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Destination I Do
Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Vintage Honeymoon Hotspots

Words by Susan Moynihan
Photos courtesy of various sources, see below

Dreaming of your honeymoon plans as you shelter in place? Our brilliant contributor, Susan Moynihan of The Honeymoonist has shared her love of some classic honeymoon destinations and how they’ve been reimagined. Rediscover vintage hotspots like Honolulu, Palm Springs and Niagra Falls.

Certain destinations have drawn generations of couples, all looking for a special place to start their lives together. But, just because the destination has a long history doesn’t mean it’s passé or outdated, as evidenced by these three romantic classics offering just as much beauty and service to modern couples as they did to generations past.

Honolulu, Hawaii

There’s no doubt about it, Hawaii is having a moment. This collection of islands was glamourous back in the 1930s, when visitors would arrive by steamship and stay for months and the Hawaii Calls radio show beamed from Waikiki Beach to households all across America, putting it on the top of every couple’s dream honeymoon list. Those qualities that first lured mainlanders are still in place. Namely, gorgeous natural beauty with iconic places like Waikiki Beach and a gentle aloha vibe personified by lei greetings, ukulele music and gracious hospitality. The island of Oahu showcases all aspects of the state’s beauty, from bustling Honolulu to the serene North Shore. 

sunset of waikiki beach and the halekulani 

Where to Stay: Waikiki put Hawaii on the world stage and there’s no better view of its iconic sweeping curve than at Halekulani, the luxury hotel perched on the beach’s north end. Book a Diamond Head Suite and you can see all the way to Diamond Head crater from your balcony. La Mer is the island’s premier fine-dining spot and, when you wander, you’re just steps from restaurants, shops, surf lessons and everything else Honolulu has to offer. 

 surfer girls by a bright yellow surf shack

What to Do: Pearl Harbor is a must for first-time visitors, either as a formal tour or on a DIY basis (For the latter, tickets sell out, so get there early!). Rent a car for a day to circumnavigate the island; the drive is about 120 miles with stops at North Shore surf breaks or hiking spots like Diamond Head. Snorkelers will love Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, located on the island’s eastern tip. And there is no better place to take a surf lesson than Waikiki, where surf legend Duke Kahanamoku made the sport famous.

Palm Springs, California

Once upon a time, there was no cooler place to be than Palm Springs, California. This desert enclave drew in the Hollywood elite, from Golden Age-era stars like Douglas Fairbanks and Greta Garbo to Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack in the 1950s and 60s; they all came here to kick back – away from the eyes of the press. The city has undergone a major rebirth in the past decade as a treasure trove of mid-century modern architecture, with amazing private homes and quirky, design-centric boutique hotels that lure in a new generation of celebrities (and not just for Coachella, which takes place down the road). Add in maximum days of sunshine and the stern beauty of the San Jacinto Mountains and you have a honeymoon spot like no other.

 palm springs sign

Where to Stay: It doesn’t get more romantic than Korakia Pensione, a beloved 28-room hotel tucked in a quiet, residential neighborhood at the base of the mountains, but just blocks from the shops and restaurants along Palm Canyon Drive. Select your private villa by style – either airy Mediterranean with timbered ceilings, marble floors and whitewashed walls, or minimalist Moroccan with iron woodwork, Persian rugs and natural materials. Every room has a private patio to soak up the sun and, come evening, guests gather poolside to watch vintage movies screened under the stars.

 korakia pensione at sunset with fountain in middle of courtyard

What to Do: Design aficionados will love the Palm Springs Modern Tour, which takes you into stunning houses by mid-century modern superstars including Albert Frey and Richard Neutra. Take the Aerial Tramway for the two-mile ride up to San Jacinto State Park, home to an observation deck, restaurant and 50 miles of hiking trails. Shopping is a feast for the eyes, from designer clothing to vintage stores filled with one-of-a-kind finds. Think Eames chairs, spaghetti poodle figurines and Bakelite jewelry. When you want to mingle, hit the hip pool scene at Ace Hotel (day passes are available for those not staying on property) or go old school with a romantic meal at Melvyn’s Restaurant and Lounge, a favorite of Sinatra’s. 

Niagara Falls, Canada

This epic natural wonder has been a popular honeymoon spot since the Victorian era. It has a beloved spot in popular culture, as well, from the Marilyn Monroe movie “Niagara” to “The Office’s” Jim and Pam, who wed on a Falls’ boat tour. While the views are considered most epic from the U.S. side, the lodging there is limited, with much of it having seen better days. So, bring your passport and check in to the Canadian side, in the charming town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Thanks to its lakefront location, tree-lined streets and lost-in-time vibe, it’s been named the “Prettiest Town in Canada.” Bonus: There’s also a great wine scene.

 aerial view of niagra falls

Where to Stay: Established in 1864, the Prince of Wales Hotel recalls the glory days of the Victorian era, with brocade wallpaper, vintage-style furnishing and a cozy book-filled library. Check into a Premium Guestroom, which combine old-world canopy beds and fireplaces with thoroughly modern jetted tubs and en-suite espresso machines. Afternoon tea in the Drawing Room is a must, as is a dip in the indoor pool.

What to Do: Boat tours have been ferrying people out into the mists of Horsehoe Falls since the 1840s. On the Canadian side, Hornblower Cruises take you out into the rapids, allowing you to feel the power and mist of Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Come evening, book a table at Fallsview Dining or head up to the rotating restaurant at Skylon Tower for epic two-country views. When you’ve had your fill of falls, fill up on wine; Niagara is one of Canada’s top wine regions, with more than 50 wineries. Inniskillin is renowned for their ice wine, while Peller Estates wows with their wine and cheese pairings and tasting room made from ice.

 Photos in order of appearance (top to bottom): Halekulani, AJ Feducia and Hawaii Tourism Authority, VisitPalmSprings.com, Korakia Pensione and Niagara Falls Tourism

Article originally ran in the Fall/Winter 2019 edition of Destination I Do's print magazine.

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