How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day Like a Royal

Valentine’s Day is hours away but visiting a romantic destination can make any day a day filled with hearts and flowers. “I believe anyplace can be romantic if you’re a romantic person,” said Guilia, a lovely tour guide in Venice, Italy who led me to the Grand Canal for an iconic gondola ride and also showed me the fish market near Rialto Bridge. Indeed, the boat ride with the singing gondolier through the scenic canals and under the “Bridge of Sighs” was romantic (even though I was alone), but a fish market…romantic? Why not, mi bella amore?

Royal romance: a ride past Buckingham Palace in the Queen Mother's vintage Daimler.

Royal romance: a ride past Buckingham Palace in the Queen Mother’s vintage Daimler.

Given the blessings of my travel experiences, just in time for Valentines Day, or any day, here are some of my recommendations for romantic travel in addition to Venice:

The Island of Kauai – Being the earthiest and most laid back of the Hawaiian Islands doesn’t mean it isn’t romantic. Sweeping sunsets views at the Princeville St. Regis Hotel, kayaking, couples’ massages, and, at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, a huge natural grotto pool explain the “Tiki Man’s” permanent grin! Dine on purple sweet potatoes on the patio at Tahiti Nui, the restaurant seen in the George Clooney movie “The Descendants,” between Princeville and the Napali Coast.

Chicago – She loves shopping at the Water Tower Place; and you love Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza, so it’s the art of compromise, which every enduring romance needs. “Tilt” from the “360 Chicago” observation deck high atop the John Hancock building, will get your heart pumping if her credit card charges and your artery-clogging pizza cheese haven’t. Cap it all off with a ride aboard the Sea Dog speedboat, which leaves from Navy Pier and bombs out into the lake for views of the Windy City’s skyline, including your love nest at the Peninsula Hotel, and fireworks.

Traverse City – An overnight, guest suite stay in the manor at Chateau Chantal will have you feeling like the lord of the vineyard, especially when the daytime tourists have gone and you can quietly pour all the wine you wish in the otherwise bustling tasting room – with views of both the east and west bay down below.

South Beach – Book The Breakwater art deco hotel, across Ocean Drive from Miami Beach, and embrace your wildness with a Latin flair by washing down plantains with mojitos all afternoon. Live music and partying starts late night in the hotel’s open-air courtyard, plus seeing the bar-top salsa dancing at Mango’s will fire up your libido, as may the oysters at Joe’s Stone Crab – both nearby.

London, England – Be chauffer-driven past Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey – site of Prince William and Kate’s romantic wedding – in a vintage Daimler once owned by the Queen Mother herself – thanks to the roaring 20’s themed-Beaumont Hotel, in Mayfair, which offers guests rides. You can say “yes to the dress” and view a display of the late Princess Diana’s dresses at Kensington Palace, or view all of “Jolly Old” from atop of the London Eye, a weatherproof Ferris wheel on the Thames near Big Ben.

Michael Patrick Shiels may be contacted at or via His talk show can be heard weekday mornings in Lansing on 92.1 FM.

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