As exciting as vacations to far flung destinations are, sometimes a getaway closer to home is more manageable. Discover the most romantic cities in the USA to celebrate a special occasion or just spend time with your plus one!
When I’m asked about romantic destinations, my mind often wanders to far off places like Florence, Santorini, or some remote island. Sometimes we are able to take enough vacation days and save enough money to travel overseas. More often than not, a romantic getaway in the US, something closer to home, is more manageable.
Whether you’re strapped for time or are unable to travel abroad for reasons like the current COVID-19 situation, there are plenty of romantic cities in the USA to celebrate a special occasion or to enjoy some time with your plus one.
Though Jake and I love adventures around the world, we also take full advantage of all the destinations in our own backyard. Some of the destinations I’ve listed below we will visit for a quick weekend, others require a longer three or four day weekend, and a far few are worth at least a week. No matter how much time you have or what your budget is, I’m sure one of these romantic cities in the USA will fit the bill for your upcoming trip.
Now let’s get into the most romantic cities in the US for a couples getaway!
One of the most romantic places in the USA for island lovers
Maui is without a doubt one of the most romantic places in the US and a popular pick for honeymooners. One of the reasons I gravitate towards Maui over the other Hawaiian Islands is the variety. Not only will you find beaches, rainforests, lava formations, and pineapple plantations, you will also find a nice variety in hotels and resorts.
Family friendly, romantic, luxurious, modern minimalism, secluded…whatever type of romantic getaway you’re looking for you can find it in Maui. If you want to be in the center of the action and walking distance to other hotels, restaurants, and shops, head to Kaanapali beach. Here you will find over three miles of pristine beach, Whaler’s Village (an outdoor shopping complex), and the popular snorkeling and cliff diving around black rock.
This is a great spot if you don’t want to spend time driving anywhere. There is plenty to do within walking distance and there is a trolley that will take you to downtown Lahaina. You could easily spend a week here and not use a car once.
If something more secluded with a touch of luxury is more your style, check out the new Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort or the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. Both properties will make sure you have romantic getaway to remember.
Whether you plan on spending your days hiking, biking down a volcano crater, laying poolside, snorkeling, or just enjoying the resort and munching on fresh Hawaiian food, Maui is a sure winner for one of the most romantic places in the US.
One of the most romantic cities in the US for foodies
If you and your plus one are foodies and lovers of culture, New Orleans is an easy pick for one of the most romantic cities in the US. NOLA has it all. Distinctive architecture, a walkable historic center, crazy good food, a lively party scene, history, and art. The first few times you visit you will want to stay in the French Quarter where all the popular tourist spots are.
Try a cute Bed and Breakfast in the Garden District once you’ve gotten your fill of the French Quarter. Be sure to eat at Shaya, La Petite Grocery, and Herbsaint…our favorite restaurants in the Garden District.
Whether you spend your days art gallery hopping or touring the famous cemeteries and your nights drinking on Bourbon Street or partaking in a creepy ghost tour…this city is sure to win your heart. This is one of the most romantic getaways in the USA if you’re looking for something that is more unique and goes beyond the usual resort, wine and dine, lay by the pool type vacation. NOLA will have plenty to keep you busy and your senses awakened!
One of the most romantic cities in the USA for a desert getaway
Jake dragged me to Scottsdale five years ago on our first anniversary. To say he loves the desert is an understatement…hence why we drove eleven hours one way to get to the Sahara when we were in Marrakech…another story for another time.
When he convinced me to visit Scottsdale for our first anniversary, I didn’t have high expectations. I expected a brown, desolate, meh, type vacation. I was so wrong that we have visited about eight times since! Scottsdale has become our secret romantic getaway in the USA.
The landscaping is pristine with bright desert flowers and 8-foot-tall perfectly perched cacti. The coffee shop and restaurant scene are on point, and there are desert hikes for every fitness level. The resorts offer pools perfect for lounging and spas to put you in the ultimate relaxation mode. Stay at the Omni Montelucia or Andaz Scottsdale, our two favorites. Be sure to visit Berdena’s, my favorite Scottsdale coffee shop, and Virtu Honest Craft, our favorite Scottsdale restaurant.
NAPA VALLEY OR SONOMA/HEALDSBURG
One of the most romantic places in the US for wine lovers
Napa Valley is one of the most romantic cities in the USA for wine lovers. You could easily fill up your days jetting from. one wine tasting to the next. There are tasting rooms and patio spaces to fit every fancy. From farmhouse rustic to ultra-chic to high-tech modern, Napa has the variety to keep everyone happy.
One of my favorite Bed and Breakfasts, The Inn on Randolph, is located in downtown Napa. It honestly might be one of the main reasons we come back to Napa again and again. I also love the setup of Napa Valley. The valley consists of a string of charming small towns and each town has a main street filled with boutique shops and cozy restaurants.
Downtown Napa has a more modern vibe and is home to the famous Oxbow Market, Yountville feels like a mini European getaway, Calistoga and St. Helena offer a more authentic, rustic vibe.
The combination of cozy bed and breakfasts, luxury resorts, farm to table dining, incredible scenery, and memorable wine tastings makes Napa one of the most romantic cities in the USA.
If Napa Valley is too crowded or touristy for your taste, head to Sonoma and or Healdsburg instead. It’s much more laidback and has a more authentic feel. If you want a private and intimate getaway, I would definitely lean towards Sonoma/Healdsburg over Napa.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
One of the most romantic places in the USA for wine, hikes, and nature at a resonable cost
Willamette Valley is one of the most romantic places in the US if you like the idea of a Napa wine weekend, but prefer something more casual, laidback, affordable, and a bit more outdoors focused.
Willamette Valley wineries offer tastings that are very affordable. Typically, $15-$25 for a flight. Tasting rooms are intimate and the scenery is lush and green with spectacular views (you might even see snow-capped Mt. Hood or Mt. Jefferson on a clear day).
A trip to the Willamette Valley wine region is a must for lovers of food, wine, nature, and views. With over 500 wineries, world-renowned Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, a growing restaurant scene, unforgettable views, and a charming historic downtown district, you'll have a trip for books!
Stay at the newly opened Atticus Hotel in downtown McMinnville, my hometown! Or go for the luxurious and spacious Allison Inn which has everything you need for a romantic stay. Fine dining, relaxing spa, walking trails, gardens, and gorgeous views.
Like Napa, Willamette Valley is made up of a string of small towns. You’ll find the most activity in McMinnville, which has the most charming downtown area and plenty of farm to table restaurants. Newberg, Dundee, and Dayton are pretty small but are located minutes from some of the best wineries.
If wine isn’t your thing or you’re looking for some variety, this region offers some great beer tastings, hikes filled with waterfalls, rivers to go kayaking on, and coastline to explore…all within a one to two hour drive away. Portland offers the perfect city break and is also an hour away.
CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA AND BIG SUR, CALIFORNIA
One of the most romantic cities in the US for a fairytale escape
Carmel is one of the most romantic cities in the US for a fairytale escape. Carmel, specifically Carmel-by-the-Sea is an absolute dream. You may just feel like you’ve landed in some charming German town! This little gem is the perfect place to stay and wander aimlessly for a few days just to take it all in. Sleep in late, slowly sip your morning latte, borrow your hotel bike for a leisurely ride, browse the tiny boutiques, and enjoy the company of your plus one over a romantic dinner.
This is a place where you’ll want to rent a car. 17 Mile Drive (click the link for a map with all the scenic stops) is a must and considered to be one of the most beautiful drives in the US…which you also have to pay a $10.50 admission for. It’s worth it in my opinion.
See where the best golfers in the world play at Pebble Beach, check out the world-famous aquarium at Monterey, snap a picture of the Bixby Bridge (made famous by the HBO show Big Little Lies), and explore a few wineries around Carmel. Stop at Folktale Winery if you want to continue the fairytale theme.
Big Sur is a must for nature enthusiasts. It’s a quick 40-minute drive from Carmel-by-the-Sea. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Lucia mountains, this area offers many state parks for hiking, beach time, and camping.
This is a great area to go out on a whim and just drive around. The scenery is truly breathtaking and you will find many spots to stop the car and take in the views while snapping a few pics.
One of the most romantic cities in the USA for southern charm
Jake and I head to Charleston when we want good food, culture, history, and charm at a slow pace. This city has had some spectacular hotels open recently and the restaurant scene will have you booking your next trip ASAP.
This is the perfect city to wander at your own pace. Jake and I rode our hotel bikes all over Charleston and felt completely safe doing so. No crazy traffic and speeding taxis here. Book a tour of the extremely haunted and incredibly creepy jailhouse. Book dinner at Trattoria Lucca, have brunch at Husk, and visit the Marion Squaremarket on Saturdays.
If you want to continue your romantic getaway drive to Savanah, Georgia. It’s only a two-hour drive. Or head Hilton Head Island for some beach time. Also just two hours away!
This is one of the most romantic cities in the US if you’re looking for some good old southern charm with a side of history, culture, and incredible cuisine.
Please do not support animal cruelty and skip the horse carriage rides where one horse is pulling 10+ people in extreme heat and humidity.
New York City
One of the most romantic cities in the US for city lovers
NYC should be at the top of the list for the most romantic cities in the US for foodies, shopping, and urban jungle lovers. Dine at some of the best restaurants in the world, take part in the clubbing and rooftop bar scene, or want to see a Broadway show or two, NYC has enough to keep any visitor busy be it your first visit or your 20th.
Be the ultimate tourist and hop around Times Square and Central Park with your plus one. Or wander the quieter neighborhoods like Upper East Side. SoHo and West Village are where to go if you’re planning to splurge on a shopping spree.
Looking to mix a super fun atmosphere and experience with awesome food? Visit Buddakan, TAO Downtown, and Beauty and Essex. My favorite Italian spot is L’Artusi. Head to Mr. Purple or The Crown for after dinner drinks with a view.
NYC is great option for a romantic getaway if you gravitate towards the excitement of city life. With its infamous Broadway shows, intimate dinner spots, and one of a kind metropolitan views, it’s a clear choice on the list of the most romantic cities in the US.
One of the most romantic places in the USA for perfect weather year round
La Jolla offers perfect weather most the year, hiking, and gorgeous ocean views. Go South 20 minutes and you’re in the heart of San Diego. Go North 20 minutes and you’re in the quaint coastal town of Del Mar.
The Fairmont Grand Del Mar is a gorgeous hotel in the picturesque hills of Del Mar and perfect for a luxurious romantic getaway. The hotel is removed and private, yet minutes from downtown La Jolla. The pool is swoon worthy, the onsite restaurants are divine, and the overall property is a blissful retreat. Use the Fairmont bikes to ride around the nearby golf course and neighborhood for a morning workout!
The heart of La Jolla, Village of La Jolla, is nestled right up to the ocean. You’ll find art galleries, boutique shopping, roof top bars with ocean views, quaint brunch spots, outdoor cafes, and upscale dining. It’s the perfect place to just stroll and stop at cafes and shops as you wish.
Grab a latte at one of my favorite La Jolla coffee shops, AT Coffee. Enjoy coastal Italian cuisine on the rooftop of Catania and sip on cocktails and watch the sun go down at Eddie V’s or the ocean terrace at George’s.
A few other activities include hiking Torrey Pines, kayaking through the coves, a long run or jog along Del Mar beach, visiting the La Jolla sea lions, and getting your city fix in at San Diego. Between all that La Jolla, and neighboring San Diego and Del Mar, have to offer you’ve got yourself a nice romantic vacation in the US.
I hope this list of the most romantic cities in the USA gives you some inspiration for an upcoming trip. Whether you’re based on the East Coast, West Coast, or the central US, there’s a romantic destination nearby.
The first spots on this list that Jake and I will visit this year will be Scottsdale for some sun and hiking, Carmel for a mini European getaway, and Charleston for historic vibe with some incredible restaurants. We also feel comfortable going to these destinations during the COVID-19 pandemic as they aren't too crowded and offer plenty to do outdoors.
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