What to see and what to skip in these romantic destinations around the world

Love is in the air! In fact, wedding season has just begun.

ByGabe Saglie
May 20, 2017, 2:27 AM
PHOTO: Santa Barbara, Calif.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Getty Images/Tetra images RF

— -- Love is in the air! After all, June -- one of the most popular months for weddings -- is just around the corner.

Travelzoo’s Love of Travel contest is super timely, then: Our search for America’s best travel story will land one lucky twosome with a luxury getaway to Bali! (You can enter through May 26 by sharing your own travel love story using #loveoftravel and #contest on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.)

Ah, Bali. Easily a top destination for romantic escapes of all kinds, especially honeymoons.

But if you’re looking for an alternative to the world’s tried and true love-inspired getaways, here’s a list you’ll want to share with the one you love.

Skip Napa, See Santa Barbara

Sprawling wine estates and world-class dining make Napa and nearby Sonoma no-brainers for wine lovers in love. But for a more laid-back and affordable – though no less gratifying – wine country experience, look about 300 miles south to Santa Barbara. The city’s downtown is buzzing with wineries and tasting rooms, and it’s an easy 90-minute drive from L.A.

But romance-seekers will want to head a bit further north, to Santa Barbara County’s sweeping vineyards, where world class wine and food are quickly rivaling their more famous neighbors up the coast. Lovely historic towns are peppered throughout the Santa Ynez Valley; what served as stagecoach stops for weary California travelers in the pre-railroad days of the late 1800s have now become culinary havens. Inquire about behind-the-scenes winery tours at Babcock, Sanford and Fiddlehead in the buzzed-about Sta. Rita Hills – a sanctuary for pinot noir and chardonnay fans. And linger over dinner at First & Oak in Solvang and S.Y. Kitchen in Santa Ynez; in Buellton, Industrial Eats and the new Bottlest Bistro feature creative dishes with a heavy focus on regional wines.

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