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Choose your own romantic adventure

By Jessica DuLong, Special to CNN
February 9, 2012 -- Updated 1921 GMT (0321 HKT)
The antebellum Greek-revival style big house and grounds of the Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, draw history and architecture buffs. The antebellum Greek-revival style big house and grounds of the Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, draw history and architecture buffs.
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Oak Alley Plantation, Vacherie, Louisiana
Oak Alley Plantation
Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina
Biltmore House
Rusty Parrot Lodge, Jackson, Wyoming
Omni Mount Washington, New Hampshire
Sonoma Valley, California
Tides Inn, Irvington, Virginia
Concord Museum, Concord, Massachusetts
Lilette, New Orleans, Louisiana
Lilette
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Wine tastings and waterfront scenery await along Virginia's Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail
  • The Biltmore House is likely to wow history buffs with a peek at the high life of another era
  • New Orleans is never short on woo-inspiring culinary treats

(CNN) -- On that first date, when you bonded over barbecue, the sauce drips on her chin only made her look cuter. You knew it was love when you learned John Donne was his favorite poet, too. What hooked you on the slopes was how she made black diamond runs look easy.

These are the romantic moments you'll always remember. Isn't it time to make more?

One of the best ways to remember why you and your mate chose each other in the first place is by enjoying an adventure around your shared interests. Meet on common ground, then head out to discover new terrain.

From wine tasting to cozy ski weekends, we've got ideas for you.

Skiers' paradise

Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

With both gentle-pitch, beginners' trails and expert-level, tree-speckled ridges, Bretton Woods offers skiing to suit all tastes. A family-friendly spot, Bretton Woods provides a good option for parents looking to squeeze a little romance into a vacation for everyone.

Tiffany glass, Italian plasterwork and a wraparound verandah make the Omni Mount Washington Resort an elegant après-ski option. Kids' club activities and babysitting let parents claim a little grown-up time for a Friday or Saturday night ski, a dip in the pool or Jacuzzi or a duet massage. An Ooh Là Là Romance Package add-on includes a special turndown service with robes, music and lighting; sparkling wine; and French macaroons. Other romantic adventures such as a sleigh ride or dog sledding can also be arranged.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Once considered an expert-only ski area, the Teton Mountains now offer beginner-friendly trails as well as other winter activities such as snowmobiling and sleigh rides through local elk herds.

If a mammoth resort isn't your scene, consider the more intimate, family-run Rusty Parrot Lodge and Spa. The staff's goal is "understated luxury," and with in-room fireplaces, a cozy library with oversize leather chairs, an outdoor Jacuzzi with fire pits, a well-tended bar, an on-site restaurant and an in-house spa, the lodge can meet all your romantic requirements. Should you want a change of scenery, Jackson Hole's shops, restaurants and bars are mere steps away.

Literature lovers

Concord, Massachusetts

For a rich literary getaway, head to Concord, Massachusetts, where the country's earliest prose writers, poets and patriots made their mark. Between fields where Minutemen once defended the nation stand the former homes of some of America's most famous writers, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, all open to the public and most within walking distance.

Visit the graves of these esteemed writers at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery before stopping at the Concord Museum to view Emerson's study and Thoreau's flute as well as Revolutionary War artifacts, including Paul Revere's lantern. After a long day on your feet, retire to the Hawthorne Inn's Emerson Room to enjoy the relaxed elegance of a four-poster bed, in-room fireplace and bubble-jet tub.

Brooklyn, New York

Literary legends have called Brooklyn home since Walt Whitman sang his borough's praises. The former homes of nearly a dozen famous writers are all within walking distance in Brooklyn Heights. While the residences aren't open to the public, a self-guided tour can take you to places where works such as Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman," W.H. Auden's poem "New Year Letter" and Thomas Wolfe's "Of Time and the River" were penned. Other writers' homes include those of Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, H.P. Lovecraft and Truman Capote.

After all that walking and ogling, head to the River Café for first-class waterfront dining. Bring a copy of Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" to read aloud while admiring the Brooklyn Bridge and imagining the borough as it was in his day.

Oenophile bliss

Sonoma County wine country, California

What better way to reconnect than while driving through Sonoma wine country, stopping to taste the terroir at wineries along the way? Visit Copain for the views and the pinot, Arista for the Japanese gardens and Lambert Bridge for intimate barrel-room tastings. Then settle in at the Farmhouse Inn in the heart of the Russian River Valley.

The inn's "barn rooms," situated in a grove of mature trees, are designed to blur the boundaries between outside and in. The "heritage rooms," meanwhile, range from huge luxury suites to compact queen-size spaces the innkeepers call "our little jewel box rooms." Be sure to check out the Sonoma Bath Bar with complementary seasonal scrubs, salts and soaps, and consider adding on the inn's special romance package, which includes chilled champagne, candles, cut flowers and an intimate couple's massage.

Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail, Virginia

Virginia is for lovers -- wine lovers included. Discover small colonial towns, walk along the shoreline and drop by George Washington's birthplace in Westmoreland County between tastings at 13 wineries along the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail. Local wineries feature Cabernet Franc, chardonnay, Vidal Blanc and Chambourcin wines, and among the most romantic are Dog and Oyster, Good Luck Cellars and Athena.

Stay at the Tides Inn in Irvington, where lush gardens, waterfront views, a full-service spa, a golf course and a marina with a sailing school offer plenty of post-tasting relaxation. For even more amorousness, choose a Suite Romance Getaway package, featuring an intimate three-course dinner, a 60-minute couple's spa treatment and a Carter's Creek Cove cruise for two.

History buffs

Oak Alley Plantation, Vacherie, Louisiana

Step into antebellum elegance where, in 1837, aristocrat Jacques Roman wooed French Quarter debutante Celina Pilé by building a Greek-revival mansion to entice her to leave her New Orleans life behind. Stroll along the levee to watch the Mississippi roll by on the way to your private, century-old cottage, where you can prearrange to have champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries or souvenir waffle robes waiting.

After a full country breakfast, visit the blacksmith's shop, sugar cane-harvesting equipment and antique car collection. Explore the big house with a guide in period costume, stop by the reconstructed slave quarters to learn about the workers whose labors made plantation luxuries possible, then amble along the quarter-mile canopy of giant oaks, appreciating what it means to be free.

Biltmore, Asheville, North Carolina

Imagine you are personal guests of the Vanderbilts, one of America's oldest and most well-known families, at Biltmore, an 8,000-acre estate built by George Vanderbilt at the turn of the 20th century.

Savor a meal at the Stable Café in the former horse stalls now transformed into booths or take a carriage ride through grounds and gardens designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. In Antler Hill Village, view the vintage farm equipment exhibits and displays of traditional trades such as blacksmithing and woodworking.

Then take a butler's tour of the 250-room National Historic Landmark building for a behind-the-scenes look at the house's inner workings, including the servants' quarters and the then-state-of-the-art technologies the Vanderbilts employed for lighting, heating and cooling.

Foodie feasts

New Orleans

From the ornate balconies of the French Quarter, to the manicured landscapes of the Garden District, to the horse-drawn carriages in Jackson Square, New Orleans offers an array of stunning backdrops for rekindling romance. And for foodie couples, woo-inspiring dining choices abound.

Lilette tops the list. Travel + Leisure magazine dubbed the dining room, with its tin ceilings and cast-iron columns, "the sexiest" in New Orleans, but the real aphrodisiac is the food, prepared by Chef John Harris, a James Beard finalist for best chef in the South.

For authentic Cajun Southern cooking, visit Cochon, where chefs prepare locally sourced pork, fresh produce and seafood. Try the fried cauliflower with chili citrus sauce and the catfish court bouillon.

If the sparkling lobby, with its golden columns and crystal chandeliers, of the Roosevelt Hotel doesn't grab you, surely the 24-hour, four-star room service will. Since opening in 1893, it's considered New Orleans' most romantic hotel.

Portland, Oregon

Up-and-coming foodie hot spot, Portland has plenty of palate-pleasing (and challenging) restaurants to choose from.

Bluehour is a top pick for its dramatic high ceilings and Mediterranean-inspired meals. And Castagna is known for quirky contemporary dishes featuring adventurous combinations that "reinterpret local cuisine." Start off your meal with the wild steelhead smoked over chestnut with sweet lime and herb sponge and finish with the Meyer lemon curd with green juniper meringue and Hefeweizen.

For a more traditional French meal (think: foie gras, escargot languedocienne, bisque de mer), head to Cocotte, a bistro with cozy banquette seating that's perfect for getting close. And once your bellies are full, relax at the Heathman Hotel. During your stay, be sure to visit the Tea Court Lounge, where afternoon tea flows smoothly into evening cocktails and live jazz.

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