If you’re still looking for a way to charm your other half, read on for a little American-themed inspiration.
With Christmas over and done with, the next event to get to grips with is Valentine’s Day. If you’re still looking for a way to charm your other half, read on for a little American-themed inspiration. Apart from a little imagination, all you’ll need to get to the USA is your ESTA and a plane ticket! Here we’ll be taking a look at a few US cities and what they can offer you this February 14.
Valentine’s Day in New York
Whilst being a city renowned for its vibrancy and energy, there’s no denying that a spontaneous trip to New York would set the scene perfectly for an excellent romantic getaway. At the time of writing, flights from London to New York for Valentine’s Day weekend are hovering around £350 return.
Whilst the world famous sights and attractions in New York are a great place to start, there are plenty of hidden spots and secret restaurants to add an extra level of charm to your romantic weekend. We’ve searched out a few dining ideas to inspire you; no matter where you go, making a reservation in advance is a must! New York is known for its cuisine, and many people will flock to the streets for fine dining on February 14th.
This notoriously exquisite restaurant can be found just off of Broadway, and takes pride in its creative menus and tasting courses. With a traditional, old-fashioned feeling inside, there’s a hint of going back to early 20th Century New York in Gramercy Tavern. The food is essentially American, but all the while drawing inspiration from world cuisines. This certainly isn’t among the cheapest restaurants in New York, but it won’t disappoint.
Another example of an emblematic New York restaurant, Restaurant Marc Forgione also specialises in American food, with a special emphasis on its excellent seafood. Located in the Tribeca neighbourhood of NYC, the restaurant has been described as combining a rustic environment with an urban one. Marc Forgione himself is the restaurant’s head chef, and has led an international career as a highly-reputable cook.
Over in Brooklyn, this cosy little bar/restaurant is like stepping into another world. The wine house keeps a log fire sizzling, which, combined with the extensive wine list and creative food, make it sure-fire recipe for romance. The place is small, but this only adds to its charm, and the staff go to all lengths to accommodate for everybody.
Valentine’s Day in Boston
If you’re looking for a slightly different option for Valentine’s Day in the US, why not set your eyes a little further north in Boston. Currently, return flights to Boston can be purchased for around £360, with most of them stopping in New York or Paris. As well as exploring this buzzing city, it’s home to one of the most peaceful and picturesque state parks in the country: Blue Hills Reservation. Just ten miles south of the city, this visual paradise is excellent for hiking, biking, horse riding and, during the winter months, skiing. From the Great Blue Hill, visitors are offered a spectacular view of Boston, making it the perfect starting point for a romantic Valentine’s.
Aside from a top-class menu and fantastic wine selection, this restaurant stands out as being romantic for its views alone. Somehow, Top of the Hub manages to be small and cosy, whilst simultaneously boasting a vast 360-degree view of the whole city, high in the sky. This juxtaposition brings you the best of both worlds; a charming setting with jaw-dropping vistas.
As you may be able to deduct from its name, Mamma Maria is one of Boston’s finest Italian eateries. Offering fine dining (with prices to match), the food stands out for being true to its inspiration. Arriving at Mamma Maria is romantic in itself, as you guide yourself through narrow cobbled streets, arriving at an old, Victorian terraced house.
Tangierino is a refreshingly unusual blend of cuisines. The menu offers authentic Moroccan dishes, as well as American staples and tapas. As for the location, the décor is lavish and welcoming, with an undeniable romantic touch. There are hookahs on tables, and booths that can be closed off with draping curtains for an extra degree of privacy.
Valentine’s Day in San Francisco
With return flights from the UK currently selling at around £420, San Francisco is a world in itself that ticks all the boxes for meeting the needs of a romantic getaway. The look, feel and charm of the city itself make many of its major attractions ideally suited; a ride in an old cable car for example, or admiring the sunset from the Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco maintains a European feel, thanks to its compact layout and walkable distances. It is also filled with European diners and bars, and has become the home for people of all nationalities.
Ambient lighting and suave music are combined with modern touches and exquisite food at Gitane. The menu is said to be inspired by Gypsy travels, whilst the cocktail bar downstairs is arguable one of the finest in the city. Gitane looks like someone has plucked the best out of each era of the 20th Century and combined it all into a strangely brilliant hybrid, with a naturally accompanying sense of romance that cannot be denied.
This Italian restaurant has earned itself a 5-star reputation among all that visit. Owing to the large Italian population in San Francisco, the cuisine is authentic and known for being among the best in the city. This extremely ambient restaurant is doted with very knowledgeable sommeliers, who will ensure that your high-class food is perfectly accompanied with ideally suited wine.
This Italian restaurant adds its own inventive touch to traditional dishes, including boar lasagne and truffled egg toast. Uva Enoteca offers a casual, relaxed environment, with an easy-going vibe and an excellent wine menu.
Valentine’s Day is majorly recognised in the USA, and so if you plan on taking your other half state-side for the special day, be sure to plan whatever you’re going to do well in advance. Restaurants tend to offer special Valentine’s Day menus too, so be sure to check the website of wherever you book to check what’s available.
What once would have been a farfetched option is now not so difficult, as British citizens can travel to the USA easily without the need for a visa. As February is not peak season in the USA, flight prices are about as low as they get, even when only booking a couple of weeks in advance.
To travel to the US as a tourist, you simply need to apply for ESTA online. The entire process takes around ten minutes, and you’ll just need to have your passport handy, as well as a debit or credit card. Once you’ve filled out the online ESTA form, you will receive an email informing you of your ESTA approval status within 24 hours. As soon as you receive an email saying that your ESTA application has been approved, you are free to travel to the USA under the Visa Waiver Programme.
The ESTA lasts for 2 years from the moment it is approved, unless your passport expires before this date. If your passport does expire during the validity period of your ESTA, your ESTA becomes void automatically – it will not renew itself automatically when you get a new passport, as the ESTA application is specific to the passport used at the time of application. Nevertheless, you may apply for ESTA online as many times as you wish.
With the ESTA, you can travel to the USA as many times as you like during its period of validity, as long as you do not exceed 90 days in the country during any trip. If you plan to visit the USA for a period of longer than 90 days, unfortunately your trip would not ba allowed under the Visa Waiver Programme. In such cases, you must apply for a visa by contacting an US embassy or consulate in the UK. Wherever possible, it’s far easier to travel with ESTA, as US visas take a long time to process, involve physical meetings and are considerably costlier. On the other hand, the ESTA application process is carried out entirely online, and can be completed within ten minutes.
If you’re scratching your brains to think of a Valentine’s plan this year, take it state-side and show your partner what it means to be romantic in the USA!
Travelling to the United States? Do you have your pre-planning checklist in order? Visit our ESTA Guide for more information about obtaining your travel permit. We'd love to hear from you. Send us your comments or questions for travel assistance.