So, you’re ready to pop the question and you want it to be special … really special. You already know you want to do it on your next big trip, but there’s one major factor you haven’t figured out yet—where should you go?
The perfect place to propose can’t just be romantic, it also has to be an amazing destination that you and your partner want to visit. (That way they’ll never see it coming.) It has to be exciting, picturesque, and maybe a little bit over-the-top—depending on how much money you have left over after you buy the ring.
The following places make it easy to plan a proposal and can supply the perfect backdrop for the story you’ll be telling for the rest of your life.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Having recently had the chance to witness a friend’s proposal in New Orleans, I can personally say that this city was made for spontaneous romance and celebration. Not only does its flower-filled French Quarter provide an intimate backdrop, New Orleans is also a city that’s more than ready to celebrate your big day with you. Whether you hire a marching band for a spectacle or plan something simpler like proposing mid-stroll in Jackson Square, New Orleans offers plenty of romance and many places to party afterwards.
Where to Stay: For a big trip like this, you can live it up at the Ritz-Carlton. Located just outside, but not too far from, the French Quarter, you can stay close to the party while also geting your beauty rest. Let the front desk know about the proposal and they’ll make sure to have champagne in-room when you get back.
New York City, New York
If you’re a high-roller looking to plan a big gesture, it doesn’t get any splurgier than New York City. With so many iconic places to choose from (Central Park, Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, etc.), the island of Manhattan is chock-full of show-stopping proposal settings. But if you’re looking for something truly remarkable, check into the Jewel Suite at the Lotte Palace. This sparkling 5,000-square-foot suite was designed in partnership with renowned jeweler Martin Katz and displays jewelry valued at over 1.5 million dollars. Call ahead of time and the hotel will plant the ring in the display case so you can give your partner the surprise of their life when you open up that million-dollar case and ask them to marry you.
Where to Stay: Can’t swing the Palace, but still want your New York City proposal to be special? Book a night or two at the Park South Hotel, a boutique hotel in the fashionable NoMad neighborhood, for an affordable hotel with luxury touches.
Santa Barbara, California
If you think your partner might sense something is up if you suggest a huge trip, plan a weekend getaway instead. For West Coasters, Santa Barbara is the perfect example of a laid-back but romantic destination. There are plenty of good question-popping spots, from the beach to Kapp’s Castle, but if you’re looking for something more private, check out the rooftop at the Kimpton Canary Hotel. With 360-degree views, you can time your proposal for sunset to match this Mediterranean-inspired hotel. The staff of the hotel can help you craft and customize your proposal, so you can be sure your privacy will be guaranteed and your partner will be romantically surprised.
Where to Stay: Whether or not you take advantage of the rooftop as an option, the Kimpton Canary is still a good choice for accommodations since it’s right downtown and has the only rooftop hotel pool in the area.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
For East Coasters looking for a casual-seeming weekend getaway to the beach, the Outer Banks in North Carolina is just the place for plotting your proposal. If you’re not feeling a beach proposal, you can also propose at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse or among the dunes at Jockey Ridge State Park. Or consider the gazebo at the Sanderling Resort, which faces westward toward the sunset and extends over the Currituck Sound. The resort’s staff can help you arrange the perfect proposal and hook you up with a local photographer to capture the moment.
Where to Stay: The oceanfront Sanderling Resort in Duck, North Carolina doesn’t just come with the perfect proposal backdrop, it also offers a spa, two pools, and private beach access.
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
If you want to time your proposal with a snowy Valentine’s Day trip, head to Wisconsin’s Lake Geneva. Visit for Winterfest, a nine-day festival featuring the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship and illuminated jaw-dropping ice castles that are big enough to walk around in. The festival would make a great place to propose, but if you want to really wow your loved one, you can sign on for a helicopter ride over the Grand Geneva Resort and fly over the heart-shaped pond, where you can customize a message written in snow. It’s only big enough to fit 15 characters, but that’s still enough for “Marry me?”
Where to Stay: When you book the helicopter proposal package at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, it also comes with breakfast in bed, a five-course dinner, and a private winter photoshoot.
Finland might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of taking a romantic vacation, but it should be—especially in winter. For the majority of people living outside the polar circles, seeing the Northern Lights is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And it’s one worth booking a few days for to account for the possibility of poor visibility or weather.
Where to Stay: You won’t miss a moment of the light show when you stay in a geodesic domes like the ones at Torassieppi. These romantic see-through cabins are the perfect place to cozy up with your partner and celebrate your engagement. You can book them here.
Good wine, delicious food, and those soft yellow sunsets you always imagined Italy would have … need I say more? Italy is already a romantic destination, but if you don’t want hordes of tourists to be part of your picture-perfect proposal, you can forget about proposing on a gondola in Venice or in front of Rome’s Trevi Fountain. Instead, get yourself out of the major cities and into a villa. Propose among the vines or in an olive tree orchard and treat you and your partner to a week of good food, wine, and idyllic landscapes.
Where to Stay: La Cucina Sabina is a culinary resort located just thirty minutes north of Rome. It has seen many successful proposals on its property over the years and the owners can offer guests a personalized experience and help you scout out the right place and time for your proposal.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
There’s nothing suspicious about suggesting a well-deserved vacation in Mexico—and little will your partner know you’re also packing a ring. A tropical vacation is the perfect decoy and with so many Mexican hotels made for romance, it won’t be hard to find a private moment to pop the question. Not far from Cancun, but far from the crowds, Playa del Carmen has beautiful white-sand beaches and a colorful and lively town center. You can plan a classic proposal on the beach or propose during a day-trip to one of the less-crowded Mayan ruins.
Where to Stay: When in Mexico for a romantic trip, it’s best to go for the adults-only resort option. At the Hilton Playa del Carmen, all the rooms are suites, which means the two of you can enjoy your own private balcony and hot tub. There’s even an on-site romance concierge who can help you plan a candlelit dinner on the beach or set up a private sailing trip at sunset.
St. Moritz, Switzerland
The luxe Alpine ski town of St. Moritz is a place that seems more fairy-tale than reality. Whether you ask the question during dinner on top of the world at Corviglia Ski Resort or on a romantic horse-driven carriage ride through the snowy landscape courtesy of the Carlton Hotel, you won’t have any trouble finding the perfect spot, since practically everywhere in St. Moritz is the best place to propose.
Where to Stay: In addition to the carriage rides, the Carlton Hotel St. Moritz’s romance package includes a couple’s massage in the hotel’s stunning spa plus an exclusive five-course dinner.
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Jamie Ditaranto is a writer and photographer always looking for her next adventure. Follow her on Instagram @jamieditaranto.