Valentine’s Day, birthdays, the anniversary of the day they created a Ponzi scheme together—couples will use just about any occasion as an excuse to shower each other with affection. Who can blame them, though? Between the daily grind of waking up early, working for hours, deciding on takeout, and falling asleep, it’s important to go all out when you can.
But according to our data, some cities are just more romantic than others. We examined where our most romantic Groupons (for massages, candlelit French and Italian dinners, hot-air balloon rides, etc.) were most widely purchased, then ranked the top 10 most romantic cities in the US. The results may surprise you. At the very least, they should inspire you to up your game for the most romantic holiday of the year, Valentine’s Day.
1. St. Louis, MO
The Gateway City may not strike you as the most lovey-dovey place in America, but St. Louis has plenty of romantic spots to discover. We like the dreamy Boathouse in Forest Park, where couples can rent a boat to take out on Post-Dispatch Lake. They can paddle out to Picnic Island for an alfresco meal or alight back on the dock for lunch at the Boathouse’s restaurant. The rest of Forest Park warrants exploration, too: it contains the Saint Louis Zoo, the Saint Louis Art Museum, The Muny, and the Jewel Box, an art-deco greenhouse.
See a list of other exciting St. Louis activities.
2. Tampa–St. Petersburg, FL
A visit to the Tampa Theatre is no ordinary movie date. From the exterior’s glittering marquee, you can tell that it’s the sort of old-fashioned movie palace that was all the rage in the 1920s. But even better sights await inside. The theater itself looks like an ornate Mediterranean courtyard, complete with statuary, glorious architecture, and a twinkling night sky. In addition to playing new releases and beloved movies, the theater hosts concerts, discussions, and festivals. The original Mighty Wurlitzer organ accompanies the occasional silent film.
3. Minneapolis–St. Paul, MN
If your significant other is the type who weeps with joy about the prospect of petting puppies or meeting a sloth, a trip to the Minnesota Zoo should be in your future. Every March or April, the keepers usher in spring by organizing a month-long petting zoo at the Wells Fargo Family Farm. Fuzzy little newborns, including chicks, bunnies, calves, piglets, and lambs, may nuzzle up to your partner and reduce them to baby-talking gibberish usually reserved for you.
Check out other opportunities for outdoor dates in the Twin Cities area.
4. Denver, CO
Our guide to romantic cooking classes in Denver recommends Stir Cooking School as a good place to book your date. Though classes here will hone your culinary skills, this business is especially suited for couples in search of a fun, carefree night. For example, it has a small bar area offering signature cocktails, wine, and local craft beers. There are even special date-night classes that focus on such topics as aphrodisiacs, rich and romantic French dishes, and Tuscan cooking.
View the most romantic things to do in Denver.
5. Sacramento, CA
Put on a slinky black dress or a sharp suit, then head to Shady Lady Saloon, named 1 of the 25 best bars in America by Esquire in 2014. This Prohibition-inspired bar has all the dimly lit booths and cushy velvet couches couples need for a romantic rendezvous. With its bordello-style crimson wallpaper, artisanal cocktails, and live jazz performances—not to mention the coquettish ladies decorating the walls—a little playful misbehavior might as well be encouraged.
Take a glimpse at the diversity of Sacramento’s music venues.
6. Portland, OR
Relaxing together for hours is one of the great joys of being in a relationship. But in Portland, you’d be better served by ending your Netflix binge, getting off the couch, and going to Spa Sassé. It may not look like much from the outside, but this 5,000-square-foot oasis has several treatments designed to rekindle romance. Its signature Couples Spa Day begins with a hydromassage bath together, followed by a candlelit couples massage. Partners also enjoy full-body exfoliation, a Vichy shower, and aromatherapy, as well as chocolate truffles and champagne, wine, or tea.
See a list of seven other romantic things to do in Portland.
7. Milwaukee, WI
The historical Iron Horse Hotel would be a wonderful place to spend the night even if it weren’t for its special accommodations. As it stands, though, you can’t go wrong opting for one of the hotel’s themed packages. The Horsing Around… getaway includes a deluxe guest room, a couples massage, turndown service, and complimentary valet parking. SOs can toast their love with a bottle of sparkling wine and refuel with a breakfast for two the next morning.
Check out more romantic things to do in Milwaukee.
8. Charleston, SC
Charleston is renowned for its beautiful historic district, where stately buildings, colorful townhouses, and palm trees line the streets. The most romantic way to see it? Lift your beloved onto a horse-drawn carriage for a leisurely tour through the neighborhoods. Palmetto Carriage Works has an evening tour that protects couples from the summer heat and provides some excellent mood lighting for viewing the sights.
9. Orlando, FL
For visitors and locals alike, many activities in Orlando are a bit too kid-centric. However, you can have an entirely adults-only experience at The Wine Room on Park Avenue. The rustic ambiance is a bit at odds with the high-tech setup, in which machines dole out samples of hand-selected wines. But the dispensers help preserve the wine, regulate temperature, and prevent oxidation. It all makes for a top-notch wine-tasting experience, especially when varietals are paired with artisan cheeses or small plates.
Check out other grown-up things to do in Orlando.
10. Cleveland, OH
Eating your way through the historical West Side Market is one of the most romantic things you can do in Cleveland if you’re in love with a foodie. Under its sweeping arched roof, wind your way around vendor stalls hawking everything from local fruits and European pastries to seafood and artisanal olive oil. Ethnic offerings include pierogis, tamales, fresh pasta, falafel, and Cambodian sticky rice. Have your fill here, or pick up supplies for a romantic dinner at home.