So how did St. Paul lay claim to being the best place in North America for a romantic getaway?
Why, beer and ice skating, of course.
After nearly a month of online voting that wrapped up Monday, USA Today Travel and its 10best advice division said Wednesday that Minnesota's state capital won out over such laggards as Honolulu, New Orleans and Naples, Fla.
"St. Paul is the smaller, quieter and, many say, the more sophisticated of the Twin Cities," USA Today Travel reasoned. "While not an obvious choice as a romantic getaway, couples love it for its diverse romantic offerings, like leisurely paddle-wheeler rides along the Mississippi, beer tastings or ice skating. St. Paul also has a thriving performing arts scene."
The poll's organizers noted in its announcement that St. Paul "won while wearing its winter wonderland look. St. Paul took an early lead and never relinquished the top spot."
Mayor Chris Coleman said following the announcement that "even in the winter, with opportunities like ice skating just outside Landmark Center or just strolling across Rice Park with its beautiful lights and ice sculptures on the way to an Ordway show, it's hard to beat St. Paul's charm."
In recognition of the honor, the marketers at Visit St. Paul are offering a free romantic getaway for two that includes airfare, lodging and dining. Entries can be submitted at www.visitsaintpaul.com/romance. The winner will be announced on Valentine's Day.
"We've always considered ourselves to be in the business of romance," David Miller, general manager of the St. Paul Hotel and a Visit St. Paul board member, said in a statement.
Following St. Paul in the online results, in order, were: Savannah, Ga.; Victoria, British Columbia; Santa Fe, N.M.; New Orleans; Naples, Fla.; Bar Harbor, Maine; Mendocino, Calif.; Charleston, S.C.; and Honolulu. For details on each destination, visit www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-romantic-n-american-getaway.
Tabulators disclosed that voters were allowed one ballot per day and audits were conducted to detect any "unethical voting."