Dancing in the moonlight may make the best song lyric, but dining in the moonlight is just as romantic...and this is the season for it. Whether you're headed to a stunning Maldives island or a Southwest desert on vacation, here are 10 dining experiences that make the most of gorgeous summer nights.
Photo Credit Michael Evans
The Vines Resort & Spa
At The Vines Resort & Spa winery in Argentina, the Siete Fuegos restaurant welcomes guests to the vineyards for a traditional outdoor asado, grilled with flair by Chef Francis Mallmann. The Vines is opening guest accommodations this December...possibly as a necessary convenience for all the dinner guests who fall asleep by the fire after an excess of Argentina’s famous beef and the winery’s critically acclaimed Malbec.
They call it “dining in a lean-to,” but this handsomely rugged indoor-outdoor space at Whiteface Lodge has little in common with the lean-tos we read about in Little House on the Prairie — for one thing, it’s in the Adirondack Mountains. Stay in one of two structures specially designed for guests of this luxury mountain resort, where one can dine, drink wine, and snuggle under the stars year-round.
Is it a movie set? Not quite but it is a Coppola property. Masterminded by the famous producer/director Francis Ford Coppola and his family, Turtle Inn is designed to give every guest a night straight out of an Oscar-winning film. There are three Belize properties, each small and exquisite. Restaurants showcase local flavors and the natural beauty of the surroundings — at the Gauguin Grill in Placencia, it’s fresh seafood served in simple baskets, with tables set right on the sand.
Photo Courtesy of 320 Ranch
320 Ranch, Big Sky, Montana
Now this is roughing it. Only, not really. Big Sky, Montana is certainly cowboy country, but the dude ranches in this part of the West offer a completely idealized version of the cowboy lifestyle — hayrides, sunrise hikes, cookouts under the stars, wine dinners in the saloon. The 320 Steakhouse kicks off its 2013 summer season with a pig roast on June 10, 2013.
Photo Courtesy of Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs
Different Pointe of View, Arizona
With its clear skies and year-round warm weather (okay, in summer, downright hot weather), the Arizona desert is ideal for open-air dining...hence the proliferation of choices. Romantic firepit seating and mountaintop setting not pictured, because they come standard with the zip code. What’s special about Defferent Pointe of View is the dessert: liqueur-infused marshmallows that guests can roast over the fire and put between cookies for gooey, decadent grownup s’mores.
What’s a Caribbean resort without a balmy outdoor terrace overlooking infinity pools, beaches, and beautiful skies? Because of its size and fairly isolated Oyster Pond setting, the Westin Dawn Beach Resort offers ocean views from almost every outdoor table in any of their restaurants. With lamps glowing and the pool illuminated, it’s a perfect evening in the islands.
Photo Courtesy of The Vineyards
The Vineyards Restaurant at Garden Ridge, Texas
In the gorgeous rolling ”Hill Country” of Central Texas, cowboy culture mixes with wine-growing culture to create one of America’s coolest and most colorful culinary scenes. Famously funky Austin and Fredericksburg (Texas’ wine country epicenter) are the two most famous Hill Country destinations, but San Antonio may be the undiscovered gem. Just look at this picture-perfect local favorite, The Vineyards Restaurant at Garden Ridge.
For people who prefer an intimate Caribbean experience, Cotton Tree is everything the big-box luxury hotels are not. Owned and operated by two sisters, this Grand Cayman hideaway has only four guest cottages, and when you dine beachside, it’s a white-table setup for just one party. This sand-under-your-feet experience is available by special request, and naturally, a favorite among couples.
Photo Courtesy of Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia
Tali Wiru Dinner, Uluru, Northern Territory, Australia
If prairies and islands just aren't remote enough, journey to the bottom of the earth for dinner at Ayers Rock, also known as Uluru. Sacred to the Aborigine, this massive sandstone landmark illuminates at sunset. It’s one of the world’s most dramatic destinations and quite remote. Luxury tour companies like Travcoa offer a sunset wine dinner as one of their most exclusive experiences. As the stars and moon come out, the view of Uluru fades into dusk.
Photo Courtesy of Peninsula Grill
Peninsula Grill, Charleston, South Carolina
As great as Northern Australia is, if you live in the U.S. there’s no need to travel to the ends of the earth for a memorable romantic meal. Even the most urban of spaces can offer a glimpse of the stars, as this idyllic patio scene demonstrates. The Planters Inn Courtyard is the special-occasion jewel within the Peninsula Grill — open April through October. It’s an oasis in an alley, offering plantation-style beauty right in the heart of Charleston.
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