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As COVID has upended travel, honeymoons have certainly not been spared. Most American couples have postponed or canceled their post-nuptial escape. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to get away. A trip—any trip—still ranks high, even if plans for a larger-scale honeymoon have been pushed to next year, or the next. Enter the First Moon, a vacation that’s shorter, closer to home, and more affordable than the big lovers’ escape to come.
Regional and domestic destinations are prime for First Moon trips because they are easy to plan and easy to budget, and they allow couples to have solid control of their trip. In fact, a survey by Zola and Travelzoo found that:
- 20% of postponed honeymoons were originally booked within the U.S. but a whopping 88% of honeymoons that had to be re-planned were set at a domestic destination (55% within the same region that the couples call home)
- 35% said they’d go anywhere within the United States
- 12% are comfortable with an overseas escape to a nearby tropical destination
Our list of favorite First Moon destinations offers a variety of experiences across the continental U.S., along with some of our favorite tropical destinations that are welcoming Americans right now.
And there’s extra appeal here: These offers are fully refundable and offer wide-open travel windows well into 2021 and, in some cases, even 2022.
The Golden State offers a wealth of experiences that spotlight the outdoors, wellness, and romance. Southern California is easy to access with numerous airports even beyond LAX that put you near some of the best beach spots, mountain resorts, and desert hideaways in the world.
SoCal dining options are world-class, and accommodation options range from the sprawling and five-star to the more rustic and unique—something for every budget. We love the luxurious and secluded Ranch at Laguna Beach for its focus on sustainability, its private beach along the gorgeous Orange County coast and its farm-to-table restaurant.
Not to be overlooked, Central California hotspots like Santa Barbara and Paso Robles, are just a couple hours’ drive up the coast, along historic Highway 101. Home to California’s other wine country, the vino scene here is relaxed, approachable, and affordable. The brand new Hotel San Luis Obispo is sleek and modern, surrounded by the Santa Lucia Mountains and close to beaches and wine estates.
All four seasons come to life in Vermont, which makes it a super appealing and super accessible First Moon destination for any couple living in the Northeast. Think plenty of natural landscapes, lots of open space, and myriad quiet, private places to discover.
A retreat like Stowe Mountain, for example, offers some of the country’s best skiing in winter, best hiking in summer, and a bevy of adventure options during spring and fall. It’s home to Topnotch Resort & Spa, one of the most celebrated properties in the entire state, and offers an equestrian center, a luxe spa, and a tennis academy. Its setting at the foot of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, serves up spectacular views.
For many couples, the sexy, buzzy vibe of South Florida is hard to resist. The beaches and the nightlife that define coastal escapes like Miami need no introduction. But don’t overlook the easy access to the Florida Keys. They offer a tropical escape while allowing lovers to stay domestic, and natural spaces and outdoor adventure reign supreme.
The laid back ambiance on Duck Key, located 80 miles south of Miami and year-round home to just about 500 people, makes the 60-acres Hawks Cay Resort extra attractive. Designed like a quaint, waterfront village, its 85-slip marina is an epicenter for water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding, while the adult-only pool is a welcome oasis at any time of day.
Each Caribbean destination offers something unique to the First Moon couple, with Barbados, which began welcoming Americans on July 12, a prime spot for those who love the water.
The independent British Commonwealth nation, located in the eastern Caribbean and a four-hour flight from the East Coast. is prime for snorkeling, SCUBA diving, boating, and fishing. Foodies will be happy here, too, as well as anyone with a penchant for rum. The luxurious Fairmont Royal Pavilion is a standout here, with its easy access to a pristine beach where couples can swim with turtles. Pro tip: Book a Beachfront Suite for access to butler service and a personalized airport concierge.
First Mooners will love the easy access and the quintessential romance and R&R options that Mexico offers. There’s major bang-for-the-travel-buck here, too, thanks to a strong U.S. dollar and fervent competition among so many luxury resorts; Cabo San Lucas will offer some of the best values south of the border, thanks to the no less than 12 brand new resorts that opened their doors in 2019.
Among those is the oceanfront Garza Blanca Resort, with its prime off-the-beaten-path location between downtown Cabo and artsy San Jose del Cabo; the rooftop infinity pool here is stunning.
For more information on these and dozens of other First Moon destinations, visit www.travelzoo.com/collection/Zola.