Travel to these honeymoon destinations in the U.S. and spend the cash you save on international airfare towards one (or three) of the most romantic hotels in America, a once-in-a-lifetime adventure or a memorable meal at the best Chinese restaurants in America while vacationing somewhere super-fancy. From coastal Maine to Utah canyons, honeymooning closer to home can be every bit as romantic as an overseas vacation when you head for one of these remarkable post-wedding destinations—and don’t forget to load up your iPod with the best road trip songs if you’re driving.
Best honeymoon destinations in the US
Just north of San Francisco, Point Reyes Station is an outdoorsy escape with excellent hikes, wildlife viewing and plenty of comfort. The Point Reyes National Seashore juts 10 miles into the Pacific Ocean and is home to Tule elk, elephant seals and 150 miles of trails. One particularly beloved hike is Alamere Falls, an 8-mile trip that meets a waterfall that empties onto the beach, an ideal spot for a romantic picnic, halfway through. And the adventure doesn’t end at sunset. Consider a nighttime kayak tour in Tomales Bay, where bioluminescent organisms flicker in the water, or just indulge in some California cooking at Sir and Star at the Olema, where the chefs create modern comfort food from the bounty of surrounding farms. Before you depart, hit the must-visit Marshall Store for a lunch of garlicky BBQ oysters and fresh seafood—the perfect cap to a NorCal honeymoon.
Winter in Jackson Hole revolves around the mountain, which boasts 2,500 acres and 133 trails that were inundated with over 400 inches of snow last year. Summer in Jackson Hole is also about getting outside, whether that’s by fly fishing, mountain biking or whitewater rafting. No matter the weather, stay at the Four Seasons, where thoughtful details make the difference between a nice vacation and a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon. The hotel’s outdoor pool is heated year-round, and in the snowy months warmed robes and complimentary hot chocolate make taking a dip extra delightful. During the summer months, the resort can arrange a wildlife tour of Yellowstone National Park, a star-gazing night in Grand Teton or a postcard-worthy hot air balloon ride over this stunning corner of the West.
If your idea of a perfect honeymoon involves brewery hopping, memorable meals and a side of New England charm, put Portland into your GPS and head north. This coastal city is one part fishing town, one part quaint historic district, two parts modern culinary and cultural destination. That means you’ll spend a Portland honeymoon downing pints from breweries like Allagash and Rising Tide on the Maine Beer Trail, eating fresh local bivalves from Eventide Oyster Co. and gazing into your beloved’s eyes over plates of masa hush puppies at Central Provisions or in front of paintings at the Portland Museum of Art. When you need to work up an appetite for your next gastronomic adventure, hit the coast and stroll through Fort Williams Park, pausing to snap a picture of the ridiculously photogenic Portland Head Light. You’ll get extra likes if you manage to catch it at sunset.
As close as you can get to the Caribbean without leaving the States, this laid-back island is known for its one-of-a-kind joie de vivre that’s attracted plenty notable residents (think Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams)–never mind its hard partying reputation. There’s plenty to see and do here that doesn’t involve getting drunk. Think less about laying on the beach and more about embracing the isle’s carefree, celebratory vibe. Wander through Old Town and visit historic sites like the Hemingway House and Key West Cemetery (‘till death do you part, right?); take to the turquoise water for a snorkeling trip or a sunset sail; then park yourself in Mallory Square to watch the street performers while you munch on a conch fritter. Catch a meal in the garden at Blue Heaven, where chickens and cats wander by your feet, then collapse into a canopy bed at the Mermaid & the Alligator, an elegant inn with just the right romantic touch. Before you head for the mainland, toast your marriage with a Hemingway Daiquiri. The writer may not have been a relationship role model, but he certainly had good taste in cocktails.Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Vistavision
If outdoorsy adventures are central to your bond, consider moving this Utah park to the top of your honeymoon list. With its towering canyon walls and waterfalls that erupt after rains, Zion is simply breathtaking. Popular trails like lofty Angel’s Landing and the Virgin River Narrows draw crowds for good reason, but you’ll also be rewarded for exploring some of Zion’s lesser known sites, like the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek trail or the Subway canyoneering route. If tent snuggling is your thing, that’s certainly an option, but you don’t have to break out the sleeping bags for Zion. Just east of the park, Zion Mountain Ranch offers comfy cabins with amenities like jetted tubs, fireplaces and views of the ranch’s resident buffalo herd.Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Pat Henson
The architecture. The cuisine. The jazz. The spirit. Perhaps no city in the U.S. ticks quite as many romantic boxes as the Big Easy. Honeymooning here is about soaking in the culture: filling up on beignets at Morning Call, reveling in the music at the Spotted Cat or Davenport Lounge, strolling the French Quarter with no particular destination in mind. Don’t over-plan or strategize, New Orleans welcomes improvisation. There are some musts, however: classic cocktails (sip on Pimm’s Cups at Napoleon House, Sazeracs at Sazerac bar, French 75s at French 75 Bar), Creole cooking and a jaunt down Bourbon Street. Book the white tablecloth treatment at Commander’s Palace, opt for modern local fare at Patois or get your meat on at Toups’ Meatery from Top Chef contestant Isaac Toups. If you depart with a full belly and a faint hangover, you’ll know you’ve done New Orleans right.
Hawaii is hardly an under-the-radar honeymoon spot, but this idyllic bay tucked into the north coast of Kauai offers many of the archipelago’s unique enticements sans the customary crowds. How? There simply are no big resorts here. Book a stay at the Hanalei Surfboard House, Hale Ho’o Maha Bed & Breakfast or one of the many private vacation homes and settle into laid-back island life surrounded by emerald mountains spilling down to the sea. While it’s perfectly acceptable to spend your entire honeymoon marveling at the gorgeousness of Hanalei from a beach towel, there are other options: surf lessons, snorkeling at Tunnels Beach and kayaking along the Hanalei River. For a more strenuous adventure, bring your camping gear and embark on the Kalalau Trail, a 22-mile roundtrip hike featuring waterfalls, river crossings and remote beaches.Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Brodie Guy
Studding Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands are a favorite weekend escape for Seattleites and a welcoming place to come down from the wedding buzz. Reserve a spot on the ferry and head for San Juan Island, the most developed of the archipelago’s 172 named islands and reefs, where you can taste local wines, go for a bioluminescent kayak tour, visit an alpaca farm or just stroll around Friday Harbor on your loved one’s arm. If you’re in town between March and November, book a whale watching tour and spend a few hours gasping as elegant orcas glide through the Salish Sea. Then dig into international fare made with local ingredients at Duck Soup Inn. There are plenty of hotels and B&Bs to choose from, but glamping fans will want to book one of Lakedale Resort’s canvas cottages, which come with king-size beds, private baths and electric fireplaces. End your honeymoon with a quick jaunt to Lummi Island, where Noma-alum chef Blaine Wetzel has turned the Willows Inn restaurant into one of the best in the country. Indulge in the $195 tasting menu, then spend the night in one of the inn’s cozy chic rooms.
There’s more to Sin City than bachelorette parties and fantasy football drafts. Think swanky suites, Michelin-rated restaurants and lavish spas. In fact, the four-mile casino corridor has a higher concentration of revered French chefs than just about anywhere else in the world but Paris. Spoil yourself with a room at the Mandarin Oriental where floor-to-ceiling windows look out over the Strip’s nightly light show and deep tubs offer a soak with a view. Spend your days sipping daiquiris poolside or blissing out at Canyon Ranch Spa and your evenings indulging in Joël Robuchon’s 16-course tasting menu or serious steak at Wolfgang Puck’s Cut. When you tire of shuttling between memorable meals and a deck chair, ditch the Strip for a hike on Mount Charleston or a guided kayak trip through Black Canyon. Just make sure you’re back in time for cocktails at the sophisticated Mandarin Bar and a final Strip stroll to see the Bellagio fountains’ famed eruption. They’re every bit as enchanting as you’ve imagined.
The city by the Bay is a honeymoon waiting to happen.With so many famous landmarks, revered restaurants and colorful neighborhoods, you’ll never find yourself lacking things to do. Start by seeing the city’s most photographed fixture, the nearly 80-year-old Golden Gate Bridge, which you can walk or bike across, sail beneath or just marvel at from the shore of Crissy Field. Next, make for historic North Beach, a traditionally Italian neighborhood where aimless wandering is rewarded with funky shops, tasty cafes and landmarks from the Beat scene’s heyday. There’s no shortage of stunning restaurants in San Francisco, but this is your honeymoon, so throw fiscal responsibility to the wind with a dinner at Quince or opt for a more modest but equally heart-stirring night out at Gitane. The newly reopened SF MOMA is a cultural must-visit in the heart of the city, but you should also carve out time for a stroll or a picnic in one of San Francisco’s many parks. Finally, end things on a sweet note at Ice Cream Bar, where the classic sundaes and boozy floats come with just the right amount of old-school charm.Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/yuyang226
Visitors to this desert enclave are drawn by its red-hued buttes, its artsy vibe and its vortexes—natural occurrences that supposedly possess an intense and mystical energy. But you don’t have to commune with the Earth in order to appreciate the magic of Sedona. Reserve a Creekside Cottage at L’Auberge de Sedona and snuggle under the stars on your private deck or cool off with a rinse in the outdoor shower. The honeymoon package includes a $200 dinner credit, $300 towards a couple’s massage, turndown service with rose petals and Champagne, and a helicopter ride over the region’s remarkable geology. Once you’re back on solid ground, explore on foot, walking among the crimson cliffs or tracing the path of Oak Creek on the West Fork trail, one of the area’s most iconic routes. Finally, guests at Enchantment Resort should head to the destination Mii Amo spa, where signature treatments draw inspiration from Native American rituals and ceremonies. You’re sure to leave refreshed, relaxed and more in love than ever.Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Patrick
Reaching 65 miles into the Atlantic from mainland Massachusetts, this picturesque peninsula is a place to embrace life’s simple pleasures: oversized ice creamcones and seafood freshly snatched from the ocean, leisurely bike rides and sunny beaches along 400 miles of coastline. Base yourself at one of the many inns or B&Bs, then dive into the activities on hand, namely eating fried clams at picnic tables, engaging in lively games of mini-golf, lazing about on the nearest stretch of sand and hopping on a whale watch every now and then. Traffic can be a drag during the summer high season, so choose your town wisely. For an LGBTQ-friendly destination with funky shops and galleries, think Provincetown. For historic charm, think Chatham. For culture, think Wellfleet, where you can catch a local play or snuggle up at the drive-in, which dates to 1957. Also enjoy its own mini-golf course and ice cream stand. This is Cape Cod, after all.
The New South rubs elbows with the old in this grand dame of Southern cities, and the key to your visit is embracing both extremes. Start with the old: Stroll through popular Forsyth Park (which dates to the 1840s), gawk at Savannah’s stately homes, pause in the verdant loveliness of the city’s 22 historic squares. Then go new: Stroll through the galleries at the SCAD Museum of Art, sample local craft brews, dig into the biscuit and bone marrow at The Grey. If you’re up for a nocturnal adventure, ask your concierge for the password to the speakeasy-style Mata Hari or commune with spirits from the other side on a ghost tour. When you’re ready to recharge, head for the sandy beach on Tybee Island, then pay a visit to the ruins of Wormsloe, Savannah’s oldest standing structure and the 18th century home of carpenter Noble Jones. A photo together on its oak-lined, moss-shrouded boulevard is the only souvenir you’ll need to bring home.
Picture the quintessential California beach town and it probably looks a lot like Santa Cruz. Tanned surfers launching into waves, green cliffs towering over the sea, a sweet main street lined with shops and restaurants—Santa Cruz is the kind of place that people fall in love with quickly. Book a beach house or cottage, rent a couple of bikes and spend your days soaking in the sunshine, taking surf lessons or getting out on the water for a whale watch in Monterey Bay. Hit the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for some old-school thrill rides, then unwind in a private hot tub at Tea House Spa. For dinner, grab a table at La Posta, where chef Katherine Stern’s cooking will transport you to Italy, and be sure to save room for dessert. No trip to Santa Cruz is complete without a visit to the Penny Ice Creamery, where the flavors change daily and everything is made from scratch.Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Ali Eminov
Set on a 300-acre estate two hours from Minneapolis, Canoe Bay hotel is an adults-only escape from the real world. Designed for couples, romance infuses every aspect of your stay here, from the rooms and cottages—all of which feature fireplaces and two-person whirlpool tubs—to the free breakfast in bed delivered to your door. The restaurant features produce grown on site, and for a special experience, you can book a private dinner in the wine cellar or have a multi-course meal brought to your cottage for maximum canoodling. This is the kind of place where no one will judge you if you decide to spend the whole day shacked up with your beloved. When you’re ready to venture out, consider snowshoeing, hiking, fishing, canoeing and golf–all within reach. You can’t spend your whole honeymoon in bed, but at Canoe Bay you’re welcome to try.Photograph:Courtesy Yelp/Neel K.