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 have shown that traveling can actually strengthen your bond. In fact, a 2020 survey conducted by OnePoll and Apple Vacations found that almost three in five Americans claim 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 many years 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 some of the most romantic U.S. cities worth exploring with your S.O.
READ THIS NEXT: 8 Small Towns in the U.S. That Feel Like You’re in a Hallmark Movie.
It’s the stunning location and scenery that makes Tahoe City such a perfect place to visit with your sweetheart, explains Sherry Arkfeld, travel blogger at 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 around the holidays— when 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.”
“This historic city oozes Southern charm and hospitality,” says Fred Baker, senior travel editor at Travelness.com. “From its cobblestone streets lined with antebellum mansions to its quaint shops and art galleries, Charleston is the perfect place for a romantic getaway.”
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 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 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.
For more travel advice delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
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 the 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—co-author of Uprooted Traveler—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,” adds Schmit.
Don’t forget to roam through Woodinville wine country—just a 30-minute drive from the city—to sniff, swirl, and sip some of the Pacific Northwest’s top reds and whites.
Creole cuisine, vibrant nightlife, jazz music, and historic architecture are just a few of the reasons why couples flock to The Big Easy. But the reason why Jim Campbell, founder and CEO of Honeymoon Goals, has an affinity for New Orleans is that it has a certain old-world romance reminiscent of many European cities.
“There’s a reason that visitors often quip that this city is ‘Paris without the jetlag,'” adds Campbell. “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 full where partying revelers can do just that.”
If you’re looking for 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.
If it’s romance you’re after, you can’t beat The City of Roses, for obvious reasons—The International Rose Test Garden features over 10,000 bushes of approximately 650 varieties of roses, which bloom from April through October, peaking in June.
“And it’s perfect for couples on a budget because entry is free,” says Bryn Culbert, travel expert at Wanderu.
“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.
Calling all outdoorsy couples: This desert town, 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 most 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 of 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.”
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.
Take a picnic and a stroll around Carmel Beach in the evening. Take a stroll through the lovely Picadilly Park and unwind in the sun or the shade. Visit the Tor House of Californian poet Robinson Jeffers, which features a vibrant garden and breathtaking coastal vistas. At Hog’s Breath Inn, sip margaritas or wine glasses while dining on some appetizers outside. At the Winemakers’ Celebration, sample nearly 100 different wines, nibble on small plates prepared by regional chefs, and listen to live music. Couples massages at Aqua Wellness Day Spa will help you unwind. Pick up some Bordeaux Fudge, Chardonnay Caramels, or Sea Salt Caramels from Cottage of Sweets for a quick treat. Or you can get tickets at the Sunset Club for a musical, comedy play, or symphonic concert.
According to Ugur Yurt, a travel expert from flight booking website Wingie, the best time to visit is 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.
READ THIS NEXT: 10 Secret Places in the U.S. to See Fall Foliage.
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. Best of all, there’s no bad time to visit: 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. 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, according to Axel Hernborg, founder of Tripplo, include fall foliage boat rides, ice skating, and Moss Glen Falls.
If you and your S.O. would prefer to bask in the sun with 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 the southernmost city in the U.S. 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 adds. “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.
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. 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 National Park and explore the local seaside villages whenever you please.