The original words from the classic go, “I left my heart in San Francisco,” a popular 12-line song released in 1953, have stood the test of time. Originally written by George Cory with lyrics by Douglass Cross, it remains a nostalgic ode to one of the most iconic cities, “where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars.” Among the sea of love songs that serenade us daily, it stands out because it’s not about a person—it’s about a place.
In honor of the holiday dedicated to love, we decided to flip the idea of romance on its head. We took the famed song lyrics, left a blank, and asked our community to tell us where they left their hearts around the world. We’ve included a handful of the responses below, and you can read more here for inspiration. (These books will make you fall in love with the world.)
The answers took us on a journey from charming cities in Europe to tropical rain forests of South America, and through stories of romance, family, and friendship. While some revealed they haven’t quite found that love of their life yet, others report that they “left their hearts” in several different cities. Some wish they could go back, and others already have—permanently. Of course, we humans will do almost anything for love.
“I've been twice and both times, I hated leaving because it feels like it could be home, like I could belong. Weird because I'm not Turkish but I loved the people, the history, and the food. I still dream about the baklava ...” –Mariam Khwajazada
“I’ve traveled the world, and there’s no place which carries such an alive energy on its land. The weather, beauty, nature, mountains, volcanoes, and ocean speak Aloha.” –Jaime Kersnason
“I deeply miss the ocean, the Pacific Northwest rain forest, the wildlife, the great shows (music, plays, drag, and burlesque), the perfect moderate climate ...” –Samantha Nelson
“In July of 2008, I left my heart in Guatemala. We just had four blissful days with our soon to be adopted son, but the adoption wouldn't be final for a few more months. We left him in the care of his loving foster family, but it was gut-wrenching having to leave. He arrived home four months later. We [love] Guatemala!” –Eileen Thompson Sparacino
“A city so full of magic, character, and life that you could spend a lifetime there still lost in awe.” –Stephanie Bowman
“Ahh the mountains, the glaciers, the waterfalls, and northern lights! I have never been more in love with a place!” –Moumita Dutta
Moselle River Valley, Western Europe
The Moselle River Valley can be taken in from one of the area's many hillside vineyards.
“One third in Paris where my husband and I were engaged, one third in the Galápagos where we honeymooned, and one third in San Francisco where we took our first family trip with our daughter. We seem to fall in love with every new destination, but these three were especially significant to our love story.” –Angela Houser
“I left my heart in New Zealand ... so I thought. But came back with a fantastic souvenir ... My Son ... Edan. Came back to the UK two months pregnant. He is eight now.” –Poppy Vere Austin-Lata
“The most awe-inspiring beauty, the kindest people, the richest history. From every bite of food you taste, to every dram of whiskey you try, to every note of a bagpipe you hear. The culture and history are ingrained in this great country like a tapestry that covers you in its warmth and doesn't let go, it seeps into your soul. Headed over in May for my third visit in four years. Yes, it’s that special.” –Sasha Nelson Koenig
“I left my heart in the mountains of Mt. Tarak Ridge! It was a difficult trail but I was able to reach the peak!” –Kate Somera Torio
- Nat Geo Expeditions