American Dreams: East Coast

These eastern urban jewels offer first-class dining, important museums, fabulous shopping, and they don't require a passport.

Want to fly high on romance without spending a night on a plane? A honeymoon in a sophisticated city may be just the answer. The two of you can use your money for lavish digs and fine food and wine instead of international airfare, and drink in the culture. There's so much to see and do in these urbane locales, you may not even get to it all!

Boston

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From that famous harbor to the Freedom Trail, Boston has something for every history lover. It's always been a reserved, proper-seeming city, yet there's a vibrancy that echoes through its neighborhoods.

Go Play

In the Boston Public Garden, you can sit under a willow tree or stroll along the paths that crisscross the 24-acre space, exploring a grand pedestrian suspension bridge, statues, sculptures and-if you come in the spring-stunning beds of tulips. Then, take a ride on one of Boston's famous swan boats, which ply the lagoon from April to September, allowing you to enjoy the serenity of the garden and admire the city skyline in the distance. It's the perfect photo op (617-522-1966; swanboats.com).

Good Eats

From the outside, it looks like just another of Back Bay's 19th-century townhouses, but inside, Espalier is truly something special. This 26-year-old restaurant serves up French dishes made with fresh New England ingredients, such as Hudson Valley foie gras with apricots, grilled Vermont lamb and butter-poached Maine lobster. Order the caviar degustation menu, and the chef will pair caviar with each dish (617-262-3023; lespalier.com).

Party Hearty

After dinner, head to chic, popular Newbury Street (Boston's shopping mecca) and visit The Red Room at Sonsie. This seductive lounge is located down a single flight of stairs, but it feels far away from the busy street above. Settle onto a red leather couch or at the bar, where even the stools and lights are red. Listen to some lounge music and sip a well-mixed martini-nothing trendier would do in this classic town (617-351-2500; sonsieboston.com).

Sleep Tight

Spend the night in one of the 383-room Fairmont Copley Plaza's recently renovated suites. They're luxurious and expansive, with custom-designed furniture and views of the square. The 93-year-old "Copley,"as Bostonians call it, embodies the city's traditional elegance, thanks in part to its Waterford crystal chandeliers and stunning murals on the ceilings (617-267-5300; fairmont.com).

- Randi F. Marshall

New York

New Yorkers often describe their home as a collection of neighborhoods-which conjures a far different picture than most visitors get when they arrive for the first time. You'll understand this small-town feel when you realize that many locals have a dry cleaner who knows their name, and a hairdresser who doesn't have to be reminded of how they like their bangs trimmed. Get off the tourist track and you'll be able to experience the warmth and charm that's hidden in this sophisticated metropolis.

Go Play

Central Park is the true heart of the city. Here, residents walk their dogs, exercise and check each other out on sunny days. In the wintertime, there's nothing like ice-skating at the park's Wollman Rink. It's larger than the more famous patch of ice at Rockefeller Center, and you'll get a great view of the Manhattan skyline, rising above the treetops ( 212-439-6900; wollmanskatingrink.com).

In the summer, there are concerts and plays in the park, from starlit serenades by the New York Philharmonic (newyorkphilharmonic.org) and the Metropolitan Opera (metopera.org) to Shakespeare productions complete with actors on hiatus from their TV or film gigs (publictheater.org). Best of all, these performances are free.

Good Eats

From the moment you walk into Restaurant Daniel, you'll know you're in good hands. Drinks in the bar aren't just well-made, they're fabulous enough to write home about. (Don't leave without trying the Pear Vanilla Champagne cocktail.) The three-course tasting dinner is truly spectacular, from the terrine of pâté served with sour cherries and brioche toasts, to the braised short ribs, which are cooked to caramelized perfection, and the lemony-sweet madeleines (hot from the oven) that are served with your coffee. Just be sure to book early, tell the reservation attendant that you're honeymooners (they'll write "Congratulations" in chocolate on your dessert plates) and request a tented table, where you can dine in true privacy-and smooch when nobody is looking. Fore more information call 212-288-0033 or visit danielnyc.com.

Party Hearty

The Campbell Apartment bar is located on the ground floor of spectacular Grand Central Terminal. But even if this lounge-which really was once an apartment- weren't in the city's Art Nouveau train station, you'd still want to go. Order up a glass of Prohibition Punch, and be mesmerized by the bar's 1920s-style decor, complete with mahogany walls, beamed ceilings, a stone fireplace and leaded glass windows. For more information call 212-953-0409 or visit hospitalityholdings.com.

Sleep Tight

Stay at the 180-room Carlyle hotel on tony Madison Avenue and you'll see right away how glamorous this city can be (and why real-estate prices in this neighborhood are astronomical). The hotel's Empire-style rooms are filled with antique porcelain lamps, marble bathrooms and Louis XV-style furniture. Ask for room 2101, a standard double that has an enormous terrace with views of Central Park, and a table and chairs for sharing breakfast (800-227-5737; rosewoodhotels.com).

- Sherri Eisenberg

Philadelphia

In the "City of Brotherly Love" the cobblestoned roads, rows of charming 18th- and 19th-century townhouses and canopies of old oak trees will whisk you back in time. But walk just a few blocks further, and you'll be faced with the skyscraper-filled skyline or the bustling downtown of modern Philadelphia. This is a city that mixes its old and new worlds- choose wisely, and you can taste both.

Go Play

A walk along Museum Mile is a quintessential Philadelphia experience. Start at Love Park in Kennedy Plaza, where a group of performers might entertain you with a song. Relax at the Swann Fountain, a dramatic display of sculpture and water. Then, run (or walk) up the "Rocky" steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as Sylvester Stallone's character did in the original movie. Go on Friday afternoon and you can enjoy an early evening jazz cabaret show in the center hall of the museum (215-763-8100; philamuseum.org).

Good Eats

For what just might be the best meal in the city, take in the elegant finery of a six-course dinner at Le Bec-Fin. Sit in the Parisian-style parlor, and savor the restaurant's signature crab cakes or a fabulous smoked foie gras trio complete with red-wine jelly. But save room for the sweets on the dessert cart, from which you can select as many treats as you can eat. Our favorite indulgence? The mouthwatering caramel and chocolate mousse, layered between slices of a hazelnut meringue topped with, yes, 24-karat gold leaf (215-567-1000; lebecfin.com).

Party Hearty

It's no longer a Philadelphia secret, but the elegant jazz club Zanzibar Blue still hosts legends and newcomers alike (200 South Broad Street; cover charges start at $15 per person; 215-732-4500; zanzibarblue.com). After a couple of cocktails, head to South Philadelphia and order a cheese steak with Cheese Whiz and onions to share as a midnight snack. Philadelphians debate where to go for this masterpiece. Our choice: the 75-year-old Pat"s, where the bread is fresh and the steaks are perfect (215-468-1546; patskingofsteaks.com).

Sleep Tight

Ask for a square-view suite, and you'll get to look at one of the city's finest parks during your stay at the luxurious 98-room Rittenhouse Hotel, where both your bed and your tub will have windows overlooking the square. The Rittenhouse has the best and most convenient location in town, not to mention all the requisite bells and whistles. Don't miss the chance to ride in a horse-drawn carriage to see the Liberty Bell (215-546-9000; rittenhousehotel.com).

- R.F.M.

Washington, D.C.

Call it the "capital" of romance. With great international cuisine (designed to please even diplomats" discerning palates) and world-class museums (many are free), this vibrant city offers everything a couple of culture buffs could ask for in a honeymoon.

Go Play

If you think a spa is just a spa, the Spa at the Mandarin Oriental Washington, D.C., might change your mind. Don't be surprised when the reservation agent suggests that you come an hour early; the extra time will give you the opportunity to play in the "wet" area, where there are an enormous steam room, a pool-size Jacuzzi and a shower with multiple settings, such as "warm mist" and "cool rain." The room is stocked with crushed ice and lavender-scented cold cloths, and it's so pleasant that you could almost forget you're there for a treatment (888-888-1778; mandarinoriental.com).

Good Eats

Washington, D.C., may be below the Mason-Dixon Line, but just barely. As a result, it can feel Southern at times, but it's such a transient place that it feels more international than anything else. So what kind of food should you try when you're in town? Lots of kinds. A good place to start is TenPenh, an Asian fusion restaurant that gives fusion a good name. Try the savory Peking duck wraps and the Hong Kong-style whole crispy fish, and save room for the coconut-dusted doughnuts (202-393-4500; tenpenh.com).

Party Hearty

The pop-art-style Helix Lounge is a fun, funky space for normally conservative Washington. You'll see light displays, lots of gauzy white curtains, and white patent leather ottomans that light up when you sit down. We guarantee you won't see a strand of pearls on anyone in the room-this is where young, hip Washingtonians come to kick up their heels ( 800-706-1202; hotelhelix.com).

Sleep Tight

When it comes to Washington hotels, there are plenty of historic properties, but none quite so elegant as the 145-room Hay-Adams Hotel. This Italian Renaissance-style boutique hotel faces the White House, and the rooms are as formal, yet warm, as if they were in the West Wing. You'll find walnut wainscoting and intricately carved ceiling moldings in the guest rooms, as well as fine bedding and lavish window treatments. Ask for a room with a White House view, and don't forget to announce that you're on your honeymoon-your room will be stocked with complimentary champagne, a bouquet of white roses and a White House-shaped box made of white chocolate and filled with cookies (800-424-5054; hayadams.com).

-S.E.

Miami

This Florida city isn't just hot, it's red hot and plenty sexy. Come for the beach and the South Beach nightlife, and you'll be seduced by the cool style and the strong Latin vibe.

Go Play

You could stake out a sandy spot on the beach in front of your hotel, but why not head to the Nikki Beach Club to soak up some Miami sunshine and do some real South Beach people-watching? Sheltered by a ring of palm trees, this sandy backyard has bed-style lounge chairs made of bamboo, on which hipsters in designer swimwear tend to strike languid poses as they sip waiter-served mojitos (305-538-1111; nikkibeach.com).

Good Eats

South Beach rivals New York and L.A. when it comes to in-demand restaurants, so you'll need to make reservations well in advance. For one of the most picturesque dining rooms and freshest seafood, book a table at Azul inthe Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Start at the raw bar and then move on to tasty entrées like Florida pompano filled with Swiss chard and sweet caramelized pears, or ginger-flavored crispy snapper. Here, the seafood is as fresh as the patrons are fashionable (305-913-8288; mandarinoriental.com).

Party Hearty

The Delano has been one of the most talked-about hotels for years. But before you say "overrated,"slip on your sexiest dress and high-heeled sandals one night and checkout the poolside cabanas. First, flounce through the cathedral-likefoyer, and then head outside to the pool area. There, have your husbandorder some bubbly at the bar and meet you inside one of the curtained cabanas. You could keep a lookout for Hollywood A-listers—if only you could pry your eyes off of each other (800-606-6090; morganshotelgroup.com).

Sleep Tight

The South Beach scene first began to heat up in 1940 at the Art Deco Raleigh Hotel,where the legendary pool drew trendsetters in with its stunning cascading waterfalls. Nearly 70 years later, the property has been snatched up by superstar hotelier André Balazs, who has added an outdoor bar and a sleek restaurant, and stocked all 104 rooms with linen duvets, 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets and Kiehl's amenities. After a day of lounging at the pool, snuggle up at the beachfront bonfire and watch the sun slip behind the Atlantic (800-235-6397; raleighhotel.com).—Nicole Sprinkle