If you are the type of person who likes to plan things far in advance, then 2020 probably felt like one disaster after another. We can certainly relate; the past year has been full to the brim with canceled trips and conferences, rushing to cross borders as soon as possible, re-routed and canceled flights, dealing with quarantine, reimagining the home office, rules changing every couple of weeks and constant health monitoring.
Everybody has lost something over the past several months. The spectrum of “somethings” starts with the minor inconveniences that accompany a global health crisis and ends with lost graduations, lost weddings, lost jobs, lost health and lost lives. Wherever my experiences fall on that scale, I have found it unproductive to compare my place on the spectrum to the experiences relatively “less” or “more” traumatic. While counting my blessings can be a decent grounding exercise, it won’t change or fix what I’ve lost. Similarly, pining for an alternate reality is unhelpful in the reality in which I’m living. The point is, a loss is a loss.
If you have lost the wedding that you thought you’d have, it may have felt like a sudden, stressful loss of what would have been. On top of that, you’ve probably faced the hassle of canceling your much-anticipated honeymoon and not knowing how, when or whether to rebook.
Truthfully, these are still open questions. So, if you are faced with the task of planning a stand-in mini-moon while you wait to take your honeymoon (or cancel it altogether) we have plenty of stateside options to check out for a short, low-key romantic getaway. Here are a few that are sure to provide an intimate space for you and your sweetheart while we wait for our lives to stabilize.
Lake Junaluska, NC
Lake Junaluska lies roughly 30 miles west of Asheville along the I-40, but it feels like a proper mountain getaway. The remote, backwoods feel is an idyllic contrast to downtown Asheville’s breweries, cafes and craft shops, and greater Asheville’s impressive and storied estates. This area is beautiful all year but it’s best to visit between May and October for late spring, summer, and early fall foliage. Head even farther west to Eastern Cherokee nation and cross the border into Tennessee through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or simply stay near the lakeshore and enjoy a quiet getaway.
Traverse City, MI
Perfect for summer and autumn, Traverse City lies on the Grand Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan on the Northwest coast of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Traverse City is famous for the National Cherry Festival which was (of course) postponed this year, but every shop, boutique and cafe holds an all-things-cherry vibe year-round. Michigan is also huge on the brewing scene, with heaps of microbreweries to choose from in Traverse City alone; wineries too! Spend some time soaking in the sparkling blue waters of Grand Traverse Bay, hit a taproom or two, and don’t forget to stop into Kilwin’s for some of their famous fudge!
Hill City, SD
Most geology nerds have heard of Hill City and the other areas surrounding South Dakota School of Mines, but if you’re not into rocks, you may not have heard about this gem of a town. Speaking of gems, there is no shortage of rock shops and geology museums in town, which are very on-brand for the area. Hill City lies on one end of the Black Hills Central Railroad 1880 Train, a heritage railway that runs between Hill City and Keystone. While you’re hanging out in the Black Hills, don’t forget to head to Prairie Berry Winery and try their famous Red Ass Rhubarb fruit wine!
Estes Park, CO
Estes Park is a relatively unassuming Colorado mountain town that serves as the nearest town to the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The drive up to Estes Park from the Denver area is spectacular, but don’t forget to stop in Longmont and Boulder to stock up on some favorite Colorado brews before heading to the hills! A park pass is required to enter the national park (even for a drive-through on Trail Ridge Road) but it’ll be worth it for access to some incredible mountain trails. It’s best to visit during summertime when the roads are most likely to be open. Snowfall in the Rockies can persist through late spring and begin again in early autumn!
If you’re looking for a desert getaway, the striking Entrada and Navajo sandstones of Moab are sure to deliver. Famously a hub for climbing, hiking and rafting, this option is best for couples who enjoy exploring together. Its direct proximity to beautiful Arches National Park is a plus, but Arches can get a little bit busy at times. If that’s the case, head down to Canyonlands National Park and enjoy hiking around stunning sandstone formations, old pioneer settlements and caves filled with ancient petroglyphs. Outdoorsy couples can always find something to do in Moab; it’s a great home base for a Southwestern Utah adventure.
For those who are planning mini-moons around Halloween, why not check out moody Salem? Its proximity to Boston makes Salem a highly accessible town, but without the hassle of dealing with a major metropolis during a global crisis. Salem is perfect for couples who enjoy all things spooky, featuring the 1692 Salem Witch Museum which truly exceeds all creepy expectations. After sunset, join one of Salem’s many ghostly walking tours and learn more about Salem’s stories, both haunting and historical. Nothing makes you want a cuddle from your sweetie more than a good scare in Salem!
There’s light at the end of the tunnel (or at least at the end of a needle). While you might not be ready to plan a full-fledged honeymoon yet, you can at least start to envision a trip to celebrate your wedding, whether it be before or after the ceremony.