Hit the Road

Five romantic honeymoon destinations to explore—no passport necessary
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Sure, you can honeymoon in a far-flung destination like the Caribbean, Hawaii, or Europe. But sometimes the best honeymoon is one that doesn’t require a passport or stressful air travel. The Southeast is chock-full of cities that boast romantic accommodations, impressive dining, and cultural and historical highlights, not to mention some serious adventure. Plan to spend your first week as husband and wife just a few hours from home with this helpful guide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bluffton, South Carolina: Located just eight miles from Hilton Head Island, Bluffton is a quaint town oozing with Southern charm and ambience

Accommodations
Though there are charming B&Bs scattered throughout, stay at the Inn at Palmetto Bluff (from $375 per night, palmettobluffresort.com). Tucked away on 20,000 acres of mostly untouched wilderness, the inn offers fifty guest cottages and suites, each with its own screened-in porch, oversize steam spa shower, luxurious Frette linens, and complimentary bikes for exploring. Choose a cottage facing the May River—which ensures that you’ll catch some of the most spectacular sunrises.

 

Dining
There are several dining options on-site, including the River House Restaurant (palmettobluffresort.com), which overlooks the May River and serves classic South Carolina Lowcountry cuisine in an upscale setting (think collard greens and fried chicken served on china). For breakfast, head to Buffalo’s (palmettobluffresort.com), just a short walk or bike ride from the cottages, where you’ll feast on coastal Carolina shrimp and grits, crab cake Benedict, and house-made biscuits and gravy.

To Do
Head to downtown Bluffton’s Calhoun Street, where several galleries showcase local artists’ work. The next day, borrow a convertible Mercedes from the inn and drive north to Beaufort. There, you’ll want to tour Bay Street’s ten galleries before grabbing an ice cream from Southern Sweets (southernsweetsicecream.com) to share while sitting on an oceanfront bench swing in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.

Romance Factor
Riding bikes down long, country roads shaded by large oak trees draped in Spanish moss sounds romantic—because it is. Couple the scenery with s’mores and a glass of wine by one of the inn’s outdoor fireplaces, luxurious spa treatments, and breathtaking sunrises, sending the romance level off the charts.


 

Virginia Wine Country: Napa and Sonoma aren’t the only wine countries worth a honeymoon trip. This area, one of the top wine producing regions in the country, is packed with picturesque wineries, world-renowned dining, and luxurious yet ultra-private accommodations

 

Accommodations
Rent a convertible and head to Keswick Hall (from $305 per night, keswick.com), nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains just outside Charlottesville. The impressive and elegant mansion boasts panoramic views of the Virginia countryside, the perfect backdrop for honeymoon photos. The beautiful Clifton Inn (from $245 per night, cliftoninn.net) will host you on close to 100 acres of wine country. This Relais & Chateau property has just seventeen rooms, so expect ultimate privacy and service at its best. The setting is so serene and relaxing, it will prove to be the best post-wedding retreat.

Dining
Even if you’re not staying at Keswick Hall, you’ll want to dine there: it boasts some of the area’s top dining options. Book a dinner on the outside terrace at the award-winning Fossett’s Restaurant, named in honor of Jefferson’s first cook at Monticello. The beautiful setting is reason enough to dine here, but couple that with the food—cast iron–seared foie gras, lamb chops with spiced Pink Lady apples, French-style gnocchi—and it’s a honeymoon highlight.

To Do
Spend the bulk of your time winery-hopping in Loudon County—this is East Coast wine country, after all. Book a private, chauffeured tour through Reston Limousine Service (from $35 per person, restonlimo.com) and easily visit the county’s twenty-two wineries. You can also spend a day touring the Monticello Wine Trail, where you can create a simple itinerary by choosing among twenty-eight wineries (monticellowinetrail.com).

Romance Factor
Splurge and reserve the chef’s table at The Inn at Little Washington (theinnatlittlewashington.com). At one of two six-person tables, you’ll get a serious view into the creation of the restaurant’s impressive prix fixe, six- or ten-course menu. It’s pricey—a $375-per-table charge, not to mention the cost of food, wine, and gratuity—but you’ll be following in the footsteps of the stars: Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds dined here after their Southern wedding.


 

Charleston, South Carolina: With its charming cobblestone streets and expansive waterfront, Charleston is the perfect mix of history and romance. Add in a great nightlife scene, world-class dining, and nearby beaches, and the city is a beautiful honeymoon option for any couple—especially Charlotteans, considering it’s an easy three-hour drive away

 

Accommodations
Consider booking the Ashley River Suite at The Inn at Middleton Place (middletonplaceinn.com, from $139 per night). Boasting the lodge’s only wrap-around balcony, this suite is perfect for honeymooners, offering breathtaking views of the winding river and a peaceful landscape. For a city experience, reserve a room at the Vendue Inn (vendueinn.com, from $185 per night). Located in Charleston’s French Quarter, the Vendue exudes serious Southern charm.

Dining
The sophisticated sister to restaurants Magnolias and Blossom, Cypress (magnolias-blossom-cypress.com/cypresshome) touts the culinary talents of James Beard–nominated chef Craig Deihl. Deihl sources the ingredients for Cypress’s Lowcountry fare from local farmers and fisherman, resulting in dishes like dry aged beef from local MiBek Farms, sustainably caught Braised Carolina Wreckfish, and Crisp Wasabi Tuna. For true Southern cooking, rent bikes and ride to Poogan’s Porch (poogansporch.com). Here, you’ll choose from Lowcountry staples like classic shrimp and grits and buttermilk fried chicken.

To Do
If you’re in town on a Saturday, tour City Market (thecharlestoncitymarket.com), where hundreds of vendors set up shop and showcase their goods, including purveyors like Charleston Market Tin Works, which scours the U.S. for tin ceiling tiles from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century buildings. A walk along the Battery early in the morning (or as the sun sets) is the perfect way to start or end a day together, while a charming carriage ride, which will fill you in on Charleston’s rich history, is a great way to see the city.

Romance Factor
As the sun goes down, the rooftop at the Vendue Inn, which boasts panoramic views of the city, is where you’ll want to toast your new marriage with a glass of champagne.


 

Asheville, North Carolina: A hotbed of everything from haute couture to craft breweries, Asheville hosts a thriving music and arts scene. For the hipster or culture-loving pair, this is the place to honeymoon

 

Accommodations
Stylish boutique Hotel Indigo (from $217 per night, hotelindigo.com/Asheville) recently added sixteen luxurious suites, with panoramic views of downtown Asheville and the mountains. To feel like a princess, though—head to the Biltmore Estate (from $159 per night, biltmore.com), where you and your love will feel as though you’re living inside a fairy tale.

Dining
Reserve a romantic table at Horizons, at The Grove Park Inn (groveparkinn.com), where you can enjoy the nine-course tasting menu on the outdoor patio while watching the sun set over Sunset Mountain. Shop for a honeymoon memento in the River Arts District (riverartsdistrict.com), but don’t miss the craft breweries, including The Wedge Brewery (wedgebrewing.com) and The Bywater (bywaterbar.com). Half pub, half park, locals and visitors love the large craft beer selection, yard games, food truck access, and riverside seating.

To Do
Make it a true bonding experience by exploring Asheville Treetop Adventure Park’s (wildwaterrafting.com/atap.php) fifty climbing, zipping, walking, jumping, swinging, and rappelling challenges.

Romance Factor
Pack a picnic and head to Craggy Gardens for the afternoon, just a short drive from Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway, where you can take in 360-degree views.

 

Savannah, Georgia: This romantic, antebellum city on the water is deeply rooted in history. Stroll through more than twenty parklike squares shaded by towering oaks layered with Spanish moss, or cozy up on a bench to watch the ships passing by River Street.

 

Accommodations
Housed in the city’s historic district, Andaz Savannah (from $189 per night, savannah.andaz.hyatt.com) is a modern spot for the ultrahip couple. Book a room that overlooks the refurbished Ellis Square for the best city views. For a more traditional honeymoon, the Ballastone Inn (from $199 per night, ballastoneinn.com) can’t be beat. Each elegantly appointed room exudes Southern charm, while the daily breakfast—included with your stay—is the highlight. Expect house-made Orange Ricotta Pancakes and Bacon and Gruyère Roulade.

To Do
Savannah is home to the Savannah College of Art + Design, which means that this is the spot for gallery crawling. Start by visiting the SCAD Museum of Art (scadmoa.org), which houses work by notable artists such as Aaron Douglas and Romare Bearden. The Telfair Museum of Art (telfair.org), one of the South’s oldest art museums, is home to work by regionally and nationally known artists. Savannah boasts some of the best home décor shopping, too, with antiques stores tucked off side streets and more prominent stores like The Paris Market and Brocante (theparismarket.com), which specializes in vintage architectural items, décor, and home goods, can be found on West Broughton Street.

Dining
Yes, Paula Deen has a restaurant here—but don’t waste your precious honeymoon waiting in line. Instead, descend the stairs off Barnard Street into a simmering slice of the Bayou at Alligator Soul (alligatorsoul.com). You’ll dine on Southern staples such as gator and crawfish cakes and house-made cheesy grits all in a dimly lit, romantic atmosphere. At Local 11Ten (local11ten.com), find a modern twist on Southern standards in a restored 1950s-era downtown bank turned restaurant hot spot.

Romance Factor
Only in Savannah does a stroll through a cemetery feel romantic. But somehow walking through the gorgeous Bonaventure Cemetery, located on the bluff of the Wilmington River, makes you want to cuddle up to one another.

Categories: Feature, Honeymoons (Travel), WeddingsHoneymoon