This article appears in the 2014 Spring/Summer issue of Bride a publication of Louisville Magazine.
1. Washington, Texas
For Western ranch activities at a Spanish-style resort.
Stay: The Inn at Dos Brisas, a Relais & Châteaux- affiliated luxury estate, sits between Houston and Austin (90 minutes by car from each) on over 300 acres in the Texas countryside. The Houston Chronicle calls the inn an “upscale cowboy experience,” as it offers private Spanish-style haciendas and casitas, along with massages and a rose garden.
Eat: The inn’s eatery, a Forbes Travel Guide five-star restaurant, serves French-inspired cuisine made from the property’s organic farm and greenhouse.
Drink: Wines from the inn’s 7,000-bottle cellar, which received a “Best of Award of Excellence” from Wine Spectator magazine.
Do: Dust off your cowboy boots and hit the trails and pastures on the ranch’s trained cutting horses. Other activities include stargazing, fishing, swimming, massages, and cooking and gardening lessons.
Source: Jared Rodriguez, Inn at Dos Brisas representative.
2. Giles County, Virginia
For countryside, mountain views and outdoorsy pursuits.
Stay: The Inn at Riverbend is located in the Blue Ridge Highlands of the Appalachian Mountains and is situated alongside the New River, one of the oldest rivers in the world. The inn has won regional awards, and the Washington Post gave it a nod for best travel bargain.
Eat: Two farm-to-table favorites: The Bank Food and Drink is housed in a 1910 bank building and serves craft beer and regional wine as well as a seasonal menu from award-winning chef Michael Behmoiras. The Palisades Restaurant, housed in a 1918-era general store, serves a popular brick-oven pizza and features live heritage and bluegrass music on weekends.
Do: Hiking, mountain and road biking, fishing, kayaking, floating, horseback riding, stand-up paddleboarding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Or just enjoy a calm night looking at the colorful views. While the fall brings spectacular colors, the spring offers a wealth of shades of green.
Source: Jimm Burton, Giles County resident and owner of the Inn at Riverbend.
3. St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
For an island with a beach, mountains, rainforest and desert. And rum.
Stay: Hotel Caravelle is steps away from dive, sail and fishing boats, and walking distance from art galleries and pubs. Don’t miss happy hour at the RumRunners deck bar on-site.
Eat: The Taste of St. Croix, a food and wine event held every April, which displays the cultural mix of Mexican, French and local dishes. Other island favorites include the Galleon, Maria’s Cantina and Eat@canebay.
Drink: Rum! Tour the Cruzan and Captain Morgan’s rum distilleries. Or sit with locals at the Comanche Mill Yacht-Less Club, which was formerly a sugarcane mill.
Do: The U.S. purchased St. Croix from Denmark in 1916, so Christiansted has some old Danish influences. Shop there for gifts and souvenirs. Also, watch the sunset at Frederiksted and visit Buck Island Reef National Monument, an underwater park.
Source: Jane Watkins, Hotel Caravelle representative.
Photo Ted Davis
4. Miami Beach
For the beach, diversity and colorful nightlife.
Stay: The Fontainebleau, built in 1954 and renovated in 2008, is a “blend of modern luxury and Miami Beach’s golden era.” With the ocean views, pool, spa, restaurant and nightclub, you may stay put at the hotel.
Eat: The West Side neighborhood around Alton Road is a foodie strip with lots to offer. Try the restaurant Juvia on Lincoln Road for al fresco dining and a blend of French, Japanese and Peruvian cuisine.
Do: Check out the Bass Museum, Art Basel, the New World Symphony Center and the outdoor pedestrian mall in the city center. Paddleboard on Biscayne Bay at the Standard Spa Miami Beach or tour Miami Beach by bike, using the city’s bike-sharing program, Deco Bike. Miami exudes nightlife with spots such as Hyde Beach and Story Nightclub.
Source: Katherine Arty, Miami Beach representative.
5. New Orleans
For a lively city and a kickin’ taste of the South.
Stay: The Roosevelt Hotel, considered by the planning company Clandestine New Orleans “the nicest hotel in New Orleans. They really know how to take care of their guests. And their hotel pool is a wonderful little oasis.”
Drink: Spiked frozen lemonades at the hotel.
Eat: Sylvain Restaurant on Chartres Street near Jackson Square. Its contemporary take on a gastropub offers everything from Brussels sprout salad to sweetbreads. Make a reservation for brunch on Sunday at Atchafalaya, just outside the Garden District, where the grits and grillades are among the best in the city.
Do: The Maple Leaf Bar, which opened in 1974, features nightly jazz, funk, blues and R&B shows. Go to Magazine Street for local color and a taste of different shops and bars. Take a day trip to Cajun country, have beignets and Bloody Marys at Café des Amis in Breaux Bridge and dance to live Cajun music.
Source: Clandestine New Orleans, run by Kelley Troia and Kim Sayatovic. The two create tailored experiences in the Big Easy.
Photo Rick Dobbs
6. Los Angeles
For West Coast glamour and California cool.
Stay: The London West Hollywood is an all-suite luxury hotel on Sunset Strip between Sunset and Santa Monica boulevards. Enjoy one of the private cabanas at the rooftop pool. Order cocktails and dinner prepared by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s culinary team. Los Angeles Magazine suggests going to the hotel’s London Bar and asking for a “Final Ward,” made with bourbon, green Chartreuse, Luxardo maraschino and fresh lime.
Eat: Chateau Marmont, which the Los Angeles Times calls “low-key glamour,” offers small plates such as oysters and calamari and main dishes such as hanger steak bordelaise. Paradise Cove Beach Cafe in Malibu serves lobster tacos and seafood buckets.
Drink: Sip on margaritas at The Bungalow, an eclectic Baja-style joint in Santa Monica.
Do: Rent bikes and ride along the beach from Santa Monica to Marina Del Rey. Go wine tasting in Malibu. Stroll down Abbot Kinney Boulevard for shops, art galleries and history.
Source: Amanda Guy Duff, London West Hollywood representative; Emily Chan, Los Angeles resident.