With Valentine's Day looming on the horizon, the city streets suddenly seem rose-tinted and everything is looking, well, a little fuzzy and heart-shaped. Let's face it, the world is just a better place when love is in the air. But what about those towns that are romantic all year round? Towns with enviable names like Loveland, Valentines, and (our favorite) Romeoville? Are these towns really that much lovelier to live in? And what are the homes like? To find out, we took a cyber stroll down lover's lane.
Does it get much more romantic than a town called Loveland? Thankfully, it looks about as lovely as it sounds. Nicknamed "The Sweetheart City," Loveland is situated at the base of the Rocky Mountain National Park, and boasts some stunning vistas, particularly around the beautiful Lake Loveland. According to Steve Hayes, managing broker of the Loveland-based 1st Choice Realtors, though people wouldn't necessarily move to Loveland for its adorable name alone, the community's lakes (perfect for "hand-in-hand strolls," Hayes promises), coupled with the gorgeous sculptures at Benson Park will usually do the trick.
For those not so fond of the great outdoors, Loveland also offers a charmingly small-town vibe with its downtown Rialto Theater, which puts on shows, plays and performances all year round, and fun community traditions like the Corn Roast Festival complete with parade, corn shucking contest, entertainment and great food.
Corn shucking aside, what's a typical house look like in Loveland, you wonder? Well, we pulled a pretty one out for your viewing pleasure. Though a little on the steep side at $309,900 (the median sales price for a single family home in Loveland was $215,000 in 2011), this stunning 3,157-square-foot home is a Colorado beauty that could make just about everybody happy. Which is just as well, because according to Hayes, there are no "typical homebuyers" in the community.
"This is the great thing about Loveland actually," says Hayes.
"This community appeals to all types -- it's suitable for senior living, as well as a wonderful place to raise a family. This community works hard to keep great things available to people of all ages. Home buyers can also find homes where they can have horses, llamas or cows, homes in the mountains, on a lake, close to a school, on top of a hill or in a valley. We have a wide variety of areas all in the wonderful location we call Loveland."
And just when you thought it couldn't get any cuter, enter Valentines, Va. We think it's no coincidence that the sweet little town of Valentines is located in a state whose slogan is "Virginia Is for Lovers" (awww). Unlike Loveland, Valentines is not quite as busy or bustling, but that's where its quiet, sleepy charm lies.
Around February each year, however, right in time for Valentine's Day, about 1,000 tourists trickle into the Valentines' post office to get their envelopes stamped with a big, black, heart-shaped postmark. Also, tens of thousands of cards and letters are mailed to Valentines each year to be postmarked and sent back out.
Apart from the post office, the town itself gets plenty of love thanks to nearby Lake Gaston, which boasts 350 miles of stunning shoreline. Like Loveland, Valentines' cutesy name doesn't drive the sales. (Instead it's the usual factors, such as location and price.) But Lake Gaston Dreams Realtor Susan Gordon says that many homes are bought in the area for the proximity to the Lake Gaston waterfront and the recreation it provides.
"I wouldn't necessarily say Valentines is a romantic area," admits Gordon. "But there are many romantic and scenic areas by the nearby Lake Gaston -- where you can watch the many beautiful sunsets we have!"
A typical home in Valentines will set you back $327,400, but we found this lakeside cutie for a very modest $200,000. It boasts beautiful waterfront views, community boat ramp access, and a fireplace.
Our friends at Zillow are right when they say the tale of Romeoville couldn't be better "if the Bard wrote it himself." Apparently, legend has it that in the 1930s, the nearby township of Joliet was named Juliet, and the nearby village of Romeo was known as its twin community. In 1845, Juliet was renamed Joliet to honor the explorer Louis Jolliet and then the (rather insulted, we presume) town of Romeo renamed itself to acknowledge the awkward breakup.
Whether or not that amazing tale is true, we're still huge fans of Romeoville. Located in Will County, the cute town was listed as one of the "Best Small Towns To Live" by CNNMoney and boasts some adorable parks, like Boucher Prairie Park and Village Park. Like Loveland, Romeoville has some great community events such as the Autumn Colors Craft Show and Winter Wonderland, which offers indoor and outdoor entertainment, crafts, face painting, a book fair, reindeer, horse drawn wagon, and ice sculptures.
Plus, some gorgeous properties call Romeoville home! We love this one, located on the cheerful-sounding Misty Ridge Drive. Though it's well above the median home price ($122,125) at $273,590, the Aspen-style home boasts 2,450 square feet of space, fireplaces and soaring cathedral ceilings.
10 Heart-Melting Love Nests
Fall in Love With These Romantic-Sounding Towns
With Valentine's Day just around the corner, we thought we'd be remiss if we didn't bring you some of the most passion-stirring dwellings on the market.
From a vine-draped French farmhouse in Montecito, Calif., to Katharine Hepburn's majestic seaside estate, the 10 homes on our list -- compiled by TopTenRealEstateDeals.com -- all offer their own unique flavor of romance rooted in history, appearance and setting.
Click through our gallery to see 10 homes that will make you swoon.
Location: Roquebrune Cap Martin, France
Price: $50.732 million
Sq Ft: 10,000+
Presiding over the Mediterranean, the estate of world-famous perfume maker Mademoiselle Chanel has hosted guests including Picasso and Sir Winston Churchill.
Lovers residing in this storied retreat have a variety of entertainment options at their disposal. For starters, sweethearts can roll the dice in Monte Carlo, bask in sunlight on the home's rolling hills or visit the scenic town of Eze.
Location: Old Saybrook, Conn.
Price: $28 million
Sq. Ft.: 8,368
This home has been in the family of acclaimed actress Katharine Hepburn since 1913. Another exceedingly famous character has expressed interest in it recently -- at least according to the rumor mill: Barack Obama.
Hepburn reportedly constructed a model of the home using building blocks from F.A.O. Schwarz in 1939, and later in the year began to construct the real thing. Howard Hughes, Hepburn's lover, reputedly used to land his seaplane in front of the mansion.
A gourmet kitchen with an attached open-walled extension blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor living. The property nestles into a 45-acre nature preserve and offers access to clubhouses, pools and tennis courts.
Location: Vicksburg, Miss.
Price: $2.9 million
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com writes that this home is tied up in a fascinating love story from the Victorian era. The home's former owner fell in love his future wife when she was only 14. They married after she turned 16 when he was 30.
The mansion reportedly took 10 years to construct, finally reaching completion in 1852. During the Civil War, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, who was related to the lady of the house, converted the home into a hospital.
Location: Belvedere Island, Calif.
Price: $45 million
Sq. Ft.: 15,500
This expansive home offers gorgeous, uninterrupted panoramas of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. You can revel in the vistas through the home's romantic, waterside terrace or through the interior's floor-to-ceiling windows.
Location: New York, N.Y.
Price: $28 million
Sq. Ft.: 10,911
You pretty much never get this much space in New York City unless you drop some serious, serious dough. In the case of this $28 million Tribeca abode, we're talking a soaring mountain of dough. The home rises five stories, with a roof boasting gorgeous views of Manhattan's skyline.
There are three terraces that jut out from the home, offering plenty of spots for lip locks in the night air. And you can switch between them without even haven't to climb just one flight of stairs: The home has an elevator.
Country singer Tammy Wynette always lusted after a home like the idyllic mansion featured in "Gone With the Wind," the classic novel and film about Southern aristocratic life at the time of the Civil War. She got her wish when she purchased this plantation home in Lakeland, Fla.