If you’re contemplating a last-minute weekend getaway for Valentine’s Day, we have a suggestion: Head to Virginia Beach. The coastal city is the most romantic in the United States, according to restaurant reservations website OpenTable. Other cities where love is in the air include Newport, Rhode Island; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Atlantic City, New Jersey.
OpenTable developed the list by combing through its data to find out the total percentage of the city’s restaurants rated as “romantic,” the percentage of tables seated for two, and the percentage of people who dined out last Valentine’s Day.
No one is going to mistake any of these cities for quintessentially romantic destinations like Paris or Rome. Yet those who hope to sweep someone off their feet this year shouldn’t have any trouble if they live in (or visit) one of these towns.
Click through to see the list of top five most romantic cities in the U.S., according to OpenTable, along with our suggestions for where to head for a perfect romantic date.
1. Virginia Beach, Virginia
Virginia is for lovers, especially the seaside city of Virginia Beach. For a memorable meal, reserve a table at The Cellars, one of the most romantic restaurants in America, according to OpenTable diners. The restaurant serves French country cuisine with a Southern touch and is located in a 1860s-era farmhouse. Upstairs from the restaurant is the Church Point Manor bed and breakfast, the perfect spot for a quiet getaway.
2. Newport, Rhode Island
In the 19th century, some of America’s richest families (including the Vanderbilts and the Astors) built their summer “cottages” in this seaside town. A stroll along the city’s famous 3½-mile cliff walk offers views of both the historic mansions and rugged shore, and is the perfect way to kick off to a romantic weekend. After you’re done gawking at Gilded Age excess, settle in for a quiet meal the Bouchard Inn and Restaurant, an elegant French restaurant situated in a 1785 Georgian-style house.
3. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s largest city has more to offer than beer and brats. The Milwaukee Art Museum was designed by world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava and features a collection of 30,000 works of art. After exploring the museum, it’s just a short walk to Buckley’s, an intimate restaurant on the edge of downtown. Chef Christian Schroeder offers a refined take on classic comfort food, like beef short ribs and curry-braised lamb shoulder.
4. Atlantic City, New Jersey
Skip the casino restaurants in New Jersey’s gambling mecca and make a reservation at Café 2825, which serves seasonal Italian cuisine. Located just a couple of blocks off the city’s bustling boardwalk, things are decidedly more low-key at this 14-table restaurant. Expect Sicilian dishes like scungilli (Mediterranean conch sautéed in marinara sauce) and grilled octopus, as well as fresh mozzarella made tableside. If you’re staying overnight, get a room at the Water Club at the Borgata, one of the Atlantic City’s most romantic hotels, according to the travel experts at Oyster.com.
5. Santa Fe, New Mexico
With its adobe architecture and stunning views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe doesn’t lack for ambience. After a stroll through the recently opened Santa Fe Botanical Garden at Museum Hill, head to Santacafé for dinner, where you’ll find Southwestern-inspired dishes like a shiitake mushroom and cactus spring roll appetizer and a pan-seared Cornish game hen ragout with arugula and ancho chili pesto. The four romantic candlelit dining rooms (located in a 19th-century adobe house) are perfect for a quiet meal for two, or ask to be seated on the courtyard patio.
Follow Megan on Twitter @MeganE_CS