THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC has not only postponed or changed plans for couples’ wedding days, but also, sadly, their honeymoons. However, depending on what the restrictions of the pandemic are at the time, couples may still get away for a honeymoon without hopping on a plane or packing a passport. In fact, all four of the following destinations are within driving distance of Detroit — six hours or less — making it still feel like couples are adventuring to a romantic urban center or a quiet coastal town. Sometimes it takes thinking outside the box to embrace the idea of a honeymoon that’s sans palm trees and piña coladas but still features adventure, romance, and quality time as newlyweds.
THE ROMANTIC HONEYMOON
MACKINAC ISLAND MAY be an obvious choice for a drivable honeymoon spot, but there’s good reason. Not only is the island easily accessible from metro Detroit — it’s a mere four-plus hours away — it also emanates romance from the moment you arrive. Spanning only four-square miles, Mackinac Island is chockfull of character with its circa-19th century Victorian homes and quaint small-town vibe.
Rent a bike and spend the day wandering downtown or along the water’s edge by the docks, hitting major landmarks such as Doud’s Grocery (which bills itself as America’s oldest family-operated grocery store), Avenue of the Flags, and the butterfly conservatory. Better yet, hop on a horse-drawn carriage tour of the island with Mackinac Island Carriage Tours, which has been running tours of the island since 1948. With 82 percent of the island designated parkland (70 miles of which are trails that are perfect for horseback riding), it’s also ideal for hiking. Arch Rock sits 146 feet over Lake Huron and provides a remarkable view of Mackinac from above.
After a day exploring, unwind with a pre-dinner glass of Prosecco or bourbon and a game of bocce on the grounds of the Grand Hotel (grandhotel.com), a circa-1887 property overflowing with old-world charm. Opt for a lakefront room, which features panoramic views of sailboat-spotted Lake Huron, and be sure to book a couple’s massage at the luxurious Aveda spa. For dinner, head to Chianti at the nearby Mission Point Hotel (missionpoint.com), where couples can enjoy a culinary experience featuring five-course meals with wine pairings. Afterward, head to the Pink Pony (pinkponymackinac.com) for after-dinner drinks and people watching as locals and out of towners alike imbibe here on the regular.
THE EXPLORERS’ HONEYMOON
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT a road trip that brings couples together. In fact, couples who travel together report higher levels of satisfaction with their relationships, according to a survey by the U.S. Travel Association. So while a road trip with stops along the way may not feel luxurious, it is a surefire way to connect as newlyweds. First stop: the small town of Glen Arbor in the northwest section of the state on Lake Michigan. Along the way, take a detour to Traverse City to experience some of northern Michigan’s great dining and shopping, not to mention its microbreweries and wineries. After a morning in town, head to 45 North Vineyard & Winery (fortyfivenorth.com). Set inside a hand-hewn, post-and-beam barn, the tasting room is where you’ll sample some of the state’s best wines while toasting to newlywed life. Finally, make a final stop at Leland’s Fishtown, a fishing centerpiece in the state.
After a day on the road, head back to Glen Arbor where you’ll check into the Homestead Resort (thehomesteadresort.com). Though the circa-1932 property offers an array of accommodations, book one of the adults-only suites at Little Belle. This quaint section of The Homestead instantly sets the stage for romance with its brick-paved walkways, gardens, and waterfalls and creeks running throughout.
Wake up early and head to Sleeping Bear Dunes, named one of the most beautiful places in the country by Good Morning America. This national park located on the shore of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula is best known for its scalable, sweeping dunes framed by the coast of Lake Michigan. Hike the trails throughout the state park but be sure to make the adventure up Dune Climb, one of the park’s most popular and notable attractions. Want more adventure? Hop on a ferry to the Manitou Islands for even more hiking before heading back to The Homestead for some R&R at the resort spa.
THE BOUGIE HONEYMOON
CAMPING MAY NOT BE on the top of most honeymooners’ lists of post-I Do destinations, but when it’s luxury glamping, it should be. There’s nothing gritty about a stay at The Fields (thefieldsofmichigan.com). No pitching tents; no roughing it under the stars. Instead, couples enjoy a luxurious glamping experience that’s rustic and glamorous all at once. Each of the hardy, cloth tents are held in place by sturdy tree branches, while inside it’s luxury everything. There’s a wood-burning stove to keep warm by the fire for morning coffee, an ultra-plush king-size mattress swathed in elegant cotton sheets and fluffy pillows, full en suite bathroom (yes, with plumbing), and even a cozy reading nook to relax in. There’s purposefully no Wi-Fi here, allowing couples to disconnect from life’s responsibilities and connect more to one another. At The Fields, there’s no roasting the day’s catch over the fire; instead, there are daily chef-prepared meals, each paired with wine for a complete culinary experience. In 2021, expect the addition of a tree house spa and bar on property.
Take one morning to head into nearby South Haven, a small coastal town on Lake Michigan rich with character and charm. Stroll the downtown, in and out of antique stores and art galleries before heading to Clementine’s (ohmydarling.com) for lunch. Want margaritas and tacos instead? Head to Su Casa (sucasa-restaurante.com) for fabulous Mexican fare. To get a solid feel for life on the water, get out on the water. Michigan Maritime Museum offers charters on a variety of its fleet, including a replica 1810 top sail sloop and a circa-1941 USCG Motor Lifeboat 36460.
Post-glamping, drive south to Kalamazoo for a more urban honeymoon experience. Book a room at the Kalamazoo House Bed & Breakfast (thekalamazoohouse.com). This 140-year-old B&B oozes Victorian charm. Its proximity to downtown museums, dining, and shopping make it a great spot for couples who love to explore urban centers, too.
THE ADVENTUROUS HONEYMOON
EXPERIENCING AN ADVENTURE can be a significant boost to a couple’s bond. According to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, couples who did new, exciting activities together experienced a significant spike in their relationship quality. Which should be enough to inspire newlyweds to embark on an adventurous honeymoon exploring Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Though it’s hard to choose where to start an adventure honeymoon in this area of the state (because there are so many options), begin with a trip to Tahquamenon Falls State Park. For the really adventurous, try the River Trail, which features the challenging, four-mile-long “Trail Between Da Falls.” The reward for completing this difficult hike is the scenery; it’s often considered the park’s most beautiful trail option with views of cascading waterfalls along the way. Plenty of local campgrounds nearby offer cabins for rent, including Tahquamenon Falls Lodge.
The next day, make your way west to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This breathtakingly picturesque state park is where honeymoon photos are made, with the park’s dramatic multicolored cliffs as a backdrop. Some of the other dramatic scenery is along Twelvemile Beach, which features a trail through a white birch forest as well as unusual sandstone formations such as Chapel Rock and Miners Castle.
After a few days exploring, make the drive to downtown Marquette for a different type of adventure — one that includes a luxurious escape to the Landmark Inn (thelandmarkinn.com). The hotel, which opened in 1930 as the then-Northland Hotel, is a historic Marquette landmark. Each of the 100 stately suites is full of antiques and traditional architectural details that are original to the hotel.
On your way out of town, squeeze in one last adventure to the western part of the peninsula to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Put on your hiking shoes because this state park is Michigan’s largest with 60,000 plus acres and more than 90 miles of hiking trails, many of which offer unobstructed views of Lake Superior.