Your wedding is supposed to be one of the best days of your life. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a whooole lot of stress you have to suffer through before you finally experience the “wedded bliss” feeling everyone talks about. Between creating a seating chart that won’t have your politically opposed family members starting a fight in the middle of dinner to figuring out how you’re going to pay for the open bar when half of your college frat will be there, getting married can feel like the opposite of a fairytale. And, honestly, that’s probably why honeymoons were invented.
Your honeymoon is your chance to finally catch your breath and look back on the party of the century (yeah, you did that!) with the person now legally bound to you for life (*wags ring finger*). It’s supposed to be the vacation to end all vacations (no pressure at all, right?), and let’s be honest: You. Frickin’. Deserve. It.
Now, here’s another fact: Honeymoons are often stressful and expensive. International honeymoons, for example, require currency exchanges, passport renewals, voltage converters, language apps, and other accessories to make it seem like you even go here. These aren’t bad things, but they add another layer of anxiety to the mix. But! Lucky for us Americans, there are so many incredible travel destinations across our 50 states, from island towns where the sun is always shining to bustling cities where you’ll never ever, EVER run out of things to see.
With that in mind, I present to you a ~U.S. honeymoon travel guide~ designed to make your life just a tiny bit easier by helping you determine exactly where you and boo should embark on your post-nuptial travels. Below are the 13 best no-passport-required places to jet off to after the afterparty and exactly why they’re so darn great. Read on to learn which cities you’ll fall in love with after your love-filled “I dos.”
1. Newport, Rhode Island
If bouncing around on big boats, slurping down sumptuous shellfish, and touring gorgeous Gilded Age mansions sounds like you and your partner’s idea of a good time, then, boy, do I have the honeymoon spot for you. How do I explain Newport best… it’s like that hot rich guy who has a boat but is really sweet and somehow not pretentious. (A unicorn, I know. But that’s why it’s so great!) It’s classic but not stuffy. Visit in summer or fall and drive around some of the nearby towns, like Watch Hill, where Taylor Swift famously bought a mansion in 2013.
Romantic stay: Castle Hill Inn is where everyone goes to take Grace Kelly on vacation-esque photos, and you should too. (Fun fact: Grace did in fact stay here several times.) Perched above the waterfront with stunning views of ever-passing sailboats, the Gatsby vibes are strong with this one.
Excursion for two: Hike along the city’s famous Cliff Walk (it’s low effort, I promise) for killer views of both the water and some of the most magical mansions you’ll ever lay your eyes on. You might even find some sea glass along the way!
For a memorable meal: The Black Pearl on Bannister’s Wharf has the best clam chowda in town. Scout’s honor.
Must pack: Nautical-chic ‘fits. Think: Taylor Swift’s Red-era.
2. Santa Fe, New Mexico
It might not be the first city you think about when you consider your dream honeymoon, but Santa Fe is as surprising as it is stunning. Visit The City Different (as it’s affectionately nicknamed) for mind-blowing architecture, colorful landscapes, and chile pepper-heavy cuisine you can’t get anywhere else. Rent a car and bike if you’re spending more than a few days here: You’ll want to hit the juniper and cactus-lined Santa Fe Rail Trail by bike, then drive to some of the nearby must-sees, like Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu and Bandelier National Park near Los Alamos.
Romantic stay: Casa del Sol, a private apartment in an adorable adobe home, has both a clawfoot tub and a wood-burning stove. Say less.
Excursion for two: Book a private hot springs soaking pool at Ojo Santa Fe spa. They’re just the right size for two people!
For a memorable meal: Prepare for the staff to treat you like royalty at Geronimo, the place to snag a reservation on popular Canyon Road. The restaurant is housed inside an adobe structure built in 1756, and the lobster pasta and Meyer lemon dessert crêpe will actually change your life.
Must pack: A fringed jacket for stepping out in Southwest style on cooler nights.
3. Hilton Head, South Carolina
Hilton Head feels like home as soon as you step foot on the island—the people are kind, the warm air feels like a friendly hug, and the Spanish moss hanging from every tree keeps ya feeling cozy. It’s perfect for couples who just want to *chill* after months of wedding planning. As a bonus, Hilton Head is also close to other stunning Southern cities. You can easily drive to Charleston or Savannah for a day trip, or pop on over to nearby Bluffton for a change of scenery (and to see where Justin and Hailey Bieber got married in Palmetto Bluff!).
Romantic stay: The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa has three pools, plenty of spa services, and private beachfront access. Enough said.
Excursion for two: Take in the sights with a slow-and-steady bike ride. The island is only 12-miles long, so you could bike the whole thing if you were feeling inspired.
For a memorable meal: Farm Bluffton’s menu changes seasonally to ensure they’re always using fresh local ingredients. Don’t sleep on the brown butter cornbread.
Must pack: Sun protection (duh).
4. Key West, Florida
For a lil bit of Caribbean flair without leaving the States, put Key West into your cheap flight tracker of choice. Located at the southernmost point of the continental U.S., this city is on island time all the time, with residents living that laid-back Margaritaville lifestyle 24/7. Stop by a beach bar for one of the city’s signature Rum Runner cocktails or visit the Ernest Hemingway House and Museum for a little bit of history. Your Insta game will be untouchable.
Romantic stay: The Conch House Heritage Inn is adults-only (bless) and offers complimentary fresh-squeezed OJ mimosas with breakfast (double bless!!).
Excursion for two: Charter a glass-bottom boat to peep the U.S.’s only living coral barrier reef.
For a memorable meal: You’ll want to put a ring on the key lime pie at Salute! On The Beach.
Must pack: A “Just Married” swimsuit (Florida won’t judge you for it).
5. Napa Valley, California
Newlywed pairs that love wine pairings will find honeymoon nirvana in Napa Valley, a region known for its many vineyards (obviously) and Michelin-starred restaurants. Just get your drink on by bouncing from tasting room to tasting room on the Napa Valley Wine Train (visit Mumm Napa or Domaine Carneros, both known for their sparkling wine, to toast your new union the right way), or stay on the sober side and eat your way through the region’s various cities, like Yountville and St. Helena.
Romantic stay: Solage, an Auberge Resort, will soothe your hangover with honeymoon-inspired spa services (including natural hot springs for soaking!).
Excursion for two: Impress bae by booking a hot-air balloon trip over the region’s rolling vineyards (and, like, you should probably pop a bottle while you’re up there).
For a memorable meal: Come hungry and try one of the tasting menus at The Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil. The popular Mediterranean-inspired spot boasts 13 (!) consecutive Michelin stars.
Must pack: An ice roller for the morning(s) after your tastings.
6. Sedona, Arizona
If “ugh, I wish we could just do our registry at REI” is something you or your partner said to each other during the wedding planning process, then let me introduce you to this pretty city. Slap on your finest Lululemon and be sure to hike Red Rock State Park, Cathedral Rock, Courthouse Butte, and Oak Creek Canyon, or consider renting a car and visiting the Grand Canyon (a two-hour drive away). And if your legs start getting a little sore? Book a tour by horseback, Jeep, or hot-air balloon instead. Essential information: It gets *blazing* hot here in the summer—plan accordingly.
Romantic stay: The city’s signature red rocks are on full display at A Sunset Chateau. You can peep ’em while swimming in the pool, lounging on your balcony, sitting by the firepit, or cuddling up on a hammock.
Excursion for two: Play sommelier for the day (is that passionfruit you taste?) at the Verde Valley Wine Trail, set between some of the desert’s most famous rock formations. Many chauffeured tours start in Sedona and shuttle you to multiple vineyards.
For a memorable meal: The babbling water of Oak Creek will serenade you as you chow down at Cress on Oak Creek, which has some [bomb emoji] bankside seating.
Must pack: Cute-but-sturdy hiking boots.
7. New Orleans, Louisiana
Real ones know that NOLA isn’t just cool during Mardis Gras. It’s a city with jaw-dropping architecture and history you actually want to learn about (no, really), plus celebratory vibes all the dang time. Here’s how I picture your honeymoon: Hand holding while walking through the many lush gardens, cheers-ing Sazerac cocktails in honor of doin’ the damn thing, and sharing powdered-sugar-dusted smooches while chomping on some beignets. S’cute! Pro tip: Visit sometime between December and May for the best weather (the humidity is not ideal any other month).
Romantic stay: Okay, you have to admit, the Captain’s Quarters in Historic Lower Garden District stay on Airbnb is straight-up sexy. The moody color palette… the rain shower… the absurdly beautiful front walkup… I’m in love.
Excursion for two: Take a night to bar hop between live jazz joints. Make sure you stop by the famous Mother-in-Law Lounge for a super on-brand experience (ya know, because you have in-laws now!).
For a memorable meal: Tucked inside a 19th-century Creole cottage, Jewel of the South (with a yummy American-style menu) will make you feel as elegant as hell. Ask for a table in the courtyard if the weather is being nice.
Must pack: A fanny pack or sling bag for hands-free drinking in the streets (yeah, it’s legal there! One Hurricane to go, plz and thx!).
8. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Brunch. Beach. Boat. Booze. Another Beach. Beach Bar. Another Bar. Bedtime. That’s the winning schedule for a honeymoon here. Known for being luxurious yet laidback, the Cape Cod peninsula (made up of several small towns and villages) is where East Coasters flock to in the summer months for seafood shacks, quirky art galleries, and local festivals. Honeymooners can join in the fun any time of year, but summer and early fall are when it truly shines. Daytripping to nearby Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, or Provincetown (or a combination of the three!) is also a must to get the true New England experience.
Romantic stay: Book a cozy cottage or suite at Wequassett Resort and Golf Club to secure a deck with a fireplace. I see sunset drinks in your future.
Excursion for two: See the Cape from alllll angles by skydiving out of the Airfield in Barnstable. You’ll see all the surrounding islands and the Boston skyline on your way down.
For a memorable meal: Located in a former blacksmith shop (that’s hot!), Blackfish now slings sophisticated seafood dishes and killer burgers.
Must pack: Airy sundresses for seamless beach-to-dinner action.
9. Aspen, Colorado
Ask your partner right now: “Would you prefer to hit the beach or the slopes?” If they tell you the latter (and you’re on board…no pun intended), scope out Aspen. A favorite of the Real Housewives, Aspen attracts snow bunnies with its mountain conditions, but you could spend an entire visit just snuggling up by the fire at a chic après-ski spot. Aspen is also equally beautiful in the summer months—you’ll just be hiking those pretty peaks instead of slaloming down them.
Romantic stay: The Little Nell is pretty $$, but it’s Aspen’s only five-star ski-in/ski-out hotel and you only honeymoon once, I guess?
Excursion for two: Escape the cold with a visit to the Aspen Art Museum. Admission is free (!), so you can spend more money on Hot Toddys.
For a memorable meal: Get your sushi fix at Matsuhisa, a fancy eatery (located in a historic Victorian house) from Chef Nobu. Yes, that Nobu.
Must pack: Chic ski gear! (Bonus points if it’s après-ski themed.)
10. Honolulu, Hawaii
I mean… it’s Hawaii. It’s hard to compete with that ish. Honolulu makes a great home base when visiting popular destinations like Pearl Harbor, Waikiki Beach, and Diamond Head. Whether you are into high-adrenaline activities like surfing and skydiving or would rather plop your booties on the beach all day with pina coladas in both hands, you won’t be bored. Trust.
Romantic stay: Ummm, let’s just say the ocean will literally be your backyard at The Kahala Hotel & Resort. You should also be obsessed with them for their dedication to preserving the island’s land and culture for future generations.
Excursion for two: Helicopter rides are a Bachelor-franchise staple for a reason: romahnce. Book a trip to see Oahu’s volcanic landscape from above.
For a memorable meal: Takeout can be fancy too! Order a few plates to share from Ken’s Fresh Fish, a roadside seafood shop on the coast, and carry them over to the water for a picnic.
Must pack: A waterproof camera or phone pouch for worry-free ocean shots.
11. Anchorage, Alaska
For people who’d rather go fishing than get a massage, the largest city in Alaska is the perfect place to start an adventurous honeymoon. Fly in and explore the Wildlife Conservation Center and the food scene for a day or two before trekking off to more remote parts of the state. Consider hiking in Kenai Fjords National Park or exploring the ice caves at the Mendenhall Glacier.
Romantic stay: Avoid most human interaction by booking a package at Wilderness Place Lodge and book a personalized nature excursion. It’s not actually in Anchorage, but all packages start with a short flight from there.
Excursion for two: Have a whale of a time (yes, I’m saying this non-ironically) on a quaint whale-watching trip. They’re typically out and about between May and September.
For a memorable meal: Scarf fresh, local seafood at The Crow’s Nest, located inside the popular Hotel Captain Cook.
Must pack: Layers upon layers upon layers.
12. New York, New York
Getting lost on vacation isn’t always fun, but it is when it’s in the concrete jungle dreams are made of! Couples who aren’t afraid of crowds will thrive in New York, with people-watching opps aplenty and things to see, eat, and do around every turn. No matter what neighborhood you stay in (don’t be afraid of Brooklyn, either!) the subway takes you anywhere you want to go. Don’t blame me if you never want to go back home.
Romantic stay: The views may take your breath away forever at The Motto by Hilton Chelsea, an expertly designed and surprisingly affordable hotel near Madison Square Park.
Excursion for two: Take a jet ski ride around Manhattan for the best views of the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, and more. (One of my favorite birthday gifts ever!)
For a memorable meal: Gallaghers on 52nd Street is a *classic* New York steakhouse perfect for dinner before a Broadway show. They’ve been serving up strong cocktails and hickory coal-fired filet mignons since 1927, and TBH you should get one of each.
Must pack: An eye mask and ear plugs. Especially if you’re staying near Times Square.
13. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Remember how I said your wedding can leave you feeling winded? Welp, this is the place to get some delicious alpine air in your thirsty, thirsty lungs. Prepare to get your horsegirl on in this popular honeymoon destination where winding rivers, sprawling mountains, and endless natural landscapes make you feel like you live in a postcard now. Visit in the winter to take advantage of the fresh pow’ and peaks (snow much fun!) or jet in for a summery escape with trails galore. Be sure to visit one of the two nearby national parks—Yellowstone and Grand Teton—and embrace what Mama Nature gave ya (bonus points if you spot an elk!).
Romantic stay: If there was ever a time to splurge on a stay, it would be at Amangani, a celeb-favorite resort with views of the Grand Tetons and Snake River.
Excursion for two: Pack a gourmet picnic and eat it overlooking Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. Look up Inspiration Point for a hike with great lookout spots.
For a memorable meal: If you can’t afford to book a room at the fancy-schmancy Four Seasons, book a table at their restaurant, Westbank Grill, instead. The lodge-like steakhouse has a dining room with a giant stone fireplace and massive windows overlooking Rendezvous Peak.
Must Pack: Cowboy boots or a cowboy hat—or both.
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