Inspiring Places to Pop the Question
A roundup of romantic places to bring up the big day with the love of your life

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Starved Rock State Park is a nature’s hideaway, perfect for a memorable proposal.
Photo: Kathy Casstevens

When you decide to spend your life with that special someone, the trickiest part can be finding a place as special as they are to tell him or her you’re ready with a proposal. Along with being memorable and a reminder of why you love being together so much, it’s nice to know the community welcomes everyone without hesitation. We’ve gathered 10 breathtaking LGBT-friendly locales where you can feel comfortable focusing on the real attraction.

WILD, WILD WEST

WHAT: Let the pure sensual magic of this tasteful, tasty town help you make your intentions for a satisfying life together known, and celebrate in an award-winning B&B in Walla Walla, Wash.

WHY: If you’re seeking a cozy but sophisticated spot to pop the question, consider an inviting stay in sunny Walla Walla, Wash. Foodies and wine aficionados can find a supreme selection of the region’s luxurious cultural offerings, steeped in classic Western elegance. Seventeen public parks let you bask in the picturesque wonder of the valley and indulge in spring wildflowers. Discover famous vineyards, trendy cafes and scrumptious bakeries in the foothills of the Blue Mountain. Select a homegrown rosé or syrah from Sleight of Hand Cellars or one of the many other tasting rooms, and captivate your lover with a visit to the oldest symphony west of the Mississippi. Then retreat to your cozy B&B to recap the highlights (and create even more.)

WHERE:
Walla Walla Bed & Breakfast Inns Association
1126 Pleasant Ave.
Walla Walla, WA 99362
http://www.wwbbia.com

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
http://www.wallawalla.org
http://www.sofhcellars.com/sofhcellars/index.jsp
http://www.wwsymphony.org

AND AWAY WE GO

WHAT: Book a private champagne brunch on a hot air balloon and take in views of the Pacific, Napa county wine country, or even San Francisco. Follow up with fresh chocolate-dipped strawberries at a winery or park.

WHY: Few places have as many reasons to be proud as Sonoma County. With open arms for decades, it’s becoming a home and weekending favorite to more gay couples every year. Seeing other happy duos that have taken the plunge will reinforce your commitment, with a truly special backdrop. Sonoma County boasts 40 spas, zillions of drool-inducing restaurants, as well as more outdoor and entertainment options than you can shake a redwood stick at. The town of Guerneville, about a half hour west of Up & Away and just 69 miles north of San Francisco, is the epicenter of the Russian River Valley, a primo spot to feel the love from the earth and the people—completely hate-free.  

WHERE:
Up & Away Ballooning
1.800.711.2998, 707.836.0171 (local)
Sonoma County Airport
Sonoma, CA
http://www.up-away.com/index.html

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
http://www.sonomacounty.com/gay-&-lesbian
http://www.gayrussianriver.com

INTO THE MYSTIC

WHAT: The hip Amara Resort and Spa offers a special Romancing the Stones package.  

WHY: A complimentary bottle of wine, breakfasts at the chic Hundred Rox Restaurant, and an appointment with Serenitē Spa for the Aroma Stone Therapy Massage will give your romantic tryst extra style. Urbane and unique, it’s one of the best spas in town, complete with pool, patio and fire pit. Sedona itself is a hotspot of spiritual and artistic license, with trails winding through world-famous red rock canyons. The strong, calming earth energies generated here intrigue mystics and are sure to plant your relationship in solid ground.

WHERE:
Amara Hotel, Resort and Serenitē Spa
100 Amara Lane
Sedona, AZ 86336
866.815.6152 (toll-free), 928.282.4828
http://www.amararesort.com

AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH

WHAT: A beautiful chunk of the Rockies that offers every imaginable outdoor adventure, the perfect decompression for tired muscles, and oodles of small-town charm.

WHY: For couples seeking a less crowded, laidback destination amidst the San Juan Mountains, Ouray offers all the exceptional outdoor experiences of the Rockies, but with an unusual sulfur-free hot springs to relax in. The natural wonder offers a perfect follow-up to a day spent mountain biking or hiking at Box Cañon Falls Park, touring old silver mines and ghost towns, or going wild on ATVs, jeeps or snowmobiles (depending on the season.) The therapeutic hot springs park also has a massage parlor, so your ultimate adventure weekend can be as soothing as your time spent together.

WHERE:
Ouray Hot Springs Pool and Park
1200 Main St.
Ouray, CO 81427
970.325.7073
http://www.ouraycolorado.com/Hot+Springs+Pool

JAZZ HANDS

WHAT: The best music festival in the nation. Music-lovers will have a hard time not being moved by the impassioned fervor onstage, or the inviting deep south charm of this beautiful, embattled city. Purchase tickets online or at the Jazz Fest ticket office in the New Orleans Arena or Superdome.

WHY: Jazz Fest has been a symbol of New Orleans’ spirited culture since 1970. Now featuring 12 stages, it has showcased virtually every living icon of jazz, gospel, Cajun, zydeco, blues, R&B, rock, rap, funk, African, Latin, Caribbean and folk music over the last four decades. Though no official tests have been done, we think it’s physically impossible to not enjoy a New Orleans party. Take an afternoon stroll in the birthplace of jazz, Louis Armstrong Park, or head over to the lagoons at Audubon or City Park and make your ardent declaration over Sazeracs. Don’t worry, street consumption of alcohol is legal. Actually, locals say you’re more likely to be arrested for not drinking.

WHERE:
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
336 Camp St. Ste. 250
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 410-4100
http://www.nojazzfest.com

NATURE LOVERS

WHAT: Ravines and overlooks with promising names like Lover’s Leap flourish amidst waterfalls and wildlife in hiker heaven.  

WHY: Outdoor types will fall for this scenic treasure trove, a great destination for a romantic rural getaway. Have a candlelit massage on the grounds, then, at night, spend time playing pool or relaxing in the hot tub or sauna, before snuggling up in your rustic, deluxe cabin room complete with a wood-burning fireplace. Signature ale and fine dining can be found at the Lodge, and special “History-on-Horseback” two person packages round out this enchanting country vacation.

WHERE:
Starved Rock State Park
2668 East 875th Road
Oglesby, IL 61348
800.868.ROCK (7625)
http://www.starvedrockstatepark.org

THE WHEEL OF LOVE

WHAT: Pier Park’s exhilarating Ferris wheel ride is 140-feet high and 7 minutes long, plus, it’s just $9 per person for a 2-ride pass.

WHY: Chicago’s favorite place to see and enjoy Lake Michigan, Navy Pier is an exciting place to go out on a limb and ask the big question. A hodgepodge of fine dining, shopping, waterfront views, happy crowds and a theme park come together to make one memorable ride. Complete with carousel, mini golf, swing rides, funhouse maze and, of course, the Ferris wheel, this cosmopolitan playground makes a great place to surprise someone.

WHERE:
Navy Pier
600 East Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
800.595.PIER, 312.595.PIER
http://www.navypier.com/things2do/rides_attract/pier_park.html

EAST MEETS … EAST

WHAT: An Appalachian luxury B&B with a surprisingly Far East atmosphere, ASIA provides the total spa experience, from professional massages and body work to a serene sauna courtyard for two.

WHY: Hot tea greets you, Japanese gardens await inside, and buzzing outdoor streets lined with cafes, arts venues and progressive boutiques are just a short walk into town. Surprisingly diverse and trendy, Asheville is an artist’s paradise nestled in the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. Retreat when the evening winds down to your beautiful themed suite, with names like “Silk Route” and the “Marrakech Express,” all featuring a whirlpool tub sized for two.  

WHERE:
ASIA. A Spa In Asheville
128 Hillside St.
Asheville, NC 28801
828.255.0051
http://www.ashevillespa.com

KEY TO MY HEART

WHAT: In addition to one-of-a-kind, intimate group sailing on the pristine waters around the Keys, Floridays offers couples champagne in addition to its standard complimentary beer and wine.  

WHY: Key West needs no introduction as an Isle of Acceptance. Allies and advocates abound, so it’s a great place to let politics float away and indulge with your chosen one. March through May brings idyllic weather, and the Keys’ offerings are versatile enough to take you from romantic solitude to a celebration and camaraderie in less than an hour.

WHERE:
Floridays Champagne Sunset Cruises
601 Front St.
Key West, FL 33040
305.744.8335
http://www.floridays.org

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

WHAT: Famous for the LGBT resort communities Cherry Grove and the Pines, Fire Island itself is a peaceful retreat for wildlife and people, especially before the summer throngs arrive.  

WHY: The only federally designated U.S. Wilderness Area in New York, the weather is surprisingly agreeable year-round. Couples are free to roam the natural barrier island ecosystem, take unoccupied seashells home, and savor the solitude with their sweetheart. Its lighthouse marks one of the oldest beacons in America, a great place to watch the sunset and star gaze. After wrapping up a romantic beach outing, stop by the Le Dock restaurant in nearby Fair Harbor for a celebratory dinner with splendid views of the Bay and fish the chef purportedly catches himself.

WHERE:
Fire Island National Seashore
120 Laurel St.
Patchogue, NY 11772-3596
631.687.4750
http://www.nps.gov/fiis/index.htm

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