Sunday, February 12, 2012

Local Guides: Valentine's Day Destinations

It's Valentine's Week.  While many couples have already planned well in advance how they will celebrate this day, or what gifts they will buy, my batch of friends have contributed their suggestions for places that you can get away to - to celebrate Valentine's Day.
Yep, there's no limit to the selection of places (although I have space to mention only a few) or how far you can travel.  Should you want to travel 12 hours away from  USA (time-zone-wise), you can reach Oman.  How about that?  I sure know I am 12 hours away from Las Vegas.

For a couple of weeks now I have been asking friends to tell us why anyone should visit their place, least of all to celebrate Valentine's Day.  Is there something special about each of their places?  I'm sure there is. (Part of which makes each one special too, I suppose).

Meet our local guides as they take you through each of their places, shedding light on the beautiful scenery, exquisite, romantic dining or simply breathtaking trails of greenery.


The Costa Blanca - Spain (Veronica Shine)

The Costa Blanca in the Valencia Community of Spain has much to offer with its historic villages of Greek and Roman origins. Valentine´s Day is extra special in a land of great beauty.
Drink the essence of sherry from the world renowned wine-growing region of Jalon. This fertile valley lays slightly in-land from the Mediterranean coast among majestic mountains.
The seaside is also represented of this area and is simmering with its temperate microclimate weather and perpetual sun. There is a sure bet it will be shining on Valentine´s Day with an awesome sunrise and sunset.
Besides numerous resorts and dining facilities, the coastline is dotted with small and quaint fishing villages.
Nothing compares or is more romantic that sharing the immense discoveries on the Costa Blanca that always compiles countless interests in friends and lovers. 


Las Vegas, Nevada -USA  (Diane Quinn)

I live in a city that needs no introduction—Las Vegas, Nevada.  Sure people come here from all over the world for its obvious attractions: world class hotels, one-of-a-kind entertainment, a plethora of celebrity chef restaurants, and gambling, gambling, gambling!  Held captive on “the Strip,” many tourists never venture outside the city limits to discover that the natural beauty around the city is just as amazing as the neon lights, glitzy shows and gourmet dining on most vacation itineraries. 

Red Rock Conservation Area is my favorite spot with its pristine Mojave Desert flora and red clay cliffs all surrounded by dramatic, granite mountains.  Take the 13-mile scenic drive or hike on numerous trails where you’ll stumble on the remains of buildings from early settlers or petroglyphs written by ancient Paiute Indian artists.  Other notable spots outside Las Vegas include Hoover Dam, one of the world’s greatest engineering achievements, the sparkling blue waters of Lake Mead Recreational Area, and the spectacular new Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge that connects Nevada and Arizona directly above Hoover Dam.  After you’ve lost your money playing poker, you’ll have more time to explore these sites that won’t cost you a dime.


Thunder Bay, Ontario - Canada (Raymond Alexander Kukkee)

Valentine's Day is here again.
What better way to spend Valentine's day than to visit  wonderful Kakabeka Falls in Northern  Ontario?  Beauty surrounds this natural Canadian playground, even in winter!

Take in the breathtakingly beautiful natural waterfalls known as the ' Niagara of the North' located in Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park.  Hear the mighty roar of ghosts of  mighty Sioux warriors from times  past.  Visit with friendly locals and ask about the Ojibwa Princess Greenmantle---and the rest of the story.  Take in an afternoon of cross-country skiing on miles of groomed trails and enjoy hot chocolate over an open campfire, winter-camping style.  Visitors are always welcome!  Enjoy!

Mesa, Arizona - USA (M J Joachim)

One of the best things about Mesa, Arizona is its proximity to so many amazing social events and cultural attractions. Popular regional venues include the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, Phoenix Open Golf Classic and Barrett Jackson Auto Auction. These events and many more create welcome opportunities for fun, family entertainment that won’t break the bank. Downtown Mesa provides a quaint atmosphere, full of local mom & pop shops, hosting numerous side-walk arts and craft shows throughout the year. Intimate diners and cafes cater to a variety of tastes, delighting and intriguing visitors who stroll through the town. Mesa, Arizona is home to thousands of people who appreciate living in a neighborly place that is so welcoming, cultural and remarkable.


Town is only about 800 people, but they are friendly and outgoing. Wild Horse Plains is surrounded by heavily forested and beautiful mountains that are home to deer, elk, big horns, mountain goats, wild turkeys and grouse. Clark Fork River flows by town so fishing is nearby and geese are common. This place has a relaxed atmosphere and a person can walk to nearly anywhere in town. It is also literally Big Sky Country and the nights are gorgeous, with lots of stars and an occasional appearance by the Aurora or northern lights.


British Colombia - Canada (Christy Birmingham)

Here on the West Coast of British Columbia, Canada, there is beautiful greenery. The Douglas Firs and Yellow Cedars provide natural shelter for walkers to cozy up under to step away from the rain. Pull up the hood on your jacket and explore the Galloping Goose Trail alongside bikers and dog-walkers. The mountains are so close on the horizon you are almost certain you can reach out and touch them. Take the hand of your special Valentine and explore the scenery of BC.  


Richmond, Virginia - USA (Alexandra Heep)

Richmond and romance may not sound like they go together, but romance can be found anywhere. However, Richmond does have a few places that are especially suitable, like Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens and Maymont Park. Since the climate is comfortable, even around Valentine's Day, these two places make a wonderful escape from city life. Stroll through these natural surroundings hand in hand and simply enjoy life and love.  For a romantic date, when weather won't co-operate or to end an evening on a lovely note, two particular romantic restaurants in Richmond come to mind: The Phoenician and Shackleford's.  Whereever you decide to go in Richmond, all you need is to bring your feeling and the subject of your affection to make any place special.


Muscat - Oman (Amanda Dcosta)

Last but not the least... welcome to Muscat, the capital of Oman.  If you are not familiar with where Oman is located, it is in the Middle East, on the east of Saudi Arabia.  Bring your loved one to Muscat to spend Valentine's Day, and enjoy an extensive range of fine cuisine dining from Mediterranean, to Indian, Arabic, Turkish, Iranian, Mexican, Chinese, French and Italian; and yes, even the American cheese burgers and fries.  Visit the Royal Opera House in Muscat or one of the many beaches that border the coastline.  If you are lucky, you can get to witness belly dancers performing at select bars around town.   It is this time of year that the city is at its greenest, so what better way to enjoy the desert setting than at this time, when the land is filled with flowers and the parks are greener than ever.   

With a temperature hovering around 20C (+/- 70F) it’s the perfect weather to go camping outdoors, set up a barbecue party or roam around the city to view the landscape, monuments, or the many oasis along the highway.  Or you could enjoy a walk along the Cornish to see the coast lit up all night.  There’s nothing like enjoying a date with your loved one under an Omani date palm in the city of Muscat, Oman.   


Now that you've had a glimpse of some wonderful places... make your pick.  Well, no, don't.  Since all are spectacular in their own way, how about you decide on a different place for each day of the week?  Throw in an extra day and you will have visited all these wonderful destinations. 

A virtual tour of all these places is fun and I thank all you lovely local guides for your contributions.  I have enjoyed attaching the pictures as it enlivens the page and adds meaning to your posts. 


  1. Wonderful! Sorry I was not able to send pics. I lost another computer and there went the rest of my pics. I was looking last night trying to find some and computer froze up.

    It was nice to read about all these other places too, I love armchair-travel.

    1. Alex, thank you for the last minute contribution for this post. You made it in the nick of time and that made me really happy. Don't worry about not having pics. I had a lot of probs uploading pics anyway, since my net was running so slow that day. I even checked out free pics of Richmond on the net... but decided against it finally coz of the net speed. Lovely description, btw.

  2. Mandy, what a wonderful post! I feel so honoured to be a part of the narrative. Well done my friend. To the fellow writers, how about a house exchange in the future? hehe

    1. Haha... Christy, better think well, before anyone decides on a 'house' exchange. It would be fun though. Thanks for being part of this fun project. It really made me happy that you joined in. :)

  3. Mandy! This is beautifully put together! I, too am honoured to be part of this excellent article. Wonderful job! ~Raymond

    1. Thank you dear Raymond.:) And it's a pleasure having you be part of this post. Nice pics too. My kids were tickled with the waterfall pic, and seeing part of it with water freezing over. :)

  4. Thank you Mandy. I have posted this everywhere and am delighted to be a part of it!

    1. Thank you Veronica for joining in. I am honored to have you join this project and enliven it with your contribution and pics. You've sent in a lovely 'evening view' pic which I found very impressive. Thank you for also passing this page around. Much appreciated.

  5. What a lovely post :) And yet again, I read your blog and miss Oman even more... Sorry I wasn't able to contribute!


    1. Thank you Charlotte. You definitely have to revisit Oman. Pics like these don't really justify the beauty of this place. It just gives a small peek into what's really to be seen and enjoyed.

      Don't worry about not contributing. Being part of it in the end by your support as a reader too counts. Again, much appreciated.

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Amanda Dcosta - Writer,