Best Romantic Small Towns In America

Forget Paris: Stay closer to home instead with these 5 under-the-radar towns

With February 14 fast approaching, it won't be long before love—not just snow flurries—fills the air. But procrastinate on your Valentine's Day planning, and you may just find yourself joining the lonely hearts club. Make the upcoming holiday one to remember by planning an escape to one of the country's top under-the-radar romantic destinations. Whether your sweetheart has a sweet tooth, a knack for adventure or prefers laid-back luxury, these hideaways offer something for everyone.

Kennebunkport, Maine

Any in-the-know New Englander will eagerly gush when asked about this charismatic coastal town. It's easily considered the region's most romantic retreat, thanks to an annual Paint the Town Red celebration every February. At night, twinkling red lights line the waterfront hotels, restaurants and galleries, each organizing special events catered to visiting couples. Learn the art of truffle making at the Cape Arundel Inn, head to the Kennebunkport Inn to practice your double axles on its outdoor ice-skating rink or partake in a Drinks through the Decades mixology class. Guests can even call upon Kennebunkport Resort Collection's Cupid Concierge to make extra romantic arrangements (like bouquet deliveries, dessert in bed or personalized hotel playlists). 

Sanibel Island, Florida A post shared by Fort Myers & Sanibel (@ftmyerssanibel) on Jan 30, 2018 at 6:52am PST

Lovebirds hoping to migrate south for Valentine's Day should set their sights on the tranquil beaches of Sanibel Island. Often referred to as the Shelling Capital of the World, thanks to the plethora of seashells that wash ashore from the Gulf of Mexico, beachcombers can spend hours strolling along secluded coastlines. More than half of the island is composed of wildlife sanctuaries, with the main attraction being J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, a bird-watcher's paradise that comes alive during February. Fully embrace the island lifestyle at Sundial Beach Resort, where you can treat your honey to award-winning restaurants, luxurious spa treatments and outdoor activities like tennis, golf and fishing excursions. 

Loveland, Colorado 

This enchanting destination has been nicknamed America's Sweetheart City and is home to Fire and Ice, the nation's largest Valentine's Day festival. The annual event transforms the downtown into a winter wonderland, with towering ice sculptures and a dazzling nightly fireworks display. Lampposts throughout town are adorned with more than 360 gargantuan red hearts, each displaying customized love notes. And in true Colorado fashion, Loveland's own Grimm Brothers Brewhouse concocts an exclusive love potion to celebrate the occasion (this year's is a chocolate cherry brown lager called Bleeding Heart). Needless to say, Loveland's locals take this holiday very seriously.

Ridgedale, Missouri

Tucked deep in the heart of Missouri's Ozark Mountains, Ridgedale is a rural retreat offering plenty to do for lovers looking to reconnect. Surrounded by rugged wilderness and lush forests, locals and tourists alike unwind by hiking, horseback riding and canoeing through this mesmerizing region. Spark a romantic rendezvous with a stay at Big Cedar Lodge, a rustic resort sprawling more than 4,500 acres. Beaus look forward to luxurious log cabins overlooking the sparkling waters of Table Rock Lake, a slew of opulent amenities (like the stunning 18,000-square-foot Cedar Creek Spa) and several noteworthy special packages.

Kohler, Wisconsin 

Chocolates are a staple when it comes to Valentine's Day, but The American Club unabashedly elevates this concept to a new level. The resort is gearing up to ring in its sixth annual Celebration of Chocolate event—aka a dream come true for anyone with a serious sweet tooth. This highly anticipated weekend kicks off February 16 and includes three days of nonstop cocoa tastings, seminars and other delectable experiences. From a five-course, chocolate-inspired dinner to sampling the newest creations from KOHLER Chocolates, there are plenty of sweet treats for valentines to indulge in.

Ian Centrone is a native New Yorker and freelance writer always on the hunt for his next adventure. Follow his travels at @iancentrone.