What's your honeymoon dream: A secluded beach? A bustling city? A gourmet getaway? Or would you rather go somewhere you've never been but has plenty to see and do? Read on for the best honeymoon destinations in the U.S., and recommendations for top things to do for newlyweds.
The City by the Bay has long attracted couples thanks to first-rate hotels, fine restaurants, romantic views of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and attractions that range from the museums at the California Academy of Sciences to Alcatraz Island. San Francisco is also a convenient starting point for a trip to California wine country, enabling you to create a city-and-countryside honeymoon.
High atop Nob Hill, the stately Fairmont San Francisco lets its hair down in its basement Tonga Room, a recreated tropical setting that includes simulated rain storms and the Hurricane Bar known for San Francisco's best happy hour. It was also here that Tony Bennett introduced the world to “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” Combine your visit with a stay at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, a romantic getaway for the bibulous just an hour north.
Maui is the Hawaiian island that has everything: Beautiful beaches, unique attractions, fantastic hotels, and the sweet smell of tropical flowers perfume it all. You'll definitely want the Haleakala experience, traveling in the dark to witness a 360-degree sunrise atop this dormant volcano.
The Kaanapali, Wailea, and Kapalua beach areas all have exceptionally fine hotels. Yet on this special occasion, you owe it to yourselves to begin your honeymoon with a drive so beautiful, it's practically hallucinogenic. About 60 miles long, stretching from Kahului (where the airport is) to the town of Hana, the Hana Highway has 617 hairpin curves and 59 single-lane bridges. Along the way are exhilarating waterfalls, farmers' fields, cliff-top vistas, and roadside stands selling freshly cut pineapple.
At the end of the journey, you'll reach the all-inclusive Travaasa Hana, voted the top boutique hotel and the top experiential retreat by readers of Hawaii Magazine. If you don't have time for the drive, you can take a 20-minute flight from Kahului Airport.
An international playground that offers the best of everything 24/7, New York City is a great place to honeymoon. The pleasures of its romantic hotels, sumptuous restaurants, fascinating neighborhoods, theaters, museums, and galleries are unparalleled. Bucket-list attractions include the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the Empire State Building, and the vast Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Couples on a budget will find the outer boroughs (easily reached via public transportation) home to authentic ethnic eateries and hotels with more affordable prices.
High above New York's west side—the lobby starts on the 35th floor—the Mandarin Oriental's views are swoon-worthy; fortunately a fainting couch is adjacent to each room's floor-to-ceiling windows. Satin pillows and silk covers, attentive but unobtrusive staff, and a restaurant that sets the scene for proposals both decent and indecent make this a top choice for couples who can afford a splurge.
Florida may offer more honeymoon experiences than anywhere else: Does the glitz of Miami appeal? The solid-gold Palm Beach lifestyle? Orlando's amusements? If all you want is a beach and no pressure, consider Lee County along the Gulf Coast. Fort Myers is the destination's major city, the place to go for a choice of restaurants. Stay on Captiva or Sanibel islands, though. There the warm turquoise waters wash up a new bounty of seashells on the wide, clean beaches each morning and no high rises looming above you.
South Seas Island Resort in Captiva has a 2.5-mile long white-sand beach, a 330-acre nature preserve, a spa, every kind of water sport, an offshore sailing school, kayaks, and bike rentals, plenty of places to eat fresh-off-the-boat seafood, and a big bar to celebrate the sunset and each other.
Enjoy your honeymoon in a place that brings the world to you. People from every country and culture that arrived here—including the French, African, Cajun, German, Spanish, Irish, Latino, Vietnamese, and others—introduced traditions that created the flavorful gumbo that is the essence of New Orleans. Taste it in the piquant cuisine and hear it in sounds that float out from windows and on street corners.
Hotel Provincial in the French Quarter is a few blocks from Bourbon Street, where much of the music emanates. Family-owned and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it surrounds couples in old-world charm and contains one of the city's favorite breakfast spots, the aptly named French Toast, serving hungry and hungover honeymooners till 3 p.m. daily.
It's not just the legal recreational marijuana and profusion of craft breweries that make the Mile-High City so appealing. Downtown is filled with one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants, and there's usually a live show taking place. And when the Rockies and great outdoors beckon, nature is just a scenic drive from town.
There are ample places to celebrate your love in Denver. A jewel box of a place, Hotel Teatro is walking distance to the top attractions, including Larimer Square, Union Station, and the Denver Center for Performing Arts. The exterior is a Renaissance Revival building; modern guest rooms have deep mattresses, 50-inch flat screen TVs, and 24-hour room service to lull you into a lovely languor.
Las Vegas isn't just for quickie, no-stress weddings. As long as honeymoon couples avoid visiting during the sweltering summer months, there's plenty to keep you smiling. Thanks to an array of star chefs, the restaurant scene has become one of the country's best. Hotels are plentiful, and you can get more for your money here than in any other major city—as long as you don't give into the temptation to gamble it away.
For more than 50 years, there's been one name synonymous with the ultimate Vegas hotel: Caesars Palace. This is where the superstars perform (think Jerry Seinfeld and Madonna), where there are two vast casinos and a sports book that resembles mission control, and where you can eat from the scrumptious Bacchanal Buffet to outposts of Nobu and Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen.
Cool and casual Portland is the West's version of Brooklyn hip. If flannel and flip-flops are your jam, plan on spending a honeymoon here with jaunts to Mount Tabor park, Multnomah Falls, food carts, and the legendary VooDoo Donuts and Powell's Bookstore.
The low-key, pet-friendly Hotel Monaco strikes the right note in laid-back Portland. You can request a pair of complimentary bikes to ride around town, and in-room spa treatments are available. Every evening there's a complimentary wine hour in the lobby to put you in the mood for dinner at one of Portland's eclectic eateries.
Transport yourselves to the rolling hills of Virginia, not far from Washington, D.C. As you make your way from winery to winery (preferably in the back seat of a limo), you'll pass scenic roads, historic towns, and horse country.
Although a variety of romantic inns dot the landscape, one exceeds them all in comfort, charm, and cuisine: The Inn at Little Washington is one of the world's top gourmet getaways and a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux group. Antiques-filled guest rooms, many named after famous chefs, are plush and spacious. At dinner, choose from among three tempting and succulent tasting menus in the romantically lit dining room.
High temperatures and low humidity make a Palm Springs honeymoon comfortable most of the year, and the pleasures of this desert oasis are no mirage. You'll want to learn about its Mid-Century Modern architecture and tour its finest examples. A trip to Joshua Tree National Monument brings you down to earth. Play dirty in a mud bath on a visit to Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa, then rinse off and laze in its mineral-rich grotto pool.
Palm Springs is a place that adults appreciate more than kids, so it has many romantic hotels. If you have to pick just one, consider the retro Colony Palms. You can nestle in your own ivy-covered love shack, emerging for sustenance at Purple Palm Restaurant & Bar adjacent to the hotel pool and in view of the purple-hued San Jacinto Mountains.