Saving the big honeymoon for a later date? These picturesque, low-key getaways are the perfect layover to your desired destination./Photo courtesy of Winvian
These nearby retreats in Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia are the perfect close-to-home getaway.
By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey
So you dreamed you’d jet off to a sun-drenched island or European hot spot for your honeymoon, but then along came COVID-19. While you wait for the big getaway, why not indulge your fantasies on a mini-moon close by? Here, we highlight a few idyllic attractions.
Glamping for insiders
Winvian Farm 155 Alain White Road, Morris, Connecticut 860-567-9600; winvian.com
This unique accommodation is composed of 18 whimsically designed private cottages and one master suite situated on 113 acres in Connecticut’s stunning Litchfield Hills amid woodlands and meadows.
Experience: The notion of sleeping outside under the stars is appealing, but the reality of bugs, the hard ground and possible rain may make it somewhat less so. At Winvian, you can have all the romance of camping inside a cozy cabin. The vaulted ceiling in the Camping cabin is sky blue during the day and dotted with stars at night. Forest murals on the walls and huge windows showcasing the real woods surrounding the cabin further promote the sensation of being outdoors. Inside are a tented king bed, Jacuzzi tub and steam shower. If you want to feel on top of the world, choose the Treehouse, which is suspended 35 feet above the forest floor. A childhood dream turned adult fantasy, this two-floor cottage has a Jacuzzi, steam shower and full bar. Both cottages come with complimentary bicycles to explore the posh property. ($899 weekdays, $999 weekends double occupancy.)
Dine: You could have your three-course prix fixe dinner in Winvian’s elegant dining room or savor a just-the-two-of-you feast by having it delivered to your cottage. Examples of recent menu offerings include grilled octopus or roasted quail appetizer, duck breast or hand-rolled cheese ravioli entrée, and milk chocolate mousse or coconut dacquoise for dessert. (860-393-3004.)
Hotel Hershey 100 Hotel Road, Hershey, Pennsylvania 717-533-2171; thehotelhershey.com
Designed to replicate a hotel founder Milton Hershey had visited in the Mediterranean, the Hotel Hershey has been offering gracious accommodations and service since the 1930s. Enjoy an homage to tropical images, colors and flavors from the Hershey Company’s early presence in Cuba, from which it purchased the sugar used in its confections. Double occupancy overnight rates begin at $259 in spring and $399 in summer.
Experience: Close your eyes and imagine yourself on a tropical isle as you sink into the intoxicating scent of Cuba’s national flower, the mariposa blanca—also known as the white butterfly lily— with accents of hibiscus and orange blossom. That’s the ultra-relaxing Noche Azul Soak, one of the Cuban Experience treatments available at the Spa at the Hotel Hershey. Other exotic offerings such as the Mojito Massage and Hydrating Wrap and the Cuban Hands and Feet warm sugar scrubs pamper your skin and senses with the essences of jasmine, lime and coconut. ($70–$155; 844-330-1797; chocolatespa.com.) Wander through 23 acres of peace and perfume at Hershey Gardens. Amid an indoor setting of lush flora in the gardens, hundreds of butterflies flutter freely around you. ($13.50; 170 Hotel Road, 717-534-3492; hersheygardens.org.)
Dine: Don’t miss dinner in The Circular, Hotel Hershey’s world-class fine-dining spot. Recent menu offerings have included honey lavender roast chicken and rosemary-roasted chateaubriand. ($21–$55; 717-534-8800.)
Canyon Country Campground 130 Wilson Road, Wellsboro, Pennsylvania 570-724-3818; canyoncountrycampground.com
If you would prefer a little more traditional camping experience, you can rent a rustic or full-bathroom cabin in the woods close to prime hiking and biking trails. Rustic cabins are $72 daily, $74 holiday double occupancy; modern cabins are $82 daily, $84 holidays.
Experience: Perhaps the Grand Canyon was your original honeymoon destination, but you don’t want to fly or make the long drive. Mother Nature has you covered with an awe-inspiring official National Natural Landmark much closer to home. Pine Creek Gorge, best known as Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon, is part of the Tioga State Forest in the north-central part of the state. The gorge stretches over 45 miles with depths of nearly 1,500 feet. At the bottom is the Pine Creek Rail Trail with a gentle grade that makes it perfect for hiking and biking. For water activities, join Pine Creek Outfitters for a three-hour guided kayaking tour on the Upper Pine Creek, whether you’re a beginner or a veteran. ($89; 5142 Route 6, Wellsboro, 570-724-3003; pinecrk.com.)
Dine: Head into the charming town of Wellsboro with its old-fashioned gaslit streets to take your meal at the Log Cabin Inn, known for its extensive steak and seafood menu. Go all out and order the Steak Alaska, a filet mignon topped with crab, shrimp and scallops. You will also find some thoughtful meatless selections. (3501 Route 6, 814-435-8808.)
Inn at Perry Cabin 308 Watkins Lane, St. Michaels, Maryland 410-745-2200; innatperrycabin.com
Built right after the War of 1812 on the bank of the Miles River, the inn combines historic architecture with sophisticated ambiance. Ask for a waterfront or gardenside room with a furnished balcony or terrace where you can sip a glass of wine and take in the beautiful views. Accommodations start at $595 per night double occupancy.
Experience: It isn’t hard to imagine yourself floating along the European coast on a private sailboat cruise at the Inn at Perry Cabin. Two-hour, half-day and full-day charters are available for flat rates starting at $450. You can also learn to take the helm with lessons from certified instructors ranging from a few hours to five days at the inn’s Sailing Academy. Private instruction is available on a half-day ($600–$850) or full-day ($900–$1,000) basis. A two-day Learn to Sail in a Weekend program is also available. You can earn certification when you take the three-day Basic Keelboat Course ($800) or the five-day Basic Keelboat and Cruising Course ($1,400).
Dine: The three-course prix fixe dinner at Stars, the inn’s fine-dining restaurant, puts a modern spin on American classics. A recent menu featured North Carolina Smokin’ Shrimp n’ Grits and duck with crispy confit. This being Maryland, home of the crab cake, Stars offers a stellar version.
Inn at Willow Grove 14079 Plantation Way, Orange, Virginia 570-317-1206; innatwillowgrove.com
A true oasis, this lovingly restored 1770s manor house and nearby cottages are surrounded by colorful gardens. Each room is individually furnished and decorated, and some have wet bars. At your service is your own concierge butler, who will arrange for your recreation and dining, leave a sweet treat in your room during turndown service and deliver house-made beignets to your door each morning. There is an on-site spa with a heated saltwater pool for guests. $315–$640 double occupancy.
Experience: The inn’s location close to numerous wineries evokes a feeling of Italian wine country. Book a five-hour personalized tour of at least three of these wineries through the inn. You’ll be chauffeured in an Escalade or SUV for purchased tastings and you can add a picnic basket or snack on some light fare for sale at one of the venues. You also receive a bottle of your choice of a red or a white with a picnic basket. (Starting at $350; reserve at least two weeks in advance.)
Dine: The setting is intimate and the food imaginative at Vintage Restaurant & Pub. Included on a recent menu were Virginia rockfish with Spanish couscous and a duo of lamb with smoked eggplant, goat cheese polenta, and blackberry and mint demi. Wednesday is gourmet tapas night so you can get wide-ranging taste of the chef’s ingenuity.