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The 13 Most Romantic Small Towns in the United States

Pack your bags. These small towns are the perfect place for a romantic getaway.

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Make time for romance

It’s time to get away from it all. City lights can be dazzling, but for romance, nothing beats the beauty, charm and slower pace of a small town. Whether your idea of the perfect getaway includes watching the sunset over a sandy beach, playing in the snow, walking the sidewalks of a charming village, or simply enjoying a great meal served at a table for two, this list of the most romantic small towns has something for you. What are you waiting for? Romance awaits. You’ll also enjoy this list of our favorite romantic couples resorts around the world.

Haystack Rock and the Needles at Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast most romantic townsJPLDesigns/Getty Images

Cannon Beach, Oregon

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If your idea of romance includes stunning views, gorgeous sunsets, and long strolls on a sandy beach, look no further than Cannon Beach, Oregon. Cannon Beach is one of the most beautiful seaside towns in America, and boasts one of the most recognizable coastlines of the Pacific Ocean, one of the largest monoliths in the world, the awe-inspiring Haystack Rock, stretches 235-feet into the sky right off the shore. Tufted Puffins nest there from April to August every year.

If you can drag yourself away from the ocean, downtown Cannon Beach is a charming place to take a stroll with inviting storefronts, art galleries, fabulous restaurants like Driftwood Restaurant and Lounge, and fun stops like Public Coast Brewing Company and The Wine Shack. Ecola Park is perfect for hiking, whale watching, and a picnic for two. Afterward, spend the night in Cannon Beach’s most romantic hotel, the Stephanie Inn. They have free food all day long and more importantly, the inn is beautiful and inviting, with breathtaking views of Haystack Rock.

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Friday Harbor, Washington

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Friday Harbor is located on San Juan Island, one of the best weekend getaways in Washington State. The island is only accessible by boat, ferry, or small aircraft, which means the journey itself is filled with romantic views. Friday Harbor has something for everybody, Spend your time kayaking, take a whale watching tour with San Juan Safaris or drive 15 minutes to explore the San Juan Islands Sculpture Park.

Friday Harbor is also full of art galleries, boutiques, and great restaurants like Duck Soup or the Restaurant at Friday Harbor House. The Lakedale Resort is the perfect place to lay your head, with swoon-worthy options for nearly every preference and budget. Set on 82 private acres, they offer traditional rooms in their main lodge, alongside more private options like cabins, canvass tents, or romantic luxury yurts with private decks and hot tubs.

 

Autumn in Franklin, Tennessee most romantic townsDenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

Franklin, Tennessee

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Franklin, Tennessee looks like something out of Hallmark Christmas movie, and indeed, several Hallmark movies have been inspired by the town. Spending a weekend in Franklin is like stepping back in time and not just because the people still bother to smile and say hello. Downtown Franklin has been designated a “Great American Main Street” by the National Trust For Historic Preservation and many of its brick buildings date back to the 19th century. Franklin was a key battle site in the Civil War and history buffs will need to be sure to visit sites like the Carton Plantation or the Carter House, which is the most bullet-riddled building still in place from the Civil War. Leiper’s Fork, a small village just outside of town is home to an open mike night that brings in some of the top talents of Nashville to Puckett’s Restuarant and Grocery Store

Spend the night at the beautiful Harpeth Hotel. The rooms are luxurious with small touches such as luxury robes and in-room Keurig coffee makers so you can linger in bed a little longer. Best of all, the hotel has a fabulous restaurant and plenty of romantic nooks for canoodling in the courtyard or in front of the fire in the library.

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Ketchum, Idaho

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Stunning views of Bald Mountain and the Idaho Smoky Mountain range, picturesque storefronts, and diversity of activity make this small town a romantic destination year-round. Ketchum is about a mile from Sun Valley, one of the most popular ski destinations in the country, but non-skiers will find plenty to do as well. The area is full of fabulous restaurants, coffee shops, spas, boutiques, galleries, the Sun Valley Museum of Art, and more. In the summer, couples can opt to golf, fish, go rafting, or enjoy live music at the Sun Valley Music Festival. If your idea of romance includes being chauffeured around, stay at the gorgeous Knob Hill Inn, the friendly staff at this boutique hotel will drive you anywhere in Sun Valley and Ketchum, however, since amenities include a fabulous hot breakfast, heated pool, sauna, and their Knob Hill Grill is one of the best restaurants in town, you might find you never want to leave. Ketchum is also famously one of America’s prettiest winter towns,

 

Berleley Springs State Park in West Virginia most romantic townsWilliamSherman/Getty Images

Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

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West Virginia is an area rich in history and natural beauty, yet somehow manages to be consistently underrated as a travel destination. Although charming towns abound in West Virginia, Berkeley Springs is by far the most romantic. The town itself is as historical and charming as it is friendly, filled with boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, and other unique businesses. It’s naturally occurring warm mineral springs make it a popular location for spas and rejuvenating, relaxing long weekends enjoying Berkeley Springs State Park. Outdoor activities include golf, hiking, and biking, but Berkeley Springs is probably best known as a small town with a big art scene with concerts, theater productions, and festivals running throughout the year. If you’re staying overnight, The Country Inn of Berkeley Springs is the perfect place to take in the romance. Originally opened in 1933, each one of the inn’s 70 rooms in unique and appointed with period touches and antiques. They also have an onsite restaurant and spa. Best of all, it’s within walking distance to downtown Berkeley. Looking to get away on February 14? Be sure to check out these romantic Valentine Day weekend deals.

Lake George, New York most romantic townsDenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

Lake George, New York

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Located approximately three and a half hours north of Manhattan in the midst of the mountains and old-growth forests of the Adirondack region is a romantic little community called Lake George. It sits on the shores of a lake bearing the same name, the area is breathtaking, with so many gorgeous views of the lake, forest, and mountains, it’s hard to take it in all at once. Lake George is one of the most beautiful lakes in America for swimming but the area is equally inviting for endeavors like snowshoeing and cross country skiing in winter. It’s no wonder people have been spending their vacations there for 200 years. Other romantic activities include excursions on the lake with Lake George Steamboat Company or floating above it all to take in the views from above with Adirondack Balloon Flights. The historic Fort William Henry Hotel is open year-round and features options for all budgets on a stunning property with lush landscaping and views of the lake alongside romantic amenities like restaurants, pools, and saunas.

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Taos, New Mexico

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One needs only to spend five minutes in Taos, New Mexico to understand why it’s one of the most romantic and fascinating towns in the United States. The area is diverse in history and geography, which leads to a visually stunning juxtaposition of architecture, natural landmarks, and activities. Taos is located in New Mexico’s northern high desert region, flanked by the Sangre de Cristo mountains. The area is also home to the Taos Arts Colony and is home to more than 80 art galleries and three museums. There are many options for amazing dining experiences with restaurants like The Love Apple offering the perfect atmosphere for a romantic, delicious locally sourced meal. For romantic overnight accommodations, the Palacio De Marquesa offers luxurious rooms with both modern and classic touches in a natural setting just a half-mile from the historic sites and art galleries of town. The area is home to the Taos Pueblo community of adobe buildings, which is older than the United States.

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Bar Harbor, Maine

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Located on Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor, Maine is one of the most picturesque small towns in the country with romantic ocean views and the rugged beauty and of the surrounding Arcadia National Park. The village of Bar Harbor is charming and quaint with a variety of fantastic pubs and restaurants. It’s a great place to take a nature walk when the weather is warm or enjoy winter sports like snowmobiling through the park in the snowy season. Other popular activities include whale watching excursion, diving, and learning about the area’s early Native American history at the Abbe Museum. To cap off a romantic afternoon, check into the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel, which offers a view of the ocean from every room. If you somehow get tired of staring at the ocean, the hotel has twelve acres to explore and is located just a mile from town. Couples love picking through the vintage bargain barns flea markets, one of the hidden gems of Maine,

carmel by the sea california romantic towns chinaface/Getty Images

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

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Carmel-by-the-Sea, California is one of those towns that people can’t get enough of. Visit once, and you’ll want to keep returning year after year. This tiny community has somehow managed to cater to the tourists who flock there without losing its charm, friendliness, or small town appeal. There are over 50 restaurants within a square mile and countless boutiques, wine tasting rooms, and galleries will help you bide away the afternoon. The best part of Carmel, however, is the breathtaking natural landscape. Visitors love walking along the pristine, white sand of Carmel Beach flanked by the bluffs that loom above the Pacific Ocean. Activities like surfing and volleyball are popular by day and people gather around bonfires in the evening. To end your evening on a high point, check into the gorgeous L’auberge Carmel, which is a short walk from the beach and galleries. Indulge in dinner at their intimate, unforgettable nine-table restaurant or book an in-room couple’s massage to add the perfect romantic elements to your stay.

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Aspen, Colorado

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Aspen Colorado is hardly a secret, but it’s largely considered to be a ski town, which can sometimes overshadow it’s standing as a gorgeous, romantic destination. One need not ski to enjoy Aspen, but if you do, there’s nothing like the four mountains and 41 lifts of Aspen Snowmass. Downtown is full of art galleries and boutiques filled with one of a kind items you’ll be itching to take home. The food and beverage scene is fantastic with options ranging from the Meat and Cheese Restaurant and Farm Shop to the many award-winning restaurants of the Little Nell. For a romantic evening, reserve a room at the Limelight Hotel which features stunning views of the mountain, gorgeous balconies, and rooftop terraces, and cruiser and fat bikes for guests who want to get out and explore. Aspen is one of the most majestic mountain towns in America with stunning views everywhere you turn.

Large elk antler arches curve over Jackson Hole entrance most romantic townsdemerzel21/Getty Images

Jackson, Wyoming

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If you don’t think romance when you think Wyoming, it’s time to think again. Jackson, Wyoming is one of the best towns in America for a quick, romantic escape. Jackson is the heart of Jackson Hole Valley, an area steeped in history and natural beauty. The arches at Jackson’s lovely town square are comprised of elk antlers. The town square itself is a throwback to the old west with charming storefronts and activities like shootout shows on summer evenings and stagecoach rides. There are fabulous restaurants, antique stores, and galleries and of course, wildlife surrounds you. And no trip to Jackson would be complete without a visit to the National Museum of Wildlife Art. The Alpine House Lodge is the perfect place to spend a romantic time together after you’ve finished exploring the area. The inn has fabulous locally sourced food, loaner bicycles for guests who want to ride downtown and shuttles available to take skiers to the slope in season. Jackson is less than 60 miles from Yellowstone National Park, where you can try to take your own amazing wildlife photos.

Bluebonnets field in the Fredericksburg Texas Dean_Fikar/Getty Images

Fredericksburg, Texas

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There are perhaps no accouterments more romantic than wine, flowers, and chocolates, and Fredericksburg, Texas has them all. Founded in 1846, Fredericksburg is a historic town surrounded by natural beauty and the people who make their living off the land through vineyards, orchards, and farms. Fredericksburg is the heart of Texas Hill Wine Country. There are over 50 wineries and tasting rooms in the area and dozens more within a two-hour drive. Other highlights include Wildseed Farm, which, at 200 acres, is the largest working wildflower farm in the country and the silky decadence of Quintessential Chocolates. Nature-lovers should get out of town and explore Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, stunning hiking and rock climbing area. The Settlers Crossing Bed and Breakfast is the perfect spot for a romantic Fredericksburg getaway with the privacy of individual guest houses with wood-burning fireplaces, jacuzzis, and 35 acres to explore.

AMELIA ISLAND SUNSET florida most romantic towns Charles Morra/Getty Images

Amelia Island, Florida

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It’s an idyllic place where you can ride horseback along the beach, golf, take a river cruise, bike, kayak, or simply enjoy the natural beauty and wildlife in the area. Stroll along the boardwalk or explore Amelia Island State Park. Amelia Island has fabulous diverse restaurants that incorporate local seafood and ingredients, reflective of its history of being formerly under Spanish, British, and Early European rule. The area is also full of galleries and boutiques. For a romantic evening, make arrangements at the Elizabeth Pointe Lodge, which is famous for its wrap-around porches and ocean-view restaurant. Read on for more of the most romantic island destinations in the United States.

 

Tamara Gane
Tamara Gane is a regular contributor to Reader's Digest covering travel, lifestyle, history, and culture. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, NPR, Al Jazeera, Wine Enthusiast, Lonely Planet, HuffPost Food, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @TamaraGane