Illinois offers everything — from the big city lights and action of Chicago to the tranquility and natural beauty of rural Galena — to make your romantic getaway unforgettable. Whether you want to picnic along the Des Plains River or spend all night dancing, Illinois has something for everyone. Here are the top Valentine’s Day getaway locations with the loveliest vacation rentals in Illinois.
Chicago is in the top 100 of Forbes most romantic cities, so pop out the bubbly, get a vacation rental, and prepare to let your love burn. Start with a horse-drawn carriage ride around the Magnificent Mile at night when the city lights shine. Don’t forget a thermos of hot cocoa and blanket under which to nestle together. While in the area, eat dinner over candlelight at The Marq, Spiaggia, or Signature Room at the 95th. For a more low-key experience, stroll the Navy Pier, and ride the Ferris wheel together. Take in some live music, grab some grub, and browse the shops. If you want to up the romance factor, book a dinner cruise or helicopter tour. Nothing shows off the Windy City quite like seeing it from above or on a luxury yacht. Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples, though. Chicago also hosts an awesome singles mixer. If you have kids, take them to a Valentine’s Day Kid’s Cooking Class in Maggiano’s Little Italy. They learn how to make and eat heart-shaped calzones, and you are free to canoodle with your significant other.
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Galena is a tiny town in northwestern Illinois, taking you away from the bustle and noise of the big city for an opportunity to reconnect with each other and nature. First, spend some time outdoors skiing at Chestnut Mountain or taking a cozy sleigh ride. Next, hit up the local shops down historic Main Street. If chocolate and wine is an important part of any Valentine’s Day, then don’t miss visiting one of the many chocolate confectioneries in the town or going on a wine tour. Sample candy at Chocolat, Chocolaterie Stam Galena, and Galena Kandy Kitchen before sampling some wine at Massbach Winery and Galena Cellars. Top off the day with dinner and dancing at Green St. Tavern, Embe, and Frank O’Dowd’s.
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Chocolate shops are where you should go in Geneva, just west of Chicago. Get some chocolate fondue at 318 Coffeehouse. You get to dip cake and fruit in the melty mess before topping it off with some champagne. If you’re not too full of sugar, consider taking the Geneva Route of Chicago Chocolate Tours to Graham’s Fine Chocolates and Ice Cream, Chef Roby’s All Chocolate Kitchen, and Moveable Feast. Follow this up with dinner at Antonio’s, because nothing says “amore” like heart-shaped pizza. Instead, opt for something a bit fancier at Claddagh, a three-course dinner with appetizers and desserts. If you have time, enjoy a performance of Love Letters at Steel Beam Theatre.
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Grafton sits on the Mississippi River right beside Pere Marquette State Park, making it another great place to get away from it all. Go snowshoeing at Pere Marquette State Park, and then warm up at the Pere Marquette Lodge with some hot food at the on-site restaurant. Next, stop for some wine tasting at the Grafton Winery and Brewhaus and Grafton Harbor Floating Winery. If you’re not too cold, get some chocolate and ice cream at Grafton Fudge and Ice Cream before going to Fin Inn or Grafton Oyster Bar.
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Peoria, in central Illinois, boasts the historic Glen Oak Park. Take a romantic walk through the grounds. If you have kids, they’re sure to enjoy Glen Oak Park’s Playhouse Children Museum and Glen Oak Zoo, a great Valentine’s Day activity for the entire family. Get into nature with a visit to the Wildlife Prairie State Park. It has an annual Wild About Love even with food and dancing. After taking the kids back to your vacation rental, head out with your special someone for a little riverboat gambling onboard the Par-a-dice Casino and good food at Alexander Street Steakhouse, Maid-Rite, or Peoria Hofbrau.
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Another Valentine’s Day option is to head to Montgomery that boasts some unique Valentine’s Day offerings such as a Valentine’s Massacre-themed haunted house. While the inside might chill your blood, the waiting area is heated, so don’t worry about the weather during your wait. After scaring yourself, and your loved one, silly, stop by South Moon BBQ, Gaetano’s, or Fairbanks Steakhouse for some good food.
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Lincolnshire, also known as Lake Country, is all about natural beauty and cozy getaways. Start your day strong with some pancakes and eggs at Walker Brothers. You’ll need the carbs and protein to fuel your snowshoeing adventure at the Ryerson Conservation Area. Share some romantic moments over dinner at the Wildfire Restaurant, featuring steaks to die for, then go on over to the Marriott Theatre for a play. Mama Mia! and other romantic comedies have featured at the playhouse during the most romantic day of the year.
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