Our Favorite Engagement Spots in Every Southern State
Alabama: McFarland Park in Florence
Romantic doesn't have to mean fancy. At this quiet park, you can choose from 60 campsites along the Tennessee River with plenty of shaded nooks for plopping down with a picnic basket and celebratory toast. To cap off your festivities, enjoy River Bottom Grille, a floating restaurant and bar, with some of the best scratch-made peanut butter pie around.
For more information, visit fpard.com.
Arkansas: Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs
The 210-acre botanical gardens perched on the shores of Lake Hamilton are ideal for exploring as a couple. With the Ouachita Mountains hovering above you, wander the botanical gardens' bridges, seasonal flowers, and waterfalls (hint, hint), with every turn seeming to offer a better photo opp than the last.
For more information, visit garvangardens.org.
Delaware: DuPont Mansions in Wilmington
Start your path towards "I do" with a stroll along the Brandywine River at the Hagley Museum and Library. A half an hour later, arrive at Nemours Mansion and Gardens (pictured here), the biggest formal French gardens in North America. What could be more romantic than a proposal with red roses filling the landscape as far as the eye can see? Though, if you're a Christmas enthusiast, the snowy backdrop and Victorian Christmas decor at Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library may edge out the former.
For more information, visit visitdelaware.com.
Florida: Ca' d'Zan in Sarasota
Does it get better than a waterfront 21-gallery museum modeled after Italy's Florentine Uffizi Gallery? We think not. The former estate of circus founder John Ringling and his wife, this romantic spot dates back to 1926. (In the roaring 20s, the Ringlings hosted grand concerts and ballroom parties here.) For an unforgettable proposal, head to the terrace with panoramic views of the Sarasota Bay.
For more information, visit ringling.org/ca-dzan.
Georgia: Black Rock Mountain State Park in Mountain City
This sleeper hit from the Blue Ridge Mountains vast catalog of outdoor wonders is the highest state park in Georgia. For visitors, its altitude means it's worth the 4 a.m. alarm clock buzz to hike to the summit of Lookoff Mountain. Equally romantic as a sunrise proposal is the ADA Hi Falls Trail which weaves through wildflowers, ferns, and mossy rocks to a small yet spectacular waterfall. To keep riding the Appalachian High, book a mountaintop cottage or camping site.
For more information, visit gastateparks.org/BlackRockMountain.
Kentucky: Castle & Key in Frankfort
The Old Taylor Distillery, built in the 19th century, has reinvented itself as Castle & Key Distillery. Helmed by Marianne Barnes, the first woman to be a master distiller in Kentucky since before prohibition, the feminine touch shines here. A Koi pond with benches encircled by Southern magnolias, hydrangeas, and a garden path sits at the bottom of a castle. Beneath the limestone castle’s turrets, sunken gardens and airy gazebos also dot the “front yard.” Burying a bottle of bourbon for wedding-day weather fortune? They also happen to make a mean bottle of Kentucky’s finest spirit.
For more information, visit castleandkey.com.
Louisiana: Rosedown Plantation in St. Francisville
From your first breath of fresh, country air, it's easy to teleport yourself to an era before iPhones and TV at Rosedown Plantation, first built in the 1830s. While all 374 acres possess their own charms, our favorite setting for a proposal is "oak allee," a row of oaks leading up to the main plantation home. If your inner horticulturalist prefers flowers and plants to trees, head to the 18 acres of ornamental pleasure gardens.For more information, visit nps.gov/nr/travel/louisiana.
For more information, visit nps.gov/nr/travel/louisiana.
Maryland: Federal Hill in Baltimore
Twinkling city lights and harbor views set the backdrop for a laid-back yet romantic night on Federal Hill. Year-round, it's a gorgeous place to take a stroll in the very place that was a key look-out during the Civil War. But summertime is when “the hill” really comes alive. On Thursdays in July and August, the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) hosts free outdoor movies in the natural amphitheater setting. Nearby, AVAM has a few more proposal-worthy areas—an elaborate spiral staircase, sculpture garden, and the Bird's Nest Balcony, which overlooks the museum, a wildflower garden, and Baltimore.
For more information, visit avam.org.
Mississippi: On a sailboat in the Gulf Coast
Dolphin sightings? A sorbet sunset over the Mississippi Sound? Glorious barrier islands rolling by? Well, all of the above, plus a private sailboat charter with your loved one sounds pretty good to us. Some stellar options include Making Memories Sailing, T&J Island Cruises, and North Star Sailing Charters. Or, to make your moonlit cruise a family affair, try Biloxi Schooners with room for up to 44 revelers.
For more information, visit gulfcoast.org/things-to-do/fishing-boating.
Missouri: Chapel of the Ozarks in Ridgedale
Perched on the highest point in Taney County, Missouri, massive windows bring the outdoors in at this elegant chapel. Or, pop the question outside on the deck where happy shouts will travel for miles over the verdant landscape. To bring your wedding day full circle, you might also want to consider hosting your ceremony at the chapel.
For more information, visit bigcedar.com.
North Carolina: Kindred Spirit Mailbox on Bird Island
In the late 1970s, a couple created the Kindred Mailbox as a place for people to express their love and thoughts in an anonymous journal. Moved to the banks of Sunset Beach on Bird Island in 1983, it has since become a pilgrimage spot for lovers. Flipping through the pages (the journals are replaced daily and archived at UNC Wilmington), you can see uplifting stories, tales of heart-wrenching breakups, and everything in between. For the ultimate romantic gesture, walk the one mile from the nearest road to the mailbox—no cars are allowed here—to find "Will you marry me?" inscribed in the book.
For more information, visit ncbrunswick.com.
Oklahoma: Philbrook Museum in Tulsa
A throwback to the grandeur of the flapper era, this museum was once the former Italian Renaissance-style residence of oil billionaire Waite Phillips. The museum sits on twenty-five acres studded with formal gardens, lush greenery, and native Oklahoma plants. After the big moment, capture the grounds' beauty with a picture in front of the reflective pond.
For more information, visit philbrook.org.
South Carolina: Sheldon Church in Yemassee
Sheldon Church has been destructed for more than 120 years, but even without a roof, windows, and interiors, the ruins of this pre-Revolutionary War church are still breathtaking. The tree-studded site has an almost spiritual aura, and looks particularly wondrous at golden hour. Pro-tip: It's a dreamlike location for an engagement photo session, too.
For more information, visit sciway.net.
Tennessee: Cheekwood Estate and Gardens in Nashville
A historic mansion surrounded by 55 acres of botanical gardens, it's no wonder many feel teleported to the British countryside on these peaceful grounds. For a spring engagement, the Cheekwood in Bloom festival is an experience for the senses with more than 100,000 colorful tulips. In November through January, one million holiday lights glimmer throughout the property.
For more information, visit cheekwood.org.
Texas: La Cantera Resort & Spa in San Antonio
You may be in America's seventh largest city, but you'd never guess it from the relaxing pace and peace at La Cantera. Grab a quiet spot by the fire pits overlooking Hill Country— a bottle of wine, a starry sky, your forever, what more do you need? Well, a dip in their infinity pool doesn't hurt either.
For more information, visit destinationhotels.com/la-cantera-resort-and-spa.
Virginia: Libby Hill Park in Richmond
With views similar to the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, the James River runs below this seven-acre park with natural trails, an impressive ornamental fountain, a monument built in 1894 for Confederate soldiers and sailors, and beautiful flower gardens. The stone benches are a fitting spot for engagements, as are the magnificent river overlooks that are particularly dazzling around sunset when crowds die down. Fun fact: The view from Libby Hill is said to be the reason for the London-inspired name of Richmond.
For more information, visit visitrichmondva.com.
West Virginia: Babcock State Park in Fayette County
Plucked straight out of a fairy tale, the gentle hum of water flowing through rocky streams provides an enchanted soundtrack for your day at Babcock. While there are many rhododendron-lined trails for popping the question, our favorite spot is beside Glade Creek Grist Mill, a classic West Virginia landmark. Another can't-miss detour is the New River Gorge Bridge, a mountainside passageway suspended over water. There, you may even catch the colorful parachutes of base jumpers floating down from the 876-foot bridge.
For more information, visit babcocksp.com.