The 11 Absolute Best Romantic Getaways In The Midwest, According To Travelers

Whether it's for Valentine's Day, an anniversary, or to reconnect, couples may feel pressure to spend or travel extensively to find that romantic destination to set the mood, such as in iconic romantic cities around the world like Paris or Venice. However, in the Midwest, that's not necessary. In this American region full of everything from big cities and charming towns with no cars to lakeside escapes, couples will find more romance than they bargained for with activities like wine tasting, watching a drive-in movie hand-in-hand, getting a couples' massage, or visiting an exclusive bar under the "stars."

The next time you want to get away for a weekend with your special someone, check out these Midwestern cities for a taste of romance, often for a price tag far beneath international counterparts. In these destinations, many couples even opt to get engaged or tie the knot, making for memories that will last a lifetime. To find these romantic Midwestern getaways, Explore examined personal blogs, travel guides, city websites, and Google reviews to determine the most romantic destinations to share with our readers. We've included more in-depth information about our methodology at the end of this article.

1. Mackinac Island, Michigan

If the simplicity of old-time romance has you swooning, then so will Mackinac Island. This Michigan locale doesn't allow cars to traverse its streets, and it could be just the place for you and your sweetie. The island has only 500 residents, and many of its original homes date back to Victorian times, making it the perfect area to unwind and reconnect in a slower pace of life or even on a horse-and-buggy, one of the most popular things to do there.

With so much romance in the air, Mackinac Island is also a popular place to tie the knot. However, couples don't need to book a ballroom for their big day. Since a whopping 80% of the island is a state park, many pairs opt to make the surrounding nature their venue. You can choose anything from forests to limestone rock formations as the backdrop to your nuptials, making for one-of-a-kind photos.

For people already married to their special someone, Mackinac Island has plenty of options geared towards couples. You can do anything from ballroom dancing at the Grand Hotel to watching the sunset at Sunset Rock. It's also a great spot for one-of-a-kind outdoor activities. Plus, fans of the Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve romance film "Somewhere in Time" shouldn't miss visiting the island's famous gazebo and the spot where the iconic "Is it you?" scene was filmed. Mackinac served as the setting for this 1980 movie.

2. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Lake Geneva may only be less than 6 square miles, but it packs a lot of romance into an area filled with natural beauty, four diverse seasons, and plenty of things to do for local couples looking to escape from city life for a weekend. Hugh Hefner built one of his first Playboy Clubs there in 1968, which has since become the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa. Today, Lake Geneva is home to many romantic resorts, such as the Abbey Resort and Avani Spa, which has 90 acres of forests and gardens to get lost in nature, and the Baker House, where rooms have fireplaces as well as incredible views of the surrounding lake for optimal romance. It's all within one of the most charming lake towns in America.

To see the lake from above in about as intimate a location as you can imagine, book a hot air balloon ride with Lake Geneva Balloon Company, which ends with a champagne toast — maybe even to celebrate an engagement. Or, for a sip of something else, snag the password for the Maxwell Mansion's speakeasy by visiting its Facebook page. At this historic-inspired basement bar, couples can get cozy while indulging in craft cocktails. Or, extend your stay at the mansion overnight, as the boutique hotel has six rooms in the main building and a selection of suites featuring an old-world feel. Some even include two-person showers.

3. Chetek, Wisconsin

There's something about the peaceful presence of water that inspires romance. That couldn't be truer than in Chetek, Wisconsin, located on a row of six lakes, making up 130 miles of natural, stunning shoreland. This small, serene town is a fantastic place for couples to relax with one another, especially if they visit Canoe Bay, a Chetek adults-only resort known for its romantic vibes away from kids or families. Couples can find privacy since even though the resort has 22 accommodations, it is surrounded by 300 acres of trees and a spring-fed lake. Couples can enjoy romantic amenities like jacuzzis, steam showers, Finnish saunas, and fireplaces in cedarwood cabins.

To throw it back to 1950s-style romance, couples can head to the Stardust Twin Drive-In Theater, one of just nine drive-in movie theaters in the state. Couples can cozy up in their cars or king-size bed lounges for rent while watching projected movies under the clear Wisconsin skies. For a daytime stroll with your sweetie, Chetek is also home to many shops to explore. Local favorites include the Time & Again Antique Mall, which has 40 vendors selling everything from coins to jewelry, and Char's Gifts and Crafts, which always has plenty of seasonal, one-of-a-kind items.

4. Kansas City, Missouri

Not many Midwestern cities embody a bustling hotspot like Kansas City. This Missouri epicenter has it all, from finger-licking barbecue to live jazz tunes. Kansas City is also one of the best places for a couples' getaway since it boasts every type of activity you can imagine — all in a friendly, art-centric city that knows how to let loose. Perhaps one of the most romantic spots in Kansas City — where many couples have gotten engaged and even said their nuptials – is the Instagram-worthy Mill Creek Park, home to a famous fountain surrounded by statues, greenery, flowers, and a stone staircase.

If you're a couple that loves to eat, Kansas City is the perfect locale for you thanks to its abundance of romance-friendly food venues, as it is also one of the best dining destinations in the MidwestFox and Pearl. Additionally, The Mercury Room, atop the Reverb apartment complex in the Crossroads Arts District, is a one-of-a-kind libation destination with amazing views and a starry night no matter the weather, thanks to the thousands of LED lights that line the ceiling. Or, for a sip of wine instead, head to one of Kansas City's many acclaimed wineries. Amigoni Urban Winery, for instance, features a rustic-chic tasting room topped with an Edison light chandelier, perfect for setting the mood before partaking in one of its tasting packages.

5. Saugatuck, Michigan

Saugatuck, a laid-back city that treasures its art scene surrounded by Lake Michigan's rolling waves and beaches, feels more like California than Michigan. However, couples can get that vibe without hopping on a plane. Relaxing activities are all enjoyed with a scenic backdrop in one of the best beach towns you've never heard of. One of the favorite romantic ways to see Lake Michigan up-close is with a sunset cruise, and if you want to make it a private tour, you can on the Schooner Serenity, which offers personal two-hour sailing trips. If you're a landlubber, Saugatuck is home to plenty of romantic farm-to-table eateries, many with water views of Lake Michigan and Kalamazoo Lake. One of the favorite restaurants, especially for celebrating anniversaries, is The Belvedere Inn & Restaurant, a Gilded Age mansion with a prix fixe-only menu.

Luckily for visiting couples, the Lake Michigan area has also become known for its wine, and the region is home to tons of options that make for a perfect afternoon of winery hopping. Modales Wines, a scenic winery with a patio overlooking its vineyards, was even named in Conde Nast Traveler's 20 Best Places To Go in 2020. Or, for an ultra-exclusive experience, impress your special someone with a visit to Wyncroft Wine, which makes under 2,000 cases of wine with European grapes every year. It's only open by appointment — and only on weekends — so you're bound to find privacy there.

6. Galena, Illinois

With nearly one million visitors annually, it's no surprise that charming Galena, Illinois, is a tourist hotspot. However, the natural greenery that surrounds the city, as well as the historic buildings that fill a whopping 85% of Galena, are also what makes it so attractive to couples looking for a respite, especially if they're history buffs. Couples can boat on the Galena River, check out Galena's award-winning wineries, and see nature preserved in its natural beauty.

To start a romantic getaway in Galena, couples can book a stay at a bed-and-breakfast, such as the Jail Hill Inn, which greets couples with champagne and chocolates in their room in the brick-lined building. Another romantic favorite is the Farmers Guest House, which dates back to 1867 and offers sweetheart packages, like its Dinner Date Night Package, which comes with flowers, chocolates, and a $50 gift card to a restaurant.

After dropping off your bags, head to Linmar Gardens, a private garden with perennials, a waterfall, gazebos, and more. A visit here is the perfect way to bond with your significant other in nature. Or, visit one of Galena's wineries, set within the rolling hills of the beautiful Illinois countryside. At Galena Cellars Vineyard and Winery, visitors enjoy a sip with views of the vineyards. Rocky Waters Vineyard and Winery is another popular local choice. It is family-owned and only sells its wines within the state, so visiting here is an exclusive experience.

7. St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis is known to the masses for baseball, barbecue, breweries, and blues. Still, this lively yet affordable Midwestern city is also one of the most romantic thanks to its plethora of fun, perfect for couples, and its relatively low prices compared to other cities. One of the best ways to reconnect surrounded by beautiful foliage is to head to the Missouri Botanical Garden, one of the country's oldest and biggest botanical gardens. Or, to cozy up with your sweetheart while watching a performance, check out The Fabulous Fox Theatre, which dates back to the 1920s and showcases Broadway plays and other types of entertainment.

St. Louis is also a huge foodie destination, and it's packed with romantic restaurants and other ways to share a plate. For chocolate and a sip with a kick — perhaps two of the most aphrodisiac of eats — go to Baileys' Chocolate Bar, an elegant dessert and martini bar featuring signature dessert martinis such as The Sexual with milk chocolate, pepper vodka, and chocolate liqueur. If you don't have enough of a sweet tooth to visit there, take your significant other to the modern Mediterranean restaurant Aya Sofia. Inside this sleek, ambient-lit destination, couples can pull the curtains at their tables for more privacy — making for an ideal place for an intimate proposal.

8. Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri, is called the "Las Vegas of the Midwest," and for good reason. This entertainment-friendly city has a massive 50 theaters, culminating in more red seats than all Broadway theaters combined. This means there's always a show to snuggle up to, no matter your musical or theatrical tastes. Some of the most popular theaters include the Americana Theatre, known for its cover shows, and The Mansion Theatre for the Performing Arts, which has welcomed stars like Nelly, Johnny Cash, Kenny G, and more. But even if theater isn't your thing, there's plenty to enjoy as a couple in Branson – just like how it is in Las Vegas.

Branson is home to quite the upscale dining scene like its nickname namesake. Level 2 Steakhouse has a sexy, black, and red interior with leather details and serves specialties like Kansas City strip steak and prime rib. Chateau Grille, located inside the Lake Resort Spa & Convention Center, is another popular spot for couples thanks to its fine dining and lakeside views. Or, for a romantic meal with a front-row seat on Table Rock Lake, book a dinner and a show on the Showboat Branson Belle, a paddle-wheeler boat. The Showboat Branson Belle isn't the only famous "boat" in Branson. At the Titanic Museum, couples can take photos together on a replica of the ship's grand staircase, where, in the movie "Titanic," Jack Dawson awaits Rose's descent down the steps.

9. French Lick, Indiana

With a population of just under 2,000 people yet home to a century-old resort steeped in luxury, French Lick, Indiana, is the best of both worlds — a quaint small locale surrounded by a rural area and an extravagant getaway. The town was established due to onsite mineral springs that supposedly had healing powers. Since people often traveled from afar to try the water for themselves, it became a resort destination with another resort just a mile outside town lines.

Today, the French Lick Resort has remained an epicenter of Indiana luxury, dating back to 1845. One of its most popular amenities is its colossal 27,000-square-foot spa, built in 1901, which offers massages, body treatments, facials, manicures, and pedicures. Its couples' massage allows couples to have Swedish or aromatherapy massages in a joint room.

Outside, the wealth of the French Lick Resort's romantic amenities is pretty much endless. It offers everything from an adults-only pool to horseback riding on 8 miles of trails to a historic trolley. Visitors can also hop on the French Lick Scenic Railway, which takes them through the Hoosier National Forest for a picturesque and historic journey away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. To cap off a romantic weekend in French Lick, they can then have dinner at 1875: The Steakhouse, an elegant eatery with views of the next-door garden.

10. Shipshewana, Indiana

Sometimes, the best romantic destinations allow couples to slow down and enjoy a more relaxed pace of life to take in each other's company. That's easy to do in Shipshewana, Indiana, which houses the third biggest Amish community in the country and has many Amish-inspired activities. Couples should start their stay by booking an overnight at the Farmstead Inn, which features wraparound porches and fireplaces for a cozy, historic feel. For a special stay, book one of the cabin-themed rooms, which include fireplaces and furniture made by local Amish. This hotel is also steps away from downtown Shipshewana, where couples can get on a romantic horse-and-buddy ride through the area and ride in a white buggy or traditional Amish buggy.

Also downtown is the Blue Gate Restaurant & Theatre, known for its Amish eats and regular entertainment, which has attracted tribute bands, comedians, singers, and more to perform. Indulge in homestyle Amish comfort foods, like meatloaf, roast smoked ham, or roasted turkey. The restaurant is also surrounded by a wraparound porch, perfect for stopping to enjoy the scenic grounds or taking a bite of scratch-made Amish sweets from the onsite bakery known for its pies, cookies, and more. Or, choose a sweet from one of the many downtown shops, such as Aunt Millie's Fresh Candy & Nuts and JoJo's Pretzels. It's the perfect downtown area to peruse hand-in-hand while looking for unique trinkets for home.

11. Hocking Hills, Ohio

If becoming one with nature is the way to your significant other's heart, then Hocking Hills, Ohio, surrounded by parks, forests, rock formations, waterfalls, and cliffs, might be your perfect romantic locale. Here, nature takes center stage, and couples can bask in it all privately at their own cabins, such as the modern Lily Pad Cabin, which has a fireplace and hot tub, or the Hickory Grove Cabin, set upon 8 acres that comes with its own pond. But don't get too holed up in your cabin since there is plenty more to do in this area full of natural beauty.

One popular spot for a romantic walk with your sweetie is Hocking Hills State Park, known for the Rock House, Cedar Falls, and Cantwell Cliffs. Even in the winter, it's a fun visit due to its beautiful ice formations, but in the summertime, couples can even pop into its gorges for a dip. Other outdoor activities in Hocking Hills include horseback riding, rock climbing, ziplining, and kayaking. But if you need a little break from being outdoors, you can also book a romantic couples' massage at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, which offers services inside a log cabin dating back to the 1840s. Or, if a sip of something tasty is more your scene, then head to Hocking Hills Winery for a wine tasting before retiring back to your rustic cabin.

How we chose the best romantic getaways in the Midwest

To compose this list of the most romantic getaways in the Midwest, Explore studied travel guides, Google reviews, personal blogs of people who have visited Midwestern cities with their other halves, and tourism websites of Midwestern cities to find the places that sparked romance due to their abundance of couple-friendly activities, whether that means watching a theater performance hand-in-hand or exploring the beauty of nature together. We also examined if the city itself sparked romance due to its scenic ambiance or otherwise love-inspiring digs.