Brook Hollow Winery in Columbia. A trip to a vineyard need not be a summer activity only, and that’s because festivities at this Warren County winery take place all year round. You and your sweetheart can sample the home-grown vinos (by the glass or bottle) any day of the week—just grab a perch inside the rustic, 4,000-square-foot barn-style tasting room. The wooden facility offers unobstructed views of the vineyards and nearby Delaware Water Gap; get a closer look and add an element of romance by stepping outdoors onto the wraparound porch. If weather permits, take your glass and your significant other to the attached cedar gazebo, a 20×20 space that’s perfect for an intimate moment.