Dreamy Dates in National Parks

Romantic Getaways for Shameless Park Lovers
Katherine RivardNPF Blog
A couple sitting on on the sandstone cliffs with an arch to the left as the sun is setting behind the cliffs

When you’re trying to pull out all the stops for your special someone, no romantic gesture is too small. Spice things up and remind your significant other that they’re your favorite adventure companion by making new memories in national parks. Whether you choose to take a day trip to a park nearby, or plan a long getaway to a romantic destination, commit to cherishing your time together in America’s national treasures. These dreamy date ideas will earn you the permanent title of Master of Wooing.

Bask in Each Other’s Glow in the Golden State

A couple hugging as they look over the Golden Gate Bridge spanning the San Francisco Bay across to San Francisco on a sunny day at Golden Gate National Recreation Area

California’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area is for the couple that likes to remind all their friends how much they love exploring together via social media. The pics are amazing, the site’s not far from the city, and the picnicking options are endless. It’s also perfect for history nerds and nature lovers who don’t want to spend hours in the car getting to their destination.

This is one of the world’s largest urban parks (spanning more than 75,000 acres) and is perfect for pictures or romantic picnics (read: a baguette and some brie) by the bay. A historic stroll down Lovers’ Lane in the Presidio will have you walking through eucalyptus leaves and over a footbridge built in 1885. Giant trees dwarf you and your companion and provide a pleasant opportunity to grasp each other’s sweaty, errr we mean sweet, palms.

Less traditional plans for your date may include a trip to Alcatraz Island, once a scary prison, but also the home of many Western Gulls – a bird species that shows no signs of commitment issues. These gulls choose a mate for life. See the birds up close and tour the infamous penitentiary that was off-limits to the public for so long.

Virginia is for Lovers

Sun peaking out over blue the blue mountaintops with rocks in the foreground at Shenandoah National Park

Majestic, rustic, romantic. Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park is for the low maintenance couple that doesn’t even bother listing their relationship status on Facebook. The ones who enjoy lacing up their boots and exploring beside one another. It’s also perfect for those living on the east coast and desiring a peaceful drive away from the city bustle.

No matter where you’re coming from, you’ll love cruising together along Skyline Drive – 105 miles of road lined with all of nature’s beauty. The speed limit is 35 mph, but your heart will be racing, sitting next to your loved one as you take in the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This park is filled with deer, bears, and songbirds to name just a few of the many fauna that inhabit the area.

Take the time to tour Rapidan Camp, the summer retreat of Present Herbert Hoover and his wife Lou. They’d retreat from D.C.’s hectic pace to this peaceful escape, often bringing friends and guests along for company. Otherwise, hike Old Rag Mountain together and feel a sense of bonding, having conquered the 3.5 mile (one way) hike together. Once you’ve reached the top, celebrate conquering the mountain with a smooch and then enjoy the panorama view around you.

Long Walks on the Beach in Paradise

Trunk Bay, Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands National Park is the type of place you see in your dreams. Or on commercials.

This is for the couple that likes to be sporty together, preferably in bathing suits. It’s also the destination of your dreams for anyone who has their desktop background set to a stock photo of the Caribbean – a hopeful, daily reminder of where you wish you were, while sitting in a cubicle.

With 20 trails to choose from, the hiking options are plentiful. Choosing a calm loop around the historic Cinnamon Bay Sugar Plantation, you can stroll side-by-side along the boardwalk with your honey, smelling the bay rum trees that once were used to create the famous St. John Bay Rum Cologne.

Next, help your partner apply some reef-safe sunscreen before heading to the beach to soak up some rays or dive into the crystal blue waters. Whether you enjoy floating freely on the waves or prefer looking for underwater wildlife, these waters have it all. Snorkelers will be amazed at the white sand beaches of Honeymoon Bay and its narrow reef. Different types of coral abound between this beach and Salomon Bay. If you’d rather include some sea turtles in your party, head to Maho Bay, where seagrass beds are a favorite spot for green sea turtles in the early morning and late afternoon.

Spiritual Experiences with Your Soulmate

A couple sitting on top of a mountain looking down at a valley at Haleakala National Park

Sunrises will always be romantic.

This is for the pair that has looked at each other enough, and instead chooses to watch the sun creep up over the horizon at Haleakalā National Park. The serious couple that has been together for years and is ready to not only enjoy the volcanic landscape, but to experience a sacred place with ancient history and endangered species that exist nowhere else.

Spend a secluded night under the stars, staying in one of the three backcountry cabins that are accessible only by trail – this is a textbook getaway. Then wake up early (between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m.) and head to the Summit District to see an unforgettable sunrise (be sure to make a reservation). After the sun has risen, catch a few extra moments of zzz’s or begin hiking for the day. The trails in the Summit Area range in intensity, though the high elevation may make it difficult for some to breath. Before coming, make sure to check the weather, as it changes quickly!

Kīpahulu Area – the fertile area below the Summit District – was once the home of a thriving farming population before the arrival of Europeans. Its lush green environment offers additional trails that feature waterfalls and sweeping vistas of the ocean.

Shakespeare and chocolates are never wrong, but making memories amidst some of the most beautiful scenes in the world WHILE reading Shakespeare and nibbling chocolates is unbeatable. In the words of Buddy the elf, “I’m in love! I’m in love! And I don’t care who knows it!” – now show it with an unforgettable romantic getaway to a national park.

For more inspiration on where to whisk away to with you beloved, download our free “I Heart Parks” Owner’s Guide, then go #FindYourPark.


Don’t forget my Jefferson National Park in southwest Virginia. Members of The Clinch Coalition work the forest’s trails so visitors can enjoy life away in the Appalachain Mountains.

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