Cue the Barry White music and dim the lights down low, because it’s time to figure out the most romantic cities for this Valentine’s season. If you’re looking to make some plans this Valentine’s Day with your one and only, this is a good place to start.
Here’s a look at the factors we used to determine the top romantic destinations for Valentine’s Day:
- Quality of attractions
- Average reviews across the board
- Quality of hotels
- Quality of restaurants
Yeah, we know what you’re thinking: our reasoning is foolproof. With all those factors in mind, let’s determine once and for all the best place to make sparks fly this Valentine’s Day.
1. New York City, New York
You don’t have to be Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in the ’90s for New York to be amazingly romantic. Though if you wanted to do a Sleepless in Seattle roleplay experience, it would probably only make things more romantic.
New York City isn’t the cheapest romantic getaway, with an average hotel stay of $386 a night, but the average review is a 4.85/5 across travel review websites, so people do love it there. And it’s pretty impossible to not find something romantic to do in New York. Hit up the Empire State building, grab a classic New York slice from Joe’s Pizza, and take a leisurely stroll through Central Park.
When you combine reviews, attractions, and even price, New York City is the best romantic destination in the United States.
2. Orlando, Florida
Yeah, we were a little surprised by this one too. We’re more used to seeing Florida in news stories about mistaking bank drive-thrus for Taco Bell’s, but turns out Orlando is super romantic for plenty of folks. The average night’s stay in Orlando is $275 with an average rating of 4.5/5 for local hotels.
Orlando attractions really shine. In fact, Orlando ties New York boasting 138 really cool things to do. Oh, and one of those things happens to be freaking Disney World. No wonder people are wild about going to Orlando. Nothing says romance like fine dining at a Disney restaurant or catching a fireworks show.
If theme parks get you in the mood, there’s plenty of magic to experience in Orlando. Just keep your hands to yourself on “The Haunted Mansion” or they will get mad at you. Trust me.
3. Chicago, Illinois
Looking for the romantic big city vibe without having to spend tons of money? Welcome to Chicago. On average, it’s a whole $150 less of a hotel stay than you would pay in New York City.
Let’s consider the tale of young Ferris Bueller for a moment. He had the best day off ever in Chicago. From the breathtaking Art Institute of Chicago to the view from the sky-high Willis Tower, from a Cub’s game at Wrigley Field to a nice meal at Chez Quis, that movie made Chicago look incredible. If it was enough to woo Sloan Peterson, it should be enough for your significant other.
When you factor in all the variables, Chicago ranks as the third-best Valentine’s Day destination in the country.
4. Washington, DC
I think Leslie Knope said it best when she visited Washington, DC:
Leslie: “Romantic reunions. Government meetings. Self-guided museum tours. I mean, am I living the dream? I don’t know! Did I also just walk past a food truck and buy myself a waffle sundae? Yes!”
If that doesn’t get you excited about going to Washington, DC, then who knows what will.
The average hotel price in the main DC area costs around $337, but DC will actually end up being pretty easy on your wallet. There are over 270 things to do in DC, and guess what, the best stuff is totally free. The National Gallery of Art, the US Botanic Garden, the National Air & Space Museum, and the National Museum of Natural History (and many more museums) are all free and super rad. Nothing gets people in the mood like free museums.
5. Las Vegas, Nevada
There is a lot going on in Las Vegas and romance is definitely one of those things. Whether you’re looking to have a romantic getaway with your old flame or you’re seeking an entirely new flame, Las Vegas will have something for you. Just try to make good decisions and don’t forget to come home with your Valentine.
The average night’s stay in Las Vegas will cost you $361 and you might not even need to leave the hotel. There are shows to see, money to lose, and food to eat. It might not be your cheapest Valentine’s Day, but it just might be the most memorable (or the least memorable, depending on how you do Vegas).
6. Key West, Florida
You know, there’s a lot more to Florida than Disney World and children getting stuck in claw machines. People forget that Florida is right next to the Caribbean! You can snorkel, kayak, and relax on the beach. (But please, watch out for alligators.)
Key West is one of the more expensive Valentine’s Day destinations, averaging around $531 a night for the top-rated hotels. But if seeing all the tropical fish makes you hungry, there are tons of delicious restaurants where you can eat as many fish as you want.
The Florida Keys is the must-visit tropical getaway for lovers who crave sunshine and sand and want to keep it continental.
7. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is known as “The Big Easy,” which can mean a number of things. In this case, it means that the hotels are way cheaper than at other top Valentine’s Day destinations. The average hotel costs around $197 a night in New Orleans, which is much cheaper than what you would pay at the Big Apple.
If you plan to go there for Valentine’s Day, you’ll be getting in a whole three weeks before the madness of Mardi Gras. You won’t have to deal with strangers offering you beads in exchange for . . . anything, really. Instead, you can meander around the beautiful and historic French Quarter at an easy pace, get some delicious beignets, maybe buy an alligator head, and have your own little Mardi Gras.
8. Savannah, Georgia
Another one those hidden gems that doesn’t necessarily scream Valentine’s Day magic, but a cursory Google image search will blow you away. It’s like stepping into a humid southern fairytale.
The average hotel cost for the evening is $233, which is certainly on the cheaper end of the spectrum. There are a whopping 144 attractions to check out in the area—which happens to be even more than New York City, FYI. There are tons of museums and distilleries, and you’ll probably want to visit them in that order.
9. San Francisco, California
Let’s be up-front about this: out of all the Valentine’s Day destinations on our list, San Francisco is one of the most expensive. Thanks a lot, Google. Hotels cost an average of $487 a night, so San Francisco, you better be super romantic.
But we don’t think that’ll be a problem. We’ve watched countless hours of Full House, so we know there’s plenty of Valentine’s magic to go around. There’s the Golden Gate Park, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory (not quite Willy Wonka status, but close), and the Redwood National Forest outside of the city. Just try to limit your “Have mercy!” exclamations to only once a day. Maybe twice if something really cool happens.
10. San Diego, California
Want to experience Southern California without dealing with the insane Los Angeles traffic? This is why San Diego exists. It’s got beautiful beaches, a hip downtown, tons of delicious restaurants, and it’s not nearly as crowded as Los Angeles. Even though it’s not a big secret, you and your Valentine can pretend like it is.
The average hotel costs around $347 a night in San Diego, but you can easily offset the cost just by hanging out at the beach all day. That’s the best thing about beaches—they are free and so, so nice.
We took TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Travelers Choice Destinations for 2018. From there we analyzed the top traveler hotels, restaurants (specified further for fine dining establishments that offer dinner), attractions, and user reviews to find the most romantic cities. Things to do/attractions carried double the weight of hotels or restaurants in our rankings, and the number of reviews was also taken into account to score each destination.
Here is all of our data ranking the top 25 most romantic destinations for Valentine’s Day.