Stoke your sweetheart’s fire with a romantic getaway.
Photography courtesy of the Venues
[dropcap]Oh,[/dropcap] February. It’s the shortest month of the year, and thank goodness for that, because it’s all that stands between January and spring. I’d be in favor of skipping it altogether, frankly, except for that lovely little halfway point: Valentine’s Day. And there’s no better month than cold, dreary February for a holiday that encourages us to grab a box of chocolates, snuggle up to and share a little body heat with that special someone.
All that snuggling is even better if you can do so away from home — perhaps by a fire in a secluded mountain cabin; in the hot tub of a swanky hotel suite; or, if you’re the adventurous type, on a hiking trail overlooking a particularly scenic vista. This month, we’re taking a look at some of Arkansas’ most romantic spots for Valentine’s Day getaways.
We’re all but obligated to start with Eureka Springs, where you can’t throw a rock without hitting a quaint little bed-and-breakfast, where spas cater to your every relaxing whim and where there are plenty of shops to entice your sweetie into buying you a little bauble… as a souvenir, of course.
At the 1905 Basin Park Hotel, you can book a package that includes a stay in a Jacuzzi suite, dinner at the hotel’s Balcony Restaurant and massages at Spa1905 It’s right in the middle of downtown, so you’re just steps away from all the historic district has to offer. The Basin Park’s sister hotel, the 1886 Crescent Hotel, offers similar dining and spa packages, but its hilltop location on 15 acres overlooking downtown means you can take advantage of a little more quiet, and some extra breathing room, if that’s what you’re after.
For art-amorous lovers, you can’t beat a weekend in Bentonville. Spend your days at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and your evenings dining in style at a number of high-profile restaurants, such as The Hive in 21c Museum Hotel or Tusk and Trotter. At 21c, one of the hottest new hotels in the country, you can book the Romance Package and enjoy dinner at The Hive; two luxurious bathrobes; rose petal turndown service; breakfast in bed; and late checkout. There’s also The Victoria Bed & Breakfast, located right at the pedestrian entrance to Crystal Bridges and two blocks north of the town square, where you can delight in its lavish rooms and suites.
February may be a little early for a float trip on the Buffalo River, but the area’s scenic views are available year-round. And February has been known to give us the occasional day where hiking a mountain trail isn’t entirely out of the question.
There are also many cabins for rent in the Buffalo River area. The three cabins at Ozark Bluff Dwellers in Newton County take full advantage of the area’s natural beauty. Like their name suggests, the cabins perch on the edge of a bluff, with back decks that look out over Raney Cove. You can hole up inside with a fire and romantic movies, strike out in search of the elk herd at Ponca, or just enjoy more natural beauty along the area’s trails.
A little further south, the 60-room lodge at Mount Magazine State Park offers its own breathtaking views of the Petit Jean Valley. Mount Magazine is also the highest point in the state — this, plus its secluded location, makes it a fantastic place to do some stargazing, free from city light pollution. The park also has cabins with wraparound decks and outdoor hot tubs, if you’re in the mood to splurge a bit.
Hot Springs, of course, is a mecca for weekend getaways — romantic or otherwise. It’s a small town, sure, but diverse enough that you can pretty much choose the experience you want. Stay at the Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa to be in the middle of the Bathhouse Row hustle and bustle, or book a cabin on one of the nearby lakes for a quieter time.
The Arlington has lots to recommend it: Dress up for drinks in the swanky lobby, head out for a night on the town, and then relax the next morning with a mineral water whirlpool bath and a massage. The hotel’s Romance Package includes a one-night stay, a bottle of sparkling wine, chocolate-covered strawberries and room service breakfast. You may also add a variety of spa services for quite reasonable rates.
If you’re heading to — or staying in — Little Rock for Valentine’s Day, there’s no better place for a romantic interlude than the Capital Hotel. Enjoy a cocktail in the lobby, imagine yourself sailing down the wide staircase in an earlier era, then settle in for an impeccable dinner at One Eleven At The Capital. Afterward, explore the River Market District’s nightlife or simply retire to your room and get comfy in your complimentary bathrobe and slippers.
Branson may be best known for its theater shows and amusement parks, but the town’s location in the Missouri Ozarks — second only in natural beauty to the Arkansas Ozarks — makes it ideal for a couples’ weekend, too.
Big Cedar Lodge takes full advantage of that unspoiled beauty. It sits on the shores of Table Rock Lake, about 10 miles outside Branson, and offers a full range of outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing, boating and even trail rides. There’s also a full-service spa offering everything from massages to facials, aromatherapy to body polish. You can stay in a room in the lodge, or choose from either a cottage or log cabin. Big Cedar’s Romance Package includes: two nights’ lodging; a bottle of wine; a $50 credit toward a restaurant of your choice; and a “special amenity” placed in your room. That’s amore, folks.