When pressed to name a romantic city, Paris—with its swoon-worthy architecture, enchanting cobbled streets, and cozy candlelit bistros—comes to mind. But where does one go in the U.S. for a romantic escape? Travel + Leisure’s America’s Favorite Cities Survey posed that question to the public, and the responses are as fascinating as a tour through Match.com.
Now spanning 30 U.S. cities, the annual survey delivers a wealth of opinions on travel, touching on such hotly debated topics as which cities have the best singles scene, boutique hotels, ethnic food, and smartest residents. And as any attached traveler on the eve of Valentine’s Day will attest, also knowing which U.S. cities are tailor-made for a romantic getaway is a very good thing.
Related: 50 Best Romantic Getaways
Not surprisingly, gorgeous, groovy, food-forward San Francisco ranked high in this year’s survey. New York, too, continues to be a favorite of die-hard romantics seeking sophistication in a larger-than-life playground.
“New York City is a place of infinite possibility, which, in my opinion, makes it one of the most romantic cities on the planet,” says Terri Powell, a 43-year-old executive assistant who’s looking for love in the Big Apple. “From the Brooklyn Bridge to the Manhattan skyline to Central Park, who could ask for a better setting in which to find love?”
Another top contender? Las Vegas. Though renowned for its debauchery and what-happens-in-Vegas-stays-in-Vegas shenanigans, Sin City is also ideal for rekindling passion.
“While Vegas might not be the greatest place to find love, it is a great town to put the romance back into a relationship—from formal and dramatic to down and dirty,” says Joan Fernald, a 39-year-old Las Vegas resident.
Interestingly, Los Angeles—a city that consistently ranks high on the list as having attractive residents—falls short this year in the romance department. (Perhaps locals are too in love with themselves to take notice of anyone—or anything—else?) A 25-year-old Los Angeles resident, Jonathan R. Williams, agrees: “In L.A., everyone is constantly looking for the ‘11’ on the 1–10 scale, because there are so many good-looking people. We get distracted constantly by all of the ‘shiny’ things walking around.”
And while “Hotlanta” may have earned its nickname for its sizzling nightlife, the Georgia city still comes in at the bottom third for romance. It looks like Cleveland, too, needs to take a lesson or two in wooing locals and visitors alike with its romantic assets: a Lake Erie location, an up-and-coming culinary scene, and midwestern charm. This year, unfortunately, the survey wallflower was overlooked for many, more brazenly romantic towns.
Whether you’re on the hunt for Mr./Ms. Right or looking to celebrate singlehood far away from cooing couples, Travel + Leisure has the escape for you. Read on for the 2009 America’s Favorite Cities Survey results.