It’s almost that time again—the Hallmark holiday when happy couples book up all the good restaurant reservations, pack the best ice cream parlors and make out on moonlit park benches with the specific intent of flaunting their relationship in your face.
But just because it’s the one day a year Jeff and Rebecca get a babysitter for a night in the city doesn’t mean that singles can’t have an equally awesome time on Valentine’s Day.
Here at Wanderu, we conducted research to find the very best cities in the U.S. for single people on Valentine’s Day. Our criteria had nothing to do with a place’s potential for meeting a future partner or setting you up for some hokey Hollywood meet cute. No—rather, this list represents the top 25 cities across the country for you to treat yo self this February the 14th.
These rankings are based on aggregate data around which locations provide the best and most affordable activities for you to enjoy without a romantic partner: from the number of high-quality massage parlors to the most 4-star adult entertainment stores, and beyond.
So let’s cut the foreplay. Here are the 25 best cities to be single on Valentine’s Day:
It’s no surprise that vibrant entertainment hubs like Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago and San Francisco rank so highly. These megacities have a gravity of their own. Whether you’re pushing past tourists on Fifth Avenue or strolling by a tour bus on Rodeo Drive, the endless attractions these destinations have to offer are almost overwhelming. There’s so much going on every moment of every day that Valentine’s Day hardly even registers a ripple. The sheer volume of places to go and things to do make date-night herds easy to avoid.
Our more unexpected findings include the likes of Baltimore and Sacramento in the top 10, beating out heavyweights like Washington D.C., Austin and Atlanta.
Conspicuously absent from the list is New Orleans, and Las Vegas barely squeezes in at #24, suggesting that the most hookup-friendly cities aren’t necessarily the best ones to treat yourself if you’re single and fabulous. All the better—this day is supposed to be about you, and it’s common knowledge that you get a more restful night’s sleep if permitted to go full starfish on that bed.
Best Valentine’s Day Cities for Singles by Category
To arrive at our final rankings, we started with the 50 most populous cities in the U.S. Admittedly, it’s possible that small locales like Wahoo, Nebraska are a perfectly fine place to be single on Valentine’s Day. But if a town has only one restaurant, it may be difficult to avoid the lovebirds unless you really focus in on that Keno machine. (And it’s tough to be discreet shopping at the lone adult entertainment store in town when you went to high school with the proprietor’s son.)
With those big cities in mind, we built a scoring methodology based on the total number, quality and price of products and services suited for self-indulgence. To find out how your city sizes up, let’s take a closer look at the individual rankings for each category:
Cities With Highest Percentage of Singles
We took into account which cities had the highest proportion of singles out of the total population—not because that statistic implies a stronger chance of finding a last-minute date, but because you’re better suited to band with other single friends to celebrate your February 14 freedom, if you so choose.
In that regard, Detroit leads the pack by an impressive 4 percent margin, with nearly three-quarters of the adult population single. The Motor City is followed by a three-way tie between Atlanta, Washington D.C. and Baltimore.
Noteworthy omissions from the top 10 include overall winner Los Angeles, implying that a new trend toward polygamous Millennial artist collectives is artificially inflating their numbers in this category.
At least that’s what we read on Facebook.
Cities With Most Day-Trip Destinations
What better way to prevent an accidental run-in with your ex and their new flame than an excursion outside the city, whether that means hiking at a state park, visiting a small town museum or reading a book on the beach.
To calculate which cities have the most day-trip options, we analyzed our own Wanderu data, looking at those with the most available destinations by bus or train from the city of origin within 20 to 120 miles. (We settled on those particular distances because they roughly translate to between 30 minutes and two hours of travel time—about as far as you can go while reasonably calling it a “day trip.”)
With nearly 200 routes, New York City takes top prize. New York to Philadelphia is the most popular day-trip route, where you can visit the Benjamin Franklin Museum and remind yourself that the Founding Father was a lifelong bachelor.
Meanwhile, Beantown takes a close third as Bostonians bus it from Boston to Hartford, Connecticut—birthplace of newly single Jenna Dewan, ex of Channing Tatum. Who needs Magic Mike anyway when you can hang out at Mark Twain’s house? As Twain once wrote, “Love is not a product of reasonings and statistics. It just comes—none knows whence—and cannot explain itself.” Hang in there, Jenna.
If none of those options fit your fancy, use our Explore Tool to find all the routes available from your location.
Cities With Most Massage Parlors
No day of personal pampering is complete without a massage.
To make sure we weren’t including any places that require you to bring your own baby oil (BYOBO?), we filtered data from Yelp by rating (4 stars or higher). We also screened for cost (no more than $$), so you don’t blow the bank on that mid-afternoon kneading.
With California cities (L.A., San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, Long Beach and San Jose) claiming more than half of the top slots, it’s clear The Golden State is especially back-rub friendly.
Cities With Most Cupcake Shops
Cupcakes are the best dessert for singles on Valentine’s Day. Why? They’re cake for one—the perfect single-serve dessert. And by single serve we just mean fitting an entire cupcake into your mouth at one time.
Quality cupcake bakeries seem to cluster along the coasts. San Francisco sneaks its way into the top three in this ranking, but even so, has less than half the total number of L.A. shops. Chicago stands as the sole non-coastal representative in this sample, with 630 highly-rated cupcake bakeries to choose from. Just don’t get red velvet. #neverredvelvet
Cities With Cheapest Average Price for a Bottle of Wine
Lubricate your Valentine’s Day evening with wine—a full bottle, just for you. (OK, OK, you could also share with a friend. If you insist.) And while Two-Buck Chuck or a box from Target or Trader Joe’s might suffice on a run-of-the-mill Thursday night, February 14 deserves a respectable (but not snobby) selection.
Of the 50 cities surveyed, Sacramento boasts the cheapest average price-per-bottle in that mid-range tier, perhaps because of its proximity to Napa Valley and Sonoma. Tucson, Tulsa and El Paso also break into this list, the only category for which any of them ranked.
Cities With Most Takeout Options
The last thing singles want to see on Valentine’s Day is a sappy couple clasping hands across a bistro table in flickering candlelight, surrounded by small plates. Instead, avoid long waiting times and restaurant romance in general by treating yourself to some takeout.
This ranking is heavy with culinary hubs—L.A., New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Miami. While San Diego isn’t typically thought of as a “foodie” town, it makes a strong impression here, and Washington D.C. slips in to round out the top 10.
Cities With Most Adult Entertainment Stores
Look, we don’t need to know what you purchase. Just remember that when you’re single, Valentine’s Day is all about the self love. 👀
Naturally, the City of Angels takes top honors here. (It’s no coincidence that the “Porn Capital” of the world, the San Fernando Valley, is an L.A. suburb.) And it’s not even close: Los Angeles has more than twice as many highly rated adult shops than New York City at number two.
Shout out to Texas for snagging spots three and four, and we’re not talking “Keep It Weird” Austin. Turns out Houston and Dallas are kinkier than we realized.
Cities With the Fastest Average Download Speed
Consider using Valentine’s Day to kick off your next big binge—maybe an anti-rom-com like “You” on Netflix, or “True Detective” on HBO.
Of course, to avoid that evil wheel of buffering, lightning fast internet is a must, and Kansas City comes out of nowhere to command this category. In fact, K.C. is so well known for its incredible internet service that NPR’s “Morning Edition” did a piece on it back in 2015. Austin lands at a still dominant though somewhat distant second, the only category for which it cracked the top 10 in our entire analysis.
City-to-City With Wanderu
Maybe you don’t actually live in any of these cities but are in range for a last-minute excursion, or perhaps the notion of a day trip truly tickles your travel bone. Questions begin to bubble up: What’s the cheapest, fastest way to get from Philadelphia to New York City, or from Los Angeles to San Diego? What would it cost to take a day trip from Boston to Cape Cod or from San Antonio to Austin?
Wanderu has the answers. Compare routes, schedules, and prices across major carriers and book your tickets on a single platform without paying more. Get the Wanderu app to use on the move or just use the Wanderu website. Either way, you’ll have all the trip information you need at your fingertips.
And on the evening of February the 14th, once you’re settled at home or in your hotel room with a cupcake, bottle of wine, takeout meal and…uh…whatever else you may have bought, then you’ve successfully survived (and thrived) on Valentine’s Day as a single. Chances are you made it through feeling properly spoiled—and only mildly irritated. Cheers!
- We analyzed the following categories to determine the best cities for singles on Valentine’s Day:
- Percentage of singles
- Available day-trip destinations
- Total high-quality massage parlors
- Cheapest bottle of wine
- Total high-quality cupcake shops
- Most high-quality takeout options
- Total high-quality adult entertainment stores
- Fastest internet speeds
- Data sourcing:
- For population, we pulled the 50 most populous cities in the U.S. from a 2018 World Population Review estimate based on recent U.S. census estimates.
- For percentage of singles, we pulled data from the 2017 American Community Survey as presented by censusreporter.org for each city, applying the census definition of “single.”
- For available day trips, we pulled from our own data here at Wanderu the the total number of bus and train routes between 20 and 120 miles from the city of origin.
- For massage parlors, we looked up the total number of massage parlors with 4 stars or higher and no more than $$ on Yelp! for each city.
- For cupcake shops, we looked up the total number of cupcake shops with 4 stars or higher on Yelp! for each city.
- For takeout options, we looked up the total number of takeout options with 4 stars or higher on Yelp! for each city.
- For adult entertainment stores, we looked up the total number of adult entertainment stores with 4 stars or higher on Yelp! for each city.
- For internet speeds, we pulled download speed in mbps in each city from a December 2018 report from speedtest.net on internet speeds across the U.S.
- After collecting and analyzing all of the individual ranking data for each category, we normalized the full set.
- Finally, we synthesized those scores to rank all 50 cities on a 1- to 100-point overall scale.
You are welcome to use the information and graphics on this page, crediting Wanderu. If you do so, please link back to this page, so that travelers around the world can see all the data and find out how we came up with the ranking.