Honeymoon: U.S. Road trip

By Nora Heston Tarte

Ready to hit the road? Celebrate your wedded bliss with a cross-country trip that promises to get bride and groom closer than ever. After all, what better way to test your love than with 10 (or more) days in the car together? Don’t worry—we think riding off into the sunset together will be a blast.

We’ve mapped one of the best routes to maximize the number of states and cities you’ll be able to visit with a healthy balance of drive time and time to explore. So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and get ready for an adventure!

Stockton à Los Angeles

Drive time: Approx. 5 hours

Home sweet home. Start early on your first day so you hit your first destination in time to grab lunch. L.A. is the perfect starting place for a romantic getaway where you can dine on high-end grub made by celebrity chefs.

Where to stay: Take advantage of L.A.’s swanky vibes by staying in a fancy boutique hotel—preferably one with a rooftop. May we recommend The Standard? A 4-star hotel smack dab in the middle of Downtown L.A. boasting a rooftop bar and pool, plus a 24/7 restaurant on-site. StandardHotels.com

Where to eat: Welcome to a foodie’s paradise. If you’re a fan of Top Chef, you’ll have plenty of places to dine with grub crafted by your favorite TV personalities. Or, have cuisine prepared by an original celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at Spago in Beverly Hills. WolfgangPuck.com

What to do: Be a tourist for the day. Hike to the Hollywood sign, visit the Chinese Theatre, and catch a viewing of your favorite late night talk show.

Los Angeles à Las Vegas

Drive time: Approx. 4 hours

It’s a short drive to the next destination, luxurious Las Vegas. Stop by for dinner, a show, and other late night activities.

Where to stay: Grab a room at The Venetian, The Wynn, Encore or Caesar’s Palace.

Where to eat: At the Encore, Sinatra is an old blues style Italian eatery that features Academy Awards and other Sinatra memorabilia. Don’t miss Top of the World either; a rotating restaurant perched on the 106th floor of the Stratosphere Hotel.

What to do: Everything. Consider taking a trip to Fremont Street where you can zip line over city lights before strolling down the Las Vegas strip to catch the attractions. The best bet for an after-dinner show is one of the city’s many cirque performances. Pick a themed one that appeals to you.

Las Vegas à Zion National Park

Drive time: Approx. 2.5 hours

It’s a quick trip from Vegas to Zion where you’ll go from high roller to hiking.

Where to stay: The national park has three campgrounds—South, Watchman, and Lava Point. Don’t want to camp? Call Zion Lodge.

Where to eat: Springdale (a two-minute drive from the entrance to the national park) is home to a few quality eateries. Enjoy Mexican cuisine in a converted garage at Whiptail Grill or enjoy the view while dining on American eats at King’s Landing Bistro.

What to do: Strap on your hiking boots and hit the trails. Angels Landing is a top pick for those who can handle a steep hike.

Detour: The Grand Canyon

If you wish, add an extra night to your itinerary between Zion and Sedona by stopping at the Grand Canyon on the way.

Zion National Park à Sedona

Drive time: Approx. 4.5 hours

Sedona is a beautiful city located in Northern Arizona. Flanked by red rocks, it offers picturesque hiking and more.

Where to stay: Ready to splurge? Celebrate new love at L’Auberge de Sedona with an overnight stay in a cottage, complete with fireplace. On-site there is a restaurant, bar, and spa. Lauberge.com

Where to eat: Indulge in a steak dinner at Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill. The South American-inspired cuisine tastes best when enjoyed on the patio with panoramic views of Sedona’s one-of-a-kind scenery. MariposaSedona.com

What to do: Get a treatment at the on-site spa before embarking on your next adventure. Stop by local wine bars while you’re here—The Art of Wine, Javelina Leap, and Winery 1912. Then, hike the surrounds.

Sedona à Santa Fe

Drive time: Approx. 6 hours

Enjoy the creative side of Santa Fe where modern artists pay homage to the city’s history.

Where to stay: Get the full New Mexico experience by staying at the Lodge at Santa Fe, a Southwestern-style hotel featuring art-filled rooms. LodgeAtSantaFe.com

Where to eat: Sazon is the place to go for New-World Mexican cuisine. The menu is a tad offbeat, serving taquitos stuffed with grasshoppers and a corn fungus specialty. Delve into the local culture at Kakawa Chocolate House after, where owners serve delicacies based on ancestor recipes. SazonSantaFe.com

What to do: Explore the pueblo-style architecture of this early Spanish town, settled in 1610. The New Mexico History Museum is a must stop while traipsing through Santa Fe Plaza, a public square that hosts markets and events. NMHistoryMuseum.org

Santa Fe à Denver

Drive time: Approx. 5.5 hours

Trade in old-style Spanish pueblos for the more modern mile-high city. With all of the comforts of a big city, the Colorado capital has a lot for outdoor adventurers, too.

Where to stay: Inside of Union Station, the train depot turned “Denver’s Living Room,” The Crawford Hotel pays homage to the site’s roots with train car rooms, and more. TheCrawfordHotel.com

Where to eat: El Five serves Mediterranean cuisine in the city. At the Sushi Den, fish is shipped in daily. Throw back beers at Tap Fourteen, a rooftop beer garden close to Union Station.

What to do: If the time is right, take in a game. The Colorado Rockies call Coors Field home. In the fall and winter, fans can watch the Broncos play at Mile High Stadium. Other top attractions include the Downtown Aquarium, Denver Zoo, Denver Botanic Gardens, and the Denver Art Museum.

Detour: Boulder, Colo.

Take a short trip (about 40 minutes) to Boulder, Colo. Kill time at Pearl Street Mall, an outdoor shopping mall filled with kitschy shops and quaint eateries. Then, grab a pint (and dessert) at nearby Boulder Brewery.

Denver à Salt Lake City

Driving time: Approx. 8 hours

This is the longest stretch of the trip, so feel free to split it in half and spend some time in a small town in between.

Where to stay: Don’t go for a cookie-cutter hotel room. At The Peery Hotel, old school opulence is visible in every room. The place is perfectly posh and decorated with antiques, plus there is an on-site restaurant and bar. ChoiceHotels.com/Utah

Where to eat: Grub on breakfast favorites at Over the Counter Café, a unique establishment where the grills are centered in the middle of the restaurant. Seat yourself and watch the short order cooks in action from a nearby table or the bar. The atmosphere is casual and the menu traditional, but everything is cooked fresh. OverTheCounterCafe.Weebly.com

What to do: SLC has a hefty beer scene with plenty of places that pour the region’s top labels. Take a brewery tour at Uinta to learn how beer is made before tasting the lineup. Squatter’s Pub is another good choice for having a pint, and the brew names are almost as fun as the bar itself.

Detour: Jensen, UT

This is perhaps the best option for a stop between Denver and SLC. For history buffs and dinosaur lovers, the stop is even better. The remains of dinosaurs can still be found embedded in the rocks. There are more than 1,500 visible fossils on the cliff face.

Detour: Park City, UT

Park City is perhaps best known as the location of the Sundance Film Festival, an annual January event that people all over the world come to enjoy. Others see it as a Mecca for winter sports, playing host to skiers and snowboarders of all levels. If you’re visiting in summer, however, stop by the Utah Olympic Park, built for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. When you’re done exploring the museum and adventurer’s activities, hit downtown. Art shops, small restaurants, and boutique stores line several blocks of the Tahoe-esque city.

SLC à Reno

Drive time: Approx. 7.5 hours

It’s the end of your trip, so pamper yourself at Nevada’s other vacation capital. This is the time to unwind and recoup from the past week’s activities before heading home to reality.

Where to stay: Book a night at the Atlantis Hotel to take advantage of the region’s highest rated hotel spa. AtlantisCasino.com

Where to eat: Stay on site and eat all of your meals inside of the Atlantis. The Atlantis Steakhouse, Sushi Bar, Oyster Bar, and Bistro Napa are all solid picks.

What to do: Gamble downstairs in your spare time before hitting the indoor and outdoor pools. Features include a year-round outdoor whirlpool spa, a year-round indoor pool, a seasonal outdoor pool and sun deck, and cabanas for rent. If you want to enjoy some of the city outside of the hotel, venture out for a show in the evening. The big hotels offer year-round lineups of concerts, comedy, cirque performances, and more.

That’s it; your trip has come to an end. Make your final drive back home and hand out those souvenirs!

Reno à Stockton

Drive time: Approx. 3 hours

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