AFTER THE STRESS OF PLANNING A WEDDING, who wants to deal with layovers and connecting flights for honeymoon travel? In recent years, Mitchell International Airport has upped its game with more nonstop destinations, many in sunny climates or simply intriguing places. This is not limited to domestic locales: direct flights to Canada and Mexico also depart from Milwaukee. Now all you have to do is sit back, relax and get ready to be pampered upon landing. From leisurely sunset sails to adrenaline-fueled mountain hikes, from massages to wine tastings, here are six destinations to help you properly indulge in your union.
3 HOURS, 16 MINUTES ON AMERICAN AIRLINES
Do you and your sweetie dig the tropics but dislike crowds? The Florida Keys is a nice option for a road trip from Miami, but you can still spend a night in Miami Beach to experience its bustling nightlife and Art Deco buildings converted into fun hotels. Take as much time as you like to coast from Miami to Key West along U.S. Highway 1, also known as the Overseas Highway, suspended above the Atlantic Ocean in some parts. Without stopping, the drive is about 3.5 hours. Check into the full-fledged resort experience in Key Largo at Playa Largo (the Bubbles and Bliss package provides a 50-minute spa treatment and champagne daily) or, in Islamorada, Cheeca Lodge & Spa (private balconies and a soaking tub are two highlights – with the tub on the balcony in some suites) and again in Key West at Casa Marina Key West. State park hiking, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling and sunset sails can easily be woven into your itinerary, with either resort as base camp. Don’t forget to order key lime pie while you’re there. And if you’re a literature buff – or simply love felines – touring Ernest Hemingway’s former hideaway is a must.
1 HOUR, 35 MINUTES ON SOUTHWEST AIRLINES
Forget the honky-tonk Music City you used to know. A farm-to-table scene is quietly emerging here, along with a slew of boutique hotel openings. Stay downtown at the glitzy and glam The Joseph Nashville (boasts Rose, a spa on the 21st floor; a rooftop lounge; an Italian eatery called Yolan from former Kenosha chef and James Beard Award-winner Tony Mantuano; and a world-class art collection), or choose a funky, off-beat option like The Russell, a 23-room hotel within a former 115-year-old East Nashville church (stained-glass windows intact). One of the city’s best locally sourced food menus is at Folk, where items shift with the seasons, such as a calzone with pumpkin-seed pesto kale and delicata squash in autumn. Start at the bar with a glass of wine or whimsical cocktail (like the Herb Alpert: tequila infused with ginger, cilantro, passionfruit and lime), and then move into the high-ceilinged dining room or plant-adorned patio for a lingering dinner. Want to hear live music but not in a rowdy bar? Choose an intimate venue, like The Bluebird Cafe, where up-and-coming songwriters perform. You might recognize those song lyrics a year later in a Top 40 hit. Stretch your legs and hold hands at the 55-acre Cheekwood botanical gardens and historic Georgian estate, which features a sculpture-art trail.
Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona
4 HOURS ON AMERICAN AIRLINES OR SOUTHWEST AIRLINES
If all you want to do i s bask in the sun and experience resort life – including Vegas-size pools and high-caliber spas – then this destination is your utopia. Mountain Shadows Resort in Scottsdale’s tony Paradise Valley picks you up in a Tesla Model X courtesy car and whisks you off to its revamped 1960s décor. A golf course, in-room massages, outdoor pool and multiple dining venues are so yummy (the menu and the design) you may never want to leave. Arizona Biltmore is another destination where you’ll be treated like royalty, whether at Tierra Luna Spa or The Wright Bar (an homage to Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous Wisconsin architect who inspired the Biltmore’s design). Drop by the winter estate of the late architect on a Taliesin West tour and, if you’re energetic enough, hike up Scottsdale’s Camelback Mountain, a popular weekend activity for locals. Splurge on dinner at TripAdvisor’s most- romantic restaurant in Phoenix: Different Pointe of View, in the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort, with walls of windows overlooking the mountainous landscape 1,800 feet above the valley. Another dining option is Karl Kopp’s (of Milwaukee frozen custard fame) AZ88, nestled in Scottsdale’s cultural district and celebrated for its cocktails and burgers.
2 HOURS, 27 MINUTES TO BOSTON ON DELTA AIRLINES
If Door County feels like your second home, give Massachusetts’ popular peninsula, located 70 miles south of Boston, a try. Summer is perfect for enjoying the six beaches along Cape Cod’s National Seashore, or the 6-mile inland beach on Long Pond. But if you both love wild, rugged nature and don’t mind sporting a few clothing layers, you might even visit in spring or fall. Consider making Chatham, a charming upscale town at the Cape’s southeastern tip, your home base. Chatham Bars Inn flaunts a vintage beach-resort vibe – but on a grand scale – with a spa and farm-to-table events at its very own farm. Wherever you are on Cape Cod, a memorable dinner isn’t hard to find (like at the fine-dining Spinnaker in Brewster, serving Chatham clams) and you might indulge in a post-dinner show (at Cape Cinema in Dennis, a 1930s indie movie theater). A kayaking trip, popping into art galleries or visiting local wineries (Truro Vineyards, First Crush Winery or Cape Cod Winery) are just a few of the many ways you might choose to pass the time. For a variation on the Cape experience, consider heading to one of its neighboring islands. Life House on Nantucket, a 30-mile ferry ride from Hyannis, is a sleek 17-room inn marrying coastal with chic in a Federal-style mansion. It’s down the street from Sister Ship, known for its cocktails and bites.
1 HOUR, 28 MINUTES ON UNITED AIRLINES/AIR CANADA
It takes less time to fly to Toronto than New York City, but the vibe is similar: culture, culture, culture. Canada’s most populous city’s distinct neighborhoods – many with ethnic roots – mean you can hop from China to Greece through your palate. In recent years, new luxury hotel openings include the eco-minded, nature-inspired 1 Hotel Toronto in King West Village downtown, merging driftwood and local limestone into a blend of rooftop-pool time, yoga classes and sustainably sourced, farm-to-table cuisine at 1 Kitchen. Opening soon are Ace and Nobu properties. Without leaving Toronto, you can also tour a 65,000-square-foot castle (the Gothic Revival-style Casa Loma) and sail to the surrounding Toronto Islands on a ferry from the Jack Layton ferry terminal. Once you’ve had your fill of the city, rent a car to experience the Niagara Peninsula’s wine country, about a two-hour drive from Toronto near idyllic and artsy Niagara-on-the-Lake (and, yes, 30 minutes from Niagara Falls). Some of these wineries are so micro you won’t find their wines in the States or even on Toronto restaurant menus. What’s trending here are organic wineries such as Frogpond Farm, the region’s first, where you can sip a flight of four of their wines (Chardonnay is one), and Jackson-Triggs, an architectural marvel with fun pairings in its Entourage Room such as Pop with Jackson-Triggs, which matches three sparkling wines with specialty popcorns.
CHARTERED THROUGH FUNJET VACATIONS
Whereas Mexico’s Riviera Maya is jungle-y, with tropical foliage, Cabo San Lucas is in the Baja Peninsula’s desert, rich with succulents, cacti and blissful days of non-stop sun (and a drier heat). For nights out, skip the party town of Cabo San Lucas for the artsy enclave of San Jose del Cabo, where on Thursday nights a walkable art crawl on cobblestone streets brings out the best of this destination thanks to artisans working in sculpture, painting and photography. Food that rivals any big city, but also folds in Mexican ingredients and culture, is served at 12 dining and drinking venues within Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos (trust us, the design feels nothing like an all-inclusive, and there are even cooking and dance classes). SOMMA Wine Spa’s treatments conclude with a glass of vino, and some even incorporate wine grapes. A sweet day trip or overnight to Todos Santos reveals what Mexico’s resort areas used to be: tranquil, slow and sweet, with the new 32-suite Paradero Todos Santos a highlight. Flora Farms is an ideal brunch spot where you can linger: nearly everything you eat is grown on the property, and the neighboring stores sell artisan souvenirs (such as regionally made soaps, crafts, embroidery and fine jewelry) you can snap up for later. A famous landmark here – El Arco (The Arch) – is easily accessible through a sunset sail, traversing where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean on Baja California’s tip.