For spring or summer honeymoons, you want to go somewhere that will give you a warm reception, somewhere beautiful with plenty to do when you’re in the mood for recreation, and serene settings if all you want to do is relax together. Here are four romantic destinations that have it all and they’re only a drive away.
By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey
New York’s Gold Coast
Drive time: Main Line: 2 hours, 45 minutes | Wilmington: 3 hours
If you think the Hamptons are the opulent part of Long Island, you haven’t seen the magnificent dozen or so circa 1920s castles, mansions and gardens that span the stretch of the North Shore on and around Route 25A. The span is nicknamed the Gold Coast for the great concentration of wealthy families with names like Vanderbilt, Roosevelt and Guggenheim, who seem to have tried outdoing each other in terms of architecture, horticulture and furnishings. Not only can you tour these expansive estates, which provided F. Scott Fitzgerald with his setting for “The Great Gatsby,” but you can actually spend the night in a castle.
Oheka Castle, the early 20th-century French Chateau-style summer home of high-powered financier Otto Hermann Kahn, primary owner of the Metropolitan Opera, is the second largest private residence in the United States. (Only the Vanderbilt home, The Biltmore in North Carolina, is more expansive.) It cost today’s equivalent of $110 million to build and, in the 1920s, was the site of lavish parties with guests ranging from royalty to heads of state to Hollywood celebrities. It later served as the backdrop for the film “Citizen Kane.” Among its amenities are in-room massages and exclusive access to the links-style Robert Trent Jones golf course and tennis courts at Cold Springs Country Club. Rooms are $395-$495 double occupancy. Suites begin at $595.
135 W. Gate Drive, Huntington, N.Y., (631) 659-1400
Oheka Castle’s dinner menu features such upscale dishes as pistachio-crusted lamb chops, lacquered duck breast and pappardelle mignon. $24-$55.
Situated in a 1751 section of a lovely hotel complex, Restaurant Mirabelle at Three Village Inn offers French fare on a prix fixe menu ($34 weekdays, $36 weekends, $92 for nine-course tasting, $150 with wine pairing).
150 Main St., Stony Brook, N.Y., (631) 751-0555.
Order a fondue for two—either sweet chocolate or savory cheese—at Toast Coffeehouse. $25-$28.
242 E. Main St., Port Jefferson, N.Y., (631) 331-6860.
Wander the magnificent 200 acres of formal plantings and other natural wonders at Old Westbury Gardens that once belonged to financier John S. Phipps. Admission also includes a guided tour of the English antiques- and artwork-filled mansion. During the summer, check the events calendar for concerts by students of Juilliard School and living history weekends. $10.
71 Old Westbury Road, Old Westbury, N.Y., (516) 333-0048.
Soar through the galaxy during an afternoon or evening showing at the Vanderbilt Mansion, Museum and Planetarium. $12 for afternoon (includes $7 general admission to tour the Spanish Revival mansion that once belonged to William K. Vanderbilt, a great maritime museum and 43-acre grounds), $9 for evening.
180 Little Neck Road, Centerport, N.Y., (631) 854-5579
In spring you can walk the three-mile beach. In the summer you can swim in the waters of the Long Island Sound at Sunken Meadow State Park. $10 per car parking fee.
Rte. 25A and Sunken Meadow Parkway, Kings Park, N.Y., (631) 269-4333.
Spend a morning or afternoon browsing the shops and galleries of the village of Port Jefferson, which includes Asian arts, jewelry and antiques at Forever Collection by Yong Heng Diamond (29 E. Broadway, Port Jefferson, N.Y., 929-258-8821) and Tumi, where you’ll find handcrafted fashions, decorative items and toys handcrafted in Peru (103 W. Broadway, Port Jefferson, N.Y., 631-828-2931).
The Berkshire Mountains
Drive time: Main Line: 5 hours, 15 minutes | Wilmington: 5 hours, 15 minutes
In the song “Sweet Baby James,” James Taylor describes the Berkshires as “dreamlike” under a coating of snow. Few places can awaken the senses like these Western Massachusetts peaks. In the spring and summer they bloom with nature’s colors and blossom with culture and outdoor adventures. The mountains have inspired a multitude of other artists, including Americana painter Norman Rockwell, sculptor Daniel Chester French and authors Edith Wharton, Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne. (All of their homes or studios are open for touring.)
In 1999, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art transformed a dilapidated 19th-century mill complex into the nation’s largest exhibition space for today’s visionaries. Across the street another transformation took place when the museum rescued a block of Victorian row homes and turned them into accommodations that somehow successfully combine industrial chic with laid-back comfort. The Porches at MASSMoCA offers an outdoor pool and hot tub, bonfire pit, and breakfast either on a buffet or delivered to your room. Suites also have Jacuzzi tubs. Rooms are $199-$259 double occupancy weekdays. Suites are $289-$355. Weekends rooms are $289-$325, suites $355-$455.
231 River St., North Adams, (413) 664-0400.
A Stockbridge landmark for more than two centuries, the candlelit dining room of the Red Lion Inn serves a combination of American and international classics with a nod to local sources. $27-$34.
30 Main St., Mass., (413) 298-5545.
At Table Six Restaurant you can start with cocktails on the veranda, then move on to a dinner (or Sunday brunch) conceived and prepared by former White House chef Ron Reda, who knows how to let the freshest seasonal ingredients speak for themselves. $21-$48. Three-course Saturday night prix fixe is $37. Brunch is $32.
Kemble Inn, 2 Kemble St., Lenox, Mass., (413) 637-4113.
From the ceviche de pescado for starters to the crema Volteada for dessert, the food at Alpamayo Restaurant reflects generations of Peruvian family recipes. $14.99-$26.99.
60 Main St., Lee, Mass., (413) 243-6000.
One of the most sophisticated spots for dining in the Berkshires is Wheatleigh, which is housed in a Gilded Age mansion. The four-course, prix fixe dinner menu is $135, tasting menu $175.
Hawthorne Road, Lenox, Mass., (413) 637-0610
You can’t stay in North Adams and not visit MASSMoCA to see that latest installations. $18.
1040 MASS MoCA Way, Mass., (413) 662-2111.
The performing arts go into high gear during the warm seasons. Pack a picnic and take a blanket to relax on the lush lawn of Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and site of other headliner musical performances. Ticket prices vary.
297 West St., Lenox, Mass., (617) 266-1200
In summer, Jacob’s Pillow is home to America’s longest-running (84 years) international dance festival, which includes ticketed performances and more than 200 free events. Ticketed performances are $25-$75. (358 George Carter Road, Becket, Mass., 413-243-9919) Shakespeare & Company presents the best of the Bard and contemporary works. $30-$80.70 (Kemble St., Lenox, Mass., (413) 637-1199)
Shoot the rapids on the dam-controlled Deerfield River during a paddling adventure with Zoar Outdoor. $99-$115.
7 Main St., Charlemont Mass., (413) 339-4010.
Drive time: Main Line: 2 hours, 15 minutes | Wilmington: 1 hour, 45 minutes
In America’s Sailing Capital, where yachts skim over the Chesapeake Bay and race for glory every Wednesday night, you can sail the waters as a passenger or learn to skipper your own vessel. Walking the streets of this “museum without walls,” the state’s capital, you can travel through four centuries of American history. And you can savor seafood that has made the short trip straight from the local dock to your plate.
Historic Inns of Annapolis is actually three luxury boutique hotels in faithfully restored buildings from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Antiques and reproductions reflect the Colonial and Victorian periods, when these luxe accommodations hosted presidents and other political luminaries. Rooms are $129-$189 double occupancy, suites $269.
58 State Circle, (800) 847-8882.
If you are looking for an authentic Maryland crab shack experience—outdoor picnic tables and all—you can’t do better than Wild Country Seafood, which is operated by a father-son team of veteran watermen who go out in the morning to catch the crabs, oysters, rockfish and perch that show up on the menu that same day. Seafood sandwiches are $7.99-$19.95, platters $11.95-$21.95 and baskets with fries are $6.95-$9.95.
124 Bay Shore Ave., (410) 267-6711
You could order the Chesapeake Bay seafood at Treaty of Paris, or go for something from the turf part of the menu, such as chicken breast with Mornay sauce or rack of lamb. $19-$38. Breakfast offerings include crepes stuffed with spinach, crab and ricotta cheese and wild berry pancakes. $10-$17. This romantic restaurant is set in the 18th-century Maryland Inn, one of the Historic Inns of Annapolis.
58 State Circle, (410) 216-6340.
Who doesn’t love bacon? That’s why the bacon brunch (even the Bloody Mary and Hollandaise sauce on the Eggs Benedict are pork-fortified) at bourbon-and-beer bar Dry 85 is such fun. $10-$12.
193B Main St., (443) 214-5171.
Help take the helm, or just sit back and relax on a two-and-a-half to three-hour sunset sail on the Chesapeake with Annapolis Sailing School. $125 per person. BYOB is permitted. You can also take a two-day introductory sailing course. $495 per person.
7001 Bembe Beach Road., (800) 638-9192.
On Wednesday nights from late April through early September, stake out a spot on the waterfront to watch the Wednesday Night Sailing Races. More than 130 sailboats compete. After the races, head over to Boatyard Bar & Grill to toast the winners and watch the tapes of the race with the sailors.
400 Fourth St., (410) 216-6206.
Spend an evening on a combined two-hour guided kayak paddle and pub crawl with Kayak Annapolis. The haunted version is especially spirited. $60.
Truxton Park Road, (443) 949-0773
You’ll find yourself ducking into many of the dozens of independent boutiques, gift shops and art galleries on Main Street from Church Circle to City Dock. Among the locally owned shops are Woodcraft Artisans, which is known for its three-dimensional carved nautical charts and handcrafted teak furniture (155 Main St., 410-280-0008, woodcraftartisansonline), and Alpaca International, which features high fashion woolen sweaters, outerwear and accessories.
206 Main St., (410) 216-9898
Maryland was home to four signers of the Declaration of Independence, including William Paca. His circa 1760 Georgian mansion and grounds have been restored to their original splendor with period furnishings and art and painstakingly reproduced two acres of formal, native heirloom and kitchen gardens. Guided tours are $10.
186 Prince George St., (410) 990-4543.
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
Drive time: Main Line: 3 hours, 30 minutes | Wilmington: 3 hours
After the chaos and commotion of producing and starring in the perfect wedding, you deserve some pure pampering—and there’s a whole town devoted to providing just that. George Washington went there to take the soothing and reputedly curative waters of “ye famed mineral springs” that run through this Appalachian Mountain valley oasis when he wanted to de-stress. Today, the tiny town of Berkeley Springs is still best known for its spas, which range from basic to exotic.
Perched on a hill overlooking the picture-postcard-perfect town of Berkeley Springs is Highlawn Inn. Situated in two restored Victorian homes and a private carriage house, the inn offers antiques-appointed accommodations in an intimate setting. Some rooms have Jacuzzi tubs. Full breakfast is included. Rooms begin at $98 double occupancy, Jacuzzi rooms at $165-$205, carriage house at $205. (Pay by cash or check for a 5 percent discount.)
171 Market St., (304) 258-5700.
At Highlawn Inn, innkeeper and gourmet cook Sandra Kauffman occasionally prepares Silver Service Dinners in her dining room. It’s like having a sumptuous meal in the home of a long-time friend. $49 plus tax and 18 percent gratuity.
171 Market St., (304) 258-5700.
Dine al fresco on the spacious front porch or in the cozy dining room in the converted 1913 residence that is now Lot 12 Public House. European-trained chef-owner Damian Heath serves a seasonal menu that combines local ingredients with international influences. $27-$36.
117 Warren St., (304) 258-6264.
Whether you sit in the café, tavern or gallery of the high-spirited Tari’s Café, you’ll be surrounded by local art ranging from paintings and quilts to stained glass and pottery. The menu features unique takes on American favorites, such as crispy oysters with pimento cheese grits and pork with an espresso dry rub. There is also a nice vegetarian selection. $23-$29.
33 N. Washington St., (304) 258-1196
The view from Panorama Overlook, about 3.5 miles from downtown Berkeley Springs, is breathtaking—the perfect setting for a sunset steak dinner at Panorama at the Peak.
3299 Cacapon Road, (304) 258-0050
Berkeley Springs is noted for its spas. At four-acre Berkeley Springs State Park, the nation’s oldest and smallest state park and the place where the mineral springs originate, you can soak in a private 750-gallon walk-in tub in the Roman Baths or a 150-gallon whirlpool tub followed by a Swedish massage. Bath and massage packages range from $45-$95. (2 S. Washington St., 304-258-2711)