While June is the preferred month for weddings, love (not to mention the demands of work or Aunt Sue) may dictate a wedding and, hence, a honeymoon, at some other time of the year. Fortunately, just as the seasons don't control romance, so do they not limit the places where newlyweds may celebrate their romance. The seasons may even enhance it. With that thought in mind, 10 Best offers the ten most romantic places and moments for honeymooners, depending on the season when they choose to marry.
What could be more romantic than April in Paris? Blooming bulbs, flowering trees, and budding chestnut trees delight lovers as you meander hand-in-hand through the gardens of the Tuileries upon exiting the Louvre. Warmed by spring's gentle breezes, the City of Lights twinkles in every direction after dark as the Eiffel Tower, the Arch de Triomphe, and the quais along the Seine shimmer with light. Inspired by the romance of Paris, create your own romantic moments. Experience Paris at its quintessential best: share sweet nothings, gaze into each other's eyes, or go completely French and slip in a few kisses – all while sipping coffee or vin rouge at a sidewalk cafe. Just one coffee each buys hours of romantic tệte-à-tệte.
Paris too far away? Intimidated by a foreign language? Then continue the romance of the wedding amidst the charm and graciousness of Charleston, South Carolina. Genteel and courtly manners, street after street of beautifully preserved 18th century houses, colorful traces of Charleston's historic connection to the Caribbean, and the palpable legacy of a cultural life once second to none in the country draw visitors into the romanticism of the Old South. Charleston is a town for strolling. And in the spring, honeymooners stroll among the ubiquitous banks of pink, white, and fuchsia azaleas that comprise the city's lush and ever-present gardens. As you wander aimlessly along cobble stone streets back to your bed-and-breakfast after a dinner of fresh local shrimp or crab, pleasant ocean breezes will intoxicate you with the heady perfumes of wisteria and jasmine.
For a truly romantic experience, few activities surpass the serene beauty of floating leisurely over calm water in any human-powered boat. Make that water the canals of Venice, that boat a gondola, and that human power a swarthy Italian with the voice of Pavarotti (love improves everything it touches!) and you've described one of the world's most sublime romantic moments. A city of glamour and elegance, Venice is sure to captivate the soul and inspire the heart with its magnificent palazzi and churches, its outdoor restaurants tucked into tiny squares, and its quaint alleyways urging lovers to lose themselves in the beauty of the moment. Add, of course, a serenade of Italian love songs while gliding on the Grand Canal and one has captured the essence of romance.
Picnics epitomize the warm, lovely, carefree days of summer. The "right" picnic is also the perfect romantic outing. Honeymooning at Blackberry Farms, a pastoral 4,200-acre estate set "in the idyllic Smoky Mountain foothills," offers that perfect picnic and much more. Rated the best small hotel in America, Blackberry Farms is synonymous with intimacy and luxury, an escape from the busy and ordinary into a bucolic haven of peace and comfort. While guests can wander the property's trails, participate in private stargazing sessions with the hotel's astronomer, and thrill to the views of surrounding farms and foothills from a hot-air balloon, the most engaging activity is enjoying the working farm and its resulting culinary delights. The farm produces its own eggs, cured meats, breads, preserves, honey, artisan cheeses, yogurt and organic produce from its heirloom garden, and prides itself on supplementing these with comparable products from similar purveyors. Award-winning chefs convert these ingredients into three inspiring dining experiences each day. So when Blackberry Farms offers newlyweds backpacks, blankets, and a map to a secluded spot, the picnic will be ideal.
Any list of honeymoon destinations must include the ever-popular Hawaii, and Maui, the Valley Isle, easily tops the list for most romantic. With dazzling waterfalls, lush rainforests, and towering volcanoes, plus miles of multi-hued, palm-studded beaches, Maui perfectly blends relaxation and adventure. Maui's natural wonders entice newlyweds to hike, ride horses, surf, swim, kayak, picnic or do nothing at all – in an unspoiled setting. For that perfect honeymoon moment, take an early morning boat to Molokini, the semicircular rim of a partially sunken volcano that rises from the water about 2.5 miles off the coast. There in the warm water, you can swim or snorkel together with over 240 species of brightly colored tropical fish, a breathtaking romantic experience.
For the ultimate autumn honeymoon, head to Vermont during fall foliage season, splurge on a convertible, and take a few days to drive the area around Stowe, Mt. Mansfield, Smugglers' Notch, Johnson and Waterbury. Renowned for its historic sites, art galleries, antique shops and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory, the area also offers opportunities for biking, rock climbing, canoeing, hay rides, fly fishing, boating, and picnicking. The real romance, of course, lies in the scenery. The flaming crimson of maples competes with the vibrant yellow of poplars, the sizzling orange of beeches, and the vital greens of pines to paint a dazzling mountainside tapestry, again and again. Quaint New England towns, centered around greens on which sit classic white churches, also offer top-quality inns, cozy bed-and-breakfasts, and excellent restaurants featuring both local and world-class fare.
The Big Apple offers opportunities for romance in any season, but none as perfect as in the fall. With the start of a new season of plays, music, art and fashion, New York is alive and pulsing as the weather develops a touch of chill. By day honeymooners can gaze at the graceful Statue of Liberty, sneak a kiss atop the Empire State Building, marvel at the richness of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and shop for that perfect honeymoon memento. By night you can dine at one of hundreds of delicious world-class restaurants, catch the latest Broadway opening and pop into a cozy locale for a nightcap. But those in the know head to Central Park South for an amorous carriage ride through Central Park. There, beneath trees exuding the golden light of autumn, snug under a wool blanket, romance reigns against a backdrop of twinkling skyscrapers and the clip-clop of the horse rustling through fallen leaves. This is autumn in New York.
While summer in San Francisco is often cool and foggy, fall brings warm days and clear skies to this lovely city by the bay. That means it's the perfect season to enjoy San Francisco's iconic streetcars, challenging hills, immense cultural offerings and renowned food. As the vineyards turn golden and the grapes are harvested, fall is also the perfect time to travel over the Golden Gate Bridge to enjoy a day-trip outside of San Francisco in the wine country of Napa or Sonoma. From China Town to North Beach to Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco offers a plethora of honeymoon experiences, but the perfect one is surely watching the sun set from atop Twin Peaks. With a panoramic 360° view from the city's second-highest point, Twin Peaks is the finest place from which to view the city, the bay, and the Pacific beyond. As the sun turns the bright blue western sky into a mélange of pink, crimson, violet, gold, and peach, the lights of San Francisco's financial district begin to shimmer against the darkening cobalt of the east.
Winter honeymooners will surely garner the envy of their wedding guests by heading to a warm, sunny beach after the reception. The ultimate destination for turning those guests really green is St. Lucia's Jade Mountain resort. Overlooking the gorgeous Piton Mountains and the azure of the Caribbean, Jade Mountain is a marvel of architecture and design and the pinnacle of luxury. Each of its 24 individually designed suites has 15-foot ceilings and a missing "fourth wall" that unifies the bedroom, the living area, and a private infinity pool with the mountains and sea beyond. The soul simply floats into the beauty and harmony of the setting and the spirit soars. Of course, Jade Mountain offers soft sand beaches, coral reefs for snorkeling and diving, biking, tennis, sunset sailing, and a variety of dining experiences, but the supreme romantic moment is simply savoring the mesmerizing panorama that begins in your suite and reaches into the heavens beyond.
Newlyweds seeking the true winter experience need look no farther than the Amangani Hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Situated in a beautiful, breathtaking location on Gros Ventre Butte just outside of town, the hotel's accommodations, amenities, transportation, dining, spa, architecture, service and art are all phenomenal and, needless to say, first class. With its own ski lodge on the mountain and a fleet of Lexus SUV's available to take you anywhere you wish, the Armangani assures a romantic stay for each of its honeymooning guests. Couples can enjoy massages, facials, and other spa treatments, or have the hotel's "ski companion" accompany you on runs and mountains selected for your skill level and privacy. As for romantic moments, as the snow falls ever deeper outside and the wind howls chillingly, nothing beats snuggling together in front of a blazing fire with a warm (or warming) beverage – all done with Armangani style, flair, and luxury.
We romantics at 10 Best recognize that not every newlywed can plan a honeymoon for just the right place in just the right season. More important, 10 Best recognizes that the perfect honeymoon arises from the heart, not from the location. Still, wherever and whenever you make your wedding trip, we hope you use our ten best romantic moments as inspiration for creating the most romantic honeymoon ever – your own.