This Valentine's Day hit the open road with your honey and explore the most romantic cities around the country.
Valentine’s Day is upon us and you’re probably looking for something to do to make the day extra special. There’s a lot of social pressure that goes into Valentine’s Day. Good news: we’re here to help.
We’re not here to give you lists of outrageously priced restaurants. No ultra-bougie hotels or gifts with price tags that would make Oprah clutch her wallet. Instead, Valentine’s Day should be, more than anything, personal. So whether you want to travel far or stay close to home, go all out or keep it quaint, it’s up to you. And it’s up to us to give you some viable options.
This brings us to our list of the most romantic cities in each of the 50 states …
Boy oh boy, does this place just ooze southern charm. I’m talking Spanish moss-draped oaks looming sensuously over the quaint neighborhood streets, wooden shop signs swaying outside mom-n-pop restaurants down main street with sweet and savory southern smells beckoning you inside their doors and Gulf waters lapping up against the beaches as the ever-present soundtrack to your Southern retreat for two. Beautiful architecture, great food, mild climate, Mosher Castle … the list goes on and on. If that doesn’t make you book a ticket to Fairhope, I’m not sure what will.
If you can believe it, a trip to Anchorage will provide you with plenty of activities to participate in with your beau. Anchorage has that special something that only fences and Hannah Montana share: the best of both worlds. You’re in a city with urban amenities — bars, restaurants, live entertainment, shopping — but you’re just minutes from nature and the wild side of the state, including the stunning scenes of the Northern Lights! So whether you want to do some city-living, nature trekking with your partner or both, Anchorage is the happy medium.
Yuma is a classically Arizona town just a short ride from California and neighboring country Mexico, which means excellent Mexican cuisine! Downtown Yuma is a colorful corner of the city to explore, and they’ve got lots of events on the weekend leading up to Valentine’s Day. Check out Drinking Habits Dinner and Show at the Yuma Art Center, and watch a real rodeo at the Yuma Silver Spur Rodeo. Round off the trip with a super romantic History Under the Stars Dinner at the Sanguinetti House Museum and Gardens.
The University of Arkansas calls this fun-loving town home, and recently it’s been evolving into a more cultured hot spot. Dickson Street is the spot to hit with your significant other; with live music venues, bars and a colorful array of eateries (with special mention of the city’s oldest nightclub, George’s Majestic Lounge), it’s the hot strip of the city. Plus, there’s always the breathtaking nature and blossoming art scene to explore in Fayetteville.
Santa Barbara, CA
Santa Barbara is a beach town and a mountain town. It’s quaint suburbia and a hip, bustling city with great nightlife. It’s youthful and mature. It’s … well, practically perfect. The city of Santa Barbara is very strict about any new construction there, so the entire city follows a cohesive, Spanish-style aesthetic that is simply gorgeous. The food is fresh and delicious and you can find any kind of cuisine you crave — the freshest sushi, the zestiest Italian, authentic Mexican and Greek and, of course, American fare. All your favorite shops are here, too, and nothing is too far from wherever you’re staying. I promise you, it will very quickly become one of your very favorite places to visit.
Manitou Springs, CO
Maybe you and your partner aren’t the boot-scootin’ boogying type. Perhaps you’re the tie-dye shirts and Birkenstock type. Maybe you’re both! Colorado is the place for y’all, and of all the spots in Colorado, Manitou Springs might just be the perfect landing point. Relax a bit in the hot springs. Collect pieces for your home from local artisans, painters and sculptors. Hike one of the many trails. Kill an afternoon and a pocket full of pesky pennies at the historic penny arcade. Maybe check out this February’s Mumbo Jumbo Cookoff and Carnival Parade. Or just sit at a gorgeous park with your partner and read or people-watch or kiss or whatever it is you do together. It’s a chill town with incredible vibes all around and you won’t be sorry you visited.
Essex is like being in a time machine. Yes, a lot of New England is like that, but there’s something special about Essex. It hums with a sort of by-gone calm that’s hard to come by nowadays. Take your time here, slow it down, put the phone down and stop and smell the flowers. You and your special someone will thank me later.
You’re a complex and cultured couple who color outside the lines. You like lots of different things. You appreciate the fine arts and a good beer. Which is why the Smyrna Opera House and Brickworks brewpub are for you and your partner. You like birdwatching and a stiff drink, which is why Smyrna’s Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge and Painted Stave Distilling tour are for you and your favorite person. So, in other words, Smyrna is the place for you both. You’re welcome.
St. Augustine, FL
America’s oldest city was founded in the 1500s by Spanish colonizers and still feels like a little slice of Spain! Historic downtown (or Old Town, it’s known by both names) is the perfect place to walk about in peace because no cars or bikes are allowed. Drink from the Fountain of Youth on the grounds of St. Augustine’s first settlement, eat lunch in what was formerly the largest indoor swimming pool, or cuddle alligators (if you dare) at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. And because it’s Florida, it feels like spring pretty much year-round. Make sure you and your date pack something to swim in!
This place is so, so beautiful. Describing it as ‘picturesque’ doesn’t do it justice, but it’s as close as I can get without ranting on and on. There is so much to do in Dahlonega it’s almost dizzying — explore land and sky with a visit to Gibbs Gardens and the Observatory. Get your fill of fine wine and wildlife with a day trip to Wolf Mountain Vineyards and Chestatee Wildlife Preserve. Go to a spa and get a couple’s massage. Take one of many scenic drives and listen to your favorite songs with the windows down. Dine by candlelight at a local Italian joint or stuff yourselves at a famous BBQ pit. Look at me; I went on and on anyway… Seriously, why haven’t you packed and booked your tickets already?
Where do I even begin with Maui? Hiking, farm tours, parasailing, snorkeling, Hawaiian BBQ, surfing, helicopter rides, beach lounging, bar hopping, making sand angels, for crying out loud! If you’re reading this list with no idea what might make Maui a romantic place to go for Valentine’s Day, I’m not sure what else to say. Yes, it’s romantic. If you’re on the fence about it, jump off on the Maui side of that fence. It’s warm and it’s gorgeous and sure, it’s far, but boy, is it as close to paradise as you’re gonna get.
Ketchum’s slogan is “Small Town, Big Life,” and boy ain’t it. Art museums, shopping, fine dining, it’s got everything you’d expect from a lovers’ getaway. But it does boast one thing quite special and unique — a Dark Sky Reserve. What’s that? It’s exactly like a nature reserve, but for the stars! That means that Ketchum is part of Idaho’s fight to preserve the clarity of the night, minimize light pollution, and keep stars shining. So, what’s more romantic than sitting out after a full day of exploring and eating and gazing upon a sky bursting with stars? I’m getting starry-eyed just thinking about it…
This year, on the week of Valentine’s Day along the city’s historic Main Street, Galena is hosting the Chocolate Lovers Stroll. Luckily for those with sweet teeth, that’s exactly what it sounds like. Plus, a few days later, there’s the Winter Carnival Weekend, featuring outdoor activities like s’more making, ice carving stations, and an ice bar complete with marshmallow shots. I mean, come on. Of course, the fact that this town is also the epitome of charming is just the cherry on top of this winter-lovers’ fest!
No, that’s not a typo; it’s Nashville, Indiana. It’s a small and peculiar town with loads of rustic aesthetic and midwestern charm, but I mention it for one very specific reason. Located in Brown County, Nashville, IN, is home to two of only a handful of “kissing bridges.” Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when these covered bridges were built, they were some of the very few places young lovers could go to be alone. To this day, there are messages and love notes left on the walls or even painted or carved into the wood itself. Is that not the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard? Take your lover and travel the road connecting the bridges and do your own kissing on these historic landmarks!
Iowa City, IA
Maybe you and your partner are a bit more bookish than most — more reading than skiing or more golfing than cycling. Iowa City might be the place for you both. Take a tour of the University of Iowa campus (home to one of the nation’s very best writing programs), visit a local museum, or take a day at the Finkbine Golf Course. After you’ve had your relaxing fill of the city in daylight, take things down another notch with a show at the Englert Theatre with a nice dinner at a local restaurant to end the evening.
When you think Kansas, you probably don’t think quirky. But that’s maybe because you’ve never been to Lawrence. It may not feel like you’re in Kansas anymore, but Kansas is evolving, or haven’t you heard? Being home to the state university, Lawrence is the state’s “youthful corner” and is known for its vibrant nightlife, artistic vibe and fun-loving demographic. Leaning a little more bohemian than most middle-America cities, it’s nearly impossible to get bored in this town. So if you and your partner are looking for a little piece of the Emerald City in the Sunflower State, look no further.
Known as the Athens of the West, Lexington is lush, green, and filled with horses. If you or your partner have a thing for horses, Lexington is your scene. Visit the Museum of the Horse, the Hall of Champions, the Kentucky Horse Park, or go for a drive and see just how many you both can count! When you come back from your horse-tallying trip, you can stop by the Valentine Printmaking Workshop, where you and your date can participate in some arts and crafts.
Visit Natchitoches for a taste of what it would be like to live in the gorgeous little town in Steel Magnolias … because this is where the film takes place. Yes, you can stroll the actual streets that Dolly and Sally walked, twirl unabashedly beneath moss-clung Southern oaks and magnolia trees just like Julia and Daryl would have. This town is Southern charm, it is classic Louisiana architecture, it is all-American romance. Throw in the outrageously delicious Cajun cuisine and temperate climate and you have yourself one unforgettable trip.
Known as the Jewel of the Maine Coast, Camden hugs a beautiful harbor and is studded with restaurants and shops. And there’s an incredible view no matter where you go. The first of many coastal getaways on our list, Camden is gorgeous year-round but especially busy during the summer months, which means the 14th of February will be a lot more peaceful.
Places you and your significant other can stay in while visiting Frederick:
- A peaceful stone manor
- A rustic yet modern cabin
- A classy Victorian-era home in the quaint suburbs
All of these experiences and more await you and your love in Maryland. When you’re checking out what to fill your trip with, be sure to snag a spot on the Sweetheart Dinner Train for Valentine’s Day. And don’t forget to take a stroll through the Downtown Saturday Bazaar, a fun open-air market!
It’s a Norman Rockwell painting come to life. Deerfield is the best way to drag out that Christmas feeling just a little bit longer with your loved one, especially since this is the home of Yankee Candle! So you can take a little bit of it back home with you when you’re through. But before you go, be sure to visit Mount Sugarloaf, the BBC Outdoor Beer Garden, or Cieluk’s Market! And if you feel so inclined to sing a carol or two, you go right ahead; we wouldn’t judge either of you.
Mackinac Island, MI
The definition of “vacation getaway.” Mackinac is reachable only by ferry, and once you get on the island, you’re greeted with a small, peaceful and idyllic wonderland perfect for roaming at a leisurely pace. There are no cars on the island, so you get around on foot, by bike, or with horse-drawn buggies. There are no chain hotels, so you’re sure to get a one-of-a-kind experience wherever you choose to stay. And there’s plenty of sightseeing — everywhere you turn is a view worthy of framing. This destination is for those couples who want a true getaway from the hubbub and bustle.
St. Paul, MN
The city’s got more than just a nice skyline and pretty waterfronts going for it. Check out the Winter Carnival, where you can see ice sculptors do their thing, sled down snowy hills, and grab something tasty and warm to eat. Be a little tongue-in-cheek and see “‘Til Death; A Marriage Musical on the 4th.” Or dare one another to go on the Street Caves Tour around St. Paul!
Another university town, Oxford also boasts some beautiful classic architecture. A town square is the central hub of Oxford (like something out of a movie) and is hugged on all sides by mom-n-pop shops and fine restaurants. Of course, being a university town, it’s also a haven for many artistic types like writers and painters. And during the week of Valentine’s, there’s a host of local events like a community market, a tennis match, and a live musical!
You’ll never lack things to do in Branson. Known as Missouri’s own Las Vegas, the city is host to loads of live shows, parks, museums, shopping, and seasonal events perfect for a firecracker weekend with your partner. Not to mention there’s plenty of natural beauty in Branson as well. Lakes to walk along, Ozarks to trek…but if you’d rather get a more VIP treatment, try the upscale guided tour of the city in a limousine-style SUV. Classy and private and priced just right.
Montana is one of the most beautiful states in the country, hands down. So choosing only one town to feature is challenging enough. But when it came down to it, Whitefish came out on top for its variety of activities. This is an outdoorsy place. I mean, we’re talking about Montana here. Bordered by Glacier National Park just north of the Rockies, Whitefish is snowy and rugged, a haven for skiers, snowboarders, ice-hikers, and the like. The main street is lined with the usual resort town goodies like boutiques and fine dining and a handful of bars, but it’s nature that will make this trip. Sporty couples assemble!
The state’s capital is the place to be if you’re planning a romantic trip to Nebraska. Lincoln has got everything you might need for a couple looking to have fun and try new things, from live shows to a delicious restaurant scene and bustling nightlife. Start the day with a caffeine hit at a local cafe, follow it up with a walk through the Pioneers Park Nature Center. Then fill up with brunch at The Railyard and maybe do some shopping in the Historic Haymarket District. Look, I’m already planning the trip for you both. All either of you has to do is pack!
Sometimes, you want a muscle car, big hair, tight jeans, a heart-shaped-bed kind of Valentine’s complete with some Barry White and your fanciest cowboy boots. You know, the Boogie Nights kind of weekend. So how about a trip to Reno? You know the one, The Biggest Little City in the World! It’s not Vegas; it’s better because Vegas is always crowded (and let’s be honest, a little overrated) and it’s cold in winter but there’s nothing to do except go indoors. Reno has all the glitz and glamour of Vegas, but when it snows, you’re in the heart of adventure country! Wanna hit the slots then go ski? Sure thing. How about taking a trip to Tahoe before spending the night bar hopping on the famous Reno strip? Can do. You can do it all in Reno, and you’re going to have a hell of a time doing it, too.
Museums and historic sites to tour, lots of restaurants to try and ice skating at the Strawbery Banke Museum, what’s not romantic about this New England haven? Yes, Portsmouth is chilly, but all the more reason to snuggle up together by a warm fireplace in one of its many colonial bed-n-breakfasts and admire the snowy landscape.
It will truly feel like stepping through a magic portal and into the past when you cross the bridge into Lambertville. The architecture here is beautiful and the town sits right along a river, so the views are great! And with a good downtown area with lots of great bars and pubs, you and your beau can do a Valentine’s Day pub crawl!
Sante Fe, NM
Santa Fe may be the capital city of New Mexico, but its population is nearly 7 times smaller than that of Albuquerque, so it’s a lot more laidback. Plus, it’s brimming with vibrant and varying cultures — from Latin and American Indian art and food scenes to country-western bars and aesthetics, it’s a mix and match experience. It’s breathtakingly stunning, peaceful yet never dull and socially diverse and rich. That, to me, is incredibly romantic.
Sitting on the Susquehanna River, Owego is known for its fine wine, mom-n-pop shopping scene and Strawberry Festival! (Talk about romance, eh?) There’s plenty to do in this quaint and lush town — a famous bookshop, fine restaurants, and a casino to boot! You’re sure to fill a weekend with lovely memories of long walks on the river.
Asheville is hip. Asheville is cool. Asheville is with-it. Is it a hippie retreat? Is it a mature adult utopia? Is there historic architecture and a thriving art scene? Is it an art city? A music city? A spa destination? Is it an outdoorsy haven? Is it an urban retreat? Yes to literally everything. Whatever you’re into, you’ll find it here, kid you not.
It’s no secret that North Dakota gets cold. And I mean cold. But if you’re looking to ND for a Valentine’s trip for two, this is probably the perfect place to do it. Fargo Love: A Community Valentine’s Celebration is exactly that, a celebration of love! Ice skating, games and food, and even a movie projected onto a big screen for all to watch while they enjoy a cup of hot cocoa. Fargo is like a scene out of a rom-com.
Well, would you look at that … another college town! (What can I say? They know how to have a good time.) Athens is a place that might surprise you. For example, there’s tons of art here. Galleries, museums, art boutiques. Before you come to Athens leave some room in your suitcase lest you get carried away is all I’m saying. Then there’s the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, where you and your partner can get an eyeful of incredible views from the comfort of a historic train car! After that, you can catch a flick at the historic Athena Cinema, which is over 100 years old! Dim the lights and roll the film; it’s about to get romantic in here.
Tulsa may be chilly in February, but it’s not lacking in things to do. The Philbrook Museum of Arts is a great place to spend time with your date, as is Roosevelt’s Gastropub. Take a visit to Gathering Place, a completely unique urban and nature experience. Try your luck at Osage Casino … you could win big and pay for your whole trip. Who knows!
Salem is the state capital of Oregon, and while Portland may be the most well-known city in this lush green state, you shouldn’t sleep on Salem. It’s got plenty for you and your partner to explore. Not only is Oregon an outdoorsy state (Danner hiking boots and stickered Subarus anybody?) but it’s got a wonderful food and craft brewery scene as well as a thriving artistic culture. And Salem’s downtown district is big enough for two people to spend a weekend exploring — it’s a whole seven-block radius, unlike many cities’ single-block, single-street historic districts. Loads of eateries, pubs, and theaters to cozy up in and flirt the night away.
Jim Thorpe, PA
Instead of booking a flight to Switzerland, how about staying in the “Little Switzerland of America.” Located in eastern Pennsylvania, Jim Thorpe is about as pretty as you can get. It’s a little bit Victorian, it’s a little bit mountain village, it’s a little bit Stars Hollow, it’s a little bit ski town, but most importantly it’s a lot romantic.
If you’re out for a casual stroll with your S.O., you can admire the public art or see what the winter-friendly animals are up to at the Zoo. There’s ice skating, hockey games, and ICE BUMPER CARS. Yes, you read that correctly. Providence has ice. bumper. cars. Go get ’em, tiger…
Mount Pleasant, SC
This is a proud little waterfront town, and with good reason. Not only is it cute as can be, but it’s also known for its fresh cuisine and locally-sourced ingredients. The city website says, “A perfect day in Mount Pleasant: grits for breakfast, lunch on the water and a craft brew with dinner.” Yeah, that sounds pretty great. There’s so much for a foodie to love here, so if you and your partner are looking for a gastro-getaway, this might be the perfect spot for you both.
Vermillion has garnered a handful of unique little titles and catchphrases, like being “the spirit of South Dakota” and “close to everything, far from ordinary.” But my personal favorite is “the Miami of South Dakota.” So what about it earns it these awesome titles? Well, there’s the fact that it sits between two big highways, which essentially means you have lots more opportunities open to you. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for in Vermillion, you can take a short drive to where you can. But within the city, you can see live shows, shop in its downtown district and visit tons of beautiful parks!
A frequent player in the Top 100 Best Places to Live in America, Franklin is as sweet as it is beautiful and has even been called idyllic. It still holds onto a more ‘classic’ way of doing things, from the architecture to the kindness and manners of strangers. And it’s a stunner in some snow. For a more laidback Tennessee experience, Franklin will treat you right.
Weren’t expecting Fredericksburg, were ya? Welp, this city is full of our favorite thing — charm. It feels unlike many places in Texas because it has a distinctly European feel to it, specifically German. If you want the cowboy-western scene, you wouldn’t need our help finding it in Texas. Fredericksburg hosts some great cafes, cute BnBs and is close to great wineries and orchards! This is the place to hit up for a Texas trip for two that doesn’t feel like typical Texas.
Park City, UT
Home of the Sundance Film Festival, Park City has become an artistic haven. Along with a couple of swanky resorts to pop into and explore, you and your loved one can coast up and down historic Main Street — lined with incredible shops and dining experiences. Or take in the art scene or go see a movie at a historic theater (many of the very best films throughout recent history have premiered here, don’t ya know). Plus, there are loads of outdoor activities — hiking and biking — as well as some more unique draws, like snowmobiling and guided dog sled tours! I’ll say it again: Guided dog sled tours!
Burlington is a good time. It’s a little big town that’s ready to host. Do you want a calm getaway? No problem, try a quaint bed-n-breakfast followed by a nature walk or ice skating. Do you want a little more of a rollick? Hold my beer … try the breweries, street markets, or winter sports locales. It’s chill, it’s scenic, it’s a Burling-ton of fun! Sorry, I had to.
Often considered one of the best cities in the country and picturesque to a tee, Alexandria has a lot going for it. Water taxi tours of the city are a great way to spend an afternoon seeing lots of historic waterfront architecture. Afterward, you can go shopping at any number of the 100+ boutiques for a keepsake to remember the trip with. And I know visiting an old Torpedo factory doesn’t sound romantic, but this one’s been turned into an art exhibit and museum where you can see artisans at work! Plus, anyplace with cobblestone streets is just the epitome of romance, right?
Walla Walla, WA
You’re probably thinking, what — Walla Walla, Washington? Walla Walla is an excellent spot for classy foodies and wine connoisseurs. Home to wineries sprawled across rolling hills and a stunning downtown area, the only challenge will be to choose which restaurants to eat at during your stay. My suggestion would be to extend the stay and try everything. Cozy up in as many fine eateries as you can, sample as much of the wine as you can, live and let live! This place is one of those places you never want to leave once you get good and settled. And it’s very easy to get good and settled.
Harper’s Ferry, WV
‘Almost Heaven’ is a perfect way to describe Harper’s Ferry when you first lay eyes on it. As you crest the hill and get your first glimpse of this tiny town, it takes your breath away. It looks fake! Like somebody’s depiction of an American fairytale dreamscape. But it’s very real, and you and your date should plan your escape here soon, because, again, this place is small. Hike the Appalachian Trail, see the historical, neo-gothic Catholic church. Hell, take a romantic ghost tour! Who says clutching one another closely while you hear spooky takes of old isn’t romantic? Visit the Battle Ground Bakery and Coffee for a scone or the Barn of Harper’s Ferry bar for a live show and a beer. Just book your stay. Quick!
If you’ve ever wanted to live in a Victorian British seaside film but would rather not book an uber-expensive, 14-hour flight, look no further than Bayfield, WI. The town’s population is tiny — only a few hundred people — but there’s just enough to do to keep you and your partner busy for a few lovely days. So let out your inner Emma Watson while you gaze longingly out onto the cool water, holding your lover, waiting for that distant fishing boat to reach the shore. Or channel Timothée Chalamet as you read classic poetry from a leather-bound book you bought at the local bookshop across from your darling at a corner pub.
Git out yer cattle crease ten gallons n’ lucky pair o’ boots because Jackson’s where the cowboys roam. Wyoming is known for its wide-open spaces, ranch lands, and Americana charm. So if you and your love are looking for a rootin’ tootin’ good time, look no further than Jackson. Ride a horse into the wilds of the grasslands or a chair lift up the mountain to get some bird’s-eye views of the landscape. Then end the day with a drink or two at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, where you can saddle up to the bar (literally, the bar stools are saddles) and laugh the night away with your beau while getting a warm earful of some classic country tunes.