Constantly rising airfares are making it difficult for couples to reach the honeymoon or wedding destinations of their dreams. And even if you do fly there, you might not have much money left for quality accommodations. Luckily, there are plenty of dream-worthy destinations right here in North America reachable by car.
Many of the great colonial cities in North America have been overwhelmed by modernity. Oh, there may be an old church here or there, or a few quiet lanes with antique buildings, but they’re likely to be in the shadow of skyscrapers or more modern buildings with zero charm.
Yet, in Charleston, S.C., the hands of time have resisted the urge to move forward. Here, horse-drawn carriages trot past rows of colorful mansions and townhouses on streets lined in palmetto and magnolia-filled gardens. Not only are there no skyscrapers here, they’ve been outlawed to maintain the city’s historic charm.
Indeed, close your eyes and think of a quintessential Southern town and Charleston will likely match your imagination. This is a place to unwind and take relaxing, romantic walks while soaking in one of the country’s more atmospheric cites.
There’s certainly no shortage of newlywed-worthy accommodations, especially those in the aforementioned Historic District, where mansions have been lovingly restored and transformed into inns and B&B’s. Though you could stay in one of the many run-of-the-mill chain hotels, to do so would be to rob yourself of the local flavor you’ve come to Charleston to enjoy.
Beyond enjoying the Southern hospitality and old-world atmosphere of Charleston’s Historic District, we recommend breaking up your trip by enjoying a few days at one of the nearby beach communities. Kiawah Island in particular has been named one of the best honeymoon locales in the United States and home to some of the country’s finest beaches. Renting a condo by the sea is your best option here, as it’ll allow you to enjoy your own little stretch of sand and surf for a few days.
Atlanta: 300 miles, 4.5 hours
Raleigh, N.C.: 280 miles, 4 hours
Orlando, Fla.: 380 miles, 5 hours 40 minutes
Tampa, Fla.: 435 miles, 6 hours 40 minutes
Washington, D.C.: 530 miles, 7 hours 45 minutes
Nashville, Tenn.: 550 miles, 8 hours
Philadelphia: 672 miles, 10 hours
Detours and Day Trips:
A trip to Charleston wouldn’t be complete without a detour or day trip to a plantation. There are many from which to choose, but your best bets include Boone Hill Plantation, Middleton Place and Drayton Hall, the oldest unrestored plantation. Each provides great scenic beauty through their architecture and gardens, while also providing a glimpse into an integral chapter of American history – for better and most definitely worse.
We asked several friends from the South where they would stop along the way when driving to Charleston from the North. They all answered Durham. You can take a stroll through the Sarah P. Duke Gardens or tour the Duke University campus before exploring the vibrant, re-energized downtown area. Foodies will enjoy the well-established food truck scene, while those seeking a lively dining vibe should check out one of the many restaurants that extend outside into historic Brightleaf Square. Baseball (or Kevin Costner) fans should without question go to a Durham Bulls game – though Crash Davis has long-since retired.
If you’re coming from Florida (or want a two-stop honeymoon), come and contrast old Southern towns by stopping in Savannah. Besides offering a similar antebellum atmosphere, Savannah has a certain macabre reputation that includes more than 30 ghost tours. These range from a haunted pub crawl to one that gives you a tour of the city in an open-top hearse. Wait, that doesn’t sound in the least bit romantic. Well, Goths get married, too, right?