Wedding planning can be stressful at times (we get it), so thinking about planning a full-on epic honeymoon could sometimes seem like a daunting task. If you want to wait until after your wedding to start figuring out your honeymoon so you can focus on putting together a trip of a lifetime, we say go for it. (Lots of couples are choosing to honeymoon a few weeks or even months after they’re official.) But on caveat: You still deserve some quality R&R time with your new spouse right after your “I dos” (you’ve earned it!). Enter the Sunshine State. Florida has lots to offer, and is just a quick (and mostly inexpensive) flight away from many US cities. Here are five spots to check out for a minimoon with your one and only.
You’ll feel like you landed in Tinseltown when you visit Palm Beach. Built by architects Addison Mizner, Joseph Urban, Marion Sims Wyeth and Maurice Fatio, it’s served as a haven for Hollywood stars since the 1920s.
Stay: Check in at The Brazilian Court and you’ll be in the company of old-Hollywood royalty (splurge for the Hepburn or Brando suites, if you’re so inclined). Built in 1926, the boutique hotel was modeled to feel like a Palm Beach estate and only has 80 rooms—plus plenty of spots where you and your SO can relax in privacy. Order a drink at the bar at Café Boulud, then sip it under an umbrella in the fountain courtyard. Or take a dip in the pool (where the water is always at a perfect temperature) and hot tub. If you’re looking for something a bit more intimate, the hotel’s suites are equipped with Jacuzzi tubs—and the minibars are stacked with champagne and wine. Want to chill out oceanside? The staff will drive you to the beach in a luxe SUV and set up chairs and an umbrella, and supply you with magazines and bottled water. How’s that for service?
Do: Rent bikes at the hotel ($15 for an hour) and cruise around town, taking in the gorgeous mansions and Flagler Museum along the way. Do some window shopping on Worth Avenue, and just relax by the pool and enjoy the low-key (high-end) vibe of Palm Beach.
Eat: You only need to walk out of your room and down to the hotel’s Café Boulud to experience fine dining. Go for the chef’s tasting menu—wine pairings are a must—where you’ll be treated to such dishes as foie gras with a sweet peanut crunch. But a visit to Palm Beach is not complete without checking out The Breakers—and its dining options will more than meet your palate needs. Head to the swanky HMF (named after founder Henry Morrison Flagler) and order one of its signature drinks—The Floozy and Frescavescent are two sure hits. Then pick out a few dishes to nosh on, such as the HMF Roll (a sesame-wrapped shrimp tempura sushi roll), the heirloom and burrata caprese, warm onion and reggiano dip, and greek-spiced lamb sliders. But save your appetite for its famous Sunday brunch in the picturesque The Circle, where you’ll feast on caviar, shrimp cocktail, omelets, sushi, carved beef tenderloin, pasta, fresh fish, endless desserts and more—as you’re serenaded by a harpist who travels from table to table. Oh, and bottomless mimosas, sangria and Bloody Marys are included too.
Just 40 minutes north of well-known party spot, Miami, the up-and-coming haven of Fort Lauderdale offers standout restaurants, an underground art scene and outdoor adventures.
Stay: You’ll never feel more like a celeb than when staying at The Diplomat Beach Resort. The massive hotel debuted its multi-million dollar tropical-oasis-themed redesign in 2017. Spend your days poolside at the lagoon pool or steal away for some quality time in a private cabana. Grab a taco on a house-made tortilla at Playa, the poolside Neuvo Latino spot, and one of its frozen cocktails (or try them all, we won’t tell). After you’ve had your fill of sun, continue to unwind from all that planning stress in the luxury spa. Trust us—nothing relaxes like an indoor waterfall and full-body massage. Check out one of the many on-site restaurants or take advantage of room service and have your New York strip delivered right to your balcony—that would be your wraparound balcony, giving you stellar views of the ocean. For some evening entertainment, a quick elevator ride will bring you to Nokku for a cocktail and some karaoke, if you’re feeling daring. Work off all those delicious meals with your complimentary 24-hour gym access or fitness classes. Sunrise Beach Yoga sounds like our kind of workout.
Do: Take a water taxi on Intercoastal Waterway to see the colorful homes during your cruise. Head to Park & Ocean in Hugh Taylor Birch State Park to kayak through the mangroves. Refresh with its famous frozengria after your paddle. Stroll down Las Olas Boulevard for some shopping, gallery browsing and dining. With more than 120 specialty retail shops and three dozen bistros, clubs and restaurants, there’s something for everyone.
Eat: The Diplomat has plenty of spots, like Top Chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s coastal restaurant, Point Royal, featuring a well-stocked raw bar and plenty of seafood delicacies. For a local favorite, check out Louie Bossi where everything’s made from scratch, even the bread, and Louie himself might even stop by for a chat. Start with the arancini, then dive into the mouthwateringly delicious rigatoni, and cap it off with a decadent cheesecake, Louie’s own grandmother’s recipe, all paired with delicious wines chosen by the in-house sommelier. If you’re craving a more low-key meal, pop by The Riverside Market for a quick bite and create your own six-pack from the dozens of craft beers in the giant cases.
For thrill rides and tons of dining options, with a little relaxation mixed in, pack your bags (and mouse ears) and head to Orlando.
Stay: If you’re Disney fans and you’re looking to spend most of your time at the parks, you can’t beat the convenience (and magic) of staying at a Walt Disney World resort. There are more than 25 resorts to choose from, in a range of prices. For the budget-conscious, whimsical couple, check out Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. You’ll have your pick of rooms themed around Disney classics like The Lion King, Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid. If you’re looking to splurge, reserve one of the new bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. The overwater accommodations will have you kicking back and relaxing next to your own private plunge pool. Or travel to Africa without leaving the US with a stay at the Animal Kingdom Villas at Jambo House, where you’ll wake up to the sights of giraffes out your window.
Do: There are endless amounts of things to do in Orlando—but let’s face it, you’re probably here to experience some magic (whether you’re into fairy godmothers or flying broomsticks). To live out your own happy ending, visit Disney’s Magic Kingdom and get your photo take in front of Cinderella’s Castle. Don’t forget to take a spin on the carousel and such nostalgic rides as Peter Pan’s Flight and Dumbo. But if it’s thrills you seek, head to Space Mountain or Splash Mountain—then take the bus over to Hollywood Studios and “drop” in at the Tower of Terror and hitch a ride with Aerosmith on the Rockin’ Roller Coaster. But if you’re Harry Potter fans, don’t miss out on visiting Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Find your wand at Ollivander’s, drink a butterbeer at The Leaky Cauldron and take a ride on the Hogwarts Express. After gallivanting all day, book a spa treatment at the Grand Floridian Hotel, or head back to your room at the Polynesian and lounge by the pool to unwind.
Eat: Eat and drink your way around the world at Epcot’s World Showcase. You’ll sample dishes and sips from 11 different countries, including Mexico, Norway and Japan. For a romantic date night, make a reservation at Monsieur Paul in France or Tutto Italia Ristorante in Italy. Or venture out of the parks for gourmet dining at Disney Springs. The Boathouse, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill and Morimoto Asia are all good picks.
Get that tropical vibe without even leaving the States with a trip to historic Key West, whether you’re looking to relax with your toes in the sand or explore all the region has to offer.
Stay: Casa Marina, a Waldorf-Astoria resort, was one of the lucky hotels after Hurricane Irma hit in fall 2017. It only suffered damage to its beach (the largest natural beach in Key West) but has since made a full recovery. Relax at its two outdoor pools or with a spa treatment at Spa al Mare. The boutique hotel Parrot Key Hotel & Villas just reopened in November, and it’s all about relaxation here. Its nature-inspired guest rooms have views of the tropical gardens or the beautiful blue water with their own private porch. And there’s even a complimentary shuttle to get you to all the downtown action.
Do: Go snorkeling at Fort Jefferson or deep sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, and if you’re an avid reader, don’t miss the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum—where the legendary writer actually lived. Climb the 88 steps at the Key West Lighthouse to be treated to stellar views and visit the Audubon House and Tropical Gardens to get a taste of Key West history.
Eat: Take a walk down Duval Street and you’ll find tons of restaurants and bars. Enjoy some live music at Sloppy Joe’s (one of Hemingway’s go-to spots) while you feast on some peel-and-eat Key West shrimp and conch fritters. For something a little more upscale, make a reservation at Point5 and sip on its gin and tonic—made with in-house tonic syrup—or its Papa’s Perfect Storm, crafted at the Hemingway Rum Distillery. But if you’re looking for the best seafood on the island, Schooner’s Wharf Bar is a must. This mainstay is known for its fresh fish (get the mahi mahi). And you can’t come to Key West without getting a slice of Key lime pie. Each restaurant has its own version (feel free to try them all!) but Key Lime Pie Co. is world famous—and is worth the wait in line.
Sanibel & Captiva Island
These historically rich islands date back 6,000 years and have hosted a few well-known names like Teddy Roosevelt, Charles Lindbergh and Thomas Edison, so you know you’re in good company.
Stay: Hotels on Sanibel and Captiva can’t be taller than the tallest palm tree so you’re certain to have stunning views wherever you stay. South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island is the perfect destination spot for nature lovers. This old Floridian-style hotel was once a Key lime plantation and now sits surrounded by 330 acres of wildlife preserve. Make friends with some of the regulars: dolphins and manatees. Take a spin on a waverunner, learn how to sail or take to new heights above the turquoise waves on a parasail. Along 23 acres of Sanibel Island’s famous white sand beach, the full-service Casa Ybel Resort offers magnificent views of the Gulf of Mexico. Cozy rooms are styled to feel like a private vacation home and every suite overlooks the water. Dine at the historic retreat’s award-winning Thistle Lodge and enjoy a s’mores roast on the beach.
Do: Sanibel’s beaches are protected by an underwater shelf, which allows an abundance of shells to collect on the shore. The vast variety has made the islands a hugely popular destination for shelling. Dive at the man-made Edison Reef, created from a former mainland bridge, or book a captained yacht for some guided snorkeling. Hit Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grill for live music on the outdoor patio, while sipping a mojito. The history buffs will enjoy a walking and biking tour of Old Town Sanibel.
Eat: Satisfy your Mexican craving with a stop at the colorful Cantina Captiva. Try the Shrimp Diablo—Gulf shrimp sautéed with a secret chipotle marinade—and pair it with the homemade guacamole and an icy margarita. Taste a little bit of everything at award-winning Sweet Melissa’s Cafe where you can order the small plate option for dishes like fettuccine and clams with fennel and Pernod, bourbon-glazed pork belly and its famous Fish Stew. Take a day trip to Fort Myers and watch the sunset on the covered outdoor porch at The Lighthouse Waterfront Restaurant, overlooking Port Sanibel Marina. Some standout menu items include a half roasted crispy duck and Florida lobster tail. You can’t visit the coast without sampling some of the fresh seafood and the best place to do that is The Fish House Restaurant. Come for the ceviche, oysters on the half shell and conch fritters, stay for the eclectic and cheery décor.
If you’re looking to party in the city where the heat is on, look no further than glamorous and sunny Miami.
Stay: The Betsy—South Beach is right in the middle of the action of Miami’s famed South Beach—in the best way possible. The luxury beachfront boutique property has incredible views of the ocean, especially if your location is a chaise lounge on their famed Ocean Front Deck (you can take yoga classes there too!). Relax at The Wellness Garden & Spa at The Betsy, the only outdoor spa on Miami Beach, bask in lounge chairs right on the beach, or hang at the new Rooftop Pool. If you want to break a sweat, their brand-new 24-hour gym includes two internet-equipped Peloton bikes, among other state-of-the-art equipment. The property is also Miami Beach’s only Forbes Four Star and AAA Four Diamond rated boutique hotel, and unveiled a major expansion to debut an “Art Deco” wing addition in 2016, doubling its occupancy.
Do: The great thing about Miami is that whether you want to relax or be active on your honeymoon, the multidimensional city provides something for everyone. Check out the world-class beaches—you won’t regret hanging out at South Beach—and try your hand at paddleboarding or rent a boat for the day. Go to Miami Beach, Wynwood and Bal Harbour and check out the shopping, storied nightlife and upscale restaurants—or rent bikes and pedal the city instead.
Eat: Dine at LT Steak & Seafood, a delicious restaurant from award-winning Chef Laurent Tourondel at The Betsy. For an authentic Miami experience, put your name in at Joe’s Stone Crab and prepare to wait and hour or two before you don a bib and have seafood at the city’s famed, throwback restaurant. And having authentic Cuban food is a must too—head to Versailles in the Little Havana area for a Cuban sandwich, cafe con leche` and guava and cheese pastelitos, which are Cuban puff pastries that melt in your motuh.