Image: Northern California
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North of San Francisco, the Marin roads wind through forest and farmland until eventually you come to the Pacific spread out under the cliffs.
updated 7/6/2010 9:09:29 AM ET 2010-07-06T13:09:29

“It’s great to get away to a place where there are few activities besides walking around and exploring and relaxing together. On trips like this, John and I remember why we like each other so much!” says New Jersey resident Jeanellen Vapsva, who hopes to re-create a romantic kid-free weekend she and her husband spent last summer near Pennsylvania’s Delaware Water Gap.

Blame it on the heat, the relaxed schedules, or barefoot attitudes, but summer is when romance — be it a weekend fling or honeymoon — blossoms. According to a 2009 Bridal Guide survey, 9 out of 10 engaged couples say that weather is a key factor in choosing a destination for their wedding, with summer — June, August, May, and July (in this order) — being the most popular time of year to tie the knot and take a honeymoon, or just get away from it all. And the options are plentiful.

“Summer is the ideal time to travel because the weather is great in most of the popular destinations,” says Travel + Leisure A-List Agent Peter Lloyd, president of Century Travel, who’s been crafting romantic trips for his clients for more than 20 years. “We always see Europe on a big surge in summer, for example. Lush, vineyard-filled Tuscany and the scenic Amalfi Coast are meant for summertime — and for couples. It’s the place to live la dolce vita.”

Landing on the ideal romantic summer getaway, for some, is easy. For others, there’s Travel + Leisure’s list of favorite spots that are sure to get travelers in the mood for love this season.

Slideshow: Most romantic summer destinations

Come summer in the U.S., the islands off of Bar Harbor, Maine — many of which are a short boat ride away from the mainland — are a perfect spot to celebrate the season, Vacationland style. At the Spectacle Island Estate, guests can take in the salt air from suites overlooking fir-lined Frenchman Bay; warm up on cool Maine mornings with a wood-burning fireplace; and feed each other lobster. The Down East fantasy extends to the gorgeous rugged surroundings and nearby Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island.

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Moony-eyed twosomes might also be interested in checking into a cliff-side lodge in Vico Equense, Italy, on the Sorrento Coast. This undiscovered village comes complete with a castle, a secluded pebble beach, and gourmet finds like chef Gennaro Esposito’s risotto with cod and fig at Torre del Saracino, a restaurant housed in a seventh-century tower.

Essaouira, Morocco, is another far-flung affair to remember. The UNESCO World Heritage Site offers travelers every conceivable kind of activity — from world-class kiteboarding and arts to bustling medinas and hotels whose courtyards are perfumed with oleander.

Whether you take off for parts unknown or rediscover your own proverbial backyard in the coming weeks, one thing is certain: romance is where you find it.

Copyright © 2012 American Express Publishing Corporation

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