10 ‘Romantic’ Proposal Sites That Are so OverdoneAnd Where to Propose Instead
It may be the most critical question you'll ever ask. So do it right.
Whether perpetually single or a Nicholas Sparks-esque romanticist, we’ve all fantasized about the day our loved one gets down on one knee and asks four of the most dually magical and overwhelming words in the English language: “Will you marry me?” The proposal is a monumental (and, let’s face it, often necessary) step between dating and engagement. However, that misconception of “go big or go home” often leads to grandiose and unnecessary planning at an overdone proposal site. Sophy Singer, a San Diego-based professional matchmaker, is frequently doling out advice for clients about more innovative yet intimate proposals. Singer believes choosing a location where there could be hundreds or even thousands of people around—think big-screen at an NFL game—could potentially make your sweetheart feel anxious or panicked. “That’s the last thing you want during that particular moment,” she says. The truth is, our proposals don’t need extra cheese (unless, of course, they’re paired with a glass of Bordeaux, some Bublé, and a post-proposal bubble bath). And while we can’t guarantee your partner’s positive affirmation, check out our professional recommendations for where to pop that game-changing question.
Markus Gortz/Courtesy of Shangri-La Hambantota
Instead: The Four Seasons Prague’s Miru Terrace
WHERE: Prague, Czech Republic
With its stoic castles and ornate pastel buildings, Prague is often considered one of Europe’s Romance Capitals. And while this superlative leads many to propose on the idyllic Charles Bridge (which you’ve undoubtedly seen on postcards and t-shirts), it’s much more hectic IRL. But luckily, we have a much more romantic spot for you: The Four Seasons Prague’s bespoke fifth-floor Miru Terrace. (“Miru” is Japanese for “view.”)
A secret to the masses, this four-table Japanese-Italian culinary escape boasts panoramic views over the capital, including Prague Castle, the Parliament, and even, yes, the Charles Bridge. Pop the question as the sun sets, and afterward, relish in your love (and multiple bites of Wagyu beef) as the city illuminates.
Instead: Rollins College Campus, Winter Park, Florida
WHERE: Disney World
Let’s face it: whomever you marry should already feel like royalty. But proposing in front of Cinderella’s castle, undoubtedly swarmed in sweaty crowds and selfie sticks? So not royal-worthy. Luckily Orlando is buzzing with something more than tourists in fanny packs: it also happens to have many little-known proposal locations that don’t make us wince.
Just 45 minutes from Orlando is Rollins College , in the cultural and cosmopolitan Winter Park . Ranked the most gorgeous college in the nation by the Princeton Review, Rollins is saturated with distinctive Spanish and Mediterranean influences in its architecture. Between its rose gardens and red-brick facade, this sprawling 80-acre campus is not only postcard-worthy but will make a stunning backdrop for your surprise proposal pictures.
Rollins College - Scott Cook Photography
Instead: The Williamsburg Hotel, Brooklyn, New York
WHERE: New York City
While An Affair to Remember idealized the iconic Empire State Building proposal (“the closest thing to heaven in this city”), we all sadly aren’t Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. And this stoic New York City landmark has since become the location for cliched proposals. But here’s a secret: they aren’t actually enjoying the New York City skyline when proposing on the Empire State Building.
For that, we suggest you pilgrimage to Brooklyn—and the iconic Williamsburg Hotel . Though humble in size at eight stories, this hotel fuses Williamsburg eclecticism with Manhattan suave. And more importantly, the proposal experience is unique: the hotel’s crown jewel, The WaterTower Rooftop Bar , is the only water tower venue in the city that you can book privately. The romance lies in the intertwined Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines; few venues offer two iconic New York vistas.
"1: Courtesy of the Williamsburg Hotel 2: Liz Clayman/Courtesy of the Williamsburg Hotel"
Instead: The Budapest Eye, Budapest, Hungary
WHERE: London, England
Ferris wheels are undoubtedly a picturesque proposal: you’ll have pristine views and adrenaline rushes propelled by emotions and gravity. While many choose to propose on the peak of the London Eye , one of the tallest Ferris wheels in the world, the reality is you’ll be competing with hordes of crowds, inevitable wait times, and—let’s be honest—it’s also pretty overdone.
However, adrenaline-seekers should not fret, as we have the perfect Ferris wheel alternative for you: the Budapest Eye , the 213-foot spectacle standing tall in Hungary’s zestful capital at Erzsébet Square. Not only is this (quite literally) uplifting experience generally cheaper and less crowded than the London Eye, but the panoramic views of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Hungarian Parliament, and UNESCO World Heritage Site Andrássy Avenue make it a no-brainer. It’s open until midnight, so we suggest proposing in private at night, as the Hungarian capital radiates from below.
Geza Kurka Photos/Shutterstock
Instead: A Sunset Cruise on Sri Lanka’s Walawe River
WHERE: The Ocean
We’re not discounting those massive ocean liners that are basically a city at sea for all occasions. They are perfect for 80-person family reunions (and trust us: everyone knows you’re part of that crew when sporting matching “The Browns put the FUN in dysfunctional” tees by the pool). But for a proposal? Yes, cruise ships would rank high on the corny meter.
But don’t discount a boat proposal entirely. For a memorable ask, we suggest you first head to a unique river cruise location , such as Sri Lanka’s Walawe River. Book a romantic stay at the Shangri-La Hambantota , where you can replace the corny cruise boat mini-golf with an 18-hole championship golf course and relax at their famed spa, featuring exceptional Ayurveda treatments.
The best part? The resort will organize a boat tour on the meandering Walawe River as the sun sets. And while we all desire privacy when popping the question, if the company includes tropical birds, langur monkeys, peacocks, and other exotic wildlife along the mangrove, we can make an exception.
“This type of quaint, thoughtful, and perfect proposal trumps anything you could ever get away with on a large cruise line,” says Singer. “Let’s be honest, do you really want your special moment to be shared with a bunch of 20-somethings who are getting wasted for their Spring Break in Mexico or the Caribbean?”
Markus Gortz/Courtesy of Shangri-La Hambantota
Instead: Cave Point County Park, Door County, Wisconsin
WHERE: New York City
Central Park is the stuff of Hollywood rom-com montages: When Harry Met Sally , Enchanted , and Tootsie, just to name a few. But the sheer masses of foot traffic, the soliciting by hot dog vendors, and overpriced horse-drawn carriages are enough alone to deter us. While Central Park is one of the most overdone spots one can propose, we have a few more subdued ideas for the nature-aficionado in your life.
Door County, Wisconsin , the accessible natural peninsula just a few hours from Chicago, is brimming with natural nooks prime for proposing. And though not as renowned as Manhattan’s famous green space, Cave Point County Park , revered by perilous adventurers and leisurely walkers alike, feels like it could be the setting of a thriller movie. The park is a maze with jutting cliffs and winding trails leading to rocky beaches, so finding privacy without distraction is uncomplicated. As you’re down on one knee, Lake Michigan’s waves crashing alongside, you’ll be glad you chose the less cheesy and corny option (even in a state that cherishes both these things).
Destination Door County
Instead: Tallinn TV Tower, Tallinn, Estonia
WHERE: Dallas, Texas
Go big or go home in Texas. That’s what the architect of Dallas’s 561-foot Reunion Tower must have been thinking when he designed one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. But perhaps he was too successful in his endeavors because now hundreds of proposals take place here each year, flocking to commemorate love. While we understand that a proposal paired with panoramic bird’s-eye views sounds alluring, we have the better solution for you.
And that’s why we have to direct your focus east: to Estonia , that tiny European country cusping the Baltic Sea. And just outside of Tallinn, Estonia’s dynamic capital melding history and modernity, stands the Tallinn TV Tower , at 1,030 feet. The tower was initially built for public broadcasting but soon became one of the most critical symbols of Estonian independence. Today, it’s also known for its Walk on the Edge experience while allowing intrepid guests to walk the rim (harnessed, of course!) and enjoy views.
Laura Peetrik, who works atop the TV tower, remembers one proposal that defied gravity, quite literally. “I remember there were two base jumpers who came to Tallinn TV Tower to parachute down from the edge,” she says. “Just before the jump, one of the jumpers proposed to his beloved. She said yes, and then they jumped over the edge hand in hand.” Let’s just say there was more than one “leap of faith” taken that day.
Dmitry Tkachenko Photo/Shutterstock
Instead: Kreuzberg Side Streets, Berlin, Germany
WHERE: Berlin, Germany
While Berlin may not be traditionally romantic, it is undoubtedly seductive. A haven for street kebabs, tangible (and often dark) history, and general debauchery, this German capital is often associated with all-night parties and cutting-edge culture. And though the 18th-century Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor), Berlin’s physical reminder of Cold War division, is a crucial part of history, it’s not the ideal proposal location. After all, it is by far Berlin’s most famous monument, with an average of 12 million tourists passing through annually.
Instead, we suggest sharing your heart’s truth to your love in Berlin’s own pulsating heart: Kreuzberg . Long famed for its diverse cultural and arts scene, this neighborhood is the ultimate proposal backdrop if your lover is a bit alternative (or at least doesn’t scoff at a bit of urban grit). The neighborhood boasts many winding side streets, many that aren’t heavily trafficked, and all of which are decorated with graffiti.