Bed and Breakfast
Nothing says romantic like a country inn and breakfast in bed or sitting in a cozy room, fireplace at your side. Bed and breakfasts are great options for a romantic vacation, and they don't have to cost a fortune. In fact, you can plan a whole vacation surrounding a bed and breakfast and whatever free outdoor activities can be pursued around it. If flying is out of the question and you'd rather not take the bus (definitely not romantic), choose a town nearby, within no more than an hour's drive. No matter where in the country you live, chances are you haven't visited all of the towns around yours. So choose one you haven't been in before and then search for a bed and breakfast there.
Next, contact the Office of Tourism or Chamber of Commerce (in smaller towns) and ask for a travel guide to the town. If time is short or the town is too small to have an official publication, simply look through its website to see what you can find. Hiking opportunities can be found basically anywhere. If there is a park, mountains or forest nearby, head there for a trek. In smaller towns, look into strolling around city parks or find out if it's possible to rent a bicycle for the day. If it helps, pretend you're somewhere far away and explore your surroundings as if you were on the other side of the world. Then head back to the B&B for a romantic candlelight dinner.
Wherever state you live in, there's a national or state park within driving distance. On the East Coast, there's Arcadia and the Great Smoky Mountains. In the West, you can try Yosemite, Redwood or Mount Rainier. In the center of the country, you'll find everything from Grand Canyon to Yellowstone to Hot Springs. National parks are a bargain as a vacation destination. Once you pay the entrance fee, most activities inside are free, including hiking, swimming, mountain biking, climbing and ranger-led programs. Most parks have a visitors center (where you can pick up a map of the area) or a small museum chronicling the history of the area.
When it comes to accommodations, nothing beats sleeping under the stars. Whether you choose to camp in the backcountry, away from crowds, or rent a tent site in a campground, you'll still get a chance to cozy up by the fire before tucking in. Cabins and cottages are available for rent at many parks, and rates are usually low if you reserve well in advance. They're comfier than tents and likely to have their own fireplace or at least a rocking chair on the porch, where you can snuggle up at the end of a day of exploring.
Some destinations in the U.S., such as Hawaii or Las Vegas, have basically no low season, as tourists flock to these places year-round. Other popular vacation destinations do, however. Florida and its beaches have a low season during the summer, as most people head to the south in winter, when it gets too cold for comfort in their own towns. As a result, condos reduce their prices and hotels sometimes offer a second night free to attract visitors. Or consider less touristy beaches, like those in Texas (Galveston Island) or Oregon. Tahoe costs a fortune during the winter, when it attracts skiers from all over the country, but prices are a lot lower during the summer, when you can hike nearby Mount Charles and either camp or rent a cabin nearby. By traveling during the low season and choosing less popular destinations, you'll be guaranteed to find discounts and cheaper accommodations and entertainment.