Don't you just love being out and about on Valentine's Day, surrounded by the red roses, the chocolate and the candy hearts? Not to mention the happy couples around town, enjoying being in love? Even the schoolchildren get in on the mix, carting around their class-distributed cards and treats.
But what if you're single and don't want this Hallmark holiday rammed down your throat? Our suggestion would be to plan an impromptu trip. There are cities for you to escape to, places where you'll find like-minded travelers and plenty of activities perfect for a party of one. It's okay that it's the last minute -- spontaneity is one of the perks of singlehood, right? Here are our favorite cities for you to consider this Valentine's Day.
[See a photo recap of The 7 Best Cities for Singles]
What to Do: Once a bastion of the Old South, "Hot-lanta" is now a haven for young, upwardly mobile transplants in town for the big business opportunities. And to accommodate its hip residents, Atlanta offers diversions for both the happily unwed and the romantically challenged. Go solo to see the fish of the Georgia Aquarium or to learn some antebellum trivia at the Atlanta History Center. Spend your nights along Peachtree Street in the stylish Midtown neighborhood; that's where singletons in-the-know like to unwind.
What Not to Do: Atlanta has been actively pursuing a reputation as a city with good eats, and its restaurants pull out all the stops on special menus for V-Day. Wait until after the dinner hour to paint Midtown.
What to Do: The District of Columbia might be the nerve center of American government, but it's far from stuffy. And despite the findings of a recent Travel & Leisure survey, plenty of trendy, eligible Washingtonians are also attractive (there has to be some reason this city regularly appears on Forbes' list of best single cities, right?). Get out and meet some of the comely locals in hip Northwest neighborhoods like Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan or along the U Street Corridor.
What Not to Do: February isn't the time to enjoy a Lincoln Memorial sunrise or National World War II Memorial sunset. Families tend to congregate around those and other National Mall sites at all times of year. At Valentine's Day, you're prone to see families of two, strolling and snuggling near that area's most romantic vantage points.
What to Do: Paris, Venice, Florence. Western Europe has a long-standing association with romance. And then there's Barcelona -- the black-sheep bachelor of the bunch. Backpackers love it and so will you -- no matter what time of year you visit. And with the low airfare and hotel rates of winter, February just might be the perfect month to experience Catalan culture. Stop by architectural masterpieces like La Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera and Casa Batlló. They were all designed by the city's beloved Antoni Gaudí; who never married, by the way. Then take a nap so you'll be fresh for a late supper and long evening dancing in the Eixample neighborhood.
What Not to Do: You'll be safe from the scorn of twosomes anywhere in Barcelona. Catalonians are more enamored with La Diada de Sant Jordi (St. George's Day) on April 23. That's the date when the city's couples exchange gifts and roses. You should still keep your eyes peeled when visiting in February, however. Some TripAdvisor travelers have been known to propose atop Montjuic Castle or within Parc Güell.
What to Do: Chi-Town is another favorite city for the unattached. Solitary activities like shopping or museum- and gallery-hopping are extra special along Michigan Avenue, and you don't need any company to enjoy the delicious deep-dish pizzas or loaded-down hot dogs. This city also has a great live music scene. Visit a smoky blues club in Bucktown or Wicker Park to hear some local talent. Just be sure to bundle up -- Chicago's winters are blustery to say the least.
What Not to Do: Every Valentine's Day there's an impressive flock of lovebirds mooning over each other at Millennium Park's outdoor ice skating rink. Try to steer clear if you're visiting other sites around the Loop, like the Art Institute of Chicago.
What to Do: You'll have to try hard to be lonely in Iceland's capital city. Reykjavik is loosely known as the "nightlife capital of the north," with a buzzing social scene that really heats up after midnight. Catch some live music or mingle with locals at the hottest bars along Laugavegur, the city's main street. Definitely make sure you're in town on a Friday, that way you can participate in the city's famous runtur (or round tour) pub crawl. And while Reykjavik probably isn't the most attractive option around Valentine's Day (Icelandic winters are characterized by up to 22 hours of night), visiting then could save you the most money. To still see some savings -- and daylight -- plan your trip for late spring or early fall.
What Not to Do: If you leave from Reykjavik to visit the Aurora Borealis, pick any day besides Feb. 14. Romantic Northern Lights tours are particularly popular with Iceland's tourists.
What to Do: With its sea-stained landscape, mish-mash culture and iconic architecture, San Francisco begs a spot on any list of traveler superlatives. But it's especially noteworthy for bachelors and bachelorettes. Trusted sources like Travel & Leisure, Forbes and The Daily Beast have all upheld the Golden Gate City's cred as a town of happy-to-be-single professionals. If you as a tourist want some alone time, take sightseeing trips to Golden Gate Park's Japanese Tea Garden or to the Palace of Fine Arts. Also swing by the Musée Mécanique in the Fisherman's Wharf area to enjoy a few cutting-edge exhibits. To make friends, spend the evening in a SoMa (South of Market Street) nightclub.
What Not to Do: Like any big city, San Francisco also hosts plenty of romantic outings. Make your trips to Fisherman's Wharf during the day; when evening falls this area will be overrun with couples.
What to Do: There are 56 miles worth of beach in Rio de Janeiro; just find the stretch that most appeals to you and indulge in a little sun and sand. Don't worry about getting lonely -- spots like Ipanema and Copacabana are always packed with beachbathers. And then there's Carnaval -- If ever you were looking for a city that's not concerned about lifetime commitment, you've found it in Rio around mid February. Carnaval's start date is always around that time (this year's starts on Mar. 5) so Brazilians are either revving for the party, enjoying the party, or just recovering from it at Valentine's Day.
What Not to Do: Brazil's Dia dos Namorados (Day of the Enamored) is June 12, so in February you can go anywhere in Rio and avoid the sting of St. Valentine. You might find some lovers lazing about Leblon Beach (next to Ipanema), however.
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