The 12 Most Romantic Cities in the U.S. You Should Visit With Your Partner
From seaside escapes to charming mountainside towns, these locales are bound to inspire lasting memories.
Did you know that more than 40 percent of travelers would choose a romantic getaway over a family vacation, traveling with friends, or a solo trip? And it's no wonder: Studies show that traveling can actually strengthen your bond with your partner. In fact, a 2020 survey conducted by OnePoll and Apple Vacations found that almost three in five Americans believe a vacation saved their relationship. Meanwhile, a survey by the U.S. Travel Association revealed that couples who regularly travel together are more satisfied with their relationships.
Whether you're taking your first vacation as a couple or looking to reignite that spark after decades together, the good news is that you don't even need to leave the U.S. to ramp up the romance.
"The United States is dotted with a lovely variety of locations, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, that are among the greatest places in the world for couples' getaways," says Jenny Ly, a travel blogger at Go Wanderly.
Below, experts share the 12 most romantic U.S. cities worth exploring with your S.O.
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The Most Romantic U.S. Cities
1. Tahoe City, California
It's the stunning location and scenery that make Tahoe City one of the most romantic U.S. cities to visit with your sweetheart, according to Sherry Arkfeld, travel blogger behind Digital Nomad and a Dog. "The deep blue water against a backdrop of snow-covered mountains is something that never gets old," she says. "And the clean, fresh air just begs for a leisurely stroll along the lake."
Set right on Lake Tahoe's north shore at the head of the Truckee River, this picturesque mountain town boasts charming shops, restaurants, and art galleries galore. While it's beautiful year-round, Arkfield highly recommends traveling here in the winter. During the holiday season, in particular, twinkle lights adorn everything, and there are plenty of cozy cafes to hole up in. Plus, you can take advantage of the stellar skiing and other snow sports—and then unwind afterward with a hot toddy.
"My favorite place in Tahoe City is Sunnyside Restaurant and Lodge," says Arkfeld. On a chilly day, you can wind down and warm up by the fireplace in the lounge. "Believe me, sitting in front of a fire, sipping wine with the person you love is nothing short of blissful."
2. Charleston, South Carolina
According to Fred Baker, senior travel editor at Travelness, Charleston is not only one of the most romantic U.S. cities, it's a historic gem "oozing with Southern charm and hospitality."
"From its cobblestone streets lined with antebellum mansions to its quaint shops and art galleries, Charleston is the perfect place for a romantic getaway," Baker gushes.
There's certainly no shortage of activities to experience together here, either. Sam Bellantoni, founder of Hotel Gods, suggests taking a moonlight sail aboard the Schooner Pride, visiting the butterfly house at Cypress Gardens, or scoping out the locations where The Notebook was shot. Finish off the day by getting pampered with a couple's massage at the spa at Wentworth Mansion, and then sipping champagne in Peninsula Grill's lantern-lit garden.
Julien Casanova, creator of the travel blog Cultures Traveled, recommends taking a stroll near the enchanting residential area South of Broad and heading towards the Battery, where some of the city's grandest houses and gardens are tucked away behind the ornate iron fences. As for the best time to visit, Casanova says you can't beat spring—when everything is in bloom and many of the houses and gardens open up for tours.
Pro tip: Baker suggests taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through the city before enjoying a leisurely meal at one of the several James Beard Award-winning restaurants downtown.
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3. New York, New York
Experts were quick to suggest the Big Apple as one of the most romantic cities in the U.S. With so much to explore and culinary choices to suit every palette, New York City is a great pick for a trip with your significant other.
"The city that never sleeps has plenty of romantic spots such as Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building, and the High Line," Becca Grabowski, travel photographer and blogger of The Travel Scrapbook, tells Best Life. "Going to a rooftop bar at night and watching the city lights is such a romantic experience."
Jacob Fu, co-founder of travel blog Local Adventurer, also points out that New York City is such a well-known spot for lovers it's been the setting for many, many rom-coms like When Harry Met Sally and Serendipity.
"Take a stroll through Central Park and see some of the most iconic spots, but also head to the north side of the park where it's quieter and more secluded," Fu suggests. "There are also amazing viewpoints where you can watch the sunset over the city, like Top of the Rock. When the sun has set, enjoy one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants and end the night watching a Broadway show."
NYC is also a great spot for members of the LGBTQ+ community, says Ryan B. founder and LGBTQ+ advocate at Pansexual Colors. "The Big Apple is one of the most vibrant and diverse cities in the world," Ryan B. explains. "The LGBTQ+ community in New York City is one of the largest and most visible, with plenty of queer-owned businesses and iconic LGBTQ+ landmarks like the Stonewall Inn."
4. Seattle, Washington
Seattle may be known for its rainy weather and coffee, but there's so much more to this city. Surrounded by two epic mountain ranges and Puget Sound, it's brimming with natural beauty—hence its nickname, "The Emerald City," which refers to the abundance of greenery all year long.
Jessica Schmit, of the travel blog Uprooted Traveler, says it is definitely one of most romantic U.S. cities. She recommends stopping by Pike Place Market to pick up some flowers, try some locally-distilled whiskey, snag some artisan foods, and enjoy live performances from the buskers and street performers. Then, take a whale-watching cruise to spot the area's resident orcas and take in the views of the craggy islands before watching the sunset over Elliot Bay.
"For a more quirky date, consider renting a hot tub boat to take out on Lake Union for a unique way to look at the iconic skyline and Space Needle," Schmit says.
Don't forget to roam through Woodinville wine country—just a 30-minute drive from the city—where you can sniff, swirl, and sip some of the Pacific Northwest's top reds and whites.
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5. New Orleans, Louisiana
Creole cuisine, vibrant nightlife, jazz music, and historic architecture are just a few of the reasons why the Big Easy is one of the most romantic U.S. cities. But the reason why Jim Campbell, CEO and founder of Honeymoon Goals, has an affinity for New Orleans is due to its old-world romance reminiscent of European cities.
"There's a reason that visitors often quip that this city is 'Paris without the jetlag,'" Campbell explains. "The streets of New Orleans are packed with a vast array of stylish bars where you can enjoy a quiet glass of wine or share a cocktail with your sweetheart—for instance, The Ritz Carlton's swanky Davenport lounge is the perfect spot to enjoy a drink and some live jazz. Or, if you prefer a more rambunctious atmosphere and want to dance the night away with your beloved, Bourbon Street offers plenty of bars where partying revelers can do just that."
Seeking a more serene way to spend the afternoon? Campbell suggests taking a romantic gondola ride through the bayou in City Park before checking out the iconic Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral. Or, take Ly's advice and book a lunch or dinner tour along the mesmerizing Mississippi River.
6. Portland, Oregon
If it's romance you're after, you can't beat The City of Roses, for obvious reasons. The International Rose Test Garden in Portland, Oregon, features over 10,000 bushes of approximately 650 varieties of roses, which bloom from April through October, peaking in June.
You and your partner will want to bump Portland to the top of your list if you're not looking to splurge on travel expenses. "It's perfect for couples on a budget because entry is free," Bryn Culbert, travel expert at Wanderu, says of the rose garden.
Waiting for autumn is rewarding as well, according to Culbert. "Fall is the most gorgeous season in Portland, as foliage adorns the many urban hikes in areas like Forest Park," adds Culbert.
It's easy to explore all that Portland has to offer with your sweetheart since it's chock full of walkable and bikeable neighborhoods. It also happens to boast one of the most diverse and impressive culinary scenes in the country, so foodie couples will have no shortage of options to choose from—no matter what craving strikes.
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7. Sedona, Arizona
Calling all outdoorsy couples: This desert city, which is surrounded by steep gorges, pine forests, and red-rock buttes, is loaded with opportunities for soaking up nature's beauty—from off-roading and bird-watching to canyon swimming and stargazing with an astronomer.
According to Culbert, Sedona is especially beautiful in the spring, when desert flowers are in bloom—but winter promises more affordable hotel pricing and comfortable temperatures for hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities.
"Sedona offers vibrant terrain, gorgeous night skies, and a spiritual atmosphere," says Larry Snider, VP of Operations for Casago Vacation Rentals. "There are more than 300 miles of scenic hiking and biking trails along with experiences like canyon bathing meditation, wine tasting, and spa treatments."
8. Traverse City, Michigan
If you and your partner want a city that's off the beaten path, Traverse City should be on your radar. Cassie Malhado, founder of the travel blog This Boundless Life, calls this spot "an underrated, hidden gem."
"Traverse City is known for its natural attractions like freshwater beaches, vineyards, and hiking," Malhado tells Best Life. "Pace of life is slow, allowing you to enjoy time with your partner without the rush of the city."
Malhado also recommends checking out Old Mission Peninsula, which boasts a wine trail in the middle of Grand Traverse Bay. "My partner and I enjoy spending the day doing wine tastings at the beautiful wineries overlooking the water," Malhado explains. "We've been numerous times for a romantic getaway and still haven't visited them all!"
When you're looking for a change of pace, head downtown and explore different stores, distilleries, and restaurants. You'll also have a wide selection of places to stay, including hotels that "overlook the water" and have direct beach access.
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9. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Located just off the Monterey Peninsula, C&H Essentials owner Patrick Johnson says this coastal city isn't just known for its breathtaking beaches, but also its charming cottage-style architecture.
"Carmel-by-the-Sea offers couples their own little piece of the Pacific Coast paradise with charming cafes, wine tasting rooms, scenic hiking paths, and plenty of romantic secret courtyards and tunnels to explore," he adds.
Together, you can plan a picnic on Carmel Beach or visit the Tor House of Californian poet Robinson Jeffers—which features a vibrant garden and breathtaking coastal vistas. If you want to get a bit boozy, grab margaritas at Hog's Breath Inn or sample nearly 100 different wines and listen to live music at the annual Monterey Winemakers' Celebration in June.
You two can also score tickets to the Sunset Club for a musical, comedy play, or symphonic concert, and then add a couples massages at Aqua Wellness Day Spa to unwind. Before you leave, pick up some sweet treats from Cottage of Sweets.
According to Ugur Yurt, a travel expert from flight booking website Wingie, the best time to visit Carmel-by-the-Sea is the fall—it's the sunniest time of year, with warm yet comfortable days and cool nights. It's also the perfect time of year to enjoy cozy beach bonfires, as well as strolls through Garrapata State Park, Piccadilly Park, or Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.
10. Stowe, Vermont
Whether you spend your stay hitting the slopes, sipping hot toddies by the fireplace, or just soaking up nature's splendor from a hot air balloon ride at sunset, you're bound to have a memorable couple's getaway at this chic resort destination that is easily one of the most romantic U.S. cities. Best of all, there's no bad time to visit Stowe. All four seasons have a distinct charm and plenty of attractions to offer—from jaw-dropping fall foliage and snowy alpine activities in winter to the biking and farm tours in spring and summer.
"Stowe is studded with vibrant, quaint shops selling everything from upscale art to farm-to-table produce, chocolates, and everything in between," says Emily Cuneo, owner and author of Emily Embarks.
"Sitting at the base of the tallest mountain in the state, Mount Mansfield, visitors can enjoy endless skiing and hiking trails before heading in for the ultimate après-ski dinner complete with local cheeses and specialty items from the dozens of nearby vendors," Cuneo adds. "In fall, the town comes alive with endless bright foliage and crisp weather, perfect for wandering through while sipping on a cup of hot apple cider from one of the many local apple orchards."
Other must-dos for couples include fall foliage boat rides, ice skating, and a trek through Moss Glen Falls, according to Axel Hernborg, founder of Tripplo.
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11. Key West, Florida
If you and your S.O. would prefer to bask in the sun with a couple of Mai Tais than do a ton of sightseeing or outdoor adventuring, consider jetting off to Key West—a colorful paradise that also happens to be one of the most romantic U.S. cities and its southernmost city. Known for its lively coral reefs, pastel houses, and white-sand beaches, Culbert says it offers the ultimate tropical getaway without ever needing to leave the country.
"There are romantic activities around every corner in Key West," she says. "Start the day snorkeling or swimming with dolphins, indulge in some sweetness by testing out the best key lime pies, get some butterfly kisses at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, and end the day at the Sunset Celebration in Mallory Square to watch the sun sink over the Gulf of Mexico."
One of the easiest ways to get to Key West, according to Culbert, is to take a bus from Miami—plus, this way, you and your partner can soak in the amazing scenery along the Overseas Highway.
Pro tip: Head to Mallory Square right before or after dinner, where you and your sweetheart can watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. Then stop by the Better Than Sex dessert bar for a chocolate-rimmed cocktail in a speakeasy-esque environment.
12. Bar Harbor, Maine
Whether you come in the winter to peep the glittering mountains or during the summer to watch the sunset over the tranquil beaches, you're sure to crank up the romance in Bar Harbor, Maine, on of the most romantic U.S. cities. And if you like seafood—well, let's just say you'll get your fix and more in this seaside town.
"Couples can enjoy hiking and birdwatching in the Acadia National Park, and the gardens are home to over 200 species of plants, trees, and shrubs indigenous to the island," says Hernborg. "Don't forget to take a peaceful and romantic walk along the scenic Shore Path and its vivid streets."
For a unique interactive experience, hop aboard a Lulu Lobster Boat Tour, which makes a pitstop at Egg Rock Lighthouse—where you might spot seals, porpoises, and bald eagles.
And if you're looking for glamping at its finest, book a stay at Terramour Outdoor Resort, a best-of-both-worlds retreat where you get the immersive experience of camping with the luxurious amenities of a resort. Heated pools and steamy hut tubs, private crackling fires, and seasonal-inspired feasts under the stars in the lodge offer plenty of bonding opportunities, while the convenient location allows you to hike the trails of Acadia and explore the local seaside villages whenever you please.