And other surprising truths about traveling for a wedding.
Now that the Supreme Court has declared same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, dreamy gay honeymoons are within reach for millions more Americans. And with marriage equality and anti-discrimination laws on the rise worldwide, more places are looking fit for dreamy gay honeymoons. In 2014, only about 55 percent of same-sex couples went on a honeymoon after their wedding ceremony, according to Community Marketing & Insights, a San Francisco-based market research firm that tracks LGBT travel trends. With the expansion of marriage equality in the U.S., those figures presumably stand to change a great deal, as more same-sex couples tie the knot who haven’t already been together for decades, or aren’t feeling rushed to meet some potentially short-lived legal window for doing so. Community Marketing senior research director David Paisley also attributes this figure to the fact that gays and lesbians tend to travel more than straight couples. A same-sex couple about to get hitched might deem that trip to Paris three months away their delayed honeymoon. At the same time, the nature of gay travel is changing. Where once, the focus was on finding gay-owned hotels in (sometimes literal) islands of tolerance, younger gay travelers are looking more broadly, as more countries adopt the kind of marriage equality laws and legal protections that make LGBT travelers feel safe. Which is especially important on a honeymoon, if you plan on showing affection in public. There’s also a generational shift at work here. Baby boomers are still big fans of the gay guest house or LGBT B&B, while millennials don’t tend to seek them out. (Luckily, these places tend to have so few rooms that baby boomers are enough.) Of course, there are also gigantic marketing budgets at play. “With Marriott and Hilton in a battle to see who can be the most gay friendly,” says Paisley, friendliness tends not to matter as much when it’s coming from hospitality companies. As a result, younger LGBT travelers tend to value location and quality over brand reputation, though tolerant laws and locals are as important as ever. Up ahead, 12 ideal spots for gay honeymoons, running the gamut from the posh and tropical to the rural and serene.
Jetting off on your honeymoon the night of your wedding is a romantic notion that has become a bit unrealistic in modern times. Receptions are going later, budgets are becoming tighter, and scheduling a seamless departure is nearly impossible. But just because you can’t get away for a much-needed two-week vacation after the excitement of your nuptials doesn’t mean you can’t take a quick trip—or, as it's better known in wedding terms, a mini-moon. It’s important to take a few days to decompress after such a big event, but it can be costly for many couples to spend money on lengthy trip so soon after dropping some serious cash on a lavish affair. That’s why more and more newlyweds are opting for just a couple of days away to a nearby location. These mini-moons are either a few hours’ drive away or a short flight to somewhere relaxing and romantic. It’s just enough time to reflect on the whirlwind of the wedding, but without the commitment and planning of an over-the-top honeymoon. Some couples will simply go on a mini-moon, while others will use the quick trip as a pre-honeymoon before the real deal a few months or year later. The trend has become so popular that some hotels are even offering tailored packages around these short getaways, with perks like champagne, spa services, and private dinners. Whether you’re in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, or elsewhere in the U.S., there is a nearby destination ready to cater to your every need. From Mexico and Colorado to upstate New York, here are 15 fantastic mini-moon options. Jordi Lippe-McGrawis a Contributing Digital Reporter at Travel + Leisure. Follow her onTwitterandInstagram@WellTraveler.
How to Plan a Disney Honeymoon
The Florida parks are one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in America, and there’s plenty more to do at Disney World beyond whirl around on Dumbo and tell Minnie Mouse you’re newly married (though that certainly is fun). Even with its emphasis on larger families, Walt Disney World can be a loved-up paradise, and the perfect spot to spend a once-in-a-lifetime experience with your brand new beau. Be sure to book things early and set yourself up for the dreamiest honeymoon possible by learning of these under-the-radar experiences and on-site escapes from cheerful children, and being in-the-know enough to truly have the time of your lives.
Tried-and-true advice from a leading celebrity wedding planner.
Watching a sunset on Santorini can make you feel like you’re on top of the world—and in a way, you are. Elphy Theodoropoulou swooned when she witnessed a sunset from the island’s village of Oia. “Amongst hanging houses, and between churches and rooftops, there is a spot high up where people gather to watch,” says the owner of an Athens-based sandal company. “You’re so high up that you can see the world on a curve—and the colors are so picturesque, it will forever be imprinted into your mind.” It certainly won a spot in the hearts of Travel +Leisure readers, who ranked Santorini as one of the world’s most romantic islands. As part of the magazine’s annual World’s Best Awards survey, readers ranked the various merits of islands and archipelagos around the globe, including natural beauty, activities, dining, and economic value—as well as their potential to make hearts flutter. Among the top 20 winners, there were, of course, destinations with wide swaths of powdery white sand, swaying palm trees, and natural soundtracks of lapping waves. But each of the winners has a bit of unique flair, too. One produces great wine, while another smolders with volcanic lava. A notable archipelago even features an island that’s shaped like a heart. Some of readers’ favorite islands have precious few distractions from your one-and-only. Lori Sussle Bonanni was wowed by Harbour Island, in the Bahamas, when she and her husband first visited in 2013. They had rented a golf cart (the island’s main form of transportation) to explore the island: “We parked our cart to head onto an unreal pink-sand beach, and took in the breathtaking view,” says the New York-based marketing consultant. “My husband thought we were trespassing—we weren't—because we were the only people on the beach. It was magical.”
America's Most Romantic Towns
Carly Holbrook came to Aspen, CO, for the Winter X Games, but left with the love of her life. The public relations exec recalls meeting her future husband after a free concert, a few cocktails, and some impromptu salsa dancing. “As he walked me back to my friend’s house later that night,” Holbrook beams, “I will never forget the fluffy snowflakes falling from the sky, and street lamps illuminating the charming Main Street. Aspen will always be one of my magical spots.” Related: America's Most Romantic Cities She’s not the only one who swoons over this A-list mountain town. Travel + Leisure’s fans and followers ranked Aspen among the best spots for romance in our inaugural America’s Favorite Towns survey; readers nominated favorites on social media via the hashtag #TLTowns and then ranked the resulting 744 picks in 55 categories. To calculate the most romantic towns across America, we looked at the most lover-friendly categories: brunch spots, bakeries, farmers’ markets, wine scenes, and idyllic, picnic-friendly parks, as well as gay friendliness and, of course, romantic hotels. And in a bid to weed out noisy kids, we gave points to the least family-friendly of the lot. Related: The 50 Best Romantic Getaways When it comes to weather, it turns out being perpetually sunny is not the key to calling on Cupid: “Cozy cold weather is a must,” says Jason Mansour, an Air Force officer who is getting married in the sometimes-chilly Sonoma (No. 8 on our list) later this year. “It makes you want to get closer—if only to stay warm.” Related: America’s Best Little Beach Towns So whether you’re aiming to stoke the fires of a long-smoldering interest or spend some quality time bonding with your boo, read on to discover the best towns for romance. From Bend, OR, and its brew houses to the beaches of Beaufort, NC, love isn’t always in the eye of the beholder.
Hard-partying Cancún, Mexico, isn’t the first place you’d think to take a secluded romantic getaway. But adults-only Le Blanc Spa Resort will make you think again. This all-inclusive sets the mood with a private beach, butler service, and infinity pools—and has even attracted romcom sweetheart Julia Roberts. That’s no surprise to André Leavitt of Time Travels Inc., who wholeheartedly recommends the couples-only, all-inclusive experience to clients. “These resorts are simply more conducive to romance,” says the travel pro and mom. As Leavitt knows, sometimes you want a table just for two, without any kids in shouting distance. And the best romantic all-inclusive resorts have evolved to appeal to more sophisticated tastes—improving menus, diversifying amenities, and raising the bar on 24/7 service. Related: Best Affordable All-Inclusive Resorts With all your meals and activities at the ready, you can tune out distractions and tune in to each other. This kind of coveted alone time comes easily on the island of Maui at Travaasa Hana, a serene group of plantation-style cottages that purposely don’t have TVs, radios, or clocks. Instead, you’ll wake up to the sound of the Pacific waves outside your window, soak in a private hot tub, and learn to stand-up paddleboard or even hula. Trying out something new together is bound to get that adrenaline pumping. While endless water views are undeniably romantic, cuddling by the fire at a mountain hideaway has its own dreamy appeal. The Adirondacks are the site of one such retreat, The Point Resort on the edge of Saranac Lake, which draws big-city couples looking for a quick escape, whatever the season. Blame it on the nightly bonfires, sunset cruises, and the ganache hot chocolate. Related: 50 Best Romantic Getaways 2010 Of course, all this gourmet eating, pampering, and bliss comes at a price, anywhere from about $120 per person per night to upward of $600. But once you find the resort that’s right for you two, the bucks stop there. “Not having to think about paying for a drink by the pool or lunch—it’s a completely carefree experience,” says Ernesto Coppel, founder and CEO of Pueblo Bonito Oceanfront Resorts and Spas. Related: The 50 Most Romantic Places in the World After all, when the fire pits come on at Pueblo Bonito, theirs aren’t the only sparks flying.
What to Wear on Your Honeymoon
Q. I'm traveling to the Italian lakes in mid-September for my honeymoon. I will be staying at Villa d'Este and Grand Hotel Tremezzo. Any wardrobe suggestions? Catherine Gluszek, via email A. Fall in northern Italy calls for chic attire that transitions well from day to night. Since temperatures this time of year will be around the mid-60s, opt for layering pieces that don't skimp on style. Villa d'Esteis the perfect place to channel your inner celebrity with elegant accessories—the grande dame has hosted everyone from Greta Garbo to George Clooney. Pack comfortable dresses and lightweight trousers for evening activities, like a fondue dinner at Grand Hotel Tremezzo's L'Escale wine bar. It's your honeymoon, so have fun with your attire and let Lake Como's old-time glamour inspire you!
For hopeless romantics willing to spend no less than $10,000 on an outrageous honeymoon experience, this downright lavish villa (and its private infinity pool) can’t be beat.
Six tips for spending the time of your newly married life in the most magical place on Earth.
55 Years After Their Honeymoon Road Trip, This Couple is Taking Their Old VW Bug on One Last Adventure
Ivan and Beth Hodge will say goodbye to their beloved car, which will retire to a museum in New Zealand.