It's Valentine's Day weekend, meaning romantic cliches are inescapable. Between candlelit dinners and confectionary gifts, stock ways to show affection can become a little bit much. It may be the architecture fan in us, but we think there's something to be said about a stroll down a particularly well-designed, and perhaps well preserved, main street. The following list of exemplary city centers, compiled by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Main Street America, is far from complete. Add your own suggestions for great streets for a romantic stroll in the comments.
Located 40 miles west of Chicago on the Fox River, west suburban Batavia boasts historic architecture, including limestone buildings and a new woonerf, a Dutch-style shared street. Redesigned in 2014, the city's new pedestrian streets won awards for urbanism and landscape design. Strollers can cap off their trip with a walk across the pedestrian bridge to Clark Island.
Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.
Part of the Old City of D.C. designed by pioneering architect Pierre Charles L'Enfant, this historic intersection and traffic circle, the center of a dense neighborhood that contains a two-acre National Park, is a scenic highlight of the nation's capital.
San Marcos, Texas
This historic Texas town certainly strengthened its case for inclusion with "Kissing Alley," a landmark located between two old buildings (which provide a great view of Hays County Courthouse, for the truly romantically inspired). One of the oldest towns in the state, San Marcos, founded on the bank of the river of the same name, contains a picturesque square built in 1851.
Red Bank, New Jersey
An hour from New York City, this former commercial and manufacturing hub was weathering a tough economic downturn when an initiative to redevelop the town's central business district started in 1991. The results have helped revitalize the town, named for the red soil found on the banks of the Navesink River, and rebuild its main street area.
A Memphis suburb dotted with old magnolia trees, this southern town (slogan: "Live Life Local") has already garnered plenty of recognition for its picturesque Main Street, named America's Best by Parade magazine. The historic district and town square, clustered around the train depot, are short walks from rows of stunning homes.
Located at the nexus of the Mississippi River and the railroads, the "Gem City" of Illinois was a center of turn-of-the-century development and boasts a historic downtown and scores of well-designed homes and buildings, including the Free & Public Library and Elkton Hotel.
· Preservation Watch archives [Curbed]