As the saying goes, “money can’t buy love.” But it certainly can express it. This year, Americans collectively will spend $23.9 billion on Valentine’s day gifts — from greeting cards to jewelry to a special night out — with the average lovebird shelling out $175.
But you don’t need to empty your wallet just to show your romantic side. Depending on where you go and what you do, a sweet evening can be inexpensive and still have the same quality. You just need to be in the right place with the right budget.
With love in the air, WalletHub played cupid to determine the most romantic and cost-effective cities for celebrating Valentine’s Day. We compared 100 of the largest U.S. cities across 27 key metrics, ranging from florists per capita to forecasted precipitation to cost of a three-course meal for two. Read on for the winners, more insight from a panel of experts, and a full description of our methodology. For interesting stats about the holiday, check out WalletHub’s Valentine’s Day Fun Facts infographic.
Best Places to Go on Valentine’s Day
|Overall Rank||City||Total Score||Budget||Activities||Gift Accessibility||Weather Forecast|
|1||San Francisco, CA||72.98||5||1||11||89|
|5||San Diego, CA||66.25||13||20||8||49|
|8||Las Vegas, NV||65.18||68||7||1||36|
|10||New York, NY||64.31||78||5||5||7|
|11||San Jose, CA||62.58||2||41||34||89|
|16||Virginia Beach, VA||59.28||11||55||45||17|
|20||Los Angeles, CA||57.86||80||10||10||53|
|23||Colorado Springs, CO||56.28||19||48||41||31|
|35||San Antonio, TX||52.95||69||30||24||41|
|37||St. Petersburg, FL||52.45||61||40||49||15|
|41||Jersey City, NJ||52.03||26||50||85||26|
|42||Fort Worth, TX||51.92||18||58||58||58|
|50||St. Louis, MO||49.95||86||16||15||80|
|51||Corpus Christi, TX||49.94||36||84||77||12|
|57||Oklahoma City, OK||48.74||35||59||54||86|
|60||El Paso, TX||47.70||52||44||57||58|
|62||St. Paul, MN||47.68||48||37||47||97|
|63||Santa Ana, CA||47.45||40||68||73||51|
|68||Chula Vista, CA||46.14||16||96||94||47|
|74||Kansas City, MO||45.23||51||64||72||83|
|79||New Orleans, LA||44.45||91||9||31||71|
|83||Long Beach, CA||43.80||82||45||55||56|
|84||Fort Wayne, IN||42.94||64||92||69||58|
|88||Baton Rouge, LA||40.40||84||73||44||75|
|95||North Las Vegas, NV||34.61||74||99||99||34|
|99||San Bernardino, CA||28.45||93||98||97||57|
Note: With the exception of “Total Score,” all of the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that city, where a rank of 1 represents the best conditions for that metric category.
Ask the Experts
Planning a date or buying gifts on Valentine’s Day shouldn’t break the bank. You can display your affection for that special someone while remaining smart about your finances. To help consumers stay within their budgets this year, we turned to a panel of experts for their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What are some tips for celebrating Valentine’s Day on a budget?
- What are some ways for people to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, given the currently limited opportunities?
- Valentine’s Day falls on a Monday this year – how might this impact how people plan to celebrate?
- Who spends more on Valentine’s Day, men or women?
- What post-Valentine’s Day deals should savvy shoppers take advantage of?
Ask the Experts
In order to determine the best cities for Valentine’s Day, WalletHub compared 100 of the most populated cities across four key dimensions: 1) Budget, 2) Activities, 3) Gift Accessibility and 4) Weather Forecast. Our sample considers only city proper in each case and excludes cities in the surrounding metro area.
We evaluated the four dimensions using 27 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for celebrating Valentine’s Day. For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), we used the square root of the population to calculate the population size in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.
We then determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
Budget – Total Points: 50
Note: All of the following cost metrics were adjusted for the median household income of the city.
- Average Ticket Price for Valentine’s Day Party: Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
- Cost of Three-Course Meal for Two: Double Weight (~9.09 Points)
Note: We assumed that the cost of a three-course meal for two would increase proportionally across all cities on Valentine’s Day.
- Prevalence of Affordable 4.5+ Star Restaurants: Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
- Prevalence of Affordable 4.5+ Star Valentine Gift Opportunities: Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
Note: This is a composite metric which includes the following Valentine Gift Opportunities: a) Jewelry; b) Florists; c) Chocolate Shops; d) Cards & Stationery and e) Gift Shops.
- Average Movie-Ticket Price: Full Weight (4.55 Points)
- Average Beverage Price: Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
Note: “Beverage” refers to wine, beer and cocktail prices.
- Beauty-Salon Costs: Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
- Massage Costs: Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
- Taxi-Fare Cost: Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
- Lowest Price for Three-Star Hotel Room: Full Weight (4.55 Points)
Note: In 2018, 26 percent of U.S. adults prefer a romantic Valentine’s getaway as a gift, according to a Wakefield Research survey. “Hotel Room” refers to a standard room.
Activities – Total Points: 20
- Restaurants per Capita*: Double Weight (~3.64 Points)
- Diversity of Restaurants: Full Weight (~1.82 Points)
- Cafés per Capita*: Full Weight (~1.82 Points)
- Number of Attractions: Full Weight (~1.82 Points)
Note: “Attractions” include, for instance, museums, cultural performances and zoos.
- Nightlife Options per Capita*: Full Weight (~1.82 Points)
- Walkability: Full Weight (~1.82 Points)
- Amusement & Entertainment: Full Weight (~1.82 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Most Fun Cities in America” ranking.
- Share of Romantic Hotels: Full Weight (~1.82 Points)
- Percentage of Residents Who Are Fully Vaccinated: Double Weight (~3.64 Points)
Gift Accessibility – Total Points: 20
- Jewelry Stores per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Florists per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Chocolate Shops per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Greeting-Card Stores & Gift Shops per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Wellness & Spa Centers per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Google Search Index for “Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas”: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
Note: This metric measures search interest for “valentine's gifts for him”, “valentine's gifts for her”, “valentine's day cards”, “valentine's day flowers” and “valentine's chocolate”.
Weather Forecast – Total Points: 10
- Difference Between Forecasted and Normal Temperatures on Valentine’s Day: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
Note: For this metric, the city was penalized if its forecasted temperature on Valentine’s Day is colder than the holiday’s average temperature.
- Forecasted Precipitation for Valentine’s Day: Double Weight (~6.67 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Council for Community and Economic Research, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Numbeo, Kayak.com, Google Ads, Walkscore.com, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Eventbrite, AccuWeather, MassageBook, Expatistan and WalletHub research.