Not every honeymoon has to add a stamp to your passport. Some of the most exotic, jaw-dropping and memorable sights in the world are right here in the 50 states. Even if you don’t have the time—or desire—to go overseas, or the budget, there’s an idyllic option for you in America. After all, everyone’s definition of paradise is different. Here, 50 ideas in each of the 50 states.
Birmingham’s food scene is getting ever more exciting, and the beautifully modern and boutiquey Elyton Hotel is at the heart of it (also stop at the Alice in Wonderland-like The Grand Bohemian Hotel for a meal). Add the beach element to your lovers’ retreat by heading down to the coast for a few days after you’ve had your fill of the rich history and architecture of the city.
Denali National Park, Alaska
There are plenty of immersive places to visit in this wild, dramatic state, but the most romantic is probably experiencing a few magical nights virtually inside a glacier. The Sheldon Chalet sits inside the Denali National Park at 6,000 feet and combines untouched nature with luxury in the form of plush beds, a sauna, Champagne and “flightseeing” tours.
A city honeymoon may not sound super relaxing, but when it’s at a vintage resort where Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedys got away you’re in for a treat. The Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is glamorous and classic yet modern and has, along with the perfect pool, a Prohibition-era speakeasy for true throwback nights.
Arkansas isn’t only about duck hunting and hush puppies. It’s home to an outstanding art collection at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which is a must for true aficionados. The 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville nearby completes the creative-cool experience.
Big Sur, California
California’s coast boasts a fairly impressive collection of world-class resorts with epic views and laid-back luxury to boot. But nowhere may be as romantic a place for lovers as Big Sur, which is stocked with plentiful options like Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort, immersed in the redwood forests with hilltop meadows and dramatic views of the Pacific. (The new glamping section is worth a night or two, too, if only for the s’mores you’ll roast.)
Aspen is the more flashy sister to Colorado’s ski resort town of Telluride, a historic Victorian mining gem that has as epic skiing and snowboarding to be had. Madeline Hotel and Residences, An Auberge Resort, is an alpine resort overlooking the quaint town, offering year-round natural beauty and outdoors adventure access (like ski-in, ski-out valet), not to mention its own ice skating rink.
Old Saybrook, Connecticut
Throw it back with mini golf, ride bikes around the coast, head out sailing or snuggle up by a fire in the cute coastal town. Saybrook Point Inn, Marina and Spa features a super-romantic suite inside a lighthouse, for panoramic views and easy access to the extensive wine list at their Fresh Salt restaurant.
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Step back in time at the beautiful Victorian-styled Boardwalk Plaza Hotel, just off the boardwalk. Beach access couldn’t be easier, but there’s also a heated spa pool, oceanfront restaurant and the rest of the charming area’s attractions, such as sand dunes, a vintage observation tower and slew of restaurants.
Key West and Miami get more attention, but between them is the occasionally overlooked key Islamorada, with distinctive Caribbean vibes. The Moorings Village is ideal for a lovers’ getaway, with its 18 individual villas surrounded by gardens and steps from one of the largest snowy white sand beaches in the area, plus epic snorkeling and sunset cruises for two.
Savannah, the historic coastal city full of horse-drawn carriages, verdant parks and Antebellum architecture, is having a definite moment. Charm is in great supply, as are mouthwatering cuisine and cocktails (the Prohibition Museum has a full-service speakeasy), and cute boutique hotels are also plentiful: Try the fashionable local art–studded Andaz Savannah or the brand-new Perry Lane Hotel, the city’s first five-star that boasts a rooftop bar.
Big Island, Hawaii
You can’t really go wrong with any of the Hawaiian islands—each has its own distinctive personality and vibe, and they’re all drop-dead gorgeous. But for a beautiful blend of activity, landscapes, pool time (there are seven!) and privacy there’s Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, perched on the Kona-Kohala Coast and showing newlyweds the definition of paradise.
Sun Valley, Idaho
Many people forget that ski resorts are actually worth visiting all the time, and Sun Valley is no exception, picture-perfect summer and winter and just as pretty in spring and fall. The iconic circa 1936 Sun Valley Inn is a romantic choice for twosomes seeking coziness alongside world-class mountains and amenities like a 20,000-square-foot spa.
Lake Forest, Illinois
Chicagoans on a time crunch can get away for a brief honeymoon in Lake Forest, a suburban destination best known for its 15th century–inspired Deer Path Inn, where the English manor house style transports to a place across the pond. There’s a private wine cellar for intimate dinners and fireplace for cuddling with red wine and books.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana
Sandy beaches are not the first thing that pops into one’s head with the word Indiana (NASCAR probably is for most), but alas the Midwestern state has a string of them. On the shore of Lake Michigan is a beautiful state park with primitive and historic landscapes where camping in tents or RVs is the way to go for outdoorsy couples who feel at home under the stars.
Mason City, Iowa
Architecture buffs will find their happy place in Mason City at Historic Park Inn, the last remaining Frank Lloyd Wright–designed and -built hotel in the world. Each of the 27 guest rooms is unique and elegant, and a sense of history pervades the place, down to the 100-year-old billiards table and 1910 Lounge serving well-made nostalgic cocktails.
Kansas City, Kansas
Barbecue, jazz and fountain lovers should head to this destination straddling Missouri for countless opportunities to indulge in all. The cool city is also home to the Ambassador Hotel Kansas City, an Autograph Collection bolthole in a statuesque 1920s building with modern rooms and easy access to the best of downtown.
If bourbon tours and horse races sound like your idea of fun, Lexington may be the ideal charming honeymoon destination. The colorful and boutique-y 21c Museum Hotel Lexington ensures not only dreamy sleeps (on a bed decorated with rose petals) but that couples are well fed and stimulated by art of all mediums.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Keep up the celebratory spirit in the Big Easy, where live jazz and every other type of music is dancing through the air at all hours. (And delicious libations flow.) From stately and luxe The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, to the cool and lively Ace Hotel New Orleans to the architecturally attractive Henry Howard Hotel, a stint in the city celebrating its tricentennial in 2018 is always a good idea.
Maine isn’t just a dreamy honeymoon for lobster fiends but for anyone who appreciates creativity, nature and the ocean. The cute B&B-like Pomegranate Inn is situated by the Arts District, and is the best kind of mix of quirky and classical New England.
St. Michaels, Maryland
There are plenty of surprises in store on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, namely the outsized natural beauty of its curling coastline. The elegant Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond on the Miles River, with its infinity pool and sailing, is a particularly paradisiacal way to experience the classic destination and its renowned fresh fish, plus the charming antique shops of St. Michaels.
Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
Summer isn't the only season that Martha’s Vineyard is spectacular, but it certainly is glorious when the sun is hot and the water is full of surfers, swimmers and paddle boarders. Winnetu Oceanside Resort in Edgartown has all the accoutrements to make a fun-filled trip—think kayaks and bike rentals—including overnight trips to Nantucket and clambakes.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
It’s hard to believe anywhere in America is undiscovered, but in large part the seasonal May to October Mackinac Island is. Victorian style extends to the ban on motorized vehicles that create a pleasant environment for couples to disconnect, hike, bike and relax, like from Mission Point, set on 18 lake-fronted acres with comprehensive spa and wellness facilities.
Brainerd Lakes, Minnesota
A short drive from the foodie city of Minneapolis gets you to the bucolic Grand View Lodge, a historic 100-plus year old property with 45 holes of championship golf, an expansive sandy beach, extensive spa and plenty of memorable culinary experiences of its own.
Mississippi River, Mississippi
Do like Huck Finn—or not quite—and hop on a river boat for a cruise down the famous river. American Queen Steamboat Company has journeys on a paddlewheel, while American Cruise Lines’ newest American Song ship starts trips in fall 2018, with private balconies, a putting green cocktail hour and nightly entertainment plus onboard historians and naturalists.
Serenity now could be a theme of the Ozark mountains, where the king of all wilderness lodges is Big Cedar Lodge. Rustic-chic log cabins and cottages by the lake are where you can turn in, exhausted, after full days of boating, fishing, hiking and savoring heartland-inspired cuisine.
Lovers of the great outdoors shouldn’t miss the rich array of activities—both adrenaline-fueled and more chill—on offer at The Ranch at Rock Creek (also The Resort at Paws Up), a luxury ranch where cozy is an understatement. The big sky moniker is not misleading—stargazing from a steamy outdoor soaking tub is the best way to finish days of fun and great eats.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Cliche or not, Las Vegas is tons of fun, bottom line. At The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas you can hide away and order room service or explore the countless restaurants and bars for nights and days on the town. Just a short drive away there are draws of a totally different sort at Red Rocks, specifically big horn sheep and bouldering adventures.
West Chesterfield, New Hampshire
One of the smallest states in the country has countless quaint towns begging to be explored, and hidden-away B&Bs that are the perfect place to escape it all. One such place is Chesterfield Inn, a country inn in the Connecticut River Valley with cathedral ceilings, original architecture, pristine views and a sumptuous breakfast.
Cape May, New Jersey
Less party and more party-for-two, the South Jersey Shore is a place couples can enjoy seaside breezes and a laid-back attitude. The bright, chic boutique hotel Icona Cape May is the latest addition to the scene, with its own mouthwatering restaurants and access to dozens of the beachside town’s other venues.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
New Mexico’s rugged natural beauty is more than evident in Santa Fe and its many colorful attractions, such as the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. The destination doesn’t only appeal to art lovers, but that highlight is a short drive from the glorious Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe, where an intimate collection of casitas amp up the romance with fireplaces and private terraces (don’t miss the spa).
Finger Lakes, New York
You don’t have to go to the West Coast or Europe to enjoy vino where it’s grown, there’s the Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars in the pastoral Finger Lakes region of upstate, set at Seneca Lake’s oldest winery. Not too far on Cayuga Lake, the Inns of Aurora—four upscale properties with house bicycles, yoga, kayaks and paddleboards—are another Zen yet indulgent option.
Asheville, North Carolina
From the coast to the mountains, North Carolina has a lot to offer newlyweds. If you plan on making your North Carolina honeymoon multiple destinations, between the Outer Banks and the Blue Ridge mountains, make a stop in Asheville. You can take advantage of the emerging arts district while also taking in the town's history at the iconic Biltmore Estate. In addition to the grounds numerous lodging options, there are also wineries and gardens to explore.
Badlands, North Dakota
Suckers for a stunning landscape shot should consider the Badlands, area of North Dakota Theodore Roosevelt deemed not of this earth. The best access to the vast park is found at the Western-themed motor lodge Badlands Motel in downtown Medora, an historic town that dishes out authentic down-home charm.
In this blue-collar city on Lake Erie it’s all about indulgence in the form of delectable cooking by star chef Michael Symon chef, who’s singlehandedly made it a destination worthy of the most discerning foodies. While in town tuck away at the retro-cool Kimpton Schofield Hotel, which has a daily happy hour serving gratis wine to guests.
Broken Bow, Oklahoma
If there’s one season that’s just beyond beautiful in Broken Bow it’s fall, when the trees that blanket the region and lakeside turn a rainbow of brilliant colors. Scenery aside, the destination is all about the simple pleasures in life, whether that’s a crawfish boil or horseback riding when not ensconced in the plush coziness of Beavers Bend Luxury Cabins.
Whether you can quote Portlandia or not, the city that inspires it is a dynamic destination for lovers who aren’t content simply lazing in the sun—although if you plan a summer honeymoon here it should also include a road trip to the coast for a dose of wide sweeping beaches. In the city, The Nines hotel is fashion-forward and fun, with hundreds of pieces of art and a rooftop terrace for enjoying sunsets and skyline views over cocktails.
There’s certainly no hustle and bustle to avoid in bucolic Amish country, home to rolling green hills and Omni Bedford Springs Resort, an historic 2,200-acre resort built around eight natural mineral springs. It dates back to the 1800s, but the sprawling property is totally modernized, with pools, tennis courts, hiking trails, a manicured golf course and famed spa that will bring you back to life when nothing else will.
Newport, Rhode Island
It would be impossible to not be swept away by the postcard-worthy town of Newport, where seafood and surf mix with New England prep for a totally original vibe. Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina—the city’s only four-season resort—is at the center of the action, with its indoor and outdoor pools, spa and handful of scene-y seaside culinary experiences that includes Scarpetta.
Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina
Charleston is hands-down the most popular city in South Carolina, but when it’s relaxation and sun you’re after it should be off to the coast. On the May River, Montage Palmetto Bluff’s plush cottages and serene spa are not only perfect for releasing any lingering stress, but there are also forests to explore on foot, bikes to ride, a shooting club and kayaks for paddles on the water.
Hot Springs, South Dakota
Adventures abound in the Mount Rushmore state, where monuments, national parks and sculptures are in great supply. There’s also no end to the thrill you’ll get at Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, an incredible place where you can watch massive herds of wild horses run free and it’s even possible to spend the night in a cabin or prairie house where you can fall asleep under the stars and wake up to wild mustang band calls.
You might not expect to find the truest epitome of five-star hotel in Tennessee of all places, but aficionados of impeccable hospitality will find just that at Blackberry Farm, an iconic hotel and resort that sprawls over 4,200 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains. Intimate and refined, its 68 guest rooms are the setting for, among other draws, unforgettable food and wine, making it the best place to get over any lingering PTSD from your wedding diet.
Shun the cities and embrace scenic Texas Hill Country if you truly want to feel you’ve gotten away. Private plunge pools where secret midnight swims are encouraged does the trick. The intimate Relais & Chateaux Inn at Dos Brisas’s nine rooms are ultra opulent (think chocolate-covered strawberries and rose petals), but seasonal activities such as horse-drawn carriage rides (or horseback) and clay shooting keep it real.
Snowbunnies know where to head for ski vacations, but anyone interested in adventuring in one of the country’s most otherworldly landscapes should consider Under Canvas Zion, a glamping retreat offering not only the most dreamy beds—kept warm with the tents’ log burners—but unfettered access to the rusty red rocks and majestic national parks around it. Not too far is Amangiri, the ultra-opulent and uber-private celeb-loved alternative.
Artsy, outdoorsy Burlington is a picturesque and quaint destination to retreat post–I do. When not snuggling in front of a fire in flannel robes there’s plenty to do at and around Hotel Vermont, the rustic-modern bolthole that lends snowshoes for exploring Lake Champlain, and can help arrange bread-making lessons at the local bakery or brewery tours of a favorite artisanal brewer.
If you’re dog people you’ll appreciate the “greeter” at Craddock Terry Hotel, a Wirehaired Fox Terrier named Buster. The warm welcome he gives starts any romantic getaway off on the right foot, all the better to explore nearby hiking trails, wineries and restaurants around the boutique hotel built inside an old shoe factory.
Because there are so many drop-dead gorgeous things to see and places to go in Washington, Seattle is the ideal jumping off point. Book a suite at the newly renovated Thompson Seattle for bird’s eye views of the skyline, Olympia mountains and Puget Sound at the rooftop bar The Nest, as well as access to seaplanes for magnificent San Juan Islands flights, live music venues, fresh fish and many hikes and waterfalls.
White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Sport meets pure and gracious luxury at The Greenbrier, whose history stretches back almost 240 years. The resort built on 11,000 acres encompassing good-for-you sulphur springs is a leader in wellness travel, and offers couples everything from canopy tours, falconry, tennis and golf to TLC in its 40,000 square foot mineral spa and not a few but 20 restaurants ranging from an ice cream parlor to fine dining.
Washington Island, Wisconsin
Want to go off the grid? Way off? Try Washington Island, a small-town isle with a population of just over 700. Boating, quaint museums, the island dairy, farms and beaches are accessible from Bread & Water, a hotel, bakery and kayak tour operator. For a Wisconsin experience with a bit more pampering, go for Destination Kohler, a destination spa resort with a famed spa, golf and fine dining.
An excursion to Yellowstone should eventually be checked off every American adult’s list, and there’s no time for outdoorsy couples like their ultimate vacation together. Stop by Grand Prismatic Spring when you journey to the park from Jackson Hole, where skiing in the winter is also advisable. The exquisite Hotel Jackson there places whitewater rafting, ziplining, hiking and fly fishing, fueled by gourmet eats, at your fingertips.