The 20 Most Romantic Small Towns in the U.S.
The study used four different categories for the results.
When you think of swoony places where you'll be swept off your feet, historic European cities like Paris or Prague probably come to mind first. But the U.S. also has plenty of romantic locales, especially when it comes to cozy and quaint towns. To narrow down the list, the research team at New York Travel Guides determined the 140 most romantic small towns in America.
The study compared 600 popular small towns across four categories: romantic places to stay, romantic activities, historic architecture and scenery, and cozy coffee shops and restaurants. The categories were then assigned a weight based on importance and each small town was given a ranking.
"These small towns have cozy coffee shops, hotels with beautiful views, incredible spas, cute ice skating rinks, wineries, and much more," says the study. Curious to see which small towns make the top 20? Keep reading to find out some of the romantic places in the U.S.
Securing the last spot in the top 20 is none other than Stowe, Vermont. According to the report from New York Travel Guides, "the ski capital of the east," as it's known, "is a beautiful small town that makes for a very romantic getaway."
Stowe ranked 10th overall in the cozy coffee shops and restaurants category, which was calculated by determining the number of coffee shops with a high review score and the number of fine-dining restaurants in each small town.
Sandusky, which ranks fourth overall for romantic activities, is the only town in Ohio to make the top 20.
The romantic activities category was calculated based on the presence of certain romantic features in each small town, such as spas, horse-drawn carriage rides, horse-drawn sleigh rides, movie theaters, performing arts theaters, art galleries, and ski areas. It was weighted at 45 percent of the total, making it the highest of the four categories.
Home to Cedar Point, a can't-miss amusement park, art galleries, and waterfront dinners, Sandusky easily brings out the romance.
Breckenridge is one of four towns in Colorado to make the list, placing eighth in the romantic places to stay category.
This category was weighted at 25 percent of the total score and includes the number of romantic accommodations in each small town, including stays with a view, luxury hotels, and bed and breakfasts.
Enjoy some outdoor adventures at Breckenridge Ski Resort, visit local shops, and try homemade cuisine from the town's many restaurants.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Eureka Springs, Arkansas is located in the Ozark mountains and is known for its "beautiful historic district." Therefore, they scored high in the historic architecture and scenery category, which was weighted at 15 percent of the total.
"This score was determined based on the total number of listings in the National Register of Historic Places and the overall scenery (e.g.mountain views, lake views) of each small town," the study explains.
Not only is Eureka Springs on the National Register, but the town is home to many art galleries and local artists.
Not only is Natchez, Mississippi one of the most romantic small towns in the U.S., but it's also one of the oldest towns in America, founded in 1716. From cute bed and breakfasts and romantic hotels to horse-drawn carriage rides, there's a little something for everyone in this town.
Founded in 1880, Ketchum, Idaho is in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. "The town has an incredible arts scene and a large variety of restaurants, plus the spectacular scenic beauty of the town adds to its romance," according to New York Travel Guides.
Palm Beach, Florida
As one of two small towns in Florida to make the top 20, Palm Beach earned its spot, thanks to its ninth-place ranking in romantic activities. Visitors can head to the Flagler Museum, play a round of golf, or take part in a historic walking tour of the town.
"Those looking for a romantic place to stay can find plenty of incredible hotels in the town, such as The Breakers, which is a luxury 5-star hotel with elegant rooms and suites with magnificent ocean views," says the study. And if that's not enough romance, Palm Beach hosts an annual food and wine festival where you can indulge in tasty treats and meet distinguished chefs.
Whitefish, Montana, is full of romantic things to do including visiting locally owned shops and galleries, having food with a magnificent view at the Summit House at Whitefish Mountain Resort, and skiing during the winter months.
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
"From visiting one of the town's art galleries to enjoying beautiful sunset views at a waterfront restaurant to seeing a live performance, the romantic small town of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, has a lot to offer," according to New York Travel Guides.
Hilton Head Island has various resorts and spas, as well as several golf courses where you can tee off or sit back and admire the views.
Like Breckenridge, Vail, Colorado is also known for its ski resort and mountain vibes. If you're not a skier, indulge in one of the renowned spa or wellness treatments at centers located all throughout the town.
New York Travel Guides recommends ice skating at Vail Square Ice Rink in the winter or dining at one of the local restaurants. "In addition to that, every year, filmmakers and attendees from all around the world travel to the town for the Vail Film Festival," they say.
Gatlinburg, Tennessee offers some unique experiences for visitors. According to New York Travel Guides, you can enjoy magnificent views while riding the Aerial Tramway, one of the largest aerial tramways in the country, play golf, or see famous cars at the Hollywood Star Cars Museum.
"With a history that dates back to 1852, beautiful wineries, incredible art galleries, and many local restaurants, Ashland, Oregon, which is surrounded by scenic mountains, is one of America's most romantic small towns," according to New York Travel Guides.
In addition to these activities, the town hosts the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and is home to Lithia Park, which like Eureka Springs, has also made it onto the National Register of Historic Places.
Estes Park, Colorado
The third of four small towns in Colorado, Estes Park, dates back to 1859 and offers beautiful mountain views as well as unique glimpses at Lake Estes.
People who are looking for romance can "see a movie at the oldest operating cinema in the Western United States, Park Theatre, explore Open Air Adventure Park, or have a drink with a view at one of the town's cozy coffee shops," suggests the study.
Known for its ski resorts, Jackson, Wyoming's small-town charm makes it a romantic shoo-in. Its scenic beauty is the big pull for romance—and if the skiing isn't for you, Jackson has plenty more to offer.
As the only spot in the Northeast to place in the top 10, there's something to be said for Provincetown, Massachusetts, a coastal town near the tip of Cape Cod.
Often called "P-town," it dates back to 1700 and is "known for its art scene, beautiful harbor, and gorgeous beaches," says the study. And with many specialty shops, fine dining, and art galleries, it's no surprise that the levels of romance are high.
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Laguna Beach, California
California has two towns in the top five, including Laguna Beach. It has the most beachfront lodgings in the state, so it's the perfect place to relax and unwind with your partner.
"With its gorgeous hotels with ocean views, many incredible art galleries, mild climate, and scenic beauty, it's one of the most romantic small towns in America," according to New York Travel Guides.
Aspen is Colorado's fourth small town to make the list. It's located in the Rocky Mountains and is known for its ski resorts and trails. Aspen also scored in the top 10 for romantic places to stay.
"Whether you want to stay at a luxurious 5-star resort with a view, a cozy lodge, or a romantic bed and breakfast, there are many romantic places to stay in Aspen," writes the study.
St. Augustine, Florida
Founded in 1565, St. Augustine, Florida is perfect for romance thanks to its historic charm. In addition, this small town has tours that'll pique anyone's interest, from cruising distilleries to horse-drawn carriage rides.
"Go for a stroll along buildings from the 1700s, explore hidden courtyards, and admire the town's waterfront views, all while hearing the sound of horses walking on St. Augustine's brick-paved streets," suggests New York Travel Guides.
Unlike other towns on the list, Sedona, Arizona is best known for its desert sightseeing. According to New York Travel Guides, "Sedona has world-class spa resorts that offer a view of its desert landscape, as well as cozy accommodations, that also make the town a very romantic destination."
Carmel-by-the Sea, California
Taking the number one spot as the most romantic small town in the U.S. is Carmel-by-the Sea, California.
"With its quaint downtown area with fairytale cottages, numerous courtyards, secret passageways, and cobblestone pathways, Carmel-by-the-Sea is the perfect destination for a romantic getaway," according to New York Travel Guides.
They scored fairly well across all four categories and have a particularly high ranking when it comes to historic architecture and scenery. This small town has unique shopping experiences, out-of-the-box dining options, and about 100 art galleries to choose from.
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