C ongratulations, you did it. You’ve cut the cake, danced the night away, and now it’s time to take your first trip as newlyweds. But where? For those who decide to stay in the U.S. of A. (ahem, those who spent a little too much on that wonderful wedding or don’t have a bevy of vacation time at their disposal), we wanted to offer our stateside suggestions. To sweeten the deal, we made each destination within driving distance of the Bluff City (1,000 kilometers/ around 620 miles/ a 10-hour drive or less). Whether you’re the adventurous type, want to lie on a beach, play in the snow, or take in a show, now is the time to enjoy this new stage of your life doing all of your favorite things.
1. Asheville, North Carolina
Once known as a hot spot for the rich and famous — such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Henry Ford — Asheville is now known for its wealth of history and beautiful landscapes. Couples frequent the destination for its variety of activities and accessibility to the outdoors. Take a cruise along “America’s Favorite Drive” — the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway offers stunning scenery, hiking, and cycling opportunities — take a hot air balloon ride, or enjoy the views from a relaxing spa resort. So whether you prefer a mountain cabin or an inn on the Biltmore House property, this locale is sure to impress.
2. Charleston, South Carolina
With Southern charm, friendly faces, and pastel streetscapes, it’s easy to see why Charleston was voted the number-one city in the U.S. by Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure. Beautiful beaches, delectable cuisine, and cultural attractions galore, Charleston is a must-see.
3. Chicago, Illinois
Situated on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan, this swanky city is home to a slew of sports teams, an energetic theater community, a vast collection of public art, and much more. Shop the Magnificent Mile, ice skate in Millennium Park — don’t forget to take a selfie in “The Bean” — and ride the ferris wheel at Navy Pier.
4. Eureka Springs, Arkansas
If a bed-and-breakfast, cottage, cabin, or tent is more your speed, head west to the Ozarks of Arkansas. Zip-line through the mountains, explore Onyx Cave Park, or stroll through town checking out the quirky storefronts. Top it all off with a 12-mile cruise aboard the Belle of the Ozarks on Beaver Lake.
5. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Our spirited neighbor to the east truly offers something for everyone — from Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and Dollywood to whitewater-rafting and the ski chalets of Ober Gatlinburg. For a one-of-a-kind sight, ride 400 feet into the air at the Gatlinburg Space Needle and catch a 360-degree glimpse of the Smokies by day or downtown Gatlinburg’s lights by night.
6. Hot Springs, Arkansas
While soaking up its classic old-world charm, you can snack on homemade fudge, take a carriage ride through Hot Springs National Park, enjoy a candle-lit dinner at Central Park Fusion or Via Roma, and unwind with a full day (or week) at one of the many historic spas and bath houses.
7. New Orleans, Louisiana
Perhaps it’s the joie de vivre but something about Nola’s vibrant culture makes it perfect for a romantic getaway. Whether you’re riding in a streetcar and admiring the mansions along St. Charles Avenue, making a wish at the Jackson Square fountain, or sharing a beignet from Café du Monde, the Crescent City will put its spell on you.
8. Savannah, Georgia
Where cobblestones and Spanish moss meet sandy beaches, this coastal town is the largest National Historic Landmark district in the U.S. Wander through the 20 city squares, take a tour of old Savannah — check out the iconic Bonaventure Cemetery statue — or head over to Tybee Island.
9. Highway 30A, Florida
Connecting the pristine Gulf Coast communities of Alys Beach, Grayton Beach, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, and WaterColor, honeymooning on 30A means getting to experience the character of different destinations in one trip. You can paddle-board in the Choctawhatchee Bay, grab a bite at Bud & Alley’s, or simply stroll the sugar sand beaches at sunset.
10. Louisville, Kentucky
Sip on spirits at one of the many bourbon distilleries and local wineries, brush up on your history of Churchill Downs at the Kentucky Derby Museum, zip-line through an underground cavern, climb aboard the 1940s-themed dinner train, roam Yew Dell Botanical Gardens, or explore downtown on a “Louisville Quest.”