Most Romantic Main Streets
What do Main Streets have that the malls don’t? Atmosphere… History… Romance. They’re the place to go for unique experiences. Candle-lit restaurants, unique wedding destinations, charming streets for strolls, intimate wine-tasting rooms, quaint B&Bs, special historic spots — these are just a few of the things that make Main Street districts a romantic destination. This year, we scoured the nation to find the Most Romantic Main Streets. Here is what we found.
Middletown, Connecticut. Middletown’s allure includes an artful Main Street brimming with elegant restaurants, an award-winning local chocolatier, and the romantic Inn at Middletown, offering the best of New England charm.
- Dream Date: With its views of Main Street's church steeples and the winding Connecticut River, the Inn at Middletown is the perfect base for a romantic New England weekend. Make a leisurely start with brunch at the classic O'Rourke's Diner, where the culinary talents of Brian O'Rourke have been celebrated by foodies from Gourmet Magazine to The Food Network. Stroll along Main Street, and visit the vintage model train display at Amato's Toy & Hobby, then stock up on regional treats at the New England Emporium. Malloves Jewelers just might give your sweetie some good ideas! Venture past the historic houses on tree-lined College Street to the prestigious Wesleyan University. Take in an eclectic and interesting lecture, a hockey game, or go stargazing at the college observatory. Back on Main Street, your hardest chore will be choosing where to eat. With dozens of choices in just a few blocks, you'll be tempted by Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, and American restaurants, as well as the locavore,organic cuisine at It's Only Natural. But for romance, try Esca's extensive wine list and delicious Italian entrees —deemed “worth getting a babysitter” for by local critics. After dinner, sample the artisanal confections at Tschudin Chocolates and a perfect espresso at Klekolo World Coffee. End your evening with a visit to Eli Cannon's Tap Room for the best variety of local beers and friendly atmosphere, or retreat to the Inn at Middletown for a martini in front of the fireplace at the Tavern at the Armory.
Madison, Indiana. You’ll fall in love with Madison’s natural and historic treasures, including lush vineyards, one of the state’s prettiest parks, and a picture-perfect downtown rich in vintage quilts and antiques, gourmet foods, clothing, and arts and crafts.
- Dream Date: Start the day off with a tour of Lanier Mansion and its amazing gardens, followed by lunch at The Attic and Coffee Mill Café — don’t miss the caramel apple pie for dessert! Work it off by visiting downtown’s shopping district for its many specialty shops, galleries, and cafes, including All Good Things, which has lovely handmade soaps and lotions for your sweetie. Then visit the Thomas Family Winery for a sip inside their cozy historic carriage house. Stroll (or sway) along the river to the Key West Shrimp House, for riverfront dining in a 19th-century button factory. Follow that with a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride and a stop at Cocoa Safari Chocolates to indulge in its beautifully made and tasty chocolates. Collapse into bed at the Iron Gate Inn, or one of the other lovely B&B’s in Madison’s historic district.
Natchitoches, Louisiana. With its historic brick thoroughfare, picture-book architecture, and Southern-style charm, Natchitoches is sure to delight, whether through its regional arts and antiques, cozy restaurants, or its stunning Virginia Baker Park — a favorite location to tie the knot.
- Dream Date: Start on Front Street, a brick thoroughfare that is more than 100 years old. Browse many of the unique stores in the downtown area including The Book Merchant, Natchitoches Art Guild and Gallery, and Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile, the oldest existing hardware store in Louisiana. Freshen your hair and makeup, or indulge in a massage at Rejuvenation Medical Spa. Meander along the banks of Cane River Lake and find yourself in Virginia Baker Park. Its garden and water feature offers a perfect spot to tie the knot, if you haven’t already. For dinner, eat at one of the Historic District’s many locally owned restaurants, such as The Landing Restaurant & Bar where you can dine by candlelight while overlooking Front Street and Cane River Lake. An after-dinner carriage ride will dazzle you with the region’s rich history and beautiful historic homes, featured prominently in the beloved movie, "Steel Magnolias.” Fall into bed at the award-winning Queen Anne B&B, or one of several other bed and breakfasts that offer double Jacuzzi tubs, scrumptious breakfasts and lovely gardens. For more ideas on visiting the area, download their free iTunes app.
Franklin, Tennessee. Franklin’s historic downtown has been stealing hearts for years, especially its 73-year old theatre, the “home of first kisses"; its quaint sidewalk cafes; and colorful Victorian architecture.
- Dream Date: Start your memory-making at one of Downtown Franklin's historic churches with a wedding ceremony — or perhaps just a visit. Browse the antique Art Deco rings from Walton's Estate Jewelry and round out your home wares with a trip to The Registry on Main Street. Escape for some pampering at Serendipity Spa, then pick out the perfect dress for dinner at Haven, while he finds a sportcoat at F.M. Allen. Dine at Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant for their prime rib and shrimp and grits, and a live show of Nashville songwriters over a bottle of wine. After the show, window shop along Main Street, enjoying the nostalgic toys at Main Street Toys and the spring herb garden essentials at Yarrow Acres. Gear up at Bink's Outdoor Outfitters for your next adventure vacation, then pop in to Red Pony Restaurant for a marquee martini, or Sweet CeCe's for a frozen yogurt. Finally, break out the fizzy Hullaballoo bath balls from Bathos and a scented candle from Philanthropy and enjoy a romantic evening at one of Franklin's charming inns.
Paducah, Kentucky. Lovers can do no better than visit Paducah, with its horse-drawn carriage rides along cobblestones streets, one-of-a-kind restaurants in historic treasures, and lovely riverfront setting.
- Dream Date: Visitors should fuel up for the day on delectable quiche and pastry at Kirchhoff’s, a fifth-generation deli and artisan bakery located in the family’s ancestral home at historic Market House Square. Grab a coffee or bubble tea at Etcetera Squared, an offshoot of a popular coffeehouse offering “killer beans and fine teas.” The day’s adventures should include a visit to the National Quilt Museum — these are not your grandmother’s quilts! — and its gift shop filled with fine local and regional crafts. The many galleries and art studios downtown are other must-sees, followed by a romantic stroll along the river to catch a classic film at the playfully named Maiden Alley Cinema. Afterwards. stop for dessert at the Chocolate Factory, an old-fashioned candy and cake supply store that sells handmade chocolates and nostalgia by the pound. Finally, enjoy a night at Fox Briar Inn at Riverplace. Located in the heart of downtown, it offers a stunning river view.
Whether strolling down cobblestone streets with your honey, toasting your anniversary with a local wine, or scouting for your perfect wedding locale at gorgeous country mansions, these Main Street communities are the perfect backdrop for it all.
To see captions for the slideshow at the top of this page, click on the pictures to view photo information in flickr. Or you can use the full screen slideshow view by clicking the lower black bar under the photos, then clicking the icon that has four arrows on it at the right side of the box, and then choosing to show the caption information from the Options menu.
Now its Your Turn! Have you had a memorable experience in these romantic places? Or tell us about a Main Street town or neighborhood you've fallen in love with...
This story is closed to new comments.