When hopping a plane with your honey to celebrate tying the knot, who wants layovers? Fortunately, Mitchell International Airport offers direct flights to dreamy locales perfect for honeymoons, from Toronto to Montego Bay. Because less time in the air means more time on the ground with your love.
If You Go:
Flying time: 1h 51min on Delta and Southwest
Where to Stay: The Plaza Hotel
When hunger strikes: Mas Farmhouse, a haven for locavores in Greenwich Village with a prix-fixe tasting menu; Prune Restaurant, owned by “The Taste” guest judge Gabrielle Hamilton; and Erminia, an Uptown eatery continually ranked as Manhattan’s most romantic
It’s the perfect destination for couples who groove on a big city buzz. Since accommodations are key on your honeymoon, turn up the posh factor and check into the 110-year-old Plaza Hotel. A recent renovation ensures you’ll find every luxe convenience, including a Champagne bar in the lobby.
After a leisurely breakfast in bed, enjoy a nature experience in the heart of an urban environment by renting bicycles in Central Park, just across the street from the hotel. If the landscape looks familiar, it’s because it was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Lake Park and others right here in Milwaukee. Or head downtown to the High Line, a former elevated rail bed that has been converted into one of the most unusual city parks in the country. It traverses some of the city’s hippest neighborhoods, including the Meatpacking District and Chelsea. You’ll find lots of kiss-worthy spots here, as well as plenty of selfie ops, with the city skyline as backdrop.
Nearby is a former Nabisco factory now called Chelsea Market, a mega version of Milwaukee Public Market that’s a veritable tour of the local food scene. At the south end of the High Line is the Whitney Museum of American Art’s new home, designed by Renzo Piano.
Don’t get back on the plane until you’ve walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and spent a little time on the opposite side exploring Brooklyn Heights. If you’ve been looking forward to New York-style pizza, consider booking a Scott’s Pizza Tour; there are even options as either walking or driving tours, taking you through pockets like Brooklyn and Times Square.
If You Go:
Flying time: 3h 21min on Frontier
Where to Stay: Arizona Biltmore, The Boulders
When hunger strikes: Book a table at the buzz-worthy “Maestro of Pasta” Scott Conant’s Mora Italian; or pick up culinary tips at MATCH’s open kitchen, tucked into the new edgy FOUND:RE hotel and serving comfort-food eats, many of which are baked in a wood-burning oven.
If you want to get away from the cold, you’re a spa and design junkie and the hustle and bustle of a big city is not your idea of romantic, turn your eyes towards Phoenix. This cosmopolitan region (which includes Scottsdale) is rich in the arts – including architecture by Wisconsin’s Frank Lloyd Wright, whose winter homestead is in Scottsdale – and knows that the finer things in life include golf, spas and dining.
Resorts like Arizona Biltmore, designed by a Wright protégé, make you forget you’re in the midst of a city, thanks to expansive lawns and its prairie-style design, right down to the lawn lanterns. Even the most basic guest rooms are worth spending lots of time in, with spa-like baths and views of the hotel’s gardens or the mountains. Spa Biltmore offers treatments in a couple’s suite, with aromatherapy candles. Sip a Tequila Sunrise (reputedly invented here in the late 1930s) at the Wright Bar.
Consider staying at The Boulders, too, just north of Phoenix, where stunning rock formations dot the horizon and the Spa is divine. Guests stay in private casitas with balconies and optional kitchenettes, which provide few reasons to leave.
Taliesin West, Wright’s former home when he wasn’t at Spring Green, is nearby and open for guided tours. Bicycle rides are a breeze on the expansive property.
Challenge your fitness and fears all in one when you hike up Camelback Mountain together. Slow down the adrenaline with a visit to Agave at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Phoenix, where the resident tea-leaf reader and astrologer provides answers to your most pressing questions. Think of it as a crystal ball, only more fun and with a spiritual bent in a totally relaxing environment. This can be a good exercise for pondering your first year as a married couple.
Downtown Phoenix has undergone a renaissance in recent years and hosts a late-night scene that’s hopping nearly every night of the week. This includes the First Friday Art Walks, a perfect excuse to stroll along holding hands and see where the night takes you – plus a collection of art galleries, boutiques, bars and restaurants open every night.
If You Go:
Flying time: 4h 5min on Funjet
Where to Stay: Sandals Royal Caribbean, Round Hill Hotel & Villas
When hunger strikes: The Houseboat Grill Restaurant & Bar, lobster and a nice wine list served on a gently rocking houseboat; and The Sugar Mill Restaurant, serving fine-dining Jamaican cuisine and rums on the historic Rose Hall Sugar Plantation
Jamaica is the place to go if you want the beach, constant sunshine and a dose of local culture woven in with adventure. Snorkel while holding hands at the 6,000-acre Montego Bay Marine Park, spanning the entire bay (from the airport to the Great River) and fostering protection of its coral reefs and four beaches. Or steal a kiss while swimming through a system of underground caverns at Green Grotto Caves in Ocho Rios, a super-private natural wonder once navigated by the Tainos, the country’s earliest residents, and a historic hideout for runaway slaves and Spaniards (hiding from the English) and later for rum storage. You’ll want to invest in an underwater camera for this sweet day trip. Take a two-hour horseback ride with Chukka Caribbean in the Caribbean Sea, practically a tradition for visitors to Jamaica. You’ll also see an 18th-century sugarcane plantation, a part of Montego Bay’s history.
Where you stay depends on what kind of experience you crave. With the recent arrival of the Caribbean’s first overwater bungalows, Jamaica is even hotter – and way closer than Fiji or Bora Bora. “Love Nest Suites” can be found at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, an adults-only all-inclusive resort on a private island with eight restaurants and five bars, plus plenty of pools to snuggle up in. If you and your mate prefer a less prescribed experience, check out the Round Hill Hotel & Villas – hugging the beach near Montego Bay. Paired with whitewashed villas and suites decorated by Ralph Lauren is a spa and plenty of green space. Those staying in the villas also receive a cooked-to-order breakfast to enjoy on a private terrace.
Flying time: 3h 28min on Southwest
Where to Stay: The Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, Nobu Ryokan Malibu
When hunger strikes: The Lark; inside a former downtown fish market with farm-to-table eats; and Bella Vista, elegant fare paired with stunning sunset views
It’s often called America’s Riviera for a reason: The dazzling shoreline and red Mediterranean-tile roofs really do look like Saint Tropez. And as in France, there is plenty of local wine.
From LAX (Los Angeles’ main airport) it’s a gorgeous 90-minute drive north up the coast, with lots of overlooks – including Point Mugu and El Matador State Beach – to snap photos together. The wine tasting can start as soon as you hit downtown Santa Barbara, where the Funk Zone offers a collection of tasting rooms and art galleries with edge.
After a lazy afternoon, book a table for two at The Lark, named after the Pullman train that used to overnight through Santa Barbara in the first half of last century. Ingredients are mostly locally sourced and result in dishes such as West Coast oysters on the half shell with a side of strawberry granita or Hope Ranch mussels with Monterey Bay squid. Craft cocktails include “Northern Lights” or “Queen of Tart.”
Hop onto a pedi-cab for an unforgettable sunset ride along Santa Barbara’s coastline. And if you’re into vintage theaters or simply want to cuddle in the dark, downtown Santa Barbara’s Arlington Theatre hosts musicians and the performing arts alike while the Granada Theatre is a great place to see a special film showing, a live dance show or a classical-guitar performance.
If a full-service resort with ocean views is what you crave, there’s one solid option. Among 22 acres of lush landscaping at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara are nooks to cuddle, including bungalows with French doors leading to private terraces – and sunsets across the street at Butterfly Beach literally stop traffic.
Wine geeks will want to book an Airbnb or VRBO in the middle of wine country, perhaps in the rustic Los Olivos or the Danish-themed Solvang. If you’ve seen the 2004 film Sideways (and if you haven’t, see it before your trip), you’ll recognize tasting rooms at Sanford Winery (take a quiet break by booking its vineyard picnic-lunch package) and Foxen Winery & Vineyard. This region’s most celebrated varietals are chardonnay and pinot noir.
To cut down on your drive back to LA and tack on one more romantic night, stay at the brand-new Nobu Ryokan Malibu, next to renowned restaurant Nobu Malibu, where Zen-inspired interiors (including teak tubs) are in each of the 16 rooms. Away from the crowds, this is where celebs and lovers hang.
If You Go:
Flying time: 1h 35min on Air Canada
Where to Stay: Fairmont Royal York, The Drake Hotel, Auberge Saint-Antoine
When hunger strikes: R&D, authentic and modernized Chinese fare in the heart of Chinatown led by a “MasterChef Canada” winner; and Canoe, an homage to local farmers and food purveyors, from caviar to cheese
Canada’s largest city – and the fourth largest in North America – is celebrated for its food scene, the product of its many ethnic neighborhoods. Start your visit by checking into the luxurious Fairmont Royal York, which serves afternoon tea and has a swank indoor pool. For something more edgy, try The Drake Hotel, where rooms are filled with art.
Get out and explore, starting with dim sum and eclectic shopping in Chinatown, at places such as R&D, from MasterChef Canada winner Eric Chong. Other interesting (and tasty) ethnic neighborhoods are Greektown and Little Portugal. Or explore the Distillery District, a collection of boutiques, galleries, restaurants, bakeries and two chocolate makers.
Get a sampling of Ontario’s culinary bounty at St. Lawrence Market’s many food stalls. Or for something quieter and more romantic, Canoe is one of the city’s most romantic restaurants, with a nice skyline view, high in the TD Bank Tower.
Give your palate a break with a stop at Casa Loma, a castle dating back to the early 1900s, in the posh Yorkville neighborhood.
Up for another quick flight? A 90-minute jaunt in the sky from Toronto is Quebec City, a charming town where French is spoken first, English second. A newly revitalized waterfront in Old Quebec is a sweet spot for a stroll. Across the street from it is an intimate luxury hotel called Auberge Saint-Antoine, with a rooftop eatery, Chez Muffy, boasting 700 labels on its wine list, and overlooking the St. Lawrence River. Artifacts and archeological items are on display throughout the hotel.
‘Non-Stop Romance’ appears in Milwaukee Weddings 2018.
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