Original article posted on myneworleans.com
You’d hoped to visit the thronged markets of Bangkok, the busy streets of Paris or follow that sports team or musical group to several engagements on a mobbed world tour. But, it must be said: now is not the time for crowded honeymoons. Circumstances require that you and your beloved broaden your vacation landscape — literally.
Instead of joining the rabble on the swarmed dance floor of life, set out to discover some of the world’s wide open spaces. Not only will fresh air, fragrant flora and captivating fauna restore and revive you, but authorities report that spending time outdoors poses a lower risk of COVID-19 virus spread. Add in unspoiled expanses, immense enough for social distancing ease, and suddenly safe honeymoons seem reassuringly back on the table. Ready to dream? Here’s a slew of al fresco options for now — or later.
Lake Quinault Lodge, Quinault, Washington
In far northwest Washington State, stretching out for more than 922,000 unspoiled acres on the Olympic Peninsula, Olympic National Park enjoys a variety of ecosystems, including immense old-growth forests, glacier-topped mountains and the Pacific Northwest’s moody seashore. To explore them, stay on Lake Quinault at sumptuously restored Lake Quinault Lodge. Built in 1926 in the rustic Great Camp tradition, the luxurious hideaway hearkens back to bygone times, immersing guests into nature’s largesse and the region’s palpable history.
Experience the surrounding rainforest and shimmering lake in the manner guests have done for a century — hiking, boating, fishing and biking. Alternatively, picnic by a waterfall, enjoy massages by the pool or dip into the park’s nearby hot springs. Not to miss, the six-mile Lover’s Lane Loop, famous for its vistas, and the Rainforest Nature Trailhead, home to the thousand-year-old “World’s Largest Sitka Spruce Tree,” will never be forgotten.
Montage Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton South, Carolina
Porching? That’s a thing … sitting, laughing, sipping and watching the world go by from one of the resort’s tony Moreland Village Homes. You can linger all day long with a glass of something cold, but you’ll likely yearn to scope out Palmetto Bluff’s two villages, marina and 20,000 acres of fun.
From golf to horseback riding, including bocce ball, sunset yacht cruises and tennis, plus sunrise kayaking, birdwatching and more, this quintessentially Southern retreat offers the best of South Carolina’s Low Country elegance and style. The resort’s Veuve Cliquot Picnic + Pedal adventure redefines the notion of an ordinary bike ride. Expect cruisers, a bottle of champers and a gourmet picnic boasting ingredients as racy and scrumptious as oysters, caviar, pimento cheese and red velvet cookies.
The Inn at Death Valley, The Oasis at Death Valley, Death Valley National Park, California
Honeymooners may wish this destination had a less ominous name, but this eye-popping national park inspires an awe as euphoric as what couples feel when they walk down the aisle. Keep the post-wedding elation alive at this otherworldly, 3.3 million-acre national treasure, the largest park outside of Alaska.
Hot as Hades, it has soaring sand dunes, sub-sea-level salt flats, startling sunrises, rainbow-hued canyons, mysterious singing sands, rocks that miraculously move on their own — and lots of space to cavort without ever seeing another soul. Pamper yourselves at the inn, a refurbished Mission Revival masterpiece. Opt for the intimate, stand-alone casitas, set amidst date palms. Golf, hike, sandboard the dunes and gallop on horses beneath the moonlight.
Acre, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico
What could be more remote than sleeping in a tree? At Acre, wedged into the foothills of San Jose del Cabo (Los Cabos region’s more characteristic and mellow town), 12 design-savvy treehouses hover over a landscape of agave, cacti, palm and citrus trees. Each has a terrace, outdoor shower, canopy-like mosquito netting, a curated mini-bar — and, yes, of course, high-speed internet.
Part of an organic farm, the boutique hotel draws gastronomes for its farm-to-table restaurant, which sources a majority of its ingredients from its gardens and fields. Near beaches, amusements from camel riding to whale watching, and buzzy bars (though you’ll likely prefer the hip onsite bar), this cool kids’ hangout offers complimentary yoga, a zero-edge, solar-heated pool, and Fausto’s — an all-day breakfast diner.
Sheldon Chalet, Denali National Park, Alaska
You’ve hankered to see the Northern Lights with him, hands clasped as you gaze upward with dropped jaws. Why wait? Ogle them at Sheldon Chalet, a magnificent, diminutive, five-room, villa-style hotel, poised on a nunatak 10 miles from the summit of Denali — North America’s highest mountain.
Most common from mid-September to mid-April, the Aurora Borealis explode in a panoramic display of rolling green, purple and blue, reflecting off the snow-capped peaks. During the day, ski, sled or snow trek on Ruth Glacier. Get cozy at night before a roaring fire, with a dinner that showcases Alaskan-sourced seafood and ingredients. Then, tuck into bed to watch nature’s light show, framed by your window. Far flung, this chalet comes with your own guides, a private chef and a concierge.
Cycle Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona
Anthropomorphic, barrel-chested cacti, majestic saguaros look a bit like people standing around in the desertscape. At Saguaro National Park, near Tucson, they pepper the terrain like a botanical mob — the only crowd you’ll see on a velo tour of the area. Awash with backroads and world class ascents, such as Mount Lemmon, the region begs to be explored by bicycle.
Escape Adventures offers customized, five-day tours of the park and its environs. You’ll base at historic Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort, set at the foot of the Santa Catalina Mountain Range, beloved by heyday power couple, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. During the days, fully supported with a van and guides, you’ll pedal and pump for miles (electric bikes available upon request), then return at night to relax beneath the stars.
Togwotee Lodge, Moran, Wyoming
In winter, you’ll feel gratifyingly snowed in at this old-school cabin complex, uniquely situated near both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. For duos craving cozy, these simple cabins do the trick, a salt-of-the-earth home in the wilderness. A complex of 54,400-square-foot cabins, each with kitchenettes and electric fireplaces, plus a lodge, all-season Togowotee might be most celebrated for its winter offerings.
Considered one of the world’s top purveyors of snowmobiling excursions, the retreat leads guests on rollicking rides through the power-packed expanses. Honeymooners can ski in nearby Jackson, and soak their weary bodies at Granite Hot Springs, (accessible in winter only by cross-country skiing, dog sledding, or snowmobiling with outfitters like Togwotee Snowmobile Tours).