'Tis the season for holiday parties, trips to Grandma’s and getting engaged. In a 2014 survey by ChiliSauce, participants rated Christmas Eve as the most popular day to propose, with Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve also high on the list. If you’re planning to pop the question before 2015, here are seven romantic spots with a hint of the holidays that offer surprising alternatives to the Empire State Building and Eiffel Tower.
1. Four Seasons, Orlando, Fla.
Do you have a girlfriend who loves Disney? Might she be a fan of Ariel or Elsa? A magical spot to propose is atop the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, both of which are decorated for holiday magic.
Reserve a table for two at the new rooftop restaurant Capa, and time your dinner to coincide with the Magic Kingdom’s nightly fireworks, which will light up the sky behind you. Cape serves Spanish-influenced cuisine and offers an outdoor patio that is very pleasant in December, thanks to Orlando’s year-round mild weather.
Another option is to get down on one knee in a guestroom that has a furnished balcony and a private view of the fireworks. Then you can make some fireworks of your own and wake up for a day-after celebration at the theme parks, making sure everyone catches sight of her new bling.
2. Millennium Park Ice Skating Rink, Chicago
It may not be the most secluded spot to pop the question, since 100,000 people go ice skating there during winter, but the rink at Millennium Park, located on Michigan Avenue, does provide a wonderful holiday feel with a fantastic city backdrop.
You can skate for free, though skate rentals will cost you $12 per person. You can make the ask on the ice, surrounded by twinkling tree lights, or you can do it afterward at the much-photographed “The Bean” sculpture or over a cup of hot chocolate at the Park Grill Cafe.
3. Vail Mountain, Vail, Colo.
We can’t think of a better backdrop for a proposal than the snow-covered Rocky Mountains in wintertime. Ride the lift up Vail Mountain with your ski bunny, and pull out the ring just before you glide down.
Try Vail’s outdoor decks at the top or Game Creek restaurant in gorgeous Game Creek Bowl. The restaurant, a romantic European chalet set amid pine trees, offers fantastic views as well as a prix fixe three-, four- or five-course gourmet meal. You can even head back to the same spot in the summer to say “I do.”
4. U.S. Botanic Garden, Washington, D.C.
The nation’s capital can be a surprisingly romantic place to propose marriage. The Washington Monument at sunset or the National Mall decked out in its holiday finest are great choices, but our pick is the U.S. Botanic Garden, on the Mall near the Capitol building, with its lush greenery and holiday decor of poinsettias.
The Garden has been around since 1820 and was part of George Washington’s original vision for the city. Choose a spot under the palm trees, surrounded by orchids, or in the middle of the jungle to ask the big question.
5. The Venetian Canals, Las Vegas
If you can’t go to Venice to ask for her hand in marriage, experience the next best thing at The Venetian in Las Vegas. Hop aboard a brown gondola and make like you’re in Italy.
Sail down the Grand Canal, under bridges and beside cafes as your gondolier serenades you and your lover. Work with the hotel to plan a proposal in the sky. They’ll arrange for the big question to appear in the clouds above you when you arrive in St. Mark’s Square.
6. Pier 39, San Francisco
If the lure of the wharf holds a special place in your heart, consider getting down on one knee at Pier 39 in San Francisco. It’s a common spot for engagements, with a giant Christmas tree, a festive atmosphere — and some sea lions thrown in to boot.
One couple had their first date at the pier and their first kiss on the carousel. The boyfriend decided to return nearly 10 years later to pop the question and planned a special ride on the carousel for the big moment. You could also choose a waterfront proposal with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, under the tree or over dinner at one of Pier 39’s 14 restaurants. Now, if only we could get one of the sea lions to bring over the ring …
7. Hudson River, New York City
For fantastic views of the New York skyline away from the trite Empire State Building wedding proposal, hop aboard the Bateaux New York, which gives you fabulous views of the skyline while cruising the Hudson River. The European-style ship has a curved glass ceiling and walls and features a dance floor, two outdoor decks and a three-course plated menu.
December cruises feature elegant holiday decor, and you can select a special proposal packages that includes roses, champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries, a keepsake photo and even some time in the wheel house.