Honeymoons: Road Trip

Martha Stewart Weddings, Summer 2010

Romance is easy to come by on a cool desert byway, a gorgeous mountain pass, or a sleepy European side street -- especially after months of adhering to rigid plans for rehearsal dinner guest lists, timely ceremony schedules, and penny-saving budgets. A freewheeling journey through lands unknown (at least to you) is just the thing you need to make a clean break from your BlackBerry. Interested? Here are four 10-day road trips designed to help you recapture your spontaneous side in amorous locales near and far. With our itineraries in hand, the planning is simple. All you need is a love for the road, your groom by your side, and a happily wandering spirit.

San Diego to San Francisco
Day 1: In San Diego, check into Andaz San Diego in the trendy Gaslamp Quarter, stroll down the Embarcadero, then venture out to the peninsula of Coronado for sunbathing and water sports. Later, head to Old Town for tacos and a look at San Diego as it was first settled. From $159; andaz.com

Day 2: Wind through Balboa Park, a 1,200-acre public area chock-full of museums and gardens. Then head up to La Jolla for lunch, shopping, and a snorkel or kayak trip around the caves and cliffs of La Jolla Cove. Settle in to ranch-style Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa for the night. From $189; estancialajolla.com 

Day 3: Continue to Palm Springs, and check in to the Ace Hotel & Swim Club. Tour the city with the help of the Modern Committee's $5 guide to 66 architectural gems, including homes designed by William Cody and Richard Neutra. Then take a 10-minute cable-car ride up Mt. San Jacinto before retiring to the hotel for a massage. From $109; acehotel.com

Day 4: Wake up with a hike through Tahquitz Canyon. Shop the design district on Palm Canyon Drive before cruising to Los Angeles. There, check in to the eclectic Petit Ermitage. Head to Griffith Observatory for a striking view of the Hollywood sign, followed by a drive down Sunset Boulevard. From $172; petitermitage.com

Day 5: Hike through Runyon Canyon for unparalleled views of the city, then hit the Walk of Fame and vintage clothing stores in Hollywood proper. Lunch and window-shop in Beverly Hills; as the sun sets, walk the boardwalk among the reveling crowd and street performers at Venice Beach. 

Day 6: Head to Malibu's Surfrider Beach in the morning. Then hit the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Barbara. See Spanish Colonial architecture and panoramic views on a rented Segway. Catch a whale-watching cruise aboard the Condor Express. Stay at the tranquil Inn of the Spanish Garden. From $269; spanishgardeninn.com 

Day 7: After breakfast, visit Hearst Castle for a tour of the publishing magnate's self-proclaimed monument (try tour number one for an overview). Later that afternoon, head to Big Sur for one of the most scenic drives in California. Splurge and check in to the Post Ranch Inn for a breathtaking stay by the state's famous ocean bluffs. From $550; postranchinn.com 

Day 8: Head up Route 1 to San Francisco, and check in to The Fairmont San Francisco in tony Nob Hill. Take in an impromptu guitar performance at Ghirardelli Square, then walk around the hilly city (or hitch a cable-car ride) to Fisherman's Wharf, the Castro, and the edgy Mission District. Stop in Chinatown for the best dim sum around, or at one of the city's taquerias for Mexican you won't find anywhere else. From $249; fairmont.com 

Day 9: Drive over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, in Marin County. See Muir Woods in the morning, then drive about one hour to Napa. Check in to luxurious Milliken Creek Inn & Spa, then head out after lunch for some wine tasting. Try Nickel & Nickel in Oakville, and Quintessa and Frog's Leap in nearby Rutherford. From $558; millikencreekinn.com 

Day 10: Tour one more vineyard before heading back to San Francisco. Visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and anything else you missed the first time around.

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England to Scotland
Day 1: In London check in to The Royal Horseguards, a historic gentleman's club built in 1884 that has since been converted into a posh hotel. Stroll through Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden, then hit the National Gallery for portraits by Titian and Rembrandt. From 239 pounds; guoman.com 

Day 2: Pick up an Oyster transit card (and a map for navigating London's subway system, the Tube), then catch the Yeoman's tour at the Tower of London, with stately Tower Bridge along the Thames in the background. Later, play tourist: Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey are all easy to get to and are walking distance from one another. 

Day 3: Get a bird's-eye view of the city on the London Eye (a giant, grown-up version of a Ferris wheel). After lunch, take a drive to Stonehenge or the university town of Oxford. Then settle in for the night at the picturesque Bath Priory Hotel, in the famed Roman town of Bath. From 185 pounds; thebathpriory.co.uk 

Day 4: Traverse the Cotswolds' rolling hills en route to Shakespeare's birthplace at Stratford-upon-Avon. Then wind down with a bewitching ghost walk in York before retiring at Claxton Hall Cottage, a quaint bed-and-breakfast 10 minutes outside the city. From 70 pounds; yorkaccommodation.com 

Day 5: In York, tour the Minster, northern Europe's largest Gothic cathedral. See how gentlemen lived at Fairfax House, an 18th-century townhouse, then shop and walk the winding streets of the Snickelways. Later, drive about one hour into Bronte country, and hike through North York Moors National Park, before staying at Somerset House Farm. From 70 pounds; somersethousefarm.co.uk 

Day 6: Continue driving through the moors and along the northern English coast (stop in seaside towns like Scarborough if you'd like) on your way to Scotland. It's a long drive -- over four hours -- so book a room at the cosmopolitan boutique hotel Tigerlily, and indulge at its award-winning bar. From 195 pounds; tigerlilyedinburgh.co.uk 

Day 7: Tour the Royal Mile, ending at Edinburgh Castle. It's easy to lose yourself in the pubs and stores on Rose Street; nearby, pick up local threads from up-and-coming Scottish designers at Concrete Wardrobe. After lunch, take in a view of the city from lofty Calton Hill, then drive just outside the city for a relaxing evening at the secluded Airth Castle Hotel. From 120 pounds; airthcastlehotel.com 

Day 8: Let your husband live out his Braveheart fantasies at Stirling Castle, or hit the links at golf mecca St. Andrews. Afterward, journey into gorgeous Highland terrain en route to Inverness, with a stop at Urquhart Castle to see Loch Ness's famous monster, affectionately called Nessie. Rest your head at Daviot Lodge, a bed-and-breakfast not far from Loch Ness. From 85 pounds; daviotlodge.co.uk 

Day 9: Set your sights south to Oban for hiking, sea kayaking, and nature viewing -- including puffins, dolphins, and seals -- through the Highlands. When you've had your fill, drive to Glasgow, Scotland's second city. Settle down with a pint at Malmaison Glasgow, a U.K. chain hotel that's anything but generic. From 170 pounds; malmaison-glasgow.com 

Day 10: Enjoy a quiet walk through the Botanic Gardens before visiting Gothic Glasgow Cathedral, then kiss Scotland goodbye with a few souvenirs from the shops on Sauchiehall, Argyle, and Buchanan streets.

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Washington, D.C., to New Orleans
Day 1: In Washington, D.C., check in to the Swann House, a 12-room bed-and-breakfast built in 1883. Browse First Lady fashions and aeronautic marvels at the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, then view the White House. For low-key romance, drift through the National Mall, past the gorgeously lit Lincoln Memorial. From $175; swannhouse.com 

Day 2: Head over to Capitol Hill in the morning to watch legislators in action, then spend the afternoon shopping on the busy streets of Georgetown. If you can, hop over to The Kennedy Center for a free concert performance. 

Day 3: After a morning row on the Potomac, drive to Charlottesville, Virginia, and check in to the cozy Clifton Inn. Go antiquing in the eclectic shops, or tour Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's architectural gem of a home. Craving adventure? Hike the hills of Shenandoah National Park. From $225; cliftoninn.net

Day 4: Take a long drive to Asheville, North Carolina, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the prettiest routes in the country. Stay at the Inn on Biltmore Estate, beside the Vanderbilts' former home. Shop for arts and crafts in the town's Grove Arcade before sampling wines at nearby Biltmore Winery. From $299; biltmore.com 

Day 5: Hiking, fishing, and biking are just a few of the activities you'll enjoy in the hills right outside Asheville. Once you've had your fill, hit the road -- it's a long ride, so pace yourself -- and head to Nashville, Tennessee. Drop off your bags at the Wyndham Union Station, a former train station turned elegant hotel, and walk around the trendy 12 South neighborhood's restaurants and music stores. From $179; unionstationhotelnashville.com 

Day 6: Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to find memorabilia from rock, R&B, and country music's biggest legends. Then tour Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry. In the afternoon, set out for Memphis. There, check in to River Inn of Harbor Town, and admire the mighty Mississippi. From $183; riverinnmemphis.com 

Day 7: Check out the National Civil Rights Museum and the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum. Later, stroll down Beale Street, the Bourbon Street of Memphis, where the sounds of competing clubs mingle. You'll also want to sample some of the city's best blues and soul music across town at Wild Bill's, a town-favorite dive. 

Day 8: What trip to Memphis would be complete without a side stop at Graceland for some obligatory Elvis worshipping? After you've paid your respects to the King, drive to Greenwood, Mississippi, for a class at The Alluvian Hotel's Viking Cooking School. Continue south about five hours to New Orleans, and check in to hip and conveniently located International House. From $139; ihhotel.com 

Day 9: Spend the day sampling Creole cuisine and sipping Sazerac, the bayou's drink of choice, on fun-loving Bourbon Street. Skip over to Jackson Square, and admire the distinctive architecture as you head farther into the French Quarter, or Vieux Carre, on foot. Later, take an eerie tour of New Orleans's oldest cemeteries. 

Day 10: After enjoying beignets at Cafe Du Monde, set your sights on culture of another sort: Royal Street is teeming with art galleries, and Chartres Street boasts lovely antique spots. Spend your last hours in the Big Easy on bike, touring photo-worthy neighborhoods like the Garden District.

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Portugal to Spain
Day 1: Begin in Porto, a northern Portugal coastal town on the Douro River. Check in to the Pestana Porto Hotel, on the waterfront in the romantic Ribeira neighborhood, and tour the city by foot; grab breakfast at the Mercado do Bolhao, a town market. Then hitch a ride on one of the city's gorgeous 1930s trams. Later, catch a sunset view of the city from 250-foot-high, baroque Torre Dos Clerigos. From 180 Euros; pestana.com 

Day 2: Cross the river to Vila Nova de Gaia for wine tours and tastings in more than a dozen port wine lodges. Then drive down the coast to Lisbon, the country's capital. Drop your bags at As Janelas Verdes, then hit the Bairro Alto for quirky boutiques and galleries galore. (Grab ConVida's free bilingual guide for help navigating the language.) From 157 Euros; heritage.pt 

Day 3: Stop at the Pasteis de Belem for a memorable breakfast of signature custard tarts (made from a famously guarded secret recipe), on your way to viewing traditional Manueline architecture at the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. Then meander through the medieval streets of the Alfama neighborhood, and sip drinks at the bars in the trendy Docas district. 

Day 4: Drive to Evora, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Wander through the sleepy side streets of this walled town before seeing the Roman temple and the Church of St. Francis. Then set out for Sevilla, Spain, and admire rows of fragrant orange trees on a tapas-bar crawl. Spend the night at Casa No. 7. From 177 Euros; casanumero7.com 

Day 5: See the sights: El Alcazar and Casa de Pilatos highlight the best of Mudejar (a mix of Moorish and Spanish-Christian) architecture; the Gothic Cathedral is stunning. Then take in a traditional flamenco show. 

Day 6: Head to Granada; check in to the Parador Granada, a 14th-century former convent on the grounds of La Alhambra. Tour the exquisite Moorish citadel of the last Muslim kings of Spain. In the late afternoon, enjoy a walk around the white carmens (villas with gardens) of the Albaicin. From 353 Euros; paradores-spain.com 

Day 7: In the morning, head to the Cathedral and Capilla Real, the resting place of Ferdinand and Isabella. Later, visit El Banuelo, old Arab baths that are some of the best preserved in Spain. 

Day 8: Once you arrive in the walled town of Cartagena, check in to the Hotel Mangalan for a salty swim in the Mar Menor lagoon. In town, walk through Roman ruins, including a theater that dates back to 1 B.C. From 50 Euros; hotelmangalan.com 

Day 9: Set out for Valencia, the birthplace of paella. Visit Santiago Calatrava's City of Arts and Sciences, after checking in to The Westin Valencia. In the historic city center, see the Cathedral, which boasts a chapel containing the real Holy Grail. Check out the nightlife in the Carmen district. From 115 Euros; westinvalencia.com 

Day 10: Drive to Barcelona. Check in to the Market Hotel, then walk down famous thoroughfare La Rambla to La Boqueria food market. Tour the romantic Barri Gotic by foot. Later, visit La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's evolving masterpiece. At night hit festive eateries, bars, and clubs on the waterfront Passeig Maritim de la Barceloneta. From 60 Euros; markethotel.com.es

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