The natural beauty of the Midwest makes the area perfect for a romantic escape. Couples seeking romance can find magical moments on horseback trail rides, riverboat cruises, hot air balloon flights, and boardwalk amusement parks. From strolling across a purple bridge to chasing a lunar rainbow, there are plenty of things to do in cities and towns across Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. Book a stay at one of many Indianapolis vacation rentals to be situated close to these romantic destinations ideal for a weekend getaway.

1. Nashville, Indiana

horseback

For a dreamy weekend getaway, drive just an hour from Indianapolis, down to Nashville, Indiana. Arguably the most beautiful during the fall months, Brown County State Park is a fantastic vacation destination all year-round. For a romantic horseback ride through the park or in the surrounding areas, join a guided trail with Brown County Saddle Barn or Schooner Valley Stables. Both work patiently with riders of all skill levels. Take in a play at Brown County Playhouse, a small venue that features good seating for everyone. Downtown includes about two dozen unique shops that sell gifts, apparel, foods, spices, and gourmet snacks. Browse the different artists and works at Brown County Art Gallery or any of the several other galleries. Dining options include several fine restaurants, coffeehouses, and cafes.

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2. North Webster, Indiana

boat

A little over 90 minutes of drive-time puts you in North Webster, Indiana. Located downtown, the Heart of the Lakes is a large mall featuring antiques, crafts, and collectibles. On a typical day, look for everything from vintage crystal to yard ornaments. Your key to romance is a twilight Ohio River cruise aboard the Dixie Sternwheeler. Choose to sit on the top deck under the moonlight, or stay inside the lower deck during your 75-minute cruise, which offers fabulous views all around. The concession stand features light snacks, water, and soft drinks.

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3. Newport, Kentucky

purple people bridge

Drive a couple of hours southeast from Indy for a romantic out-of-town getaway at Newport, Kentucky. The Newport Aquarium features a tunnel-of-love, of sorts. Take your lover’s hand and step under the sea, the glass over your head separates you from the marine animals and habitat. Try Hofbrauhaus for German food, beer, and live music, then take a charming walk to Cincinnati, Ohio, across the Purple People Bridge to go shopping or sightseeing. The half-mile pedestrian bridge crosses the Ohio River, between the downtown areas of the cities.

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4. Chesterton, Indiana

Indiana Dune State Park Beach

After your 90-minute drive from Indianapolis to Chesterton, Indiana, head straight to Indiana Dune State Park Beach. Unwind and relax, drinking in the fresh air, prairie grasses, and forests. To take it all in from a different perspective, head out on a boat to cruise the shoreline. Check out the European Market for locally grown produce, artisan breads, cheeses, meats, and goods from an interesting mix of vendors. Live entertainment adds flair and ambiance. Pick up some favorite ingredients and stage a romantic, candlelight dinner back at your Chesterton vacation rental.

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5. La Grange, Kentucky

hot air balloon

Literally sweep your lover off her feet with a Crawford Hot Air Balloons flight. Your personalized romantic flight plans begin in La Grange, Kentucky, a scant two hours from Indianapolis. Cherish the uniqueness of the experience as you and your lover soar up to 3,000 feet above the earth. Whisper those special words from your heart, or just cuddle up to create a memory that stays with you for the rest of your lives. Share your interest in diving at Falling Rock Park, a 45-foot deep quarry. For a delicious lunch, try One Nineteen West Main, a colorful cafe with a modern vibe. Get happy hour drinks and comfort food at the Mayan Latin Cuisine, or go to Trophy’s Sports Bar for a late-night bite and drinks.

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6. Corbin, Kentucky

cumberland falls
Source: Flickr/Aaron Vowels

Cumberland Falls, on the Cumberland River in Corbin, Kentucky, delivers an incredibly rare phenomena at night. A bright moon sets a romantic tone for old-fashioned courting, and the lunar rainbow effect at Cumberland Falls multiplies the emotions exponentially. Known as moonbows, these breathtaking mirages occur in only a handful of places on the entire planet. It’s worth the four-hour drive from Indianapolis to experience this level of exotic beauty. Pair it with a champagne toast, and the rest of the evening takes care of itself. To visit the 70-foot high falls during the daylight, join Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort’s rafting tour. Restaurant options include Bubby’s BBQ, El Dorado Mexican Restaurant, and pizza from Brooklyn Brothers Pizzeria and JonEvan Jack’s. Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum is the original Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, now serving the KFC menu. You get dinner and an interesting snapshot in time of the chain’s humble beginnings.

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7. Monticello, Indiana

Indiana Beach Boardwalk
Source: Flickr/Jeremy Thompson

When you don’t have time to fly to Tuscany, Whyte Horse Winery, in Monticello, Indiana, is only a 90-minute drive from Indianapolis. Located just off the west bank of the Tippecanoe River, this quaint venue includes indoor and outdoor seating, wine tastings, cheese and sausage trays, and a gift shop. A popular tasting experience features a wine and hand-made chocolates flight. For an evening out, try dinner and beer tastings at Kopacetic Beer Factory. You get standard American bar food and beers from Indiana breweries. Recapture the memories of budding young love at the Indiana Beach Boardwalk on Lake Shafer. What began as a wooden beach in 1927 now features more than 40 rides and attractions, including six roller coasters, games, fine dining, dancing, and a water park.

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