We love a ~grand gesture~ in the Age of Ghosting and slippery situationships. Call us easy romantics, but there’s something so deliciously Classico sauce about giving a gift that says, “Hunny, I’m down to clown for a while,” in the form of a trip to upstate New York to frolic in Ma Nature. Who cares if it’s with the Tinder lad who doesn’t have a credit card? He has a car—and if romance is anything, it’s a steady blend of wheels, libations, and light math on how much you can get away with, in every sense of the word (sorry Mom; sorry god).
If you need to plan a vacation under a grand, we got you. Hell, if you need to plan a vacation for even less, we have three trips you can even take for under $500. The best part about giving your sweetheart a trip, is that you–should you choose–get to come along for the ride. And that could be, specifically, a scenic ride down the California coastline in a tricked out RV that would make Jack Kerouac go, “Daaaaamn boiiii.”
You might know exactly what you’re looking for, and have a mental vacay check-list of 1) mountains, 2) jacuzzis, and 3) pronghorns. (Of course we have Montana escapes for you. We’re not monsters.) Perhaps you dream of bathing in a giant champagne glass at a kitschy, bucket list love resort, or want to ball out for a trip to Mexico to toast those buns. Whether you’re a Nitpicky Nancy or are straight up out of ideas, we’ve got a bunch of trips, flights, and vacations that anyone would be stoked to receive.
Keep it kitschy
We love a kitschy roadside joint, because they’re cool as hell, forever photogenic, weirdly sexy, and not as expensive as a heritage hotel or luxury resort. These three over-the-top hotels form a uniquely horny Freemason’s Triangle across the United States; a splendor of shag carpet, disco balls, and themed rooms that are easy to get to if you live in California, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania (which is really just New York, obviously), but are worth the pilgrimage, regardless.
The Madonna Inn was founded in the 1950s by a rich ass dude in San Luis Obispo, California who gave the candy-colored resort its own freeway offramp, horseback trails, a pool, tennis courts, and a whopping 110 rooms with themes like Jungle Rock and Just Heaven. Don’t miss the swinging doll in the pink dining hall.
Book the Madonna Inn at Tripadvisor.
The Dive Motel in Nashville, Tennessee, is what happens when angels swoop in to save a roadside joint and know just what to tamper with, and what to leave funky. The newest of the three hotels by far (it opened just a few years ago), it has over 20 themed rooms that sit somewhere between a David Lynch movie and a 1977 porn set with en suite, twin tubs. Plus, each room comes with their “Party Light Switch” that activates a disco ball and groovy radio.
Book a room at The Dive Motel at Tripadvisor.
Bury us at Cove Haven. Please. Better yet, let us be the rhinestone-thonged ghost that haunts the champagne glass tub of their iconic love resort rooms, which have been around for decades and are still one of the nation’s naughtiest honeymoon, or whatever-moon destinations.
More on Cove Haven at Tripadvisor.
Fulfill their treehouse fantasy
Has your lover always dreamt of being whisked away into a treehouse? How about one with wine and edibles and Bananagrams? Well, that last part is up to you, but we’ve got a pretty siq short list of the best treehouse rentals, which includes this elevated, treehouse-inspired cabin that’s just a 15-minute drive to Woodstock, New York. It’s perched over a swimmable lake, has a firewood-heated hot tub, and is tucked away amongst the trees.
Willow Treehouse; sleeps up to 2, $382/night at Airbnb
Are you a pool-and-frozen-drink type couple? Book a resort in Mexico.
Sometimes, you don't have the bandwidth to think tooo hard about daily activities, or search through a bajillion different rental homes to find a place to stay. That's why resorts do, in fact, rock for those of us who aren't natural born planners. Resort groups like Tafer and The Villa Group have all-inclusive-optional properties all over Mexico from Cabo San Lucas to Puerto Vallarta, meaning you can choose your own adventure or hang out on-site for a long weekend, sippin' cocktails in the pool without a care in the world.
Hotel Mousai in Puerto Vallarta, prices vary at Tafer
Y’all have Kerouac aspirations
Get on the road and see Joshua Tree, Yellowstone (well, any national parks, really), or at least the Pacific Coast Highway. You don’t even have to schlep to a trade show and learn about Winnebagos to do so these days, thanks to services like RVshare, which is the world's first (and largest) peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace. Think Airbnb, but for RVs; all the comforts of a cushy and rentable home that you can unveil to your beloved, and say “Let’s go to Reno, Mama.”
Sleep in a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece
Is your hunny a design buff? Into mid-century aesthetics? Well, there are actually a load of famous architectural houses you can stay in across the country, including Eppstein House in Galesburg, Michigan by Frank Lloyd Wright. As one of the most iconic and prolific architects of the 20th century, Wright homes can be found all across the US, but it is rare to find one that is as well-preserved, and decorated with era-appropriated furnishings. This one has it all, and is also close to the lovely beach town of South Haven. Bring your design-loving sweetie here with a new sketchpad to show that you ~get~ them.
Photo: Leigh Ann Cobb Photography
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Eppstein House; sleeps 4, $495/night at Airbnb
If you’re craving wide open spaces
Room to make the big mistakes, baby. Nothing like promising your boo the same vacation as Kanye West and Kim K, who helped turn Montana into the next Aspen (say this to your date; it will make you sound awful but worldly). Anyway, there are so many epic places to rent in Montana, including this condo in Big Sky that comes out to a mere hundred-ish bucks a night, and that mountain view.
2 Bedroom 2 Bath Ski Condo (sleeps up to 4), $109/night at Airbnb
And if you plan on visiting Glacier National Park, the indigenous-led Sun Tours is an excellent guide. “The tour concentrates on Glaciers' natural features and the relevance to the Blackfeet Indian Nation, past and present,” says their team, “[and] our guides are residents of the reservation, [and] knowledgeable in many facets of tribal history, culture, and lifestyle.”
Book your spot (starting at $70/person) at Sun Tours
Visit our planet’s best natural spa
Never been to Iceland? Are you also wearing customized elf ears? Same, same. Well, Iceland welcomes vaccinated American tourists to come enjoy its pristine natural beauty. If you’ve never been, the Blue Lagoon is a legendary natural wonder in Reykjavik whose waters serve as a geothermal spa, thanks to its high silica content. Nothing like making out over an 800-year-old dead lava field.
Photo: Jonathan Percy via Getty Images
Find hotels near the Blue Lagoon on TripAdvisor
Make out on a Barcelona balcony
You know, you should probably do something other than slam tapas during your time in Spain. We’re kidding of course—we just think you should have a sweet apartment to retreat to once you’re full of rioja and shellfish. This spacious apartment is smack dab in the middle of Barcelona, and boasts with an additional furnished terrace of 40m2 (which is… big). What’re you waiting for?
Furnished Terrace Apartment; sleeps 5, $187/night at Vrbo
A Joshua Tree retreat
It’s a reTREEt, and you, your friends, and your satchel of various psychedelics are going to absolutely love it. Who doesn’t want to take a load off and party in the desert? As one of our editors put it, “The Coachella flower-crown people are really dominating the energy of Palm Springs at the moment, but that leaves the Mojave for the rest of us—the real dingbats who need to stretch out and howl at the moon with one another.” That's why a trip to Joshua Tree is just the ticket for a combination of epic scenery, relaxation, and weird local haunts to check out. Go for a geo dome, (obviously).
Abracadabra Dome, $324/night on Airbnb
You don’t have tons of time to leave New York City
Don’t have time to leave New York City for another state or country? That’s ok. We know it’s finance bro fall, and we know y’all are bust. Luckily, Ina Garten invented the Hamptons, which is but a blazered jaunt from the city, traffic permitting, and a great way to unwind just a short walk away from the beach. “The charming cottage sits on several acres of land,” writes Plum Guide about the Springs, East Hampton home, “and features a picturesque deck overgrown with wisteria, a private gunite pool, and a large open floor plan.” How pastoral. Here’s an idea: Spread out a picnic, with you as the saucisson. As the old adage goes, you can’t spell charcuterie without cute would just be… snooze.
Photo: Plum Guide
Wisteria Delight; sleeps up to 3, $276/night at Plum Guide
Give her the gift of a girls trip
Have you been together for eons? Then it might be time to give her a solo adventure, courtesy of Girls Vacation Club. The Black-owned traveling service is designed by women, and for women who want to explore together, whether you’re pulling up with a crew of galz or want to get to know someone on a weekend trip to Mexico, or a “Ladies in Paris” package. Smash that Ratatouille theme song all the way to the airport, baybee.
Learn more about booking a trip on Girls Vacation Club. Girls Vacation Club is a Black-owned business selected as part of Black+, an initiative by VICE Media Group and The National Urban League to support Black Entrepreneurs with free marketing and mentorship opportunities.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.