The lighter side of real estate

10 Cities Where Romance Might Really Be Dead

Valentine's Day got you down? It could be worse. Come inside and marvel over the 10 least romantic cities in the country. Unlike your last date, we can promise you a good time and mean it.

David Cross

Content Editor

232 articles, 24 comments

Recently, one of our co-workers had a meltdown over Valentine’s Day. In the past few months, he’s been struck by Cupid’s arrow. Like many people around the country, he was worried about making February 14th a special day for his, um, special lady. His complaint was that San Francisco, home to your favorite novelty real estate bloggers, just wasn’t romantic enough.

Most of us immediately called foul. San Francisco is indeed one of the most romantic cities in the country. In fact, we were so peeved by our co-workers utterance, we set out to prove him wrong by figuring out which cities really were the least romantic in the country. What did we find?

The 10 Least Romantic Cities in the United States

  1. Houston, TX
  2. New York City, NY
  3. Columbus, OH
  4. Baltimore, MD
  5. El Paso, TX
  6. Detroit, MI
  7. Louisville, KY
  8. Memphis, TN
  9. Indianapolis, IN

These 10 cities top our list of least romantic cities in the country, while San Francisco proved to be one the most romantic cities. Take that, unromantic co-worker!

How did we come up with our list? With research, of course.

Are You Ready for Date Night?

To form our list of the least romantic cities, we first needed to create a metric with which to judge each cosmo. To do this we relied on Rom-Coms and what our moms told us about dating when we entered high school. In other words, we assumed a successful Valentine’s Day would include:

  • A walk in the park
  • A bouquet of flowers
  • A box of chocolate
  • A romantic meal

In addition, we wanted a warmer temperature in order to take a stroll outside, so weather became a factor.

Once we had an idea of what in our minds was necessary for a successful Valentine’s Day, we turned each item on our list into a measurable criterion. Our list looked at each of these factors by city:

  • Park space
  • Florists
  • Specialty chocolate stores
  • Romantic restaurants
  • Average temperature

To come up with our ranking, we first estimated the number of establishments and parks per person in the country’s 30 most populous cities. We then ranked these cities based on each criterion. The final score is an average of how the cities ranked in our five criteria.

After we crunched the numbers, we found that Indianapolis ranked as the least romantic city. Why? Well, not only is Indianapolis cold in the winter with average temperature of 29.6 degrees, the city consistently ranked near the bottom of our criteria. It wasn’t rocket science. There’s just not a lot going on in the city.

Below is why and how we picked our criteria.

I Ache-reage for You!

Via Flickr user WanderingtheWorld.

Why’d we pick parks? Few things are as romantic as taking a walk hand-in-hand through gorgeous scenery. Taking a walk lets you and your boo talk without the bump and grind of clubs or awkward background music.

How’d we calculate each city’s park space? We relied on one of our favorite standbys—ParkScore. The not-for-profit website ranks parks in the country’s 40 largest cities. If you’re familiar with WalkScore, then you’ve pretty much got the concept. Along with a score, the website also provides details about each city’s park system. In this case, it was a snap to figure out how much park space each city holds.

Of course, no one wants to amble through a park in sub-Arctic temperatures.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

It shouldn’t be surprising that cities on the West Coast had a distinct advantage in this category. To create our weather ranking, we calculated the average temperature for the month of February in each of our cities.

Los Angeles came in as the warmest city with an average temperature of 60.1 degrees Fahrenheit, while Milwaukee was dead last with an average temperature of 23 degrees.

Let Your Love Blossom

Whether you’re buying for your husband, wife, or significant other, flowers on Valentine’s Day are a mainstay. Not only do these bundles of flora brighten up the house and give off a pleasant scent, with a little TLC they’ll last for a few days—and remind your partner he or she is special.

To figure out the number of florists in each city, we relied on Yelp. This gave us a rough idea for the number of flower peddlers per person in each city. Boston topped our list of most florists per person, while Jacksonville came in dead last.

Specialty Chocolate Shops

Via Flickr user J. Paxton Reyes.

Those heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolate are great, but when you’re really trying to impress your sweetie, you need to pull out the big guns. In this instance the big guns are specialty chocolate shops. Are they more expensive? Absolutely. Is it worth it? In our opinion, there’s no question.

According to our data, San Francisco took the top spot for the most specialty chocolate establishments per person (score one for the home team.) El Paso fell at the opposite end of the spectrum.

As with the number of florists in each area, we again used Yelp to find the best artisan chocolate stores in each city.

Romantic Restaurants

Why romantic restaurants? As our one of our bloggers put it, “You don’t want to take your date to a not-so-classy, cheesy restaurant.” In other words, if Valentine’s Day is about showing your love for someone else, you want to make sure to impress. Dinner at TGI Fridays won’t cut it (unless there’s some quirky story about how you met there).

To come up with this ranking, we again relied on Yelp to track down romantic restaurants in each city. There were varying reviews for some establishments, so in this case, we went with any restaurant a reviewer believed was romantic.

San Francisco took the top spot for most romantic restaurants per city–proving our point that our co-worker was just being lazy–while El Paso bottomed out the list.

Poor Indianapolis

So, if you’re like our co-worker complaining that you can’t find something to do for Valentine’s Day, take a deep breath and consider what it would be like to live in a frigid city where your chances of finding chocolate and flowers are miniscule. And if you live in one of these cities, you could just move to San Francisco.

How Did Your City Rank?

  1. Indianapolis, IN
  2. Memphis, TN
  3. Louisville, KY
  4. Detroit, Mi
  5. El Paso, TX
  6. Baltimore, MD
  7. Chicago, IL
  8. Columbus, OH
  9. New York City, NY
  10. Houston, TX
  11. Fort Worth, TX
  12. San Antonio, TX
  13. Oklahoma City, OK
  14. Jacksonville, FL
  15. Nashville, TN
  16. Milwaukee, WI
  17. Charlotte, NC
  18. Philadelphia, PA
  19. Dallas, TX
  20. Denver, CO
  21. Austin, TX
  22. Boston, MA
  23. Washington, DC
  24. Los Angeles, CA
  25. Phoenix, AZ
  26. Seattle, WA
  27. San Jose, CA
  28. San Francisco, CA
  29. San Diego, CA
  30. Portland, OR

The Movoto blog is a service of Movoto Real Estate. If you’re looking for a new home, keep us in mind. We have up-to-date real estate listings and local agents throughout the country. When you want to take a break from browsing homes, you can keep coming back to read awesome blog posts like this one.

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posted on: February 12, 2013
5,077 views, 8 comments


  1. The Heights Life

    You’ve never been to Houston, have you? We have one of the largest public parks in the Country (Memorial Park), plus many other amazing greenspaces (Elinor Tinsley Park, Discovery Green, and more). We have world class shopping, so lots of places to buy chocolates, and amazing restaurants. Have you eaten at DaMarco, Mark’s, Phillipe, Mockingbird Bistro, Rainbow Lodge, Backstreet Cafe? If you have, then you know that they are all extremely romantic.

    However, the most aggregious thing in this post re:Houston is the comment that it’s always rainy. That is not only not true, it’s a really terrible thing to say after we suffered a terrible drought for the last 2 years that killed millions of trees and did $millions in other damage, including real estate.

    Come to Houston. Come to my historic neighborhood, once featured in National Geographic Traveler, and then you can speak with a hint of authority.

  2. sojourner

    Where are Cleveland, Buffalo, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Dayton, Syracuse, Rochester NY, and other hotbeds of romance?

    Oklahoma City higher than NYC–give me a break…

  3. El Pasoan

    Aw shut the hell up. You took a picture from shops on the streets of a crappy part of downtown El Paso and say that’s what makes us unromantic? Specialty chocolate shops and romantic restaurants make a city romantic? I guess that’s akin to a little read real estate blog trying to make it’s name on a catch-ily titled article. A little flash and dazzle, instead of actually speaking to people in the city. I hope you don’t sell real estate with as little skill as you displayed when you wrote this blog! Enjoy your five minutes of Valentine’s Day fame, because tomorow you’ll be back to babysitting empty houses on Sunday afternoons!

  4. Megan

    How come Portland is the most romantic city of the bunch? You’d think Valentine’s Day would be too mainstream for all those hipsters living there.

  5. Becky

    Going by this criteria, Memphis should have done much better… First of all, where did you get this picture? This is the construction site to the really awesome riverfront that Memphis is building. Still not done, but not a patch of gravel.

    Parks… all over the place. One of the largest Urban parks in the country (Shelby Farms), Historic Overton Park, multiple downtown parks that over look the Mississippi River at sunset. How is that not romantic? And all can be enjoyed through most of the year as we have short mild winters.

    Flowers, I don’t personally know how many florists we have, but it’s certainly enough to fulfill any flower requirement you seem to think you need. If you want local, there are many flower stands at our numerous farmers markets. Candy, please, Memphis specializes in things that make you fat. Dinstuhl’s is my go to candy shop.

    Romantic restaurants? Memphis is short on a lot of things, but not restaurants. The largest number of new ones are small charming local establishments. Memphians truthfully shun the large chain restaurants. Itta Bena, Restaurant Iris, Majestic Grille, Flight, McEwan’s, Elegant Farmer…. the list goes on and on.

  6. Bill

    You’re entirely correct about Louisville being the in the bottom three. Add in the lack of education and common sense among Louisville residents and you’ve got something there. I fortunately met my wife who was ironically from Cincinnati area in Louisville after she had to go through enough strange people and freaks for a lifetime. She made a personal decision that we had to leave the Louisville area and ended up in a whole new state. Indianapolis, in my home state, isn’t as bad as what one makes it. It does have some redeeming qualities for romance like the Broad Ripple entertainment district replete with restaurants, bars, clubs, etc. Add in pro football and basketball and several universities close by with events and you’ve got something. Indianapolis does come off as a bland city in many ways as it doesn’t have the eccentric behavior of say a larger coastal metro. Yet in many ways, its higher up there for a Midwestern area. Even much higher than Louisville. Chicago, should get a higher ranking too as its not a cultural backwater that you would see in a Ohio Valley area like Louisville. Louisville tends to have a lot of people who are not well educated along with one of the worst urban school districts in America. Not to mention that Louisville schools rank 118th out of 154 school districts in Kentucky which is near the bottom in education among the 50 states. Not a good record.

    Cincinnati, OH is another city in the region with a diverse population, good shopping, clubs, bars, and various cultural events in the Midwest. The towns that one ought to focus on should be backwater cities like Louisville, Lexington, KY, Memphis of course, anywhere in West Virginia or Arkansas, and some states in the Deep South. Any Midwestern city including Columbus and Indianapolis is far above the low standards set by residents of the Southern states. Even the jackassery of Buckeye football is superior than the mouth breathing clientele of most of the Mid South and Deep South.

    Memphis was a lovely experience in my travels as I only went there once and saw enough. The place smells like a stagnant bunch of pond water and not even decent to want to spend much time. Outside of the lively area of Beale Street, it reminded of somewhere you went to catch a fungus. Nasty, dirty, smelly, yep that is Memphis. Its main quality was the stench of being the urinal of the Mississippi River where the nastiness of other rivers ran along that skank of a city.

    Some good points on this list but I would be moving Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis up on the list and moving places like Memphis, Louisville, Jacksonville, and other Southern pig sty areas on the bottom. Very little culture in the South unless you like Confederate reenactments, BBQ, and the Yeehaw syndrome so evident anywhere south of the Ohio River and pretty much going across country in that latitude.

  7. Chris Williams

    Why is New Orleans, Louisiana not on the most exciting city list? And Louisiana loves football more than Ohio because we are better at it… BOOM.

  8. Meggs

    Nearly all bodegas in NYC sell flowers on nerly every block. And they are not just a grocery store version. They have some beautiful arrangements. I also feel like sex shops, or at least lingerie shops should have been included. More people probably get a little something special from there than chocolate.


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