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The Best U.S. Cities for a Romantic Weekend

The Best U.S. Cities for a Romantic Weekend

Valentine’s Day is nearly here, and many of you may be sick of the chocolate, flowers, and bland dinner dates that have come to represent this holiday. It may be time to jazz things up with a trip that strays from the ordinary and expected. Whether you live in one of these locations or want to make a romantic weekend getaway, here are some of the most promising destinations for couples in the U.S.

1. San Juan

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    Halfway between Seattle and Vancouver, San Juan Island is a Washington hotspot for fun and romantic activities. Go whale-watching in the bay, stay at a charming bed & breakfast, or get rejuvenated at one of the local spas. San Juan Island Vineyards offer sophisticated wine tastings, and the town even has a special Valentine’s Day listing full of timely activities and discounts.

    2. San Diego

    With its glorious weather and scenic attractions, San Diego is a no-brainer choice for a romantic weekend. Couples can check out Little Italy, see a movie at one of San Diego’s drive-in theaters, take a paddle boat out to sea, or roam the luxurious Prado – full of beautiful architecture, restaurants, and hidden gardens. The perfect balance of beach and city life, it’s no wonder we call it “America’s Finest City.”

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    3. Chicago

    Chicago may not be the first city that pops into your mind for a romantic weekend, but it does feature several great locations you may not have heard of. Millennium Park is packed with fun couples activities, like winter ice skating. No romantic getaway is complete without a trip to the Signature Room, a five-star restaurant with a stunning view from the top of the John Hancock Observatory. If you visit in the summer, top off the evening with a trip to the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel overlooking the city.

    4. Boulder

    Everyone’s favorite ski town, Boulder offers more than juts cozy ski trips with your sweetheart. Chautauqua Park is the perfect destination for athletic couples, featuring hiking trails, rock climbing, and dazzling views of the Flatirons. Boulder Falls also offers a scenic adventure for couples. City folks may be more comfortable sauntering down Pearl Street to check out the bars, eateries, street performances, and fountains.

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    5. Miami

    Check in at the Fountainebleau or the Hyatt Centric in South Beach for an especially luxurious hotel stay. Miami offers a myriad of romantic activities that won’t break the bank – like a stroll down Lincoln Road, which hosts a movie theater at one end and the Fillmore at the other. Visit Coral Gables or Bal Harbour Shops to get your shopping fix, and stop by Sunset Lounge to grab a drink and watch the sun set over the bay.

    6. Bar Harbor

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    romantic weekend

      A lesser-known town in Maine, Bar Harbor is an adorable spot where couples can stay in cottages, eat the tastiest seafood, and enjoy relaxing views of the bay. Take a scenic drive around Park Loop Road and reach the lofty heights of Cadillac Mountain. Acadia National Park hosts trails for the more adventurous, while various cafes like Cafe This Way offers the perfect touch of small town charm. If you love to browse bookstores and boutiques, Bar Harbor is just the place.

      7. Omaha

      If you’re way out in the midwest and can’t make it to any of these coastal destinations, humble Omaha, Nesbraska features tons of off-the-beaten-path attractions for couples. Walk or cycle down the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge or take a tour of one of Omaha’s delicious breweries, like Lucky Bucket Brewing Co. You can even spend a weekend on the museums alone — Omaha is a hub for magnificent sites like the Durham Museum and the Joslyn Art Museum.

      8. Louisville

      The list wouldn’t be complete without a fancy southern destination like Louisville, Kentucky. Couples can go antiquing at the quaint Crazy Daisy and browse beautiful old Victorian homes in town. Take a romantic ride in a horse-drawn carriage downtown and stop in at one of Louisville’s restaurants, like Saffron’s Persian Restaurant. Couples can take a cruise on the Belle of Louisville for a calming view of the Ohio river and the city skyline.

      Featured photo credit: robert bejil photography via imcreator.com

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      Last Updated on January 15, 2021

      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

      The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

      Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

      Posture

      First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

      • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
      • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
      • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
      • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

      All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

      Facial Expressions

      Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

      • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
      • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
      • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

      If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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      1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

      A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

      The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

      This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

      2. Relax Your Face

      New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

      The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

      To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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      3. Improve Your Eye Contact

      Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

      The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

      To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

      3. Smile More

      There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

      Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

      4. Hand Gestures

      Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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      It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

      5. Enhance Your Handshake

      In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

      “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

      It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

      6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

      As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

      Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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      Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

      Final Takeaways

      Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

      If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

      More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

      Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

      Reference

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