The vows have been said, the cake has been cut, and all the hard work you put into wedding planning resulted in a celebration you’ll not soon forget. Now, on to the part that puts the focus back on just you two: the honeymoon!
While heading out on an African safari or exploring the romantic cities of Italy no doubt sound dreamy, there’s just as much magic to be found here in the U.S. “We often overlook the incredible destinations we have in our own backyard,” says travel adviser Julia Gregory. “With the right guidance, a domestic honeymoon can be just as special as an international honeymoon.”
Meet the Expert
Nashville-based Julia Gregory is the founder of JBG Travels, a full-service travel design company specializing in custom itineraries and honeymoon travel.
Ready to start scouting your options? Read on for the top U.S. honeymoon destinations, as well as a look at the best new honeymoon resorts and hotels in the country right now.
Why Choose a U.S. Honeymoon?
“The most appealing thing about a domestic honeymoon is the ease of travel,” says Gregory. “You’ve just spent six-plus months planning one weekend. Now, all you want to do is relax and bask in the memories. Whether you’re planning a road trip through the national parks or mini-mooning at a luxury hotel in California, [a U.S. honeymoon] gives you the chance to slow down, travel less distance, and be more present.”
Honeymoon Trends for 2023
“The biggest trend I’m continuing to see is more couples checking off those ‘bucket list’ trips for their honeymoon,” says Gregory. “They’re wanting luxury accommodations and unique experiences—and both are equally important.”
Another trend that’s making having it all all the more possible? Traveling during shoulder seasons. “This is exciting because couples are likely to encounter fewer crowds, and they’ll also receive better rates, which is great because prices are continuing to rise into 2023.” Meaning: if you can, be flexible about when you honeymoon! There’s no rule that says you have to go the day after, or even the month after, your wedding. Book the trip for the time that makes the most sense for your budget and schedules. (And if you do want a quick weekend away right after you wed, there’s always the minimoon.)
The 23 Best U.S. Honeymoon Destinations
From sandy beaches to remote mountains, there are so many incredible domestic honeymoon destinations to choose from.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Eat, drink, and let the good times roll in the Big Easy, where a slew of high-design hotels (Peter & Paul, Maison de la Luz) are opening at a rapid clip. In between cozy meals at romantic spots like Coquette and La Petite Grocery, drinks at the boisterous backyard wine bar Bacchanal, and plenty of other fun things to do, you’ll walk hand-in-hand for blocks and blocks while exploring the architecture of the city. For a unique day trip, head across the 24-mile Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, one of the longest over-water bridges in the world, to explore the quaint small towns of Covington and Abita Springs.
Wellness-focused couples looking for active adventures will want to head straight to this desert destination. “Hot air ballooning, hiking … the activities are just endless,” says Gregory. Taking reservations starting in February, Ambiente Sedona (pictured) is one of the most anticipated U.S. resort openings of 2023. “The hotel design is totally unique for Sedona,” Gregory adds. “It’s got floor-to-ceiling glass walls, which allow for panoramic views of the Red Rocks from your rooms. Some of the rooms even have a rooftop terrace. The sunset views are going to be incredible.”
Newport, Rhode Island
If the picture-perfect seaside local and stunning Gilded Age mansions don’t get you, maybe this detail will: JFK and Jackie Kennedy chose Newport as the site of their 1953 nuptials. While you’re there, you’ll live the fine life with sailing, tennis, and tours of ultra-fancy historic homes like The Breakers and The Elms, but the main draw is the dozen-plus honeymoon-worthy hotels that dot the area. With sumptuous rooms done up in Regency and Louis XVI decor, The Chanler at Cliff Walk is often described as one of the most romantic boutique hotels in the country.
There’s so much more to this college town than the University of Virginia, and the honeymoon experience begins at recently refreshed Keswick Hall, which boasts an infinity pool, golf course, clay tennis courts, and a fine-dining concept by famed French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. You’ll spend the rest of your days touring picturesque vineyards such as Pippin Hill and King Family Vineyards (check the schedule for polo matches!) and strolling the pedestrian-only streets of downtown. New restaurants at The Wool Factory, a preserved textile mill, are just a few of the reasons why Food & Wine recently named the town one of America’s next great food cities.
Yellowstone National Park
A total bucket-list-worthy honeymoon destination, this 3,500-square-foot natural wonder spreads across Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. “Start in Jackson, hike the Grand Tetons, then make your way into [the park],” says Gregory. “The wildlife is so abundant and the terrain is incredibly varied.” Her top choice for national park honeymoon accommodations? Sage Lodge in Montana, which offers everything from a full-service spa to rafting adventures and painting classes.
Hudson, New York
One of the best parts of this quirky-cool-meets-picturesquely-pastoral upstate New York spot is that you don’t need a car to reach it—trains depart regularly from Penn Station and drop off right in town. The hotels, particularly The Maker and Rivertown Lodge, are totally cozy-chic, and the main drag of Warren Street is dotted with dozens of cute restaurants and shops. If you do drive, historic mansions, open-air art museums, and beautiful hikes await in neighboring towns such as Rhinebeck and Beacon.
The Florida Keys
Cruising through the islands that comprise the southernmost part of the continental U.S. makes for the perfect low-key, warm-weather honeymoon. Start your road trip in Miami for a dose of big city vibrancy, then cruise through Key Largo and Islamorada for scuba diving, seaplane tours, and plenty of meals featuring fresh-caught fish and tropical rum drinks. Favorite accommodations include Parrot Key in Key West and the private cottages of Moorings Village in Islamorada, where the Netflix thriller Bloodline was filmed.
Big Sur, California
A more secluded—but no less spectacular—strip of the central California coast, Big Sur is known for craggy cliffs, misty vistas along winding roads, and serene lodges such as Post Ranch Inn and Ventana Big Sur nestled amongst the massive cypress trees. “In addition to the outdoor experiences, the food and wine is top-notch,” says Gregory. “There are great vineyards over in Carmel Valley that are rustic and authentic.”
Highlands, North Carolina
Nestled along the Georgia-North Carolina border, this quaint mountain town specializes in stunning surroundings, Southern hospitality, and accommodations steeped in rustic luxury. When you’re not antiquing, reading by the fire, or digging into a hearty brunch at Blue Bike Cafe, enjoy the scenery with a hike up Whiteside Mountain or to Secret Falls. Favorite resorts in the area include the Old Edwards Inn, Highlander Mountain House, and, in nearby Cashiers, High Hampton.
“Whenever people think about Hawaii, they immediately go to Oahu or Maui, but Kauai is starting to get more exposure,” says Gregory. This lesser-developed island feels beautifully wild—hence why billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg are buying up acreage— but a few resorts along the southern coast, particularly Ko'a Kea, still offer all the trappings of a traditional Hawaiian honeymoon. On the North Shore, newcomer 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay stands out for its stylishly serene interiors and rejuvenating wellness and fitness programs.
“There’s beautiful architecture and homes, impeccable gardens, and delicious seafood,” says Gregory of this preppy island, which has long been favored by celebrities and politicos. It also offers a range of stylish hotels, from resort-style accommodations at The White Elephant and The Wauwinet to more boutique options such as The Greydon House.
The Low Country, South Carolina
The coastal marshes of South Carolina conjured romance long before Allie and Noah fell in love in The Notebook, and multiple destinations in the area remain popular with honeymooners. “If couples are wanting a buzzier honeymoon with a lot of great restaurants and shopping, Charleston would be a good fit,” says Gregory. “If you’re looking for a more relaxed vibe with beaches, golfing, and good food, the area by Hilton Head is great.”
Santa Ynez Valley, California
One hour inland from Santa Barbara, this up-and-coming wine region in central California is a delightful mix of rustic-luxe ranches, casual tasting rooms, and delicious farm-fresh restaurants. After sipping your way through Grenache Rosés and Sauvingon Blancs in Los Olivos (pictured) and a leisurely guided horseback ride through the nearby vineyards, cap off an evening with a multi-course Michelin-rated meal at Bell’s in Los Alamos. Alisal Ranch, The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern, and Hotel Ynez are three unique honeymoon-worthy spots to rest your heads.
For those that crave the simple pleasures of summer's past, head to the western coast of Michigan. Come summer, you can cruise the waters of Lake Michigan in a retro speedboat, sip hard ciders and Saisons on working farms, or relax on the white sands of Oval Beach (pictured), which is frequently touted as one of the best in the country. The under-the-radar foodie destination is also known for great restaurants such as The Southerner and Pennyroyal Provisions. For a luxe glamping experience (there’s even a spa cabin!), book a tent at The Fields of Michigan.
The Hostess City of the South has all the essential elements of a romantic getaway: stately garden squares with dreamy Spanish moss hanging from the live oaks, romantic bars, and restaurants, a robust arts and music scene, and, in certain sections, no open container laws—which means you can carry a cocktail while you stroll. Though there’s no shortage of great hotels downtown, the nearby Montage Palmetto Bluff is the premier resort of the area—and was also the site of Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin’s 2019 nuptials.
For an island honeymoon that doesn’t require a passport, head to this tropical U.S. territory, which is an easy three-and-a-half-hour flight from Atlanta. There’s a vibrancy to the capital of San Juan that can’t be matched, and nights out in the Old San Juan neighborhood are best spent dancing and knocking back mojitos. Craving beach time? Book a suite at one of the luxury oceanfront resorts that span out along the coast. Both the St. Regis Bahia Beach and the Ritz-Carlton’s Dorado Beach keep you close to the city.
Honeymooners looking for a more unplugged mountain honeymoon experience will want to forgo Vail and Aspen in favor of the secluded southwest corner of The Centennial state, which offers outdoor adventure aplenty in both the winter and summer months. “Because it’s so much more remote, you’ll find more all-inclusive packages at lodge-style accommodations,” says Gregory, whose top resort picks in the area are Dunton Hot Springs and Taylor River Lodge (pictured). “All meals are included, plus guided activities like rafting, fishing, and horseback riding. It’s off-the-grid, but you’re very well taken care of.”
Palm Springs, California
This SoCal desert oasis is most often associated with pool parties, colorful retro motels, and mid-century modern furniture stores, which makes it an awesomely Instagrammable option for a bachelorette weekend. While Parker Palm Springs (pictured above) best embodies the aesthetic, the new Sensei Porcupine Creek in nearby Rancho Mirage brings a whole new vibe to the area. “It’s best suited for couples looking for a wellness-style retreat,” says Gregory. “There’s 230 acres, the grounds are stunning, and the food and service—they have a Nobu—are next-level,” says Gregory. “Day guests are also not allowed, so the property is going to be extremely private and exclusive.”
Ready for a honeymoon road trip? Start in Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. “This area is for couples that are less excited about luxury accommodations and more excited about biking, hiking, kayaking and all the activities,” says Gregory. “But once you go further south into Ogunquit and Kennebunkport, that’s where you’ll start finding more of the quaint New England vibe. [This area] also offers several luxury hotels–and great lobster.”
Santa Fe, New Mexico
“Santa Fe tops my list for clients wanting a more cultural honeymoon,” says Gregory. “It’s steeped in Native American tradition, and you’ll find tributes to that heritage throughout the art, food, and wellness experiences. The collision of nature and culture is also incredible in this area.” For lodging, it doesn’t get any more perfect than the freshly renovated Adobe-style Bishop’s Lodge (pictured).
The most remote portion of the continental United States offers natural wonders unheard of in the Lower 48. Whether you’re observing brown bears catching salmon on Kodiak Island or heli-skiing in the Chugach Mountains, your Alaskan honeymoon itinerary will be packed with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for adventure—and the rugged lodges and resorts will envelop you in warmth and luxury each night when you arrive home.
Napa Valley, California
Luxury-oriented honeymooners will love the easy romance of Northern California’s Napa Valley. Home to posh hotels, world-renowned vineyards and wineries, and, of course, The French Laundry and plenty of other Michelin-starred restaurants, Napa makes it fun to indulge in food and wine. Be sure to budget time for nearby Sonoma and Healdsburg while you’re there.
The Catskill Mountains, New York
In the Catskills, small southeastern New York towns like Livingston Manor, Narrowsburg, and Andes are filled with cool restaurants, distilleries, and antique shops. Come fall, there’s also the beauty of the changing leaves, which are best observed with a hike along the Tusten Mountain Trail or up Overlook Mountain. Several new resorts, including Inness, Piaule, and Wildflower Farms (pictured), have opened within the past few years, but classics such as Foxfire Mountain House and Scribner’s Catskill Lodge remain as popular as ever.