Most Romantic Summer Date Spot in Every State

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couple alone on Big Beach in Maui on sunny day
Photo credit: VisualCommunications/istockphoto

A great date night varies wildly depending on who's on it. For an introvert, a night out at the theater or a concert with a big crowd misses the mark. For a special occasion, maybe dinner and a movie is the bare minimum. It's difficult to get it right every time, but starting with the right location or destination always helps. From restaurants to retreats, these places offer a solid foundation for just about any romance.
Cheaha State Park, AL
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A 2,799-acre park in the delta between Birmingham and Atlanta, Cheaha State Park contains the highest point in Alabama as well as a cliffside restaurant, cabins, chalets, a gem mine, waterfall trails, a bike trail, fishing, swimming, rock climbing, and lots of other activities for day trips or getaways.

Mendenhall Glacier, AK
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Right outside Juneau and fairly easy to get to, Mendenhall Glacier is an easy way to take in Alaska's beauty without too much peril. But the most beautiful part of the experience is a trip through the blue ice caves. After the adventure, consider capping off the night back in Juneau at The Hanger on the Wharf for dinner with stunning panoramic views of Gastineau Channel and Douglas Island Mountains.
Emerald Cove, AZ
Photo credit: EmeraldCoveResort/facebook.com

Even video doesn't do the waters of Black Canyon's Emerald Cove much justice. A kayak trip into this hidden cave is a must, especially if you're going onto the sauna caves and hot springs just down the Colorado River.
Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
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This architectural marvel in Eureka Springs boasts 425 windows and 6,000 feet of glass that put the surrounding Ozark wilderness all around you. Open to visitors most days March through December, it's a gorgeous spot — so much so it might seem a bit presumptuous if you're still in the early stages of dating.
Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles in California
Photo credit: Sean Pavone/shutterstock

Get your star maps, tread the Hollywood Walk of Fame, see a Cinespia movie in the cemetery if you must, but definitely make a stop at Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park. Opened in 1935, it's been an Art Deco wonder with gorgeous views of the Hollywood sign, Los Angeles, and stars in multiple senses of the word: You can look through its telescope and be reminded of its cameos in "Rebel Without a Cause" and "La La Land."
Red Rocks Amphitheatre, CO
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Calling Red Rocks a "concert venue" is an understatement. Amid 738 acres of sandstone, prairie, dinosaur fossils, and trails, Red Rocks is a naturally formed space that has hosted the Beatles, U2, and opera — a full slate of acts each year since it opened to the public in 1941. It also hosts films, yoga, and other events, as well as dinners at its Ship Rock Grille by reservation.
Arethusa Farm in Bantam, CT
Photo credit: ArethusaFarm/facebook.com

Along routes 8 and 202 in Northwest Connecticut are a patchwork of wineries. The summer winery passport program makes it easy to enjoy top of the line wares in a bucolic setting not far from New York City. A bit more to go with that wine? Litchfield's Arethusa Farm will pack a picnic basket with meats and cheeses, add pastries, or offer a pair of seats for a farm-to-table dinner at their restaurant.
Nemours Mansion & Gardens in Wilmington, Delaware
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The DuPonts knew how to create a romantic destination. The family fortune left the region with many excellent places to stroll and picnic, including Alfred DuPont's French-style Nemours Mansion, which tops them all with its "long walk" to a reflecting pool with a 157-jet fountain surrounded by art nouveau sculptures.
Panama City Beach, FL
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Much of Central and South Florida wants to charge steep admission to get anywhere vaguely romantic, but this panhandle destination provides 27 miles of white sand beaches with 100 access points that include picturesque walkovers at Carillon Beach. There are rides, restaurants, and sometimes that spring-break rowdiness you remember — so for romance, pay attention to the calendar.
Savannah, GA
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Yes, the "Midnight in The Garden of Good and Evil" homes and gardens are here, and the 30-acre Forsyth Park with its oaks, dripping Spanish moss, and iconic fountain. But to take in all Savannah offers, walk cobblestoned River Street and watch ships unload between visiting shops, restaurants, bars, galleries, and hotels.
Puu Pehe (Sweetheart Rock), HI
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Just off Maui between Manele and Hulopoe bays, this rock formation rises 80 feet out of the water and comes with quite the story: A warrior thought his wife was so beautiful that it not only brought tears to his eyes, but inspired him to confine her to a sea cave so other men couldn't see her. She drowned in an ocean storm, and the distraught warrior carried her body to the top of the rock, buried her, and jumped to his death. There's now a Four Seasons not far from here, where perhaps your getaway can end a bit better.
Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho
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These falls in Twin Falls are taller than Niagara back east and come with better surrounding scenery. Visitors can hike along the Snake River Canyon Rim Trail for a better view or kayak up to them on the Snake River itself.
Ravinia in Highland Park, IL
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Maybe seeing the remaining members of Loverboy and Survivor play a shed show isn't your idea of a great date, and that's fair. But this more than 110-year-old former amusement park and long-standing music venue is a great date night. Make a picnic of your favorite Chicagoland foods and beverages, pick a spot on the schedule (Diana Ross, perhaps, but classical concert nights are just $10 for lawn seats), and enjoy a dual canopy of trees and stars coupled with pleasant background music. Shame that it's seasonal.
Indiana Dunes, IN
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We aren't going to lie: The Gilded Age spa opulence of the French Lick Springs Hotel is tempting. But there are few places more naturally gorgeous or accessible in Indiana than the 15 miles of dunes and 50 miles of trails along the south shore of Lake Michigan. There are plenty of cute restaurants and downtown areas along that stretch, and history and relaxation on the DunesWalk Inn at the Furness Mansion.
The Roseman Covered Bridge, IA
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The Clint Eastwood/Meryl Streep "Bridges of Madison County" gave this area some serious date-night bona fides. This particular bridge in Winterset was built in 1883 and is still in its original location over the middle river. Being accessible only by foot makes its a lovely location for a secluded stroll.
Monument Rocks, KS
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Just slightly south of Interstate 70, these "chalk pyramids" are sedimentary rock formations deposited by a river long since gone and piled high with shells, fossils, and other artifacts not typically found on the plains — a bit of pale beauty in an otherwise flat and featureless land. It isn't a shabby place to watch the sunset for a romantic date night.

Cumberland Falls, KY
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We love Cumberland Falls for one big reason: Visit at night on certain dates and there's a lunar rainbow across the falls. The surrounding state park keeps a moonbow calendar, in addition to gem mining, hiking, birding, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, and rafting or kayaking right to the base of the falls themselves.
Frenchmen Street in New Orleans, LA
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There are a lot of romantic destinations in this town: City Park, Armstrong Park, Jackson Square, the French Quarter, the French Market. But if you're on a date and want to split your time equally between great food, drinks, conversation, and music, there's no place better than Frenchmen Street. With a dozen jazz clubs packed into a handful of blocks in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, you can take in shows either cheap or free, get one of the best burritos in the city from a jazz club, and find yourself surrounded by brilliant local art.
Grand Harbor Inn in Camden, Maine
Photo credit: Courtesy of tripadvisor.com

Old Orchard Beach has the shore-town amusements, and Portland has the Old Port and its shops, restaurants, and view. But Camden is the ideal image of a Maine summer, with an inn on Camden's harbor in the shadows of a hilltop old wooden church and surrounded by white boats, masts, and ropes. The Grand Harbor has elegant rooms with gas fireplaces, and its Waterview Grand suite is practically made of windows. Spa bathrooms, in-room spa and wellness treatments, turndown service with Belgian chocolates, 24-hour tea and coffee, and complimentary continental breakfast served in your room just pile on the perks.
City Dock in Annapolis, MD
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In this Navy town, Main Street's galleries, shops, and pubs aren't the main attractions. Get down to sailboat-filled Annapolis Harbor, dine at a waterfront restaurant, or head out on the water for a tour of the Chesapeake Bay and take in all the maritime romance City Dock has to offer.
Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, MA
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Cape Cod is fine, but Cape Ann is an underrated stretch of coastline increasingly popular in recent years. Most folks know it for Rockport and the oft-photographed Motif No. 1 fishing shack. But the fishing city of Gloucester has become a tourist destination all its own, with the cove shoreline at Good Harbor Beach serving as its centerpiece. Ringed with bed-and-breakfasts such as the Blue Shutters Beachside and Samarkand Inn, Good Harbor Beach offers ocean views, fishing, and proximity to the city's eateries and events, including its annual St. Peter's Fiesta in late June and early July.

Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan
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It's impossible to come up with a more impressive date spot than this one overlooking the Straits of Mackinac. The Grand Hotel has been greeting travelers since 1887 and picking them up at the ferry terminal in a horse-drawn carriage (there are no cars on the island). There's golf, nine eateries to visit, spa or salon treatments, bicycle rentals, swims in the massive 220-foot Esther Williams pool, afternoon tea sessions, and dancing to the Grand Hotel Orchestra.
Bryant Lake Bowl, MN
Photo credit: Amber R./yelp.com

The state has lighthouses and outdoor movies and other great open-air options on this list, but how about something to know about year-round? Sometimes having as many options as possible under one roof is key and Bryant Lake is not only a bowling alley, but also a full-service restaurant and small cabaret theater. It keeps the options open.
Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi
Photo credit: Courtesy of tripadvisor.com

You can fudge it and say you're taking a date onto a riverboat casino; a law forced this place to float on barges when it opened in 1999. But the Beau Rivage offers more than a riverboat ever could. Home to the Coast nightclub, Eight 75 lounge and 11 eateries (yes, including a casino buffet), the Beau Rivage also hosts shows featuring Boyz II Men, Penn & Teller, LeAnn Rimes, Jim Gaffigan, and others.
Ha Ha Tonka State Park, Missouri
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A wealthy businessman's dream of building a castle-like mansion came true in 1920 — years after he died, and ultimately burning in a fire in 1942. But the Ha Ha Tonka mansion's ruins sit on a bluff high above the Lake of the Ozarks and makes a lovely picnic spot for people who just dream of a beautiful day out with someone special.
Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park, Montana
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While Glacier is packed during the summer months, a hike along Lake McDonald while the weather is warm makes for one of the best dates the National Parks Service has to offer. You could also cruise the lake or take it in from a paddle boat; those looking for a longer getaway can book a room at the nearby chalet-style Lake McDonald Lodge.
Sunken Gardens in Lincoln, Nebraska
Photo credit: LNKSunkenGardens/facebook.com

This small but gorgeous pavilion is one of the few quiet spots in this raucous college town, and a blazing pop of color amid Nebraska's corn-husk landscape. The Sunken Gardens' waterfall, lily ponds, white-bloom Healing Garden, and lawn space make lovely grounds for a picnic or just a quiet day for two.
Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden in Las Vegas, NV
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Seeing the Bellagio's fountains dance or strolling the conservatory and botanical gardens en route to another Vegas location, that's free. If you want to have dinner at either of its restaurants, view the art gallery, get a spa treatment or watch a Cirque du Soleil performance, that'll cost. If you want to sit poolside and stay for a few nights, this still-beautiful facility can accommodate that as well.
Mount Monadnock, NH
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Less than an hour outside Boston in Jaffrey, this 3,165-foot mountain is one of the gentlest climbs on the East Coast and offers a sweeping, unspoiled 360-degree view of the valley below. If you're a camping couple, there are plenty of sites around the mountain to make a night of it. If not, the nearby Monadnock Inn or Sunflowers Restaurant are fine places to wrap up the evening.
South Mountain Reservation, NJ
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The South Mountain Reservation is a 2,110-acre nature preserve spanning four towns in New Jersey's largely urban Essex County. Designed by Robert Olmsted, designer of Central Park, the reservation features hiking trails, fishing ponds, Turtle Back Zoo, year-round skating rinks, and, on its outskirts, the Paper Mill Playhouse, where Oscar-winning actress Anne Hathaway got her start.
Sandia Peak Tramway in Albuquerque, New Mexico
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It's just a 15-minute ride through 2.7 miles of desert canyons and mountains, but it ends at an observation deck atop 10,378-foot Sandia Peak. From there, you'll get full views of the Rio Grande Valley, with the most dramatic and romantic landscapes at sunset.
Central Park in New York City, NY
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Visitors often consider Central Park part of the greater overall itinerary: a place to kill time between museums, Broadway shows, meals, or other New York City date night activities. But it's an all-day event unto itself, with sunbathing in the Sheep Meadow, Shakespeare in the Park, the Tavern on the Green, turtle spotting at Belvedere Castle, a carousel, zoo, and people-watching along Bethesda Terrace and Fountain.
Biltmore Estate Gardens in Asheville, North Carolina
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From paddling on the French Broad to hiking through the mountains, Asheville offers a lot of natural beauty right on its doorstep. But the gardens of the Biltmore estate, the nation's largest privately owned residence, are what wedding catalogs are made of. An azalea garden, classical Italian garden, formal walled garden, rose garden with more than 250 varieties of blooms, and glass-roofed conservatory are just some of the backdrops awaiting couples with a flair (and ideally a budget) for the romantic.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
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Old cabins and Teddy Roosevelt's ranch may not sound like the most romantic date, but panoramic views of the Painted Canyon and Badlands, prairie dog towns filled with yipping fuzzballs, and scenic drives make Theodore Roosevelt National Park some of the best ambience you're going to find in this state.
Cedar Point in Cedar Point, OH
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On a peninsula in Lake Erie, the Cedar Point amusement park and its roller coasters, swings, "Peanuts" character shows, and food stands have been a date-night destination for decades. In the shadow of those rides and adjacent water park, though, is a 110-year-old grand hotel that is the crown jewel of the theme park's accommodations. Hotel Breakers has its own dedicated entrances to the amusements and doles out tickets to guests at a $21 discount, and it offers free parking for the park, an hour's worth of early entry, and shuttle service to other points on the peninsula.
The Center of the Universe in Tulsa, OK
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It's silly, but we love it. In downtown Tulsa near the Woody Guthrie Center (a much better tourist destination), there is a spot where your voice will echo back at you several times louder than it was spoken. Granted, it's just sound echoing off of a circular wall, but these are the kid of inane date-night spots and activities that turn into stories later — and it puts a couple in love at the Center of the Universe.
Heceta Head, OR
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Off Highway 101 just south of the Oregon Coast tourist town of Yachats, the Heceta Head cape dates back to 1775 and has had a lighthouse marking its location since 1894. After serving as a home to the Coast Guard and National Forest Service, the current lighthouse and its keeper's house were designated a historic site in 1973 and turned into a bed and breakfast in 1995. Today, visitors can stay for the weekend, watch the waves roll in, enjoy a seven-course breakfast, and hike up to the lighthouse and beyond to either a private cove or to nearby Hobbit Beach.
Fallingwater in Mill Run, PA
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Designed for the Kaufmann family by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935, Fallingwater and its iconic cantilevered construction became legendary among architecture aficionados. Its serene and secluded surroundings also make it a great day trip and getaway.
Newport Cliff Walk in Newport, RI
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Love the Gilded Area charm of Newport "cottages" such as The Breakers or Rosecliff Mansion, but don't love paying to get into some dead rich person's home? The Cliff Walk goes by all of Newport's historic homes, but is free — leaving money for dinner at the Brick Alley Pub or seafood at The Mooring.
Charleston, SC
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We can't say enough about the history, architecture, or food in Charleston, and Wentworth Mansion is a good starting point. It dates back to 1865 and served as the home of a cotton magnate, a group of Scottish Rite Masons and an insurance company before being renovated into a hotel in 1997, and now has free, full breakfast, afternoon snacks and wine, as well as free parking, whirlpool tubs in each room, nightly housemade chocolates, and evening port sherry and brandy.
Wall Drug Store in Wall, SD
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Anyone who's driven the United States along the northern route has either seen myriad signs for this place or had a 5-cent cup of the tinted water it calls coffee. Is Wall Drug a tourist trap? Of course, but if you're on the road and get to visit a place that offers some photo ops and homemade doughnuts, take the exit.
Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Photo credit: SeanPavonePhoto/istockphoto

Memphis, Knoxville, and Nashville all have their share of date night options, but there are few places more romantic than the Great Smoky Mountains. Even if you stop into Pigeon Forge and visit Dollywood first, make sure to get to the top of the highest point in Tennessee before the day ends.
Padre Island National Seashore, TX
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South Padre Island is a bad spring break memory, but this stretch of national park exists for kayaking, surfing, camping, long walks, and the occasional wildlife sighting. Forget the coeds and keep an eye out for sea turtle hatchlings, pelicans, and black-tipped sharks.
Park City, UT
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Film geeks love this town when the Sundance Film Festival rolls around in January, and this is ski country too. But in the off season, the city has a variety of restaurants and culinary courses to offer. If you can snag a summer rate at St. Regis Deer Valley and raid its wine vault, you're getting a great date for your money.
Equinox in Manchester, VT
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Established in 1769, The Equinox is in the middle of ski country, but has a full slate of summer activities including tennis, lake canoeing, its off-road Land Rover Driving Experience, outdoor retailer Orvis' fly-fishing and shooting schools, and a falconry course. Those who fear the outdoors can swim in the indoor pool, get a bite at any of the five eateries (including the Revolutionary-era Marsh Tavern), find a book and a spot by the fire in the library, or look for Levi Church Orvis' inscription on the Chop House fireplace.
Alexandria, VA
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Right near D.C., Alexandria's waterfront, historic sites, riverboat tours, and restaurant options make it a romantic choice for folks looking to escape the District for even a night. Get a room at the Morrison House or Lorien and stay for brunch.
Ross Lake, WA
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You could pack onto the San Juan Islands ferry with everyone else or head into the cool embrace of the Cascades and bask in the silt-green wonder of Ross Lake's glacial waters. It's close enough to Seattle to be a day trip, but if you're going to stay there are lots of camping options — or the Ross Lake Resort with cabins right along the lakefront.
Lost World Caverns in Lewisburg, WV
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How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Folks who've been to this cute town of restaurants, antique shops, and galleries know that Lewisburg's own Carnegie Hall complicates the answer a bit. Sidestep the issue by visiting fossils in the Lost World Caverns and Organ Cave, and we'd recommend wrapping up at the Greenbrier Resort — a 200-year-old hotel and spa that has hosted 26 presidents by its sulfur spring water.
Door County, WI
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In the warm months, it's a mix of bay fishing, kayaking, golfing, wine tasting, and lighthouse hunting (there are 11). Come fall, it's all about leaf peeping, cherry picking, and pie baking. Replete with campgrounds and cozy B&Bs, Door County and its 19 communities are built for weekend getaways, but will settle for your day trips.
Jackson Hole, WY
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Whether you're out for the best chicken wings at Eleanor's, some farm-to-table eats at Cafe Genevieve, a ride on the tram, a peek at some elk, a day at the rodeo, or a night at the theater, Jackson is where much of Wyoming (and its visitors) spend their date nights.

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