At the very end of Cape Cod, just past downtown Provincetown, ocean, beach, marsh and sky meld into one—and this is exactly the view from the rolling dunes of Race Point Beach. Plop down on the soft sand, and you'll realize that Mother Nature's finest mattress rivals any luxury hotel's king-size bed. Head into the artsy, progressive town for a gallery exhibit or a trendy burlesque show, and you'll savor the best of nature and civilization.
By Day: The undulating seven-mile-long Provincelands Bike Trail dips in and out of sand dunes, weaving through scrub-pine forests and along beaches, making it one of the most scenic bike paths you'll ever ride. More wildlife awaits on whale-watching cruises from town.
At Night: Start with an art-gallery opening at the Berta Walker Gallery (208 Bradford Street; 508-487-6411; bertawalker.com) or at the Julie Heller Gallery (2 Gosnold Street; 508-487-2169; juliehellergallery.com). Afterward, grab tickets for the Post Office Cabaret (303 Commercial St.; 508-487-9793), then boogie into the wee hours at Club Euro (258 Commercial St.; 508-487-2505).
Where to Dine: You're married now, so it's okay to get messy together. Roll up your sleeves and dig into the clambake at Clem & Ursies, a perennial favorite. The dinner includes lobster, steamers, sausage, mussels and potatoes in a yummy broth (85 Shankpainter Rd.; dinner for two, about $50; 508-487-2333; clemandursies.com).
Where to Stay: Close enough that you can walk to the downtown area for shopping and dining, yet far enough that you can stroll the dunes of Race Point, is the eight-room Red Inn. At the hotel's Delft Haven Residence, you'll get a full kitchen, a whirlpool tub and exquisite views of Cape Cod Bay (15 Commercial Street; doubles from $145 per night; 508-487-7334; theredinn.com).
The landmark redbrick lighthouse has been keeping watch on the southeast corner of Block Island for more than a century. Below, sea-gouged clay cliffs plummet some 200 feet to a white, crescent-shaped beach that serves as a welcome mat for the Atlantic. If you're lucky enough to make it to the stretch of coastline below Mohegan Bluffs, you'll know the meaning of solitude.
By Day: Feeling energetic? You can rent bikes and take a 13-mile ride around the lamb-chop-shaped island. You'll pass the shops and restaurants of Old Harbor, the island's only town, and three-mile-long Crescent Beach. Lemonade stands dot the island, so carry lots of change to support the budding capitalists.
At Night: Rock with the locals at Captain Nick's, listening to live music on the terrace or heading inside for a game of pool (69 Ocean Ave.; 401-466-5670; captainnicks.com). Also check out the music scene down the block at Yellow Kittens (Corn Neck Rd.; 401-466-5855).
Where to Dine: At the tony dining room in Hotel Manisses, treat yourselves to Cajun swordfish, herbed salmon, venison or rack of lamb. As you glance out the window, don't be surprised if you notice llamas and emus grazing in the meadows—they're residents of the hotel's farm (dinner for two, before drinks, tax and tip, about $68; blockislandresorts.com; 410-466-2836).
Where to Stay: Located within walking distance of the ferry and just four doors down from the Hotel Manisses, the 1661 Inn is perched on a hill overlooking the Atlantic. The inn's nine guest rooms are individually decorated with antiques (rates start at $175 per night and include a hearty breakfast; blockislandresorts.com; 800-626-4773).
onsistently rated one of the top 10 beaches in the country, Main Beach is a favorite hangout for some of the celebs who have houses in the Hamptons. But even though you might bump into Spielberg or Scorsese here, this gorgeous stretch of golden sand never seems overcrowded.
By Day: Walk around the historic town to visit the ponds, windmills and palatial estates. Later, take a drive to the old whaling village of Greenport, where you can go for a sail on the Mary E, leaving from Preston's Dock (the champagne sunset sail is $30 per person; 516-381-1825; schoonermarye.com).
At Night: See if there's any intriguing theater or live music happening at the intimate John Drew Theater (158 Main Street, East Hampton; guildhall.org). Better yet, tell the doorman at the swanky NV Resort nightclub that you're on your honeymoon and you could end up dancing amid some of Manhattan's most famous celebutantes (44 Three Mile Harbor Rd; 631-329-6000).
Where to Dine: The torches lining the outside path and the presence of banana palms on the balcony add to the Pan-Asian flavor of Pacific East restaurant. Stick to simpler fare here, like moist diver scallops or the flaky, cedar-roasted black cod, for a fantastic meal (415 Main St., Amagansett; dinner for two, before drinks, tax and tip, about $100; 631-267-7770).
Where to Stay: The eight-room 1770 House, built more than two centuries ago as a private estate, is a den of luxury for its guests. Each of the cozy rooms comes with an overstuffed bed and a fireplace. And Chef Kevin Penner's innovative dishes at the restaurant are not to be missed (430 Main Street, East Hampton; double rooms from $295; 631-324-1770; 1770house.com).
This small island at the southernmost tip of New Jersey is the country's oldest beach resort—and a far cry from other towns on the Jersey shore. Over 600 Victorian houses, and white-sand beaches covered in wild beach plum shrubs and dune grass, make Cape May a quiet, gracious seaside getaway.
By Day: Wander down the Promenade along Cape May's town beach, or climb to the top of Cape May Lighthouse for a view of the place where the Atlantic Ocean meets Delaware Bay. Sightings of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are not at all unusual.
At Night: A romantic horse-and-buggy ride, available from the Cape May Carriage Company, is an ideal way to see the restored Victorian neighborhoods that make the town a National Historic Landmark. Snuggle in the back as the horse clip-clops his way through the streets (Ocean St. and the Washington St. Mall; private tours cost $50 per carriage; 609-884-4466; capemaycarriage.com).
Where to Dine: A table at the family-owned-and-run Louisa's Café, a tiny, yellow-clapboard structure with white gingerbread trim, is hard to get but worth the wait. Diners choose from a chalkboard menu of creative, delicious entrées that are fresh; the BYOB policy means making a quick stop at nearby Collier's Liquor Store (104 Jackson Street; dinner for two, before drinks, tax and tip, costs $50; 609-884-5882).
Where to Stay: For Victorian elegance, check into The Virginia. Built in 1879, the 24-room hotel has a wide front porch set with wicker chairs; guest-room décor stays true to its 19th-century roots but with a modern touch—think, a down comforter and a plasma-screen TV (25 Jackson St.; doubles from $185; 800-732-4236; virginiahotel.com).
Known by history buffs for the mysterious disappearance of a 16th-century English colony once located there, Roanoke Island is now the place to visit in North Carolina's Outer Banks. Manteo, the village center, has preserved its colonial charm with a mix of galleries and boutiques alongside historic homes and traditional crabbing operations. And a mere 10 minutes from town lie 70 miles of Atlantic beaches. Our quiet, private favorite: Coquina Beach, in South Nags Head.
By Day: Take to the sky at Kitty Hawk Kites' Hang Gliding Training Center, which is located in Jockey's Ridge State Park, where the beach dunes provide plenty of height and soft sand for landing. A typical three-and-a-half-hour lesson includes ground school and five solo flights five to 15 feet above the ground ($89 for beginner lesson; 877-359-8447; kittyhawk.com).
At Night: Toast to your new marriage aboard a historic schooner: the Downeast Rover, a beautiful reproduction of the tall ships that brought colonists to the New World. Every evening a group of people join Captain Kopp for a cruise in the sheltered water of Roanoke Sound. Help trim the red sails or sip champagne (you bring your own) as the sun sets (The Downeast Rover; $30 per person; 252-473-4866; downeastrover.com).
Where to Dine: With views of Shallowbag Bay and a menu that features Atlantic seafood with fresh herbs and vegetables, the 1587 restaurant combines great food and a romantic setting. Try the tiger shrimp with roasted red peppers (405 Queen Elizabeth Ave.; dinner for two, before drinks, tax and tip, about $80; 252-473-1587; 1587.com).
Where to Stay: Built for the current innkeeper's great-great-grandmother in the 1860s, The Roanoke Island Inn offers its guests charm in the form of cushy beds, antiques and eyelet curtains. Head out your room's private entrance and pedal off on one of the bikes that wait beside the picket fence, or rent out the inn's private island for a romantic day on the beach. Don't feel like exerting yourselves? Then simply relax by the koi pond with a book (305 Fernando St., Manteo; doubles from $138; 877-473-5511; roanokeislandinn.com).
This barrier island, located 30 minutes north of Jacksonville, in the Atlantic Ocean, is a serene slice of unspoiled Florida ringed by deserted, white-dune beaches and dotted with bird-filled state parks. At its heart is the seaside village of Fernandina Beach, which provides the island's authentic Southern charm—Victorian houses, boutiques and art galleries—while beaches like the pristine Peter's Point, on the southern shore (a local favorite), provide ideal places to laze the day away in the sun.
By Day: Try paddling a two-person kayak through the natural beauty of the Spartina Salt Marshes and the Fort George River. During a guided trip, you'll be able to scan the sky for pelicans and egrets, and the water for dolphins, manatees and otters (Kayak Amelia; 13030 Heckscher Dr.; $55 per person for a guided tour, $25-$40 for a four-hour kayak rental; 888-305-2925; kayakamelia.com).
At Night: Over the years, bootleggers and flamboyant eccentrics alike have claimed this quiet island as a hideout, and the result is a wealth of intriguing anecdotes. On a 35-minute moonlit carriage ride, a local driver can give you the inside scoop on the area's historic scandals and a tour of the village—not to mention a little privacy under the carriage's fringed hood (Old Towne Carriage Company; $30 per ride; 904-277-1555).
Where to Dine: Amelia natives love the island's newest restaurant, Embers at The Addison, which opened last July. This relaxed fine-dining outpost serves as an afternoon teahouse, as an "in" spot for cocktails and as a fantastic place to dine. Menus highlight coastal fusion cuisine, which features local seafood in preparations that range from Asian-inspired to traditional Southern styles (604 Ash Street, Fernandina Beach; dinner for two, before drinks, tax and tip, about $80; 904-321-2121; embersattheaddison.com).
Where to Stay: Built between an 18-hole PGA golf course and the Atlantic Ocean, the 444-room Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island has all the luxuries honeymooners love: marble baths, goose-down pillows, round-the-clock room service and drop-dead-gorgeous views. Every room has a private balcony overlooking the water. For a real splurge, check into the 2,500-square-foot suite, which has two balconies (4570 Amelia Island Pkwy.; doubles start at $250; 904-277-1100; ritzcarlton.com/resorts).
In 1981, Seaside was designed and built to be a perfect beach town, with picket fences, pedestrian-friendly streets, pastel-hued cottages, art galleries and an outdoor market. The rest of the town (designed by Mother Nature) is equally dreamy, with a half-mile beach, state-preserved pine forests, freshwater lakes and emerald-green Gulf waters.
By Day: Rent or borrow a couple of bikes and pedal over to Spa Blu for a tranquil couple's massage—just what you need for some post-wedding R&R. You'll lie on adjoining tables for the indulgent treatment, which is performed by two therapists in tandem by the glow of candlelight (57 Uptown Grayton Circle, Grayton Beach; couple's massage costs $170 for 60 minutes; 850-231-5784).
At Night: Bud & Alley's Roof Top Bar is the hot spot for watching the sun sink over the Gulf of Mexico. Make sure you place your bet for guessing the exact moment the sun's rays will hit the water—if you're right, you'll get to ring the ship's bell and receive a free cocktail (Seaside Branch, Santa Rosa Beach; cocktails about $6 each; 850-231-5900).
Where to Dine: Romantics and foodies alike love Criolla's, a tropical-themed bistro founded by a local husband-and-wife team. The dishes on the menu mix Caribbean and Creole traditions and keep the focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Don't miss dishes like the grouper glazed in vanilla and chile rum and served in a coconut-shellfish broth (170 East Scenic Highway 30-A, Santa Rosa Beach; dinner for two, before drinks, tax and tip, about $85; 850-267-1267; criollas.com).
Where to Stay: The beachfront Seaside Honeymoon Cottages are modeled on the Roman Neoclassical style of Thomas Jefferson's guesthouse at Monticello. Set in the dunes, each of these two-columned cottages comes stocked for honeymooners, with robes, bicycles, champagne and wood for the fireplace. Each cottage's upstairs deck has views of the Gulf of Mexico. What's on the downstairs deck? A private whirlpool tub, which is perfect for a sunset soak (County Road 30-A; cottages start at $337, rates based on a three-night stay; seasidefl.com; 800-277-8696).
Known as the laid-back alternative to tony Palm Beach, Singer Island is a relaxing place to kick back on Florida's glittering Gold Coast.
By Day: Just plant yourself under one of the blue beach umbrellas on Riviera Beach and prepare to spend a day in seaside heaven. Over one hundred feet wide, this beach has soft, golden sand, with plenty of space for sunbathing. If you need a break from your lounging, join a game at one of the beach volleyball courts, or stroll over to the simple thatch-roofed bar, which serves all sorts of frozen, fruity drinks in a casual style—daiquiris are a favorite.
At Night: In summer months you can take a magical moonlit tour at MacArthur Beach State Park to see the resident loggerhead turtles nesting on the beach. The walking tour begins at 8:30 p.m., when a park ranger leads a small group of people along a boardwalk raised above the fragile sands to the spot where the female turtles crawl onto the moon-drenched beaches to dig their nests and lay their eggs (John D. MacArthur Beach State Park; tours cost $5 per person; 561-624-6950; macarthurbeach.org).
Where to Dine: Its setting—on a dock on the Intracoastal Waterway—makes the Sailfish Marina Resort restaurant the perfect place to savor breezy Floridian cuisine. Head over at dinnertime (no reservations accepted) and start your meal with Middleneck clams and Blue Point oysters on the half-shell. Save room for the fresh stone-crab claws and spiny Florida lobster (Lake Drive; dinner for two, before drinks, tax and tip, costs $70; 561-842-8449; sailfishmarina.com).
Where to Stay: Located on a four-mile stretch of private beach, the 223-room Hilton Singer Island Oceanfront Resort has modern, pastel-hued rooms with tropical-style rattan furniture. Ask for a water-view room so you can be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves outside your window (3700 North Ocean Drive; doubles start at $188, suites start at $299; 561-848-3888; hilton.com).
Just off the southernmost tip of South Carolina, in the Atlantic Ocean, Hilton Head Island has been a favorite beachy getaway for East Coasters since its founding in the 1950s. Strict local regulations—including bans on neon and streetlights—have helped the island to retain its quiet atmosphere. With 12 miles of flat, white, sandy beach, and a huge contingent of golf courses and tennis courts, the island is ideal for active honeymooners.
By Day: Rent a bike and spend the day exploring the 30 miles of paved bike paths that traverse the island. You'll wheel past resorts and shops, and you can even take your bike off-road: Hilton Head's sand is so densely packed that you don't need a beach bike to cruise the shore. Rent a tandem bike (that's a bicycle built for two), tie a picnic onto the handlebars and you're ready to—literally—roll (Hilton Head Bicycle Company; bikes cost $12 each per day; 800-995-4319; for trail information, go to greaterblufftonpathways.org and click on "Bike Routes & Maps").
At Night: The Sea Pines Resort is the best-known hotel on the island, and one of the resort's highlights is its Beach Club, which is a perfect place to have cocktails and enjoy some sunset magic before the live calypso music gets you dancing beneath the stars. The house special, the Frozen Key Lime Pie cocktail—a sweet-and-sour frozen concoction, with graham cracker crumbs around the rim—is an ideal drink for the setting (32 Greenwood Drive, Hilton Head; $7.50 per drink; 888-807-6873; seapines.com/index.asp).
Where to Dine: The newest place in town is actually a boat—a 90-foot yacht called The Palmetto Star. The food onboard, featuring local seafood specialties like Daufuskie Island deviled crab with a hot-pink remoulade sauce, is far superior to the usual cruise fare. And the scenery is wonderful: Lucky diners might even spot dolphins swimming alongside the bow (Shelter Cove Harbor, Dock C; $59 per person, before drinks, tax and tip; 843-842-7889; palmettostar.com).
Where to Stay: Unlike many Hilton Head hotels (including some very luxurious ones), The Westin Resort, Hilton Head Island has a prime location: right on the ocean. Rooms have oceanfront balconies, and beds with zillion-thread-count sheets and down pillows, and the service is first-rate: You can have an in-room couple's massage through the resort's spa, or call to have a room-service breakfast delivered to your balcony. The resort also has a fitness center, three golf courses and 16 tennis courts, with your choice of grass, clay or hard surfaces (Two Grasslawn Ave., Hilton Head Island; massage is $120 per hour, doubles from $459; 843-681-4000; starwoodhotels.com).
This 10,000-acre private island combines deserted beaches, acres of maritime forests and natural Southern grace for a true hideaway experience: Picture the sweeping, moss-draped branches of 300-year-old live oaks bordering horseback-riding trails lined with flowers. The entire island is owned by Little St. Simons Resort and the population is limited to its 30 guests. But if you're still worried about crowds, try Main Beach. Odds are, you'll share it with just your new spouse and a few birds.
By Day: Treat yourself to an excursion to neighboring St. Simons Island for a round of golf at The Hampton Club. The course, which winds through a lake, lagoons and salt marshes, challenges duffers' skills while treating them to a historic coastal setting, complete with a restored antebellum plantation (100 Tabbystone, St. Simons Island; $90 for greens and cart; 912-634-0255; hamptonclub.com).
At Night: When the moon rises, hop in a pick-up truck for a tour of the coastal night. A Little Saint Simons wildlife guide will point out creatures including fallow deer and alligators (you'll see their eyes, glowing from the ponds), and teach you to call a screech owl. (Nightly tours are ninety minutes long, and are included in the price of a hotel stay.)
Where to Dine: Meals are included in the price of a stay at the resort, but many guests like to end their trip by eating at Halyard's, on St. Simons Island. Chef Dave Snyder fishes for the catch of the day and has perfected gourmet versions of Low-Country cuisine. An example: wild Georgia white shrimp with andouille sausage, cream and cheese topping stone-ground grits (Suite 19, The Shops At Sea Island, Sea Island Rd., St. Simons Island; dinner for two, before drinks, tax and tip, about $80; 912-638-9100; halyardsrestaurant.com).
Where to Stay: The Lodge at Little St. Simons has 15 rooms, all located in restored, century-old cottages and lodges clustered along the island's seven miles of beach. Our favorites are the Hunting Lodge room, with antique wicker and pine-bough furniture, and the more elegant Cedar House, which has a fireplace, a screened porch and a deck (Little St. Simons Island; doubles start at $650 a night per room and include all meals and activities; 888-733-5774; littlestsimonsisland.com).
Blessed with a wealth of sunny days and perpetually balmy weather, San Diego is home to a host of beach communities that hug the coast, each with its own flavor. But if you had to choose just one for your honeymoon, you couldn't go wrong with Coronado, an island just off San Diego's downtown coast, with 18 miles of pristine white beaches and a charming small town.
By Day: Nothing is more SoCal than catching your own wave—and the Coronado Surfing Academy can get you started in just one lesson. Take a one-hour class with your Moondoggie and learn to "pop up"—to go from lying on the board to standing upright on it—along with the basics of surfing safety and etiquette (one lesson for a couple is $50 per person per hour, and includes board and wetsuit rentals; 619-293-3883; coronadosurfing.com). Need a slightly larger buffer between yourself and the ocean? Take a sailing lesson from Seaforth Boat Rentals during the day on Glorietta Bay—or, let the captain do all the work, and just drink in the scenery during a two-hour sunset sail (1715 Strand Way, Coronado; lessons start at $165, which covers both the boat and an instructor, and private sunset sails are $195 per couple; seaforthboatrental.com; 619-437-1514).
At Night: Back across the way in downtown San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter has blocks of bar, restaurant and hanging-out options. For a great combination of all three, go to Confidential. As though the two-story loft space, with its mod white-leather sofas, wasn't hip enough, Confidential's tapas bar offers trendy fare created by renowned local chef Chris Walsh. Try the tiny spiced-lamb burgers or zucchini-blossom quesadillas, and wash them down with specialty drinks such as the Cactus Flower Margarita, which is made with prickly pear purée, fresh lime and Cointreau, or a Cello Chiller, a cocktail made with gin, limoncello and champagne (901 Fourth Ave.; cocktails and appetizers for two, about $30; 619-696-8888; confidentialsd.com).
Where to Dine: San Diego is loaded with laid-back dining options, but when you're ready for a break from eating in flip-flops, head to beachy-but-posh La Jolla, where the Sky Room offers both elegance and intimacy. Located on the 10th floor of the historic La Valencia Hotel, the Sky Room has a 180-degree ocean view, and there are only 12 tables and booths in the whole place. The menu is French, with a nod to Pacific-Coast influences in dishes such as sautéed Santa Barbara abalone with Dungeness crab and white-corn flan and, for dessert, passion-fruit-curd gâteau. To be safe, book your reservation two weeks in advance; however, on weekdays, you may be able to score a table on just one day's notice (1132 Prospect Street, La Jolla; dinner for two, before drinks, tax and tip, is about $150; 800-451-0772; lavalencia.com).
Where to Stay: Back on Coronado, the Hotel del Coronado is a classic Southern California grande dame: She may have some years on her, but she wears them well—and knows when to get a nip and tuck. The 118-year-old "Del"—setting of the Marilyn Monroe classic Some Like It Hot—recently got a $10 million face-lift, which retooled the original Victorian building's period-appropriate furniture, carpets and details. The refurbished guest rooms—be sure to ask for one in the main building—have feather beds, down comforters and 300-thread-count Egyptian cotton linens (1500 Orange Ave., Coronado; doubles from $235; 800-582-2595).
—Katrina Brown Hunt
Lovers of convenient but uncrowded beaches should head directly to Polo, on Maui's South Shore. Here, sunsets are spectacular year-round; in winter, humpback whales come close to shore, attracting marine researchers along with romantics. Legend has it that the mermaid Wewehi dresses herself in red seaweed to swim with the whales here, so keep your binoculars trained.
By Day: Take a day trip to Makawao, one of Hawai'i's last paniolo, or cowboy, towns. Though still home to ranches and horses, the area is also filled with galleries and boutiques. A must-do: Visit the Komoda Bakery for its world- famous cream puffs and donuts-on-a-stick (3674 Baldwin Ave., Makawao; $2 for a cream puff; 808-572-7261).
At Night: The new hot spot in the lively town of Lahaina is the Lahaina Store Grill and Oyster Bar, opened in October. About a 45-minute drive from Polo Beach—but worth it—the bistro serves up fresh seafood and slick martinis on the roof, overlooking the Pacific. Afterward, stroll down Front Street until you find your happening bar of choice (744 Front Street #6, Lahaina; dinner for two costs about $90; 808-871-7711).
Where to Dine: Couples in search of a truly original picnic should book lunch at O'o Farm, also in the hills of the upcountry. Guests pick what they like from the farm's eight-plus acres of citrus and tropical fruit trees, greens, herbs and vegetables—the kitchen adds the fresh seafood dish (O'o Farm; picnic costs $50 per person; 808-661-9090).
Where to Stay: The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui, right on Polo Beach, combines luxury with honest-to-goodness service. All the amenity-loaded suites have private lanais for enjoying breakfast in the outdoors, but honeymooners may want to splurge on a villa. Oceanfront, of course (4100 Wailea Alanui Drive, Maui; doubles start at $425; fairmont.com/kealani; 808-875-4100).
Just a half-hour flight from Seattle, the San Juan Islands are a perfect spot to experience the best of the Pacific Northwest: miles of rugged shoreline, crisp air, and the periodic company of bald eagles and whales. Of the 176 islands, four are served by ferries that connect to the mainland, so it's possible to get around without a car. Tiny Shaw Island, for instance, has only a few hundred residents, and its romantic beaches and coves—such as Parks Bay or Blind Island—are accessible only by boat.
By Day: Bon Accord Kayak Tours offers up-close looks at the islands' beaches, coves and wildlife, customized to your skill and motivation levels. Take a full-day tour, and you'll get a rigorous workout. Or, choose a single-day shore-based tour, and you can paddle close to shore for up to five hours, with guides leading you to the best spots (Main Pier, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island; single-day shore-based tours cost $69 per person; full-day mothership tours are $119 per person; 360-378-6670; bonaccord.com).
At Night: You can drink in the flavor of this region—literally—at Steps Wine Bar & Café, in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Its pages-long vino list features 20 wines from Washington and Oregon to be had by the bottle, glass or even half-glass (140 A. First Street, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island; 360-370-5959; stepswinebarandcafe.com).
Where to Dine: Lopez Island is a little quieter than Orcas or San Juan, so locals often steal away here for a mellow evening—and for the renowned food at the Bay Café. With its homey ambience and great sunset views, you could even ignore the food, but that would be a mistake: The menu is deliciously native, including British Columbia clams or Puget Sound mussels to start, and ocean-caught prawns with Northwest crab and shrimp cakes as entrées (9 Old Post Rd., Lopez Island; dinner for two, before drinks, tax and tip, is about $50; 360-468-3700; bay-cafe.com).
Where to Stay: The islands are so sleepy and small-town that they don't even have traffic lights—but the Rosario Resort & Spa, on Orcas Island, offers everything you'd expect from the mainland, combined with the islands' quiet beauty. With a 1906 mansion as its centerpiece, the elegant resort has 116 guest rooms with water or forest views. Some of the rooms include gas fireplaces and sunken whirlpool tubs. The resort has its own spa, three pools and easy access to the marina for more kayaking or, a Northwest staple, whale-watching tours (1400 Rosario Rd., Eastsound, Orcas; doubles from $139 per night; 800-801-7625; rosario.rockresorts.com).
By Day: Drive to nearby Ecola State Park and take a hike in an emerald forest where massive 300-year-old Sitka spruce trees have trunks as wide as a redwood's. The woods soon recede, replaced by sandstone bluffs, pink-sand beaches and the great expanse of the Pacific. It is here on the Oregon coast that the mighty timber of the Pacific Northwest meets the long stretch of beach from California, offering the best of both worlds. Grab a kite at Once Upon a Breeze, on Spruce Street, and run with abandon in the surf (240 N. Spruce St.; 503-436-1112).
At Night: Stay outside, near Haystack Rock, and just take it all in: seals, sea lions, and maybe even a gray whale as it makes its migration north to Alaska.
Where to Dine: Indulge yourselves in an embarrassment of riches from the sea as you dine at Stephanie Inn. The restaurant's chef, Crystal Corbin, grew up in the area and now makes use of a wealth of local ingredients—fish, crabs and oysters, as well as every kind of organic produce imaginable—in her dishes. Depending on what was picked or caught the day of your arrival, appetizers may include a robust wild mushroom soup, rich with the taste of shiitake, followed by sweet Dungeness crab cakes and poached halibut. Wash it all down with an Oregon pinot noir, and finish with a toasted-hazelnut profiterole (2740 South Pacific; the four-course dinner is $45 per person, before drinks, tax and tip; 800-633-3466; stephanie-inn.com).
Where to Stay: Sleep where you eat, at the sumptuous Stephanie Inn. The 50 rooms and suites have fireplaces and whirlpool tubs, and offer exquisite views of both Cannon Beach and the coastal mountains (doubles from $119 a night; 800-633-3466; stephanie-inn.com). —Stephen Jermanok
Point Reyes is just 30 miles north of San Francisco, but it feels about a million miles away from everything. The spectacular Point Reyes National Seashore (think, Grand Canyon by the sea) is one of the country's few coastal national parks. Imagine miles of empty beaches, big skies, dramatic cliffs, endless hiking trails—over 70,000 acres of parkland that is home to elk, seals and whales. The park remains blissfully undeveloped; beyond it lie great restaurants and lodgings. (For information, go to ptreyes.com.)
By Day: You can rent a kayak from Blue Waters Kayaking and paddle around gentle Tomales Bay. You'll pass forests, beaches galore, ranches and golden grasslands, and maybe even harbor seals and egrets. The company also offers guided nature tours (12938 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Inverness; four-hour rental costs $65 per person, and a full-day tour costs $98; 415-669-2600; bwkayak.com).
At Night: Pack a picnic bag with fantastic artisanal cheeses from the local favorite, Cowgirl Creamery, at Tomales Bay Foods (80 Fourth Street, Point Reyes Station; 415-663-9335), and head to Limantour Beach to watch the sunset.
Where to Dine: The Olema Inn & Restaurant is set in a restored Victorian building. Its predominantly organic menu spotlights mouthwatering locally grown and harvested ingredients, such as oysters from the Hog Island Oyster Company, beef from Niman Ranch and artisanal cheese from Cowgirl Creamery (10,000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Olema; dinner for two, before drinks, tax and tip, about $80; theolemainn.com; 415-663-9559).
Where to Stay: A dairy farm in the early 1900s, the 35-acre Bar-or Ranch offers ultraluxurious lodgings in a pastoral setting dotted with fountains and olive trees. The hotel houses guests in individual cottages featuring a range of amenities, from stunning wood floors and comfy canopy beds to giant soaking tubs and views of mountain ranges. There’s even a spa and an outdoor whirlpool tub (11925 Highway One, Point Reyes Station; doubles from $200; 415-663-9596; bar-or.com).