What You Should Know
The top three cities for dating in the U.S. are New Orleans, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles, based on their variety of date night options, percentage of singles, and affordability.
After a long year of quarantine, Americans are ready for a summer of love.
But according to a recent Pew Research survey of nearly 5,000 adults, 67% admit their dating life isn’t going well, and 75% have found dating very or somewhat difficult over the past year. The pandemic added new challenges to Americans’ romantic lives — from pandemic breakups to “Covid baggage.”
In search of solutions, Americans are increasingly turning to dating apps to meet and mingle. According to data by Bumble, Tinder, and Inner Circle, we’re sending more messages and spending more time talking to potential dates on apps than ever before. In March 2020, 3 billion people swiped on Tinder, and Bumble saw video calls leap by 70%. During the same period, OkCupid users’ dates increased by 700%.
Though industry experts predict virtual dates are here to stay, date night restaurants and destinations across the nation are beginning to reopen for in-person meetups.
We analyzed publicly available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census, Yelp, and the Black Tux to rank the 50 most populous metro areas in the U.S. from the best places to be single to the worst. Our weighted rankings evaluated criteria including:
- 3x: The percentage of unmarried population
- 2x: Disposable income among working singles
- 1.5x: The number of restaurants per 100,000 residents
- 1.5x: The number of arts, entertainment, and recreation establishments per 100,000 residents
- 1x: The average star rating of the top “date night restaurants” on Yelp
Affordability was also a major factor in our rankings. We deducted points for high-cost metro areas, according to:
- -2x: The cost of an average date (including rideshare, dinner, two drinks, and a movie for two)
- -1.5x: Each metro area’s overall cost of living
Read on to discover what we learned — and the best places to live if you’re looking for love.
- A typical date night costs $112.53 across the 50 most populous metro areas in the U.S.
- The top 15 cities on our list offer more affordable options, averaging $106.73, with Oklahoma City leading at just $87.85.
- The worst cities for singles on our list are more expensive, averaging $127.79. With an average date cost of $155.78, New York City is the most expensive city by far.
- The top 15 cities for singles have 82 date night restaurants per 100,000 people on average, with an average star rating of 4.23 on Yelp.
- Riverside has the fewest restaurants per 100,000 people (54), while San Francisco has the most (115).
- Restaurants in the worst cities on our list tend to have lower star ratings (4.16 on average). Surprisingly, New York City had the lowest average star rating (4), tying with Hartford, Sacramento, and Riverside.
- The top 15 cities for singles have an average of 53 entertainment options per 100,000 people for dates (defined as arts, entertainment, and/or recreation venues), compared to just 39 options in the 10 worst cities.
- Riverside and Memphis tied for the fewest date night options per 100,000 people (25), while Los Angeles stood out with 154 options — twice as many as Nashville, which ranked second best with 77.
- Our top 15 cities tend to have more singles — 50% of the population, versus 48% in the 10 worst cities for singles.
|Criteria||National Average||Top 15 Cities||Bottom 10 Cities|
|Average date cost||$112.53||$106.73||$127.79|
|Percentage of unmarried residents||49%||50%||48%|
|Number of entertainment options per 100,000 residents||44||53||39|
|Number of restaurants per 100,000 residents||78||82||80|
|Average star rating of date restaurants||4.23||4.23||4.16|
The 50 Best Cities for Dating, Ranked
1. New Orleans, Louisiana
❤️ Plenty of Singles
54% of New Orleans residents are single — the highest percentage out of all 50 of America’s most populous cities.
New Orleans is a city famous for inventing cocktails and perfecting jazz — but there are plenty of creative date options beyond meeting up for drinks. From swampside nature walks and the Audubon Zoo, steamy saunas to midnight burlesque, there’s something for everyone.
2. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
❤️ Delicious Date Night Fare
Out of all the cities in our top 15, Milwaukee has the best-rated date night restaurants with an average of 4.4 stars on Yelp.
If you’re looking for unique activities to wow your date, Milwaukee won’t disappoint. Try taking in the views from the top of North Point or stargazing from the physics building’s skydeck at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee — and after, you can always pick up some of Milwaukee’s famous frozen custard.
3. Los Angeles, California
❤️ Endless Entertainment
With 154 arts, entertainment, and recreational venues per 100,000 people, Los Angeles has the most options for date night activities out of all 50 of the nation’s most populous cities.
For singles who love the arts, Los Angeles offers plenty of creative date options. As the host of some of the nation’s most creative industries, Los Angeles features more than 50 top-rated music venues, more than 90 museums, and more than 125 art galleries.
4. Las Vegas, Nevada
❤️ More Singles Than Average
With singles making up 53% of the population, Las Vegas ranks second nationally for the most unmarried residents. It’s one of just 12 cities where singles make up more than half the total population.
If you’re single in Las Vegas, the odds are in your favor. And if your date goes really well, Las Vegas has dozens of wedding chapels that can provide same-day ceremonies. In fact, the city hosts more than 300 ceremonies every day, adding up to an average of 10,000 weddings per month.
5. Austin, Texas
❤️ Variety of Date Night Activities
When planning a date night activity, Austenites can choose from 48 distinct arts, entertainment, and recreation venues per 100,000 people.
Whether your date is a music lover, film buff, runner, or foodie, Austin offers a robust calendar of annual festivals that are perfect for meandering, adventurous dates. After sunset, Austin’s numerous drive-ins — including Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-in, Doc’s Drive In Theatre, and The Ultimate Drive-In — offer a retro date night experience for movie lovers.
6. Providence, Rhode Island
❤️ Plenty of Date Night Dining
Among the top 15 cities on our list, Providence has the most date night restaurants with an impressive 99 options per 100,000 people to choose from.
Providence has no shortage of dinner options — among them a wide variety of distinctly local fare available at casual clam shacks for a low-key date night. Treat your date to fresh-caught calamari, sweet doughboys, or hearty clam chowder with the state’s signature clear broth.
7. Cleveland, Ohio
❤️ Easier to Meet Singles
With a population that’s more than half single (51%), Cleveland residents have better-than-average odds of finding a date.
Though Cleveland has plenty of singles, locals caution that dating can still be challenging, especially for members of the LGBTQ community and other marginalized groups. The city’s active circuit of matchmaking services and speed-dating meetups can help singles go beyond the standard dating apps to find the one.
8. Denver, Colorado
❤️ Fun for Foodies
Denver’s date night restaurants have an outstanding average star rating of 4.3, outshining globally recognized restaurant hubs including New York City and San Francisco.
With 67 hiking trails — including 57 easy trails! — Denver is the perfect setting for an outdoorsy date. For dining inspiration, check out OpenTable’s curated list of romantic restaurants, including Tamayo Restaurant, The Plimoth, and Sushi Sasa.
9. Virginia Beach, Virginia
❤️ Plenty of Date Night Restaurants
With an impressive 91 restaurants per 100,000 people that cater to date nights, Virginia Beach is in the top 10 for most restaurant options out of the nation’s 50 most populous cities.
Not one, but two seasons of “The Bachelor” have flown contestants to Virginia Beach for a romantic date night. Beyond The Cape Henry Lighthouse and The Shack on 8th, which both served as filming locations, singles in Virginia Beach can enjoy strolls on the Boardwalk, fresh seafood, and a wide variety of museums and attractions.
10. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
❤️ Affordable Dating
A typical date night costs just $87.85 in Oklahoma City — the most affordable price out of all 50 of the U.S.’s most populous cities. That’s $24.68 less than the national average!
As a “big small town,” Oklahoma City simultaneously has plenty of singles and a small-town feel — which can be a benefit and a challenge, according to locals. Nonetheless, there are plenty of creative date activities to choose from, such as Factory Obscura’s Mix-Tape’s innovative art shows or the thrill of rafting with RIVERSPORT Adventures.
11. Richmond, Virginia
❤️ Top 3 Most Affordable Cities
After Oklahoma City and Milwaukee, Richmond ranks third in the nation for affordability. A typical date night costs just $97.96 — a savings of $14.57 compared to the national average.
Beyond the standard dating apps, singles in Richmond have an abundance of speed-dating events, matchmaking services, and volunteer opportunities that can help residents find love. The city’s affordable bars and restaurants are known for craft beer and unpretentious charm, while date night activities like a trip to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will help give singles plenty to talk about.
12. Orlando, Florida
❤️ Best for Budget Dating
A typical date night costs $99.73 in Orlando — making it one of just six cities where the cost of dinner, drinks, rideshare, and a movie comes in under $100.
When it comes to planning a fun date night, Orlando residents have no shortage of ideas. From comedy labs to mini golf, the Central Florida Ale Trail to ever-popular Disney attractions, you’ll never run out of options.
13. Indianapolis, Indiana
❤️ Reasonably Priced Date Nights
In Indianapolis, a typical date night costs $108.35 — $19.44 less than it would cost in our bottom 10 cities.
Not only is Indianapolis an affordable place to date, but it also has plenty of delicious date night options to choose from (plus a thriving craft beer scene). Whether you’re looking for a romantic night at St. Elmo Steak House or farm-to-table cuisine at Cafe Patachou, there’s something for everyone’s taste.
14. Nashville, Tennessee
❤️ Entertaining Date Night Activities
With an impressive 77 arts, entertainment, and recreational venues per 100,000 people, Nashville ranks second for most date night activity options out of the nation’s 50 most populous cities.
Nashville is known around the world for its incredible music scene. But beyond taking in a show, the Music City also has a wide variety of fun date night activities including candle pouring, absinthe tasting, rock climbing, and more.
15. Buffalo, New York
❤️ Busy Restaurant Scene
Buffalo offers an impressive 88 restaurants per 100,000 people that specialize in hosting date nights — exceeding the national average by 10.
Not only does Buffalo have a wide variety of restaurants to choose from, but it also offers date night options sure to please any personality. Cozy up with a cocktail and take in the view from a rooftop lounge, enjoy a socially distanced concert, or explore Niagara Climbing Center’s 5,000 square feet of climbing terrain.
Worst Cities for Dating
Unfortunately, not every city is hospitable to singles.
At the bottom of our list, 10 cities stood out for their lack of affordability and limited options for restaurants and date activities:
- San Jose, California
- Riverside, California
- Sacramento, California
- New York City
- Birmingham, Alabama
- San Francisco
- Washington, D.C.
On average, dating is more expensive in these cities. A typical date night costs $15.26 more than the national average and $21.06 more than in our top 15 cities.
Though this might not sound like a big difference, the extra cost adds up — a date night in New York City runs $155.78, the highest on our list. Similarly, singles in San Francisco can expect to shell out $144.94, while those in San Jose pay $141.55 on average.
Despite being more expensive, our bottom 10 cities also offer fewer options for date night activities — averaging 39 entertainment and recreation options per 100,000 people, compared to the 53 options offered in our top 15 cities. While there are some exceptions — notably, New York City and San Francisco — our total weighted rankings still placed these cities in the bottom 10.
To identify the most affordable and active dating cities, we analyzed publicly available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census, Yelp, and the Black Tux. We ranked the 50 most populous U.S. metros based on their options for date activities, population of singles, and affordability.
Each metric was weighted and standardized using z-score calculations:
- 3x: Percentage of unmarried adult population (including never married, divorced, and widowed adults) — to measure opportunity for dating
- 2x: Percentage of unmarried population in the workforce — to measure disposable income for dating
- 1.5x: Number of restaurants per 100,000 residents — to measure dinner date options
- 1.5x: Number of arts, entertainment, and recreation establishments per 100,000 residents — to assess options for date activities
- 1x: Average star rating of the top “date night restaurants” listed on Yelp — to assess the quality of popular dating spots
- -2x: Cost of an average date, including rideshare, dinner, two drinks, and a movie for two
- Note: A negative weight indicates that higher values are less optimal — in this case, less affordable
- -1.5x: Regional Price Parities (RPP) to measure overall cost of living
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