We get it: you love the romance of small towns but also want a chic spot to take your honey after the wedding. You’re looking for high-thread-count sheets and dinners with amuse-bouches paired with the charm that comes standard in quaint, small towns. From a luxury ranch in Colorado to design-y villas on Florida’s Panhandle, not to mention secluded beaches to spare, we’ve got something for every couple’s whimsy.
Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Tucked into this charming oceanfront town 20 minutes south of Portland are all the perks: Maine’s oldest lighthouse (Portland Head), antique shops, and hiking trails at local parks (Great Pond, Crescent Beach State Park and Two Lights State Park). Lobster dinners and blueberry-pancakes breakfasts are at nearby Good Table Restaurant while The Lobster Shack is post-hike bliss as you bite into a lobster roll and watch fishermen bring in the day’s haul.
Where to Stay: Inn by the Sea boasts a private beach, fine-dining restaurant (Sea Glass, with al-fresco and indoor seating, or romantic in-room dining) and a spa (with treatments inspired by the ocean). Rooms in the inn, as well as private two-bedroom condo-style cottages, are decorated with deep-red accents and local artwork. Last year the one- and two-bedroom Beach Suites debuted, offering direct-water views.
Rosemary Beach, Florida
To fit strict design codes, each accommodation in this New Urbanism community along the Gulf of Mexico is a mixture of British West Indies and Charleston, SC, architecture with metal roofs and deep eaves, plus plenty of porches, pedestrian boardwalks, and courtyards. Rent a beach cruiser, dine on tapas (plus chocolate-covered bacon) at La Crema Tapas + Chocolate or linger over Northern Italian cuisine at Onano Neighborhood Cafe, just a few of the town’s eateries.
Where to Stay: Enter into seclusion with your very own cottage by booking through Rosemary Bach Cottage Rental Company. Whip up gourmet breakfasts in your kitchen or uncork wines bought at Wild Olives Market.
Big Sur, California
With redwood groves and gorgeous layers of coastal fog, Big Sur is magical. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Andrew Molera State Park, and Point Lobos State National Reserve are just three fantastic hiking spots along the Big Sur coastline. Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant is so famous near and far, and even published a glossy cookbook a few years back.
Art lovers will want to pop in and out of galleries along Highway 1, including Henry Miller Library, which hosts movie nights, poetry readings, author appearances, and concerts.
Where to Stay: Post Ranch Inn—cut into the cliffs hugging the Pacific Ocean—is for those who want to be pampered, with three "heavenly honeymoon" packages that fold in spa treatments with gourmet breakfasts and dinners at Sierra Mar. There are no alarm clocks or televisions in the rooms, leaving you even freer to unwind.
Snug between Aspen and Telluride (it’s a two-hour ride to each town), and within the Gunnison National Forest, the country’s newest national park (the Black Canyon of the Gunnison) is 20 miles away. But then why would you leave Crawford’s most posh property? At Smith Fork Ranch, a former chef from Meadowood in Napa Valley uses ingredients plucked from the farm (guests can source their own eggs for breakfast if they’d like) and the spa offers treatments alongside a babbling creek. Adventurous souls can fly-fish, mountain bike, or ride horses on the property. Cooking classes coach guests in farm-to-table cuisine.
Where to Stay: Smith Fork Ranch, open from late May to early November only, with room for just 26 guests in accommodations that consist of two log houses and three cabins spread across 285 acres.
Tofino, British Columbia, Canada
Imagine Santa Cruz-meets-Santa Fe and you’ve essentially hit on the essence of Tofino, a surfers community on Vancouver Island’s West Coast that’s home to an indie bookstore, smoothie café, chocolatier (Chocolate Tofino) and collection of art galleries (including Eagle Aerie Gallery, owned by Roy Henry Vickers, a celebrated First Nations artist). In nearby hiking spots—Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Clayoquet Sound, and Tofino Botanical Gardens—you’ll swear you’re on the end of the earth. Stand-up paddleboarding and surf outfitters galore ensure you work off the calories consumed at locavore eateries like Shelter Restaurant and SoBo (which stands for Sophisticated Bohemian).
Where to Stay: Pacific Sands Beach Resort is right on Cox Bay. Opt for a three-story, two-bedroom beach house featuring a full kitchen, fireplace, and hot tub.
Kristine Hansen is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee where she reports on food, wine, and travel topics around the globe for Fodors.com, along with new-hotel openings. She also writes for Wine Enthusiast, TIME, Whole Living and American Way. In 2006 she co-authored The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Coffee and Tea (Alpha Books/Penguin). You can follow her on Twitter @kristineahansen or through her web site.
Photo credits: Cape Elizabeth, Maine: Richard Cavalleri/Shutterstock; Rosemary Beach, Florida via Dreamstime.com; Auberge du Soleil courtesy of Auberge du Soleil; Crawford, Colorado: Linda Armstrong/Shutterstock; Tofino, British Columbia, Canada: (c) Simonxcheng | Dreamstime.com