By HOLLY HOLBROOK
After the vows have been said, the toasts made and the cake cut, it’s time for the happy bride and groom to get out of town for a few days of rest and relaxation after the whirlwind of planning and putting on the wedding.
But where should the happy couple go? The good news is that there are literally hundreds of options to choose from, most within a few hours of any major American city. Whether you want total privacy or an endless array of activities, here are seven destinations to consider that will set the stage for a honeymoon to remember.
Although no one knows for sure who started the trend of honeymooning in Niagara Falls (some say it was the daughter of former Vice President Aaron Burr, while others believe it was Napoleon’s brothers), one thing is certain: Niagara Falls is one of the world’s top honeymoon destinations. Some say it’s the mists rising from the crashing waters that inspire amorous feelings, but today’s couples might argue that it’s the abundance of places to stay and things to do that attract them to this natural wonder. Niagara Falls hotel options range from romantic country inns on the outskirts of the city to high-rise hotels overlooking the falls. Most offer honeymoon packages complete with room service and other perks such as couple’s massages, winery tours or attraction tickets.
While many honeymooners head to the more popular cities of Cancun or Cabo San Lucas, those looking for a quieter and more laid-back south-of-the-border destination should consider Oaxaca de Juárez. Along the southern coast of Mexico, this historic city offers a thriving arts-and-crafts scene as well as plenty of secluded and romantic beaches where you can enjoy some alone time. One of the most popular hotels in town is the Camino Real Oaxaca, housed in the former Santa Catalina convent. Oaxaca is a foodie’s paradise — you’ll find the “seven moles” and a wide variety of dishes made from Mexican chocolate.
Glacier Bay National Park
With more than 3 million acres of some of the most stunning scenery anywhere in the world, Glacier Bay is an outdoor playground. Easily accessed from Juneau, Glacier Bay is at its best from May through September. These months are ideal for kayaking, hiking or taking a seaplane tour to take in the natural beauty. Glacier Bay Lodge is the only hotel within the park boundaries; rooms are nestled within the spruce trees of the northern rainforest and offer views of the Fairweather Mountain Range.
When you think of hot and sunny getaways, you might immediately think of tropical beach destinations, but why not enjoy each other while soaking up some desert sun? From the lush resorts of Paradise Valley (mega-celebs Beyoncé and Jay-Z honeymooned at the posh Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa near Phoenix) to the rustic charms of northern Arizona outpost Flagstaff, Arizona offers a variety of vacation options. Try booking a room at the historic Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim; the hotel also offers private cabins, where you and your new spouse can take in the stunning Grand Canyon sunsets from the front porch.
From outdoor activities like hiking and camping to more luxurious pursuits like wine tasting and golf, Canada’s Okanagon Valley offers something for everyone. This diverse region of British Columbia, known as Canada’s wine country, features lush valleys and vineyards, mountain ranges and an abundance of lakes and rivers begging to be explored. Honeymooners often enjoy the many boutique and bed-and-breakfast inns scattered throughout the valley, many of which offer honeymoon packages complete with meals, wine and spa services.
Thousands of oenophiles who have just tied the knot head to Napa Valley every year, drawn by the rolling hills and lush vineyards, luxurious accommodations, fabulous foods and of course, the many, many wineries. If you want to splurge, book a room at the legendary Auberge du Soleil (rooms start at $500 per night) for stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Considered by many to be one of the most romantic cities in North America, Montreal seamlessly blends Canadian culture with French influences to create a unique and uniquely beautiful city. You can almost always spot honeymooners strolling or riding in a horse-drawn carriage along the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal. With a variety of festivals occurring throughout the year, including the world famous Montreal Jazz Festival each summer and the Montreal Winter Festival, there’s always plenty to do here.
Taking off on a honeymoon trip is often the highlight of the entire wedding for many couples, and when you choose one of these romantic destinations, your wedding trip is sure to be a memorable beginning to your new life together.
Holly Holbrook writes about weddings, honeymoons and trends for several bridal industry blogs. She and her husband honeymooned in Niagara Falls after their nuptials eight years ago, and they make a point to return for their anniversary each year.