Looking to make a spectacularly grand exit from your wedding reception? Take to the open road. Let that “Just Married” banner fly in the wind and those cans rattle behind your car as you ride off into the sunset (or sunrise) to some of America’s most iconic destinations. Cue up your best driving playlist, because the boutique hotel experts at Mr & Mrs Smith have mapped out a trio of wanderlust-inducing routes with some pretty luxurious stops along the way.
Note: Hotel rates reflect the lowest available at press time and are subject to change.
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Cruise up the New England coastline and make your way from storybook seaside towns in Rhode Island and Maine, including setting sail for a former whaling island off of Massachusetts. Of course, you’ll need to factor in roadside breaks for clam chowder, meaty lobster rolls, and seashell hunting on windswept beaches.
Once the summer getaway of choice for well-heeled families, today this port city lures historians, fans of gilded-age architecture, cool-hunting collectors, and sailors to its shores. Oh, and it’s a fine spot for romance, too—John F. and Jackie Kennedy married here.
Where to Stay: Castle Hill Inn
Slip into your boat shoes and stroll the grounds of this pristinely preserved 19th-century summer cottage (ahem, mansion) with an enviable private beach and a knockout of a chef’s tasting menu in the ocean-facing dining room. Snag one of the classic cabins (from $665) with a soaking tub for two and a private deck.
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Second Stop: Nantucket, Massachusetts
Cast off in Cape Cod to Nantucket, a sandy-shored atoll 25 miles south with pristine beaches, sophisticated shopping, and fine dining. Pedal the sea-grass-fringed bike paths, kayak through wildlife-rich marshes, or shop and dine your way through the vibrant harbor-side town.
Where to Stay: 76 Main
It’s hard not to feel like you’re on the set of a colonial-era drama—what with the meticulously maintained cedar-shingled cottages and stately Federal-style homes lining cobblestone lanes. 76 Main (rooms from $366) may look old-world outside, but it’s all new world inside with bright, airy spaces styled in crisp, nautical-inspired patterns.
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If you are hoping for just-snagged seafood, Instagram-worthy shots of boats and harbors at every turn, and blueberry, well, everything, Kennebunkport is the place for you. Family compounds (this is where the Bush family summers) and mansions dot the craggy shoreline, but they still can’t show up the natural surroundings that beckon you to swim, paddle, and hike your way around.
Where to Stay: White Barn Inn
Sure, you came for the lobster rolls, but the White Barn Inn (rooms from $410) will win you over with its superb spa (a massage using Kennebunk river stones, anyone?) and a decadent local-centric restaurant. You’ll easily make yourself at home in the 19th-century guesthouse with antique furnishings and updated finishes—request a room with a romantic dual-sided fireplace.
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Wild West Road Trip
Think the great American West is all cattle ranches, cowboys, and tumbleweeds? Then get ready to be pleasantly surprised (and ridiculously pampered) at three very indulgent retreats in the desert of New Mexico, mountains of Colorado, and canyons of Utah.
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First Stop: Santa Fe, New Mexico
The tiny city with a Spanish-style plaza is something like a large-scale art colony (Georgia O’Keeffe settled here). The chili-based cuisine lures award-winning chefs, there’s a thriving design industry for Native American crafts and Southwestern furniture, and nature-lovers can scale the nearby hills for scenic vistas or travel the town on horseback.
Where to Stay: The Inn of the Five Graces
Twenty-four adobe-style rooms and suites (from $550) are a design-hound’s dream: They’re decked out in bold fabrics, carefully selected artwork from the designer-owners’ world travels, hand-painted artifacts, and mosaic-tiled bathrooms. The nothing-is-too-much staff will make sure your woodburning kiva fireplace is lit nightly for you.
This historic Colorado corner, once rich in silver and gold, is a rocky land of volcanoes, lakes, waterfalls, and streams. The San Juan Mountains form the southern part of the Rockies, a rugged terrain where Jeeps come in handy and the adrenaline-seeker is king: Rafting, heli-skiing, ice-climbing, and snowshoeing take place with some seriously scenic backdrops.
Where to Stay: Dunton Hot Springs
In this tiny ghost town, you’ll find one of the world's most coveted boutique hotels (rooms from $900). Restorative hot springs, a winding river, and mountain views make up the impressive outdoor surroundings. Inside you’ll find a saloon, dance hall, bathhouse, and handsomely decorated cabins and tents.
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Outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, is a nature-lover’s paradise. The Colorado River burrows through ruddy canyons and opens into Lake Powell. World-class hiking, rock-climbing, and biking are all on your doorstep.
Where to Stay: Amangiri
Amangiri hotel (rooms from $1,700) is a clean-lined, modernist monument to luxury that blends into its stark and striking natural surroundings in the wild and windswept landscape surrounding Utah’s Lake Powell. It’s all very relaxing and decadent, though, with a Navajo-inspired spa, gourmet restaurant, and absolutely perfect service.
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A California Cruise
Sunglasses? Check. Tunes? Cranked. Top down? Definitely. The northern California coastal drive is a classic that everyone should make at least once. So how about as a newly married duo?
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First Stop: Big Sur
Big Sur is the 90-mile stretch of Pacific shore swooping between Carmel and San Simeon. Craggy cliffs peer out to sea with towering green mountains behind them and giant redwoods growing alongside cacti. The hair-raising Highway One will have you winding along the rocky ridges of the cliff’s edge, stopping to take in the epic scenery round you.
Where to Stay: Ventana Inn and Spa
Perched above Big Sur’s breathtaking sea cliffs and surrounded by its giant redwoods is an oasis among some of the most beautiful surroundings on earth. That it has a sublime natural spa, a California-fresh restaurant, sprawling rustic-chic lodgings (from $600), daily yoga, and two swimming pools is all just a bonus.
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That bridge, the scenic Bay, those cable cars … San Francisco is a dream location for romance. It’s been home to some of America’s most liberal, forward-thinking citizens—the Beat Generation, the Summer of Love hippies, and the dot-com boomers. Its youthful, hip social scene is still carefree and on the pulse.
Where to Stay: The Battery
Every city has that one cool spot everyone’s always trying to get into, and here it’s The Battery (rooms from $545). This members’ club with rooms (and a spa, restaurant, and two bars) was only available to particularly in-the-know guests. But now the velvet rope is being lifted for a select few: Just tell ’em Mr & Mrs Smith sent you.
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Final Stop: Napa Valley
Forget about snooty sommeliers: In California wine country, wine tasting is always a pleasure rather than a trial, with a mix of big-name and family-run destinations, many with their own impeccable restaurants and cafes. It also doesn’t hurt that the warm, sunny weather is good for both vine and visitor, and the rolling landscape of mountains, lakes, and green-gold plains is as photogenic as it gets in charming towns like Sonoma, Healdsburg, St. Helena, and Yountville.
Where to Stay: The Carneros Inn
Cozy up in a handsome and contemporary tin-roofed cottage (from $510) and gaze out (with wine glasses in hand, of course) on either lush vineyard or garden views. The agri-chic aesthetic features lovely decked porches, rocking chairs, Le Corbusier chaises, cowhide rugs, and a soothing color scheme of white, gray, black, and beige. Cheers to that!