My local grocery store put out Valentine’s gifts the week after Christmas, giving me a full month to think about how cheesy this holiday can get. Don’t get me wrong, give me a box of Russell Stover and I just might love you forever.
But Valentine’s Day has become the epitome of a “Hallmark holiday,” driving us to spend more and more money on gifts and dinners and fancy cocktails.
Whether it’s a significant other, friend, or self-love focus for you this year, instead of a five-star restaurant how about a five-star campground? Bring a bottle of wine, s’mores by the campfire, and a blanket of stars above for a night or weekend of romantic camping. If it is below freezing where you live or COVID 19 travel restrictions have you stuck at home we also have a few #stayathome ideas that still give you the campy romance vibes you’re looking for this V-day.
Planning a Cozy & Romantic Camping Date
We know many places are not open right now for camping due to some combination of it being too cold or current travel restrictions. This Valentines Day we urge you to get outside even if it’s close to home.
Spend some time with your crush, your friend, your brother, or your grandma and make time to do something special this week, whether it is getting up an hour earlier to watch the sunrise or breaking out the pie iron for a sweet treat.
1. Make Sparks with A Campfire
There is no easier way to get to know a person than by sitting around a campfire with them. If you live in a place that allows contained fires, you can build a fire pit in your backyard or get a portable one. If not, check your local parks, beaches, or outdoor areas. Many public parks or even campsites on the off-season will still allow you to use their fire pits for an evening campfire.
Make sure to keep your date fun and cozy by bringing blankets, camp chairs, warm drinks like tea or cocoa and s’mores ingredients of course!
2. Picnic at the Peak
If the trails in your area are cleared enough to get outdoors, take your date on a scenic hike. Find an easy to moderate hike that you can do after work to relieve stress and get you spending time together in nature. Fill your pack with the charcuterie essentials or take a picnic backpack.
To maximize your comfort make sure to bring an extra layer to throw on for when you sit down to picnic as well as a camping blanket to sit on. If you plan to bring a drink, don’t forget a bottle opener or corkscrew!
If you are game for bringing a full-blown charcuterie set up go right ahead but a few recommendations could save you time and make your pack a little lighter. Swap prosciutto for a cured salami or better yet jerky, buy olives in a bag not a jar, cheese is pretty straightforward but if you don’t feel like bringing a knife, you can also pack moon cheese snacks.
3. Catch the Sunset
Watching the sunset never gets old, especially when you are stuck inside most days. Make a pact to stop work early and pack a snack and maybe a drink, (hot toddies are perfect for winter!) t
4. Grab an Astronomy Guide to Snuggle Beneath the Stars
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Head to your backyard or if you in the city, drive out to a park where you can stargaze. Get bundled up and sit by the fire until well after the sun goes down and the stars appear. If you have no formal astronomy knowledge, check out a book on basic astronomy at your library. Sit with your partner and try to identify Orion’s Belt and the hard-to-find Little Dipper.
5. Relax at a Hot Spring
There are over 1,000 hot springs in the U.S. meaning there is a good chance there is one in your area, especially if you live on the western side of the country. Make your next date an adventure by heading to a soaking spot to hang out, relax, and enjoy some toasty geothermal heated water.
Hot springs are a great romantic spot for a date, especially when they are set within mountain ranges or lush forests. Remember to check the details inn advance because although many springs are free this also means they are first come first serve so your date may turn into a 20 person hangout. For a more intimate experience check out a reservable hot spring.
6. Find A Open Campsite
Maybe you live in an area that stays warm all year round or maybe you found a glamping campsite with heat, getting out for a weekend of camping is always a great date idea!
Fewer campgrounds are open in the winter, which means an extra level of planning if you decide to escape to the woods this Valentine’s day for romantic camping. For those in the northern states, Forest Service and BLM land will state the open dates of campgrounds they service on the website. If you can’t find the information online, there’s always a phone number to call for more information.
Your best bet? RV parks. Generally, RV parks across the country are open year-round and some even offer tent camping in frigid temperatures (like Ouray RV Park near Telluride, Colorado, who rent tent sites to ice climbers in December and January). Call campgrounds ahead of time to ensure availability, and once you have them on the line, try and secure the most private, romantic campsite they have.
7. Set up Camp at Home
You don’t need to go far to enjoy the novelty of camping, experience camping from home by setting up your backyard or if it’s cold your living room. Sometimes the best part of camping isn’t actually going anywhere but being more present together.
Pitch your tent at home and spend a night playing board games, swapping stories, or set up a little at-home movie theater and finish it off with some jiffy pop. Check out these ideas for more backyard camping inspiration.
Cozy Gear Ideas
While we are promoters of use the gear you have, these couple gifts can really up the romance on a camping date or outdoor adventure. These gifts for outdoorsy couples will make your camping experience twice as cozy whether in your backyard or the great outdoors.
There are a few essential winter camping gear pieces that can make the cold tolerable, like base layers and camp slippers. Bring plenty of layers to stay warm, and some hot chocolate or mulled wine to keep your insides even toastier.
8. Pack a Double Sleeping Bag
Image from Big Agnes
My husband and I received a double sleeping bag as an engagement gift and it was one of the best items gifted to us! Some of the more technical bags have a velcro enclosure at the top of the bag to keep cold air from entering the bag between the two of you.
More technical bags will run in the $100-$200 range, but you can find a basic bag for around $60.
9. Bring the Wine and a Camp-Safe Carrier
Honestly, we should all have camping wine glasses anyways, stored alongside our tiki torches and roasting sticks. A metal stake grounds the bottle and glass holders in place, and twisted metal holds the glass and bottles at the perfect height for relaxed sipping. Perfect for late summer evenings, or romantic camping Valentine’s dates.
You can find a set for four wine glasses and a wine bottle at Home Depot for $14.99.
10. String Up Cozy Lights
What makes a romantic camping trip more than a set of string lights threaded between juniper branches or pinyon pine? You can also string them on the inside of your tent for intimate lighting.
Most string lights are battery or solar powered, so you can easily camp in the middle of nowhere and create a magical atmosphere with your partner. Make sure to bring extra batteries, though.
11. Set the Mood with Mystical Fire
The first time I saw Mystical Fire, I about lost my mind. For $25, you get a pack of 25 fire colorants that when thrown on the fire turn the flames a spectrum of color–blue, yellow, green, purple. A campfire itself is already mesmerizing, but a cool camping product like Mystical Fire takes the experience to truly impressive levels.
Impress your date, partner, or any camping mate with these magic packets.
12. Sweeten Things Up With a Double Pie Iron
Forget the marshmallows; if you’re looking to change your campfire roasting game, get yourself a double pie iron. Make blueberry cream cheese stuffed french toast for breakfast, a monte cristo for lunch, chicken pot pie for dinner, and chocolate marshmallow puffs for dessert.
Or, invent your own recipe for your romantic camping getaway! You’ll need some type of bread or dough to start, but be creative from there. Add cheese or chicken or jam or pickles. Tap into your inner chef and have fun with it!
13. Invest in a Loveseat Chair
Sure, you can squeeze two camp chairs together to touch, but can you snuggle with them that way? Not without an arm digging into your back or feeling on the verge of tipping over.
Loveseat camp chairs—like this one from Kelty—offer enough room to curl up next to the campfire with a few extra blankets to keep warm. It’s the perfect place to set up your wine bottle and glasses, whip out your astronomy guide, and cuddle until it’s time to retreat to the tent.
Our recommendations are based on providing value to campers across the country. Some articles may contain affiliate links. By purchasing through our articles, you help support this camping magazine.