WHERE WOMEN WANT
10 Engaging Spots for Popping the Question
We can't guarantee that proposing marriage at one of these memorable sites will get you a yes, but it definitely couldn't hurt.
La Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, Paris
Proposing in Paris may be a cliché, but clichés exist for a reason, especially this one. Near dusk, head to the top of Montmartre; if you can tolerate the steep streets and steps, which aren't too difficult, skip the funicular and go by foot. Walk through Le Moulin de la Galette (the setting for Renoir's masterpiece of the same name), but avoid Pigalle (the setting for Paris's red-light district). Head to the illuminated Basilique du Sacre-Coeur and relax on the white stone steps of the famed church. From here you'll get the best view of Paris that doesn't require an admission fee or lengthy wait. If that vista doesn't inspire love, tell your sweetheart it was the setting for U2's "Two Hearts Beat as One" video. And while it might make that engagement ring you bought dim in comparison, time your walk back so that you see the Eiffel Tower after nightfall: At the start of every hour until 2 a.m. (1 a.m in winter), its 20,000 bulbs glitter for 10 minutes.
Central Park, New York City
With 843 acres of lawns, woodlands, and lakes, Central Park is a relaxing retreat in the middle of Manhattan. If you can't find a romantic setting here, it's your fault, not that of the park's main designer, Frederick Law Olmsted, whose general plan for the park persists today despite many additions. In the winter, ice-skating at Wollman Rink is a great way to get your beloved's heart racing. Later, take a break for hot chocolate and popping the question. When the weather's warmer, the Conservatory Garden's six acres make a great proposal site—they're filled with hedges, as well as an impressive number of roses. Or propose marriage on a rowboat rented from the Loeb Boathouse. And if you're afraid that a proposal in a free public park might seem cheap and less than romantic, don't be—Central Park's property value was appraised at $528 billion in 2005.
Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence
This 19th-century terrace with a sweeping view of Florence, framed by the Arno River and the Tuscan countryside, is one of the most romantic sites in a country full of them. (While on a solo trip through Italy, I almost proposed to myself here.) The plaza attracts a lot of tourists, however, so make sure the subject of your wooing is looking out to the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio, rather than at people dripping gelato on their jean shorts. Guidebooks suggest riding local bus No. 13 to Piazzale Michelangelo, but it's better to go by foot; it's a romantic 30-minute stroll through a charming part of Florence's Oltrarno district that you wouldn't otherwise visit. And public transportation is rarely romantic.
EVEN GREATER ESCAPES
Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz.
There's something about looking into a gaping display of two billion years of the Earth's history that says, "Hey baby, we can make it until death do us part." The colors brought out at sundown give the Grand Canyon one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world (try to catch it at Hopi Point on the South Rim, which has a view that stretches at least 30 miles and includes a glimpse of the Colorado River). At 277 river miles long, as much as 18 miles across, and a mile deep, the canyon's got plenty of secluded spots of proposing. And if getting to such a place on foot or by mule doesn't appeal to you, there's always helicopter: Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters, a tour company, has had many customers get engaged during a romantic picnic on the canyon floor (just make sure your intended is comfortable hovering 5,000 feet above the ground on the trip there and back).
Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Authors' Lounge, Bangkok, Thailand
Is sipping afternoon tea on white rattan furniture as Siamese umbrellas, bamboo, and palm trees shield you from the sun coming in through the translucent roof romantic enough for you? Frequented by Joseph Conrad, Noël Coward, and Barbara Cartland, the Authors' Lounge in the Mandarin Oriental hotel is the perfect place for a sophisticated proposal that says, "I'm literate and classy" (but not out loud—that would be creepy). While all this atmosphere doesn't come cheap, you'd be hard-pressed to find its idyllic combination of colonial East and West elsewhere. Afterward step outside and buy your betrothed flowers from a wooden long-tail boat as you walk along the banks of the Chao Phraya River.