Mini-Honeymoons: Southern Hospitality

Five luxurious Southern destinations that are an easy drive away

Whether it’s a ten-day vacation or postnuptial minimoon, get ready to hop in the car: here are five world-class resorts that roll out the red carpet for newlyweds—and they’re all less than one gas tank away from Charlotte.


DRIVE TIME: 5 hours and 20 minutes


HONEYMOON IDEA: Arrange for a predinner cruise aboard the vintage seventy-one-foot yacht Cloister Belle to explore Sea Island’s waterways in a most romantic way.

Sea Island feels like a posh private community for only the luckiest of travelers. And it kind of is—as home to The Cloister and The Lodge (100 Cloister Dr., Sea Island, Georgia, 866-879-6238, Visitors come for all the modern luxuries of a five-diamond hotel, plus the natural beach beauty of Georgia’s Golden Isles. Although 175 rooms and suites are available, request one of the ocean villas for quick and easy access to the beach or pool area. At the resort’s Sea Island Beach Club, chill out in a private air-conditioned cabana or any of the three swimming pools (one is for adults only). Or, take a Jeep down to the secluded south end of the island, where you can ride horses along five miles of private beach and the Atlantic Ocean. Craving even more of the coast? Schedule snorkeling or scuba diving lessons, or make reservations for a memorable sea turtle walk.



DRIVE TIME: 4 hours and 20 minutes

HONEYMOON IDEA: Grab a seat at Forsyth Mansion’s very popular “700 Kitchen School” to learn new recipes and techniques alongside Executive Chef Darin Sehnert.

Savannah visitors eat well. And in Georgia’s oldest city, there’s no better place to start—and stay—than the boutique hotel called Mansion on Forsyth Park (700 Drayton St., Savannah, 912-238-5158, in the Victorian district. What’s more intoxicating than its elegant décor is the chance to experience one unforgettable meal after another. Dinner at the four-diamond 700 Drayton restaurant, which is actually eight separate dining rooms, means contemporary American cuisine with a healthy infusion of Southern flavor; the filet mignon with blue cheese grits is a good example. Equally as fine—and also in a big ol’ Victorian manse—is Elizabeth on 37th restaurant, where you can savor the Lowcountry likes of spicy Savannah red rice with Georgia shrimp. For more casual eating, head to City Market and Bay and River streets. There, you’ll find everything from local sweet tea and craft brews to homemade ’cue.



DRIVE TIME: 2 hours

HONEYMOON IDEA: Thanks to the inn’s on-site floral and cake designers, request room flowers that replicate your bouquet or centerpieces, or order a Fearrington cake that’s a miniature version of the one from your wedding.

Although quaint, Fearrington House Inn & Restaurant (2000 Fearrington Village Center, Pittsboro, 919-542-4000,, which has been a Relais & Chateaux member for more than twenty years, has expertise when it comes to spoiling its guests: port and handmade truffles with turndown, fresh flowers in rooms (many cut from the gardens outside), and luxurious Molton Brown products in bath areas. Downstairs, Executive Chef Colin Bedford—who grew up in England—uses area ingredients for award-winning farm-to-fork cuisine like the North Carolina flounder. From daily afternoon tea (replete with homemade scones and finger sandwiches) to the sprawling pastures complete with grazing Belted Galloway cows, this beloved village-and-hotel property seems straight from the English countryside, yet it’s only eight miles south of Chapel Hill.



DRIVE TIME: 2 hours

HONEYMOON IDEA: Schedule a couple’s massage for an intimate sixty- or ninety-minute rubdown in a suite overlooking vistas of the Blue Ridge peaks. (A two-night honeymoon package is also available at $1,293 and includes the couple’s massage, plus all meals, one dozen roses, champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries, and more.)

If there is anything newlyweds need after planning a wedding, it’s a healthy dose of R&R. And nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains is the Westglow Resort & Spa (224 Westglow Circle, Blowing Rock, 828-295-4463,, which Travel + Leisure recently voted as the second-best destination spa in the world. The historic Greek mansion was originally built as a summer home, and nearly a century later, guests are still traveling there to relax and rejuvenate. Westglow is as private as it gets—tucked away on twenty acres, the mansion and lodge house have just nine rooms and suites. Named after the soft sunsets glowing over the mountains, this Relais & Chateaux resort has a similar warming effect on guests: the all-service spa offers all kinds of revitalizing treatments, especially the scrubs and wraps ending with therapeutic Vichy raindrop showers.





DRIVE TIME: 4 hours and 30 minutes

HONEYMOON IDEA: Blackberry Farm will pack up gourmet picnic baskets for alfresco lunches, plus deliver dinner directly to your cottage or suite for a most intimate meal.

Newlyweds can connect with nature—and each other—at the 4,200-acre Blackberry Farm estate (1471 West Millers Cove Rd., Walland, Tennessee, 865-380-2260, in the Great Smoky Mountains. With the help of Blackberry guides, couples can canoe or kayak around the lakes, test the white-water rapids of the nearby Ocoee River, hike and bike the countless paved or wooded trails, and—for the outdoor extremists—camp out along the Appalachian Trail. And after you’re done playing in the Tennessee outdoors, reboot with Blackberry Farm’s organic “foothills cuisine” like artisanal cheeses and cured meats, or at the Farmhouse Spa, where local elements (garden-grown mint, harvested red clay) are used in farm-to-massage-table treatments.