Planning a wedding is serious business. The one-night event can be months, or even years, in the making. That’s why anyone planning their nuptials should also build in a little time right after the big day for a romantic mini-moon to set their marriage off on the right foot.
A mini-moon is the perfect way to take a few days, turn off your phone, forget the thank you cards, and just be present with your new partner before you embark on an entire lifetime together.
Check out a few postcard-ready mini-moon destinations around the country, plus a few international options, to set the stage for your happily ever after.
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Catalina Island, California
Catalina Island is a great escape for West Coasters looking to get away from it all without breaking the bank on their mini-moon.
Hop on the ferry from Long Beach, San Pedro, or Dana Point to be transported in just over an hour to your island getaway, where you can enjoy hikes through the island’s vast wilderness (and maybe even spot a buffalo or two), bike through the town of Avalon, take a ride on a glass-bottom boat, or sip a fruity concoction while sitting on the sand in front of the Hotel Villa Portofino.
Stay the night in the beautiful hotel and make sure to grab breakfast at the Pancake Cottage to refuel for your second day of adventure.
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Santa Barbara, California
Although Santa Barbara is located just a few hours north of Los Angeles, it feels light-years away. The slow pace of the community, old-timey feel, and friendly locals will make any mini-mooner feel like they are on an exotic vacation.
Spend your day walking up and down State Street, the main shopping thoroughfare in Santa Barbara, take a dip in the ocean at East Beach, and stop in at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art for a quick dose of culture before heading back to your hotel —preferably the Bacara Resort and Spa, located on the Santa Barbara coast.
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The city of Portland is the ideal destination for food and craft beer lovers looking for a quick escape. The city is chock full of fantastic restaurants and boasts 58 craft breweries within the city limits. Hike around Washington Park to build up an appetite for some seriously tasty ice cream at Salt and Straw. Then, spend the night at the luxurious Ace Hotel and soak in your room’s personal claw-foot bathtub to relax any tension away.
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Seattle, well-known for its incredible music scene, has more than a few attractions for you and your new spouse to explore. Walk along the waterfront and hop on a romantic Ferris wheel ride, visit the Chihuly Museum, take a tour of the aquarium, and of course check out the Space Needle. Take a ferry to Port Townsend and grab a bite to eat at Goldfinch Tavern before heading back to stay at Hotel Max, where the walls are adorned with more than a few erotically-charged pieces of art to set the mood for your night in together.
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Boulder, Colorado is often overshadowed by its bustling neighbor, Denver, but don’t let the city’s smaller size fool you. Beyond world-class restaurants and spectacular shopping, Boulder also offers gorgeous vistas and tremendous outdoor activities including hiking, mountain biking, or just strolling down the city’s streets hand-in-hand.
After working up a sweat, indulge in Boulder’s best farm-to-table dining at The Kitchen, then head to Hotel Boulderado, a 108-year-old hotel waiting for you to explore all its charms.
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There’s a reason so many love songs originate in Nashville. From honky-tonks to tiny hole in the wall dive bars where stars are discovered, the city has plenty of choice activities to offer mini-mooners looking for a little adventure.
Spend your day at Arrington Vineyards, located about 30 minutes outside the city, sipping on wine while enjoying a picnic lunch and free music, and then travel back to the city for even more entertainment at the Wildhorse Saloon. And of course book your stay at the Hermitage Hotel, where nearly every country music star has stayed.
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New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans has something for everyone, from beignets to voodoo and beyond. The city’s wildly eclectic feel means you’ll never have a dull moment during your short stay.
Walk the French Quarter to discover the city’s many shops and join in at happy hour at SoBoubefore heading out to discover the city’s vibrant jazz scene. Finally, retire for the night at Hotel Maison de Ville, the historic 18th-century French Quarter property where A-listers including Elizabeth Taylor stayed while visiting the stunning city.
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St. Louis, Missouri
There’s a reason why St. Louis ranks among the top 10 best cities in America for a staycation. The city’s vibrant food scene and diverse mix of outdoor activities makes it the perfect spot for a close to home mini-moon for Midwesterners. Take in a baseball game at Busch Stadium, home to the St. Louis Cardinals, visit the Missouri Botanical Gardens, and then enjoy a four-course dinner with a show at Bissell Mansion Restaurant & Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre before tucking in for the night at the Ritz-Carlton.
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Two hours north of Portland, Maine sits the small and incredibly quaint town of Camden. Surrounded by wilderness on one side and a glimmering bay on the other, the town’s picturesque Main Street is the perfect setting for a quiet walk to reflect with your new life partner.
Go hiking in the hills, take a dip in several of the town’s lakes, or sit and chat with one of the 5,000 locals who call the town home before nestling in at the Norumbega Inn overlooking the many lobster boats bobbing in the bay.
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Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May is without question the quintessential American beach town. In fact, the town that sits as the southernmost point in New Jersey was America’s first seaside resort. The town simply beckons to beach-loving newlyweds to come and relax on the boardwalk, stroll the preserved Victorian districts, and spend a few nights in any of its historic hotels. We suggest grabbing a bite to eat at the Lobster House Fisherman’s Wharf and laying your head down for a rest at The Carroll Villa, a seaside retreat dating to 1882.
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Outer Banks, North Carolina
Though the journey to the Outer Banks is a bit more complicated than other spots on our list (some of the islands are only accessible by ferry), the destination is still worth the trip.
In the Outer Banks, newly-minted spouses can dive into history by visiting the site of the Wright brothers’ first flight, climb the island’s iconic sand dunes, and even hike to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
After a long day of adventuring, enjoy a Cuban steak and margarita at Barefoot Bernie’s and spend the night at the Castle B&B.
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Step away from your normal life and visit to the surreal world of Miami, Florida for just a few days with your new honey. Soak up the sun (but don’t forget the sunscreen) on the famous sands of Miami Beach and cool off in its crystal blue waters.
Shop for a few “Miami Vice”-worthy threads in South Beach before picking any of the luxurious restaurants along Ocean Drive. While there are a plethora of over-the-top and fantastic places to stay in Miami, you can’t go wrong with the Delano Hotel.
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The once tucked-away Mexican town has become the It destination for travelers looking for a quick retreat south of the border. From LAX, fly just a few hours south to Cancun, Mexico, and from there take a two-hour drive south to be welcomed by a quiet community, stunning beaches, and a few fruity cocktails waiting just for you.
For the ultimate Tulum experience, dine at the Hartwood (but be warned: reservations are a must), and stay at Casa Malca, which sits along a secluded 600-foot-long stretch of pristine beach so you can watch the sunrise and sunsets in peace.
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Québec City, Canada
For those living in the New England area, Quebec can be either a leisurely drive or a quick flight depending on your preferences. The Canadian city will make visitors feel like they are on a European vacation with its old-world French charm, cobblestone streets, and breathtaking architecture.
Spend your afternoon visiting any one of its museums, take in a show at Le Capitole theater, and finish it all off by enjoying a meal at Chez Gaston, where you can enjoy some seriously delicious poutine, the national food of Quebec. Afterward, spend the evening at Auberge Place d’Armes, whose structure dates back to the 16th century.
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If it’s a tropical mini-moon you seek, head to the Dominican Republic. In less than four hours, those living in the Tri-State area can be transported to the beautiful island paradise, where you can learn to surf in Cabarete, an area on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, known as the surfing capital of the Caribbean.
Or, land lovers can visit the Cycalle Dias, a healing spa with its own on-site apothecary. After your day’s adventures, dine at La Yola, which is located right on the beach and serves up a Mediterranean and Caribbean-inspired menu. Finally, book a stay at Balcones del Atlántico, a newly built 35-villa hotel on a protected, half-mile-long stretch of Dominican shore.