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Local Hot Spots
You don't have to travel far to feel like you're in a different world. We scoured the U.S.A. from sea to shining sea for the 10 most romantic honeymoon destinations, plus three incredible road trips. Newlywed excitement awaits -- no passport required.
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Experience: Mesa Verde National Park in Cortez, with its sandstone cliff dwellings; Telluride Brewing Co., open year-round for tours.
Word of mouth: "Picnic among the wildflowers in the San Juan mountains in summer -- just hike along the San Miguel River Trail until you find a spot to stop." -- Bobbi Brown, Founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and part-time Telluride resident
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Dine at: Qui, where Top Chef: Texas winner Paul Qui serves up seared bavette steak and grilled black cod with buttered toast puree; Hudson's on the Bend, on Lake Travis, to dine alfresco under twinkling lights.
Experience: Barton Springs Pool, a three-acre swimming hole; Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s flagship location, on 6th Street, where you can dine and booze while you watch; Stag, a men's store stocked with your dude's new favorite chambray shirts.
Word of mouth: "I'm a huge fan of Franklin's. A two-hour line is totally worth it for their fingerlickin'- good barbecue." -- Kendra Scott, Austin-based jewelry designer
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Dine at: Shrimp Station, in Waimea, a roadside must-stop that cooks up coconut, cajun, and garlic crustaceans; Bar Acuda for seafood-focused tapas in Hanalei; Jo Jo's, where fruity shaved ice comes with a scoop of macadamia-nut ice cream (mile marker 23 on the Kaumualli Highway in Waimea).
Word of mouth: "Stand-up paddleboard the Hanalei River in Princeville under a full moon. You might even spot a turtle!" -- Gabrielle Reece, Pro volleyballer, part-time Kauai resident, and author of the new book My Foot Is Too Big for the Glass Slipper
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Key West, Florida
Experience: Ernest Hemingway’s 1930s residence, now a museum; Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum, which is filled with sunken treasure; Bahia Honda State Park, where crystal-clear water laps serenely sandy strands on nearby Big Pine Key.
Word of mouth: "Flamingo Crossing's ice cream is homemade and uses local ingredients for some pretty fresh flavors, like guava and soursop!" -- Savannah Jane Buffett, radio show host, Miami resident, and daughter of Jimmy Buffett
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New York City
Dine at: ABC Cocina, a romantic spot known for short-rib tacos and Latin-inspired cocktails; Gray’s Papaya, in Greenwich Village, for two dogs and their famous Papaya Drink smoothie; Shake Shack for a juicy burger in Madison Square Park.
Experience: Times Square at night; leafy Central Park; a talent-packed Broadway musical; the Statue of Liberty on a moonlit sail on the Hudson River.
Word of mouth: "My perfect date night: a movie at the Angelika Film Center in Noho followed by dinner at Caracas in the East Village -- they have the best plantains." --Rebecca Minkoff, designer and NYC resident
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Dine at: Parson's Chicken & Fish, in Logan Square, to nosh on fried bites and sip Negroni slushies on the patio; Next, a splurge-worthy spot in Fulton Market that requires tickets in advance for chef Grant Achatz’s prefixe menu; The Aviary, where beyond-innovative cocktails might be served in an ice sphere.
Experience: The Second City, the comedy club that schooled Steve Carell and Tina Fey; Dose Market, a weekly pop-up collective of local artisans; Wicker Park and Bucktown, neighborhoods that are made for walking.
Word of mouth: "My favorite date-night spot is Rustic House in Lincoln Park. It's very romantic, and the food is excellent." -- Kristin Cavallari, TV personality, shoe designer for Chinese Laundry, and Chicago resident
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Napa Valley, California
Stay at: Milliken Creek, a 12-room inn -- you'll fall for turndown service that involves tea candles and soft music; Solage Calistoga, a secluded paradise with a pool, private patios, and beach cruisers for all guests.
Dine at: Gott's Roadside, in St. Helena, for a burger and some garlic fries at a picnic table; Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant, located nearby, where Culinary Institute of America students' coursework becomes your main course; The Thomas, for a break from wine.
Word of mouth: "I can’t pick just one -- the meatballs at Redd Wood or fried chicken at Ad Hoc, both in Yountville. Each of these is an absolutely perfected dish.” -- Alexis Swanson Traina, creative director of Swanson Vineyards in Napa
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San Juan Islands, Washington
Stay at: The Inn on Orcas Island, either in the wood-shingled main house or a private cottage.
Dine at: Red Rabbit Farm, for a family-style meal of island-raised beef or lamb, with fruit and berry cobblers for dessert; The Willows Inn, which offers an 18-course meal -- reserve a spot two weeks on the dot before the date you want to dine.
Experience: Orcas Island in an utterly exhilarating open-cockpit biplane ride booked through Magic Air Tours.
Word of mouth: "Beautiful orcas live in Puget Sound -- gray whales cruise by, too! Going out on a boat and seeing them is such an experience." -- Lynn Shelton, director of the new film Touchy Feely, Seattle resident, and frequent visitor to the San Juan Islands
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Dine at: Hen of the Wood, a one-time flour mill that serves a mean lobster gratin and goat-milk dumplings; Misery Loves Co., where chefs make the best pork buns; roadside stands advertising "Maple Creemees," a state staple maple syrup soft-serve.
Experience: North Beach, on Lake Champlain, in Burlington; Waterbury Center State Park and its mountain-cupped reservoir; Bingham Falls, in Stowe, during a day hike through Smugglers' Notch State Park.
Word of mouth: "Pittsford has my favorite antiques store, Tom's Treasures. I love going 'junking' there. It’s also surrounded by foliage, so in fall, it's perfect for leaf-peeping." -- Tata Harper, founder of Tata Harper Skin Care, made on her Champlain Valley farm
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Charleston, South Carolina
Stay at: Zero George Street Hotel, a collection of 150-year-old buildings now filled with contemporary furniture; Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, a mansion-style resort on the beach just 21 miles outside of town.
Dine at: Husk, helmed by chef Sean Brock, who whips up North Carolina catfish and Texas Waygu beef; The Gin Joint, Husk's nearby neighbor, for classic cocktails and addictive pad Thai popcorn; The Ordinary, a high-ceilinged former bank where the menu draws from seafood shacks and oyster bars.
Word of mouth: "I love renting a boat and going to Capers, a remote sea island with a Spanish moss-lined beach. It’s for the adventurous only!" -- Alexis Maybank, founder of Gilt.com and a Charleston native
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Whether you decide to go big or small, seaside or mountainside, bohemian or black tie, find more wedding inspiration in our fall Real Weddings issue by downloading our app and buying the digital issue for only $.99.
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