Whether it’s a first date or the 50th, a milestone occasion like a proposal or anniversary or just a Friday night out, any day can be an opportunity to turn an ordinary date into an exceptional date. Romantic restaurants are nice, but sometimes couples want something more than dinner and drinks.
Our list of the best date spot in every state includes options at all price points in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. From a bat-watching sunset cruise to zip-lining, these activities are sure to bring excitement and build better bonds with your beloved, as you explore the best date spot in your state.
In the heart of downtown Mobile across from the historic Battle House Hotel, Dauphin’s restaurant serves exceptional French Creole fare, but it’s the panorama spanning Mobile Bay that wows. Known since the late 1960s as the Bienville Club, the Alabama restaurant’s name is a playful twist on the history of owner Bob Baumhower and Mobile: the “dauphin” was the title of the French crown prince when that country founded the Port City in 1702. And football — with the Miami Dolphins — was the first chapter of Baumhower’s career before he became a restaurateur. Perched on the 34th floor of the Trustmark Building, book a seat at the area’s first and only chef’s table and enjoy the sunset over the skyline while chatting with executive chef and sommelier Steve Zucker.
Chase the northern lights in Fairbanks, Alaska, which is geographically within the “aurora oval,” by booking the Deluxe Aurora Experience. Couples can pass the time waiting for the dazzling green, pink, purple and white rays of lights by eating hors d’oeuvres. A professional photographer captures the adventure, so you can focus on the experience (or pick up tips to take your own Instagram-worthy photos). Aurora season in Alaska typically runs between August 21 and April 21 with the best chance to see the natural light show on nights when the sky is dark and clear enough for the lights to show (typically from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., though this can vary depending on weather conditions).
Adjacent to the babbling Oak Creek at L’Auberge de Sedona Resort, Cress on Oak Creek is a peaceful and romantic spot for dining à deux. Nestled in Sedona’s renowned Red Rock region, the resort restaurant serves three- and four-course prix fixe menus and a $145 six-course chef’s tasting menu inspired by Northern Arizona. Recent dishes on the seasonally inspired menus included 24-hour pineapple-braised pork belly with bacon poached potato, charred sweet pepper chutney, and pineapple aigre-doux; Sedona Rainbow Farm trout tartare with poached Granny Smith apples, blood orange segments, sage dust, pine nut tuile, and citrus sabayon; and “Popped-Corn,” vanilla caramel sauce, rich milk chocolate crèmeuxcaramel corn, Sable Breton, and popcorn gelato.
Whether it’s your first or your 50th, The Park at West End in Fort Smith is a unique and fun spot for a date. Get cozy atop the late 1930s-era Ferris wheel, originally built and displayed at the 1935 San DiegoWorld’s Fair. This retro amusement park also contains a hand-painted carousel from Italy and a 1963 British Leyland double-decker while a 1957 Pullman dining car serves as a diner. A covered penny arcade and calliope circus wagon round out the nostalgic offerings at this awesome Arkansas date spot.
The waterfalls at Shasta Cascade in Northern California are so amazing there is an official waterfall week. Comprised of 50 waterfalls and dozens of lakes and rivers set against a backdrop of mountains and forest in Shasta, it is truly a paradise for lovers of the outdoors. Don’t miss hiking to nearby Heart Lake, a secluded heart-shaped lake that includes beautiful views of Mount Shasta.
A 30-minute drive from Denver, Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre is both a city park and a music venue at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The Colorado amphitheater is the only naturally-occurring acoustically perfect amphitheater in the world. The free visitor center features the Colorado Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, interactive educational displays, a short film on the geological and musical history of Red Rocks and food at Ship Rock Grille.
Located in the small town of Essex is one of the Connecticut’s most beloved attractions, the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat. The Essex Steam train offers a variety of tours year round including the Essex Clipper Dinner Train. This romantic train tour includes a four-course meal served during a two-and-a-half-hour sightseeing journey through the Connecticut River Valley aboard the restored 1920s-era Essex Clipper,which features Pullman diner cars pulled by a vintage diesel locomotive.
The mile-long boardwalk in Delaware is whimsical fun. From old-school rides like the Funland Gravitron to boardwalk snacks like funnel cake and ice cream, a walk along the boardwalk is the ultimate date idea for those who seek to feel forever young. Rent bikes or multi-passenger surreys to burn off the sweet treats.
Discovery Cove in Orlando is technically a park, but it’s not like the other Florida theme parks. Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive day resort that’s open to only 1,300 guests each day (reservations are a must). Discover Park is akin to going on a one-day vacation that combines all the benefits and beauty of a tropical destination — the beach, the jungle, and even a dive trip. There’s no waiting in lines, no trying to figure out how to do it all. Admission includes breakfast and lunch, unlimited drinks and snacks, snorkel equipment, wetsuits and parking. Couples can upgrade their experience with activities like going on an underwater safari, feeding stingrays, swimming with sharks, and swimming with sharks (opt for the Celebration Package, which includes a buoy with a personalized message delivered by a dolphin).
Enjoy a walk to remember in central Maui at Ali’i Kula Lavender, a palatial purple-hued field filled with lavender. Enjoy an educational lavender walking tour to learn about the calming and comforting effects of lavender. After strolling past 45 varieties of lavender, stop by the Hawaii farm and enjoy soothing teas and delicious scones.
Soak away stress with your beloved at the natural, sulfur-free Lava Hot Springs in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. Skip the crowds and opt for an early morning or afternoon dip on the weekends or an all-day weekday stay to up the romance. Forget the daily hustle and bustle, but don’t forget to bring flip-flops to wear to and from the dressing rooms.
Sip your way through picturesque Shawnee Forest Country on the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail in Ponoma, Illinois, which features 11 award-winning wineries located along a 35-mile scenic drive along Highway 127 and Highway 51 in the Shawnee National Forest. Along the way, have a picnic, go on a hike, and visit quaint boutiques. Many of the wineries host special events throughout the summer and fall, and the winter passport program offers incentives to visit in in February. For one of the most incredible views in Illinois, hike to Garden of the Gods, located in Shawnee National Forest in Herod, Illinois, which offers spectacular views of Camel Rock, Anvil Rock, Devil's Smoke Stack and other magnificent rock formations.
The 13-acre Western Gateway Park on the western edge of downtown Des Moines incorporates historic buildings, modern architecture, and green spaces. Stroll through the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park, which is home to 29 pieces of art by 22 of the world’s most celebrated artists, including Gary Hume, Mark di Suvero, and Ugo Rondinone. Open from sunrise to midnight, the Iowa park is a perfect spot for taking cute couples selfies.
Enjoy the beautiful views of the forest, bluffs, and Kansas River all while flying high above Bonner Springs. Zip KC’s Sunset Date Night Tour takes flight as the sun begins to set. Zip all nine lines and whiz past glowing trees as the sun sinks lower and lower. The three-hour Date Night Sunset Zip Line tour starts off with a “warm up” on four lines with a short scenic hike between each line. Get back to nature zipping bluff to bluff over the forest and wildlife below. The adventure continues on a 65-foot tower with zipliners soaring for a quarter of a mile to the next tower; they then zip from tower to tower and end on a zero gravity line.
Whether explored on foot or via a mile-long ride through the mountains on the Skylift, Natural Bridge State Park in Slade, Kentucky, makes for a great day out in nature. Stroll along a 1,200-foot scenic footpath to Lookout Point, which offers one of the most enviable views of Natural Bridge. Extend your visit with a stay at Hoedown Island. Settle in for the night at one of the park’s many accommodation options including campsites, cottage rentals, and the Hemlock Lodge.
Couples seeking an impressively romantic dinner at Jacmel Inn in Hammond will not be disappointed. The charming, century-old Louisiana home has eight fireplaces, and the glow from each hearth sets the mood for exceptional regionally-inspired cuisine. Request a table by one of the fireplaces when making your reservation to stay toasty warm in winter.
Located in the heart of Maine’s mid-coast, Camden is a quaint and charming coastal town, perfect for a romantic and fun date. Before browsing the shops and stopping for dinner along the waterfront, be sure to visit Camden Hills State Park for panoramic views of downtown Camden and Penobscot Bay. With many great restaurants overlooking the water, it’s easy to find one to stop in for a pre-dinner specialty cocktail and another for a tasty meal like fresh lobster.
St. Michaels, one of Maryland’s quintessential towns along the Chesapeake Bay, is the perfect date spot in Maryland, offering a picturesque harbor, historic museums, antique shops, local wineries, and authentic Chesapeake cuisine. Located in Talbot County along Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the town of St. Michaels was a shipbuilding town and then became known for the crabbing and oystering trades. The town’s harbor and some of the homes date back to the 1600s. Sail aboard the Sail Selina II, a historic 41-foot gaff-rigged catboat from 1926 that sails daily from St. Michaels Harbour Inn & Marina.
Before the cruise, go for a wine tasting at St. Michaels Winery and grab your favorite bottle for the sunset cruise. Grab dinner at one of St. Michaels’ waterfront seafood restaurants, each offering authentic Chesapeake-style cuisine. Cap off the night by heading to Justine’s Ice Cream Parlor for homemade ice cream. St. Michaels offers romantic accommodations including the charming Five Gables Inn & Spa and the Inn at Perry Cabin where the movie “Wedding Crashers” was filmed.
Perched on the 52nd floor of Boston’s Prudential Tower, Top of the Hub has been serving guests brunches, lunches, and dinners with a view since 1965. The Massachusetts restaurant has also served as the setting for thousands of marriage proposals. The $80 five-course prix fixe menu includes courses like Parisian gnocchi with heirloom squash, basil puree, pistachio, and feta cheese and seared Bay of Fundy salmon with lobster mashed potatoes, green beans, and Jade Sea foam. Nightly entertainment enhances the exceptional epicurean experience.
The Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail runs from the state line north to Saugatuck, one of the country’s most charming beach towns. The southwestern Michigan trail is also a short ride from the harbor towns of New Buffalo, St. Joseph, and South Haven. Don’t miss watching the sunset over Lake Michigan after sipping fine wines. Wineries along the trail include Tabor Hill, Dablon Winery and Vineyard, and St. Julian Winery. Cheers!
Dubbed the “Birthplace of Minnesota” and voted one of America’s Most Picturesque Towns by USA Today Travel, the historic river town of Stillwater on the Minnesota/Wisconsin border is a year-round date destination. Stay overnight to experience a thriving culinary scene with 20-plus patios or rooftops, 50-plus boutiques from fashion to vintage upcycled home decor, wineries, breweries, art, paddlewheel river cruises, trolley/Segway/BierCycle tours, festivals and more. Be inspired by the beauty of the St. Croix River Valley and preserved architecture of Stillwater’s historic mansions and Main Street.
Docked between The Golden Nugget and Margaritaville in Biloxi, the Betsy Ann Riverboat is a wonderful way to enjoy a sundowner with your sweetie. The riverboat is one of the last steamwheel paddleboats in the US. The two-hour dinner cruise takes up to 150 passengers along the Mississippi Gulf Coast; it is one sailing trip you won’t soon forget.
For a romantic dinner with a view, Top of the Rock is the perfect place for passion. The unique dining experience in Branson includes pre-dinner cocktails in a cave, dinner in a 150-year-old barn, and the sweet sounds of a traditional bagpiper who serenades diners as the sun sinks over Missouri’s Table Rock Lake.
Take a short three-quarter-mile hike on the Mount Sentinel M Trail and visit the top of 1,958-foot Mount Sentinel to watch the sunset from the best overlook of Missoula. You can’t miss the giant “M” on the west face of the mountain, a Montana landmark that was shaped by students from the University of Montana in 1908.
Located between Lincoln and Omaha in Louisville, Nebraska’s Platte River State Park’s three new glamping cabins offer a peaceful, private place to enjoy the great outdoors with your beloved. With polished concrete floors, a raised stone fire pit and many windows to let in the natural sunlight, these cabins combine modern comforts and rustic charm. Each cabin comes equipped with a covered deck, queen-sized bed, padded deck furniture, kitchenette with cookware, s’mores kit, wine glasses, bottle opener and more. Bonus: The beds inside the glamping cabins have wheels so you can roll your bed out onto your private deck and sleep under the stars.
Lake Tahoe, an alpine lake in the Sierra Nevada range, provides a multitude of opportunities for romance, including Zephyr Cove Resort in Zephyr Cove, Nevada, about 51 miles from Reno Tahoe International Airport. This small, quaint, lakeside property has 28 cabins and four guest rooms. Things to do include sightseeing cruises on the M.S. Dixie on the Lake Tahoe, which docks at the Zephyr Cove Marina.
The celebrated Beneduce Vineyards is a family farm winery in New Jersey specializing in varietal and hybrid wines. Perfect for a romantic rendezvous, the Pittstownwinery is surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Hunterdon County that has prompted some wine enthusiasts to nickname it the “Napa Valley of New Jersey.” Sip fine wines on the lively outdoor patio and enjoy live music performed by local bands or head indoors to the tasting room to sample wines and a seasonal selection of local artisanal cheeses and cured meats.
It been said that more people have announced their engagement at this New York restaurant than at any other eatery in Manhattan, making this classic restaurant one of the most romantic restaurants in New York and quite possibly the world. One If by Land, Two If by Sea is located in a historic carriage house built in 1767, and it has been a romance hot spot since opening in 1973 thanks to candlelit tables, brick fireplaces, and a dreamy private garden. Since 1999, chef Gary Volkov has helmed the kitchen, creating New American prix fixe and tasting menus. A recent $159 seven-course chef’s tasting menu included seared Hudson Valley foie gras with churros, dulce de leche, and lime foam and pan-seared scallops with sunchoke chowder, corn, and lardo.
The romance begins with the trek from Sunset Beach on a scenic 1.5-mile walk on fine white sand. At the heart of a North Carolina coastal preserve populated by plovers, egrets, and ibis, the Kindred Spirit Mailbox has held the thoughts, dreams and secrets of travelers for nearly four decades. People arrive on foot or bicycle to read what it holds — journal entries, loose-leaf letters, and cards —and add their own words, photographs, and other items. The Kindred Spirit Mailbox is the centerpiece of Nicholas Sparks’ 2018 novel “Every Breath,” and fans of the author might recognize neighboring Southport, which is35 miles away, as the setting and film location for “Safe Haven.”
Start your date night with a romantic skyline dinner at Sky’s. It’s a showstopper with not-to-miss views of downtown Grand Forks, North Dakota. Post-meal, head to “The Ralph” (Ralph Engelstad Arena), the home of the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks men’s ice hockey team. For die-hard hockey fans eager to experience one of the most heated rivalries in college spots, book tickets in advance for when UND takes on Minnesota-Duluth.
Housed within Ohio’s Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel, Orchids at Palm Court is a Cincinnati hotspot where you can dress to impress your date and dine on inventive American cuisine in an ornate, French art deco-inspired space. Try the $45 three-course Taste of Orchids set menu. Offered Sunday through Thursday, the menu includes options like goat cheese panna cotta with summer tomato salad and balsamic reduction; roasted swordfish with angel hair pasta and summer vegetables with piperade sauce; and lemon and fruit sabayon with lemon and limoncello sabayon with assorted red berries.
Located in downtown Oklahoma City, Myriad Gardens & Tropical Conservatory is a 15-acre natural escape that offers a garden, a children’s garden, an off-leash dog park, splash fountains, a carousel and a giant glimmering tube called the Crystal Bridge Conservatory. The centerpiece of the gardens and possibly the most romantic part, the Crystal Bridge is 224 feet long, 70 feet in diameter and covered by 3,028 sections of translucent, double-layered acrylic panels that look like glass.
Inside is 13,000-square-foot plant display in two distinct climate zones — the tropical wet zone and tropical dry zone — with more than 750 varieties of plants and multiple waterfalls. First-time visitors should take the opportunity to explore the inside of the Crystal Bridge as well as the outside gardens. Occasionally, food trucks line the streets, which provides a great option for meals or snacks.
A small, charming town in the northern Willamette Valley, Oregon’s wine country, McMinnville is just 45 minutes from Portland. New to McMinnville is the Atticus Hotel, a 36-room hotel in which no two rooms are alike. Each room was designed and curated with a love and respect for the surrounding community in mind; from the original local artwork, to the hand-crafted bath products and even the furniture, almost everything in the hotel is made in Oregon. But a stay at the Atticus is only the beginning of a romantic date night. Take a stroll (or hop on one of the complimentary Dutch-style cruiser bikes offered by the hotel) and explore McMinnville’s historic 3rd Street, which is chock-full of boutique shops, antique stores, cozy cafes, and almost 20 walkable wine-tasting rooms (not to mention the hundreds more that surround the immediate area).
A date at “The PMA” (as locals call it) combines a tremendous collection of art with evening programming. The stunning setting, dining and outdoor spaces combine many great date elements in one place in Philadelphia. Couples can admire works by Vincent van Gogh, Antoine Coypel, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens before dining at Stir, the only Frank Gehry-designed restaurant in the Northeast, which features a menu of dishes made with seasonal and organic local ingredients. Friday evenings are a great time to visit the Pennsylvania museum; it has extended evening hours and hosts live music, light bites and drinks for guests to enjoy in the Great Stair Hall, making it perfect for date night.
Providence’s thriving arts district, commitment to historical preservation, and sophisticated nightlife combine to make it an appealing date spot in Rhode Island. In the heart of Providence is the Rooftop at the Providence G, which boasts cozy private lounges, roaring fire pits, and enviable city skyline views thanks to its a retractable glass rooftop — all with the soundtrack of live acoustic reggae, Caribbean soul, and rock music.
One of the most iconic images of South Carolina’s picturesque Folly Beach is the Morris Island Lighthouse. From the very far end of the east side of Folly Beach, where the road comes to an end, couples can park and walk to get the absolute best views of the lighthouse (make sure all your tires are off the road or you will get ticketed). Bring a picnic lunch and admire the views of the lighthouse inlet and the Cooper River Bridge and indulge in people watching. You might even catch a glimpse of dolphins.
Hear the legendary love story of Leo Lambert and his wife, Ruby, which led to the discovery of the magnificent Ruby Falls, during a tour by lantern of the breathtaking waterfall that was discovered in 1928 more than 1,120 feet below the surface of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga. Tennessee’s Ruby Falls is the nation’s tallest and deepest underground waterfall that is open to the public. Enjoy the view from Lookout Mountain Tower and Blue Heron Overlook and soar through the tree tops on Ruby Falls’ ZIPStream Aerial Adventure, a zipline that includes a 40-foot climbing tower with five routes of varying difficulty and amazing views of the Tennessee Valley.
It may seem like a quirky way to spark romance, but Austin’s hour-long Bat Watching Sunset Cruise is an impressive way to see the sunset from March to October. The boat tour on Town Lake, also known as Lady Bird Lake after former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s wife, gives riders a close up view of the largest urban colony of Mexican free-tailed bats in North America. An estimated 1.5 million bats take flight against the Texas sun and Austin skyline. Board the boat 30 minutes prior to sunset and once the sun is down, the boat docks in downtown.
The St. Regis Deer Valley’s Mountain Terrace offers unparalleled views of Park City’s beautiful alpine scenery. Cuddle up by the fire with cocktails and enjoy an alfresco lunch or dinner in a majestic mountain setting overlooking Utah’s Deer Valley and Deer Hollow Run. Don’t miss the nightly Champagne sabering ceremony, followed by a glass of the finest bubbles, at 5 p.m.
Near the ski town of Stowe, off the eastern side of Upper Mountain Road, Vermont’s Bingham Falls sits on 72 acres of land that is part of Mount Mansfield State Park. Hike down past red maple trees to admire Bingham Falls’ deep pools and gurgling gorges. Enjoy a refreshing swim in the warmer months and pack a picnic for cooler months.
Just 5 miles from Washington, D.C, Old Town Alexandria in Virginia showcases a historic and charming downtown complete with cobblestone streets, picturesque row homes, red-brick sidewalks and flickering gas lamps. A nationally designated historic district founded in 1749, Old Town Alexandria is home to more than 200 independent restaurants and boutiques. Stroll down Captain’s Row, the picturesque 100 block of Prince Street that dates from the late 1700s, when sea captains operating from Alexandria’s wharves built their homes there. Don’t miss a creative cocktail at Captain Gregory’s, a secret restaurant and speakeasy accessible after hours via Sugar Shack Donuts & Coffee (you’ll know the bar is open when a particular flag is showing).
The Summit House at Crystal Mountain in Rainier is the highest elevation dining experience in all of Washington— talk about dinner and a view! Getting to the Summit House is half the fun: Visitors ride in a scenic gondola to the top of Crystal Mountain. From atop the mountain, gaze at Mount Rainier and the surrounding Cascade Mountains. No matter the time of year, the scenic spot is perfect for romance: there are snowshoe hikes, skiing, snowboarding, and live entertainment in the winter and wildflower hikes and guided trail rides on horseback in the summer. The gondola is dog-friendly in the summer, and there is a “pawtio” for dog-friendly seating.
The National Museum of Natural History is a somewhat unexpected but ever-delightful day-date spot in Washington, D.C. Admission is free and the treasures inside include the Hope Diamond, the 45.5-carat dazzler purportedly worth $250 million; “Objects of Wonder,” an exhibition that celebrates the joys of collecting natural history treasures, from seashells to whale earwax; and live beetles and bugs in the Orkin Insect Zoo. Is your date brave enough to hold a giant Madagascar hissing cockroach? Only one way to find out!
Charleston’s Capitol Street is the perfect setting for any date with its trendy restaurants, relaxed, casual bars and beautiful cityscape in this romantic West Virginia town. On Capitol Street, dates can choose from an array of incredible meal options, from pies and brews at the aptly named Pies and Pints to contemporary cuisine at The Block. For something sweet, visit Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream and try fun flavors like espresso Oreo, black raspberry and mocha almond.
Catch a Milwaukee Bucks game or a concert at the new $524 million Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee’s entertainment district. Pre- or post-game or concert, check out the drinking and dining options at the 30-acre plaza outside the Wisconsin arena. Options include a brewery, restaurants, shops and a beer garden with a 28-foot television.
Board a horse-drawn sleigh and ride among an elk herd of thousands at Wyoming’s National Elk Refuge, a winter habitat for the Jackson Elk Herd, which can total 6,000 or more each winter. Purchase tickets at the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, located several blocks north of Jackson's Town Square and take a free shuttle bus to the sleigh boarding area 3 miles north of Jackson. Sleigh rides last approximately one hour, including the shuttle ride to and from the sleigh ride site. In need of more great date ideas? Make a reservation at one of the 75 most romantic restaurants in America.
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