Dates can be nerve-wracking. Whether it’s your first meeting, the night you’re planning to propose, a milestone celebration, or even just a night out with the kids, planning a date the right way is important for you and your partner to have fun. Luckily for you, we’ve done the hardest part for you: finding a place to go.
You could go to one of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s favorite spots or do what Barack and Michelle used to do when they lived in the White House, but chances are you may not have their budget nor their locale. We’ve gone across the country to find the best place for a date in each of the 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and turned up with an interesting mix. You’ll find restaurants and bars, of course, but you’ll also find gardens and parks on this list, as well as some interesting museums, activity-specific spots, and even a drive-in theater.
Take your date to enjoy the absolute best of Birmingham’s food scene at Highlands Bar & Grill, one of the best restaurants in America. Highlands Bar & Grill is run by chef Frank Stitt, a member of The Daily Meal Council, and offers up French-inspired Southern cuisine with excellent service, making this a great spot for conversation and indulgence.
The Alaskan wilderness is already breathtakingly beautiful, making Chena Lake Recreation Area a romantic spot by default. These campgrounds are also, however, one of the best places to spot the northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis. Take along our guide to stalking this natural phenomenon and marvel at the bright green, red, blue, purple, and pink lights. It may be freezing out there, but the experience is absolutely worth it; just make sure to cuddle up with your beau to stay warm.
Seeing the Grand Canyon in Arizona may be a bit of a cliché, but it’s one that’s worth experiencing. One of the best ways to enjoy this famous American natural landmark is from the top with a nice meal at Sa’ Nyu Wa Restaurant, located right next to the Grand Canyon skywalk. Serving some great Native American cuisine, Sa’ Nyu Wa gives you a unique and stunning view along with a fantastic dinner.
Visit Bentonville, the Brooklyn of Arkansas and home of Walmart headquarters. to see a truly impressive art museum established by the daughter of Walmart’s founder. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art chronicles the history of art from colonial times to modern day, featuring works by notable American artists such as Georgia O’Keefe, Norman Rockwell, Jackson Pollock, Eastman Johnson, and Roy Lichtenstein. Discuss the artworks together while on a tour of the museum and make sure to grab a bite at Eleven, the museum’s restaurant, which has a menu featuring cuisine inspired by the flavors of the Ozarks.
Los Angeles’ Venice neighborhood is a great place for an American getaway, and its boardwalk is a fantastic spot for a date. Full of colors, shops, restaurants, and more, it’s popping night and day. Palm trees and murals line the boardwalk, which is full of street performers and stalls selling delicious food, impressive art, and interesting souvenirs. You’ll find skate and surf shops here, as well as medical marijuana dispensaries, restaurants, bars, tattoo parlors, and more. With a diverse population, you’ll also meet plenty of interesting people from all walks of life.
Alpino Vino is only open during the winter, and it’s the best place in Colorado to cozy up with your sweetheart against the harsh cold. One of the most beautiful snowbound restaurants in the world, it’s only accessible via snow coach or ski lift and has stunning views of the surrounding mountains at 11,966 feet above sea level. The fine dining menu includes antipasti, fine cheeses and meats, paninis, and decadent chocolate desserts. Upping the romance factor is the cabin-type look of the place, with a warm fireplace and stone floors.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Elizabeth Park is home to America’s oldest public rose garden, created in 1904. Its 102 acres are filled with gardens and greenhouses open to the public year-round for free. Come here for a walk or a picnic, or choose to dine at the Pond House Café, which uses fresh ingredients from its vegetable and herb gardens. Elizabeth Park is known to be such a romantic spot in Connecticut that weddings are frequently held here, and it’s a popular spot for proposals as well.
Dogfish Head Brewery made it to our list of the best craft breweries in America, thanks to their dedication to quality and their ability to make beer for all tastes. The brewery is also a great spot to get to know someone (and their beer preferences), as it offers beer tastings and brewery tours and also includes an art gallery in addition to the sculptures located throughout the property.
Both the world’s largest drive-in theater and largest daily flea market, the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop sees about 12 million visitors every year. With a real 1960s kind of vibe, it’s perfect for anything from a first date to a special occasion or even a parents’ night out. The drive-in theater has 14 screens, and there’s also a carnival and a farmers market on the premises. Over 2,000 vendors have their stalls up in the 180,000-square-foot building that houses the flea market as well as a food court, arcade games, and even a Ferrari museum.
Located right next to Piedmont Park, Atlanta Botanical Garden is a gorgeous Georgia spot where you can appreciate nature’s beauty right alongside that of your loved one. Smaller, themed gardens lie within the botanical garden, such as the rose garden, Japanese garden, and children’s garden, and a 16,000-square-foot conservatory contains exhibits on desert and tropical rainforest plants, as well as some tropical birds and turtles. The orchid center contains the largest permanent collection of orchid species in the country, and the botanical garden often also features temporary exhibits and installations, as well as events celebrating holidays and local culture.
Hawaii has plenty of absolutely gorgeous spots, but it’s sometimes hard to find one that won’t be overrun with tourists. Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline fits the bill, offering breathtaking views of Oahu. The one-mile Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail will give you great views of spots such as Koko Crater and Koko Head, as well as stunning views of offshore islets. From November through May, you can probably witness whales migrating here. You can also head away from the Makapu’u Lighthouse down the Kaiwi Shoreline Trail, which will lead you to Pele’s Chair, a volcanic formation that, according to local culture, was the last place in Oahu where the fire goddess Pele sat before she left to create the islands of Lanai and Molokai.
Boise’s oldest theater was established in 1927 in the wake of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, inspiring its Egyptian revival architecture and, thus, its name. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this single-screen cinema is both historic and beautiful, making it a classic date spot with a unique twist. In addition to movie screenings and classic film nights, the Egyptian Theatre also hosts film festivals, concerts, lectures, and opera shows.
Navy Pier is a Chicago classic, and it’s also a pretty laid-back date spot that’s low on the pressure and high on the fun. The 3,300-foot-long pier is full of things to do, with rides like a carousel, Ferris wheel, and remote control boats. The pier also contains a funhouse maze and botanical garden inside a six-story glass atrium among other attractions.
Indianapolis’s cultural district of Fountain Square is a great place for hipsters, but it’s also a great place for dates with anyone regardless of subculture. At the Fountain Square Theatre Building, you’ll find a historic diner and bowling alley, as well as, of course, a theater. You can also join the swing dance community that’s been building up here with events such as Friday Night Swing Dance, or take to the rooftop lounge or bar and game room.
The Fenelon Place Elevator, also known as the Fourth Street Elevator, is said to be the shortest and steepest railroad in the world. Built in 1882, this three-foot narrow railway starts at 189 feet up with a stunning view of the town. Angled at 41 degrees, it’s a steep drop, but it’s a safe and nice ride down.
WaterWalk is a complex containing apartments, shopping, and entertainment in downtown Wichita, providing plenty to do. The giant fountains here make up a huge and elaborate production of water and lights, also known as Liquid Fireworks, with over 1,200 custom-designed nozzles pumping over 22,000 gallons of water per minute during one of its water, light, and music shows. The shows don’t seem to run during the winter, however, but the rest of the complex is up and running. Plenty of concerts, festivals, charity walks, and food trucks pop up around the site during the year in addition to the many permanent restaurants and stores here.
At 392 miles, Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest cave system known to man and is about 15 million years old. Two million visitors come to see it every year at Mammoth Cave National Park, which also houses over 70 endangered, threatened, or state-listed species of plants and animals. Trails throughout Mammoth Cave National Park offer beautiful hikes and wildlife viewing, and visitors also partake in boating and other outdoor recreation. The park is free, but you’ll need a guide to tour most of the caves, which can run from $5 to $48.
Louisiana’s best date spot is its oldest restaurant, a great place to enjoy classic Louisiana cuisine in a classic Louisiana institution. Antoine's has 14 dining rooms and is also the oldest family-operated restaurant in the country, running since 1840. Many of the world’s most famous have come to enjoy New Orleans’ oldest French-Creole fine dining restaurant, including Pope John Paul II, Franklin Roosevelt, George Bush, Bill Clinton, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis, Bing Crosby, Kate Hudson, and more. Try the crab meat omelette, soft-shelled crab, or the baked Alaska.
Go for a romantic walk in Cape Elizabeth’s Fort Williams Park with a breathtaking cliffside view of the Maine shoreline. Visit the state’s oldest lighthouse, Portland Head Light, and take a look through the ruins of Goddard Mansion or Fort Williams. The park also has a basketball court, baseball diamond, two tennis courts, picnic areas, and a physical fitness course.
Explore the scenic countryside of western Maryland with your beau on this relaxing trip. You can book a romantic meal, a daytime trip, or even a murder mystery dinner, as the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad offers all kinds of programs throughout the year.
History may not be the first thing on your mind when planning a date, but Boston’s Freedom Trail is a truly well-executed excursion, and it’s actually tons of fun. The two-and-a-half-mile trail includes 16 locations extremely important in early American history, from the Bunker Hill Monument to the Paul Revere House. It’s also a great Instagram opportunity.
Located in the Brooklyn-like neighborhood of Corktown in Detroit, Astro Coffee is a popular and cozy coffee spot that’s been featured in The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, and Bon Appetit, among others. You’ll find some great coffee from around the country as well as sandwiches and baked goods made with organic and natural ingredients.
Duluth’s Great Lakes Aquarium, the only all-freshwater aquarium in the U.S., is dedicated to teaching people about the animals and habitats of the Great Lakes and other freshwater ecosystems like the Amazon River. Discover 205 species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals with your date and learn more about their interests and beliefs regarding the environment and the wonders of nature.
Mississippi’s City Grocery is a great spot for both dinner and drinks, having been named to our list of the best restaurants in the country as well as declared the best bar in the state. Since 1992, James Beard Award-winning chef John Currence has been crafting a conglomerate of eateries and bars in Oxford. The French-inspired Southern fare at City Grocery draws diners to its fine dining room, and the more casual upstairs bar, aptly titled The Upstairs Bar at City Grocery, has become a destination as well for its extensive wine list, short list of classic cocktails, and snacks.
The KC Improv Company/Yelp
Discover top local comedic talent at The Kick Comedy Theater, located in Kansas City’s Westport neighborhood. Home to the KC Improv Company, it’s a great chance to break the tension (and your nerves) of a first date with a laugh in a laid-back atmosphere.
This white-tablecloth restaurant, located in the Northern Hotel, is a destination for locals with some cash to burn. Chef Nick Steen’s menu puts local ingredients to good use in dishes like Montana-raised veal porterhouse with pesto couscous, sun-dried tomato cream, artichoke hearts, fried onion, and bourbon barrel-aged sherry vinegar, but you’ll want to wait for a special occasion to dine there; it's the most expensive restaurant in the entire state.
Treat your date to a dinner worthy of Warren Buffett. This Omaha institution dates back to 1944, and it claims none other than one of the richest men in the world as a fan. The quality and preparation of the steak (which comes from — where else? — Omaha Steaks) makes this the best place for it in the state. For the true Buffett experience, do as he does and order the T-bone, rare, with a double order of hash browns and a Cherry Coke.
This Las Vegas restaurant managed to make it to our list of the top 10 best restaurants in America, and for good reason. The cooking is simply exquisite in this opulently furnished dining room in the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, which was the only three-Michelin-star restaurant in the city when the guide covered Vegas. As the first restaurant opened in America by the famed, award-winning Robuchon, widely considered the greatest of modern French chefs, Joël Robuchon maintains the highest standards through his lieutenant, chef Christophe de Lellis. Everything is impeccable, from the superb service and impressive (and impressively pricey) wine list to such finely crafted dishes as Le Caviar Imperial, a disc of king crab topped with an ample amount of osetra caviar, atop a crustacean gelée dotted with cauliflower purée.
Portsmouth is home to one of the most romantic restaurants in the country, located in a charming brick building. Ristorante Massimo is an upscale spot that’s still friendly and a bit laid back with intimate seating and a cozy interior. The menu features Italian classics and New England favorites such as tagliatelle carbonara and ravioli with butter-poached lobster, as well as an upstairs bar serving great small plates and drinks.
The Garden State has plenty of beautiful spots to take your sweetheart for a romantic moment, but the most impressive is probably Grounds for Sculpture. This sculpture park and museum takes up 42 acres of land with a beautiful, and constantly changing, collection of over 270 contemporary sculptures as well as six art galleries inside.
Now, this place is a trip. The building is an immersive and eclectic art installation that guides visitors through a wild new form of non-linear storytelling. You have to see it to understand it — through 20,000 square feet of exhibits, visitors choose their own path by walking, climbing, and crawling through an imaginative multiverse of unexpected environments. The experiential journey is based on an overarching premise — something strange happened in a Victorian house that dissolved all reasonable expectations of time and space. Enjoy the odd narrative and take photos at will!
New York City’s Central Park is one of the most filmed locations in the world, so it’s a total cliché as far as romantic spots go, but it’s worth it. Being there in person is totally different, and the park has lots to offer, such as a zoo, garden, carousel, two ice skating rinks, a theater, and even a castle. You don’t have to take part in any of this to appreciate the laid-back atmosphere — a contrast to the rest of Manhattan — as well as the beautiful greenery, particularly during the warmer months.
Asheville is a great place for the younger crowd, full of live music, independent stores, and cultural events. However, its biggest attraction, just a few minutes outside of the city, is Biltmore Estate, a nineteenth-century residence owned by the Vanderbilt family with breathtaking, French Renaissance-influenced architecture. The chateau has over 250 rooms and is the largest privately owned house in the world. Admission is between $45 and $60 (with half-price admission for youth, and free entry for children 9 and under), but you’ll find it’s more than worth it after exploring the estate, its gardens, hiking trails, stables, and wineries.
Share a love of animals (or at least a fascination) with your date at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, one of the top zoos in the nation, located just north of Columbus. The zoo has over 7,000 animals from eight different regions of the world, as well as an 88,000-gallon aquarium among other features. The holiday season makes this zoo especially magical with its impressive light display.
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum/Yelp
Take a trip into the Wild West at this Oklahoma City gem, the best museum in the state. You’ll browse the world's most extensive collection of American rodeo photographs, barbed wire, saddlery, and early rodeo trophies, along with a significant collection of American Indian artwork. The best museum in the state, you'll enjoy exploring it together as well as posting it to your Instagram feed.
Whereas many of the restaurants on this list excel at jaw-dropping views, this inviting Italian restaurant specializes in timelessly romantic, snuggle-inducing coziness. The pasta is the house specialty here, perfect for those Lady and the Tramp-inspired kissing moments, and chef Cathy Whims' butterscotch budino is famously addictive.
The Poconos are a great place for a weekend getaway, but if you’re just coming here for a date, a visit to the picturesque Bushkill Falls is your best bet. Called “the Niagara of Pennsylvania,” Bushkill Falls is made up of eight waterfalls and over two miles of trails, walkways, and bridges, all spanning approximately 300 acres. It’s great for romantic walks and hikes, as well as birdwatching, fishing, and other adventures.
Known for its mansions, the city of Newport is a great Northeastern getaway for a quick weekend or even just an evening. A big reason is its famous cliff walk, a three-and-a-half-mile public walkway, which holds some of the most beautiful views on the Eastern Seaboard. Witness wildlife and beautiful mansions that run alongside the walkway, the latter of which can also be visited for their own history.
Brookgreen Gardens is a beautiful sculpture garden and wildlife preserve that’s possibly one of the most romantic spots in the state of South Carolina. Located just south of Murrells Inlet, its 9,100 acres encompass a zoo, multiple nature trails, and multiple themed gardens containing approximately 1,445 American figurative sculptures.
This nonprofit has more than 800 butterflies flying around its conservatory, a beautiful spot to take your date to. You’ll also find an aquarium here, with 20,000 gallons of water containing colorful coral and marine life, as well as an interactive touch pool.
Blackberry Farm is a beautiful hotel and resort with an award-winning restaurant and an impressive bar that earned a spot on our list of the country’s best. The food here is so emblematic that it has inspired a new category: Foothills Cuisine (the foothills being those of the Smoky Mountains), a term that has actually been copyrighted. The Barn at Blackberry Farm, as its restaurant is known, also made the top 15 in our list of the best restaurants in America, as well as our ranking of the nation’s best fried chicken spots.
The Inn at Dos Brisas/Yelp
Located in the rolling hills between Houston and Austin, this 300-acre certified organic farm and resort is home to a Relais & Châteaux-designated restaurant that can serve you and your significant other both a farm-fresh, eight-course chef’s tasting in the white-tablecloth dining room and a romantic picnic lunch for you to take on horseback.
High West Distillery & Saloon isn’t just the best bar in Utah; it’s also the world’s only ski-in gastro-distillery. It has a great cocktail menu, with its whiskey cocktails being of particular note. The bar’s buildings, which are on the National Historic Registry, are worth a visit, too. The livery was used to shoe the horses and mules that worked in the mines; it then became a garage. The exterior of the livery has exposed lettering and signage that was essentially baked on when a mine building across the street burned down in 1981. Excellent whiskey cocktails, delicious High West burgers, and welcoming and knowledgeable bar staff all add up to the perfect ski trip.
A trip to Ben & Jerry’s factory is sure to make your date sweet on you. Take the 30-minute tour of the factory and eat some ice cream at the full-service scoop shop. It’s the sweetest idea we can think of.
This neighborhood restaurant is frequently called upon as a venue for weddings and anniversary celebrations. That’s not surprising considering its woodsy location, stunning koi ponds and waterfalls, and soaring ceilings that always make an impact. The menu, full of modern American fare with French and Mediterranean inspiration, has won this place plenty of awards, and it’s sure to earn you a second date.
Make date night a game night at Mox Boarding House, where you play board games for free from a vast collection of classics as well as the newest games available. There are two locations in Washington; the Bellevue one has a full restaurant for you to order from as you play, whereas the Seattle location has a café.
Go for a “sip and paint” class or a freestyle session at ArtJamz Dupont Studio where you can show off your artistic side (or at least make your date feel good by lauding theirs). Drinks are provided, so you don’t have to BYOB, and local artists are present to help guide you or give you tips to hone your artistic skill.
The springs at Berkeley Springs State Park flow at a rate of about 1,500 gallons per minute, and its spa has Roman baths, whirlpool tubs, a sauna, shower, and massages available for your enjoyment and for a great weekend away from home. George Washington himself was known to visit the baths here, and the park features “the only outdoor monument to presidential bathing,” a stone tub built to represent the conditions in which he would have done so, known as George Washington’s Bathtub. Come here for a quick weekend getaway or just to relax for one evening with your sweetheart; either way, you’ll definitely walk away feeling rejuvenated and happy.
Broadway Theatre Center/Yelp
Home to three performing theater companies and housing a black box theater as well as a replica of an eighteenth-century European opera house, Broadway Theatre Center is a great place for the couple who really appreciates the performing arts. It’s located in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward, the Brooklyn of Wisconsin, and hosts some of the state’s best talent.
Located at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains, this steakhouse looks like it could have been a set for a John Wayne movie. That said, it’s the best steakhouse you’ll encounter in the entire state, serving some of the best prime rib you’ll find anywhere, and it’s packed with locals most nights of the week. Steaks, which include New York strip, prime sirloin, rib-eye, porterhouse, and fillet, are grilled over hardwood, and another favorite is pepper steak, chunks of grilled fillet with mushrooms, onions, and peppers. Nightly specials are also worth seeking out; their chicken pot pie, only available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, is down-home perfection. If you’re looking for more than just a date spot, however, check out our list of the most romantic winter vacations.