CHICAGO (Orbitz) — If you’re hoping to meet that special soul mate on your next vacation, or maybe just hang out with some like-minded single folks, Club Med simply isn’t your only option.
Whether you want to mingle in the mountains, flirt along a Florida beach or socialize by the slots, plenty of U.S. destinations offer the right stuff for the single traveler.
It’s really all in the attitude, says Valarie D’Elia, a travel journalist and a member of the Orbitz Consumer Advisory Board who advises against any preconceived notions.
"The number one rule is ‘if you are looking for it, you probably are not going to find it,’" she says. So just relax and have fun.
"The better time you’re having, the more approachable you are, and the easier it will be for you to meet other people," D’Elia says.
Here’s D’Elia’s take on her top U.S. destinations for singles:
Given its reputation for 24/7 celebration, it’s hardly a shock that Las Vegas might rank among the top singles spots.
"It’s really like a no-brainer destination, really," D’Elia says, noting the top draws like New York New York, Bellagio, Paris Las Vegas and the MGM Grand.
"It has the gambling and it has the floor shows, all kinds of entertainment. I would just say if you’re going to put a lot of people in one place — and a lot of people who want to have fun — that’s the place to go," she says.
Travelers who need a break from the neon and glitz can head outdoors to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, an oasis of wildlife and waterfalls just 17 miles west of the Strip.
While South Beach shares Vegas’ propensity to party, this see-and-be-seen hot spot on the southern end of Miami Beach has decidedly different demographics.
"The beautiful people go to South Beach," says D’Elia.
South Beach boasts small, cozy, boutique-style hotels, an array of restaurants and an abundance of all-night hangouts.
"There are so many great, hip nightclubs, and there always seems to be a new one opening. The whole influence of the ocean, combined with the fanciful Art Deco architecture, it’s like eye candy," she says.
Even if you’re not a VIP, D’Elia says, "You can at least pretend that you’re on the A-list when you’re down there."
If ever there’s a tourist destination linked to late-night debauchery, it’s the Big Easy. But it’s quite possible to enjoy the city’s character, cuisine, even the carnival-style atmosphere, without going overboard along the Mississippi.
"I think it comes down to the person. You certainly don’t have to be drawn into it. If you want to be a part of the revelry, you certainly can," says D’Elia, who dubs New Orleans "a real spicy kind of destination."
Beyond Bourbon Street, visitors can explore the French Quarter, try a cemetery tour, or visit a range of museums.
Ski resorts offer a fine opportunity for singles to meet and mingle, particularly when you’re scrunched up next to a stranger on the lift or warming up over wine at the lodge. And Killington in central Vermont, says D’Elia, is among the finest.
"Of all the ski areas on the East Coast, Killington has the best nightlife," she says.
The access road from the town up to the slopes is loaded with entertainment options for folks who have wrapped up their skiing for the afternoon.
"It’s the apres ski that really is appealing to a lot of people here. Things get started when the slopes close," D’Elia says.
VAIL and ASPEN
Purists say resorts in the Rockies offer the best U.S. skiing, and some might argue they’ve got the best apres-skiing as well.
Whether the skiing is superior or not, the skiers out West just have a different way of vacationing.
"You’re getting bigger mountains, the weather is better, people are prettier — they’re not as bundled up," D’Elia says. "It’s like more of a laid-back kind of experience when it comes to skiing."
Aspen is the upscale, more expensive option, attracting the rich and famous, and those who want to be close to them.
"I’d say Vail is more pedestrian — with a better mix of people from all walks of life. It’s not as hoity-toity as Aspen," she says.