Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wedding Wednesdays: Five Honeymoons Under $2,500

Happy Wedding Wednesday! Today's post features five honeymoons under $2,500 ranging from exotic to rustic. This share-worthy research was done by The Knot and we couldn't agree more with their picks! Check out these five "best" honeymoon destinations that will fit any wedding budget!

Best City Honeymoon: Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland's  Ha'penny Bridge

Pack: If you're visiting Dublin in July, you'll want to bring an umbrella and a even sweater. The weather is sporadic, and the summer months can get soggy or chilly.

Stay: Start out at Butlers Town House hotel, close to restaurants, bars and the rugby stadium (rooms start at around $150 a night). Then go to Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, an eighteenth-century castle 20 minutes from the Dublin City Center. While it's a little pricey (rooms start at around $200 per night), it's well worth it when you walk through the doors and step into old-world luxury.

Dine & Do: Treat yourselves to fresh seafood at The Lobster Pot, an upscale restaurant with an extensive wine list and out-of-this-world crab claws. Two entrees will land you somewhere around $100—a splurge you definitely won't regret. Also check out Gallagher's Boxty House for pub fare or head over to Queen of Tarts on Dame Street for scones, cakes and cookies. Get historical with the 1916 Rebellion Walking Tour ($17 per person). And if shopping's your thing, check out Henry Street for typical Irish swag. Then stroll over Ha'penny Bridge. It's romantic and free (our favorite part).

Best Beach Honeymoon: Aruba

Aruba beach on Caribbean Sea

Pack: The weather is consistently warm in Aruba, but there's usually a strong breeze. Bring a windbreaker for walking on the beach at night and plenty of hair ties.

Stay: Relax at the European-style Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts, complete with a beach, spa and outdoor dining (garden rooms start at around $263 per night). If you want to mix things up, check into the centrally located Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino (rooms start at around $245). The hotel provides a small boat to take you to its private island 10 minutes away. Or stake out a spot by the 8,000-square-foot pool at the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Casino & Spa on the island's more popular Palm Beach (rooms start at $335).

Dine & Do: Enjoy seafood straight off the grill at Pinchos Grill & Bar, a restaurant on a pier. Try the Aruban wahoo fillet (expect to pay $20 to $30 per entrée) and leave room for dessert. Or sit at a table on the sand at The Old Man and the Sea, where you can reserve a private Pampered in Paradise prix-fixe dinner so you get a front-row seat for the sunset ($96 per person at Hyatt Regency). See the island on a De Palm Land Rover Tour ($99 per person for four and a half hours), which takes you on an adrenaline-pumping ride along Aruba's rockier beaches and past sights such as the Gold Mill Ruins, Alto Vista Chapel and the California Lighthouse. Don't miss Aruba's Natural Pool, one of the most romantic and unique spots, where you can swim and snorkel in a secluded lagoon.

Best Adventure Honeymoon: Belize

Tikal Mayan ruins in Belize

Pack: Beach essentials and hiking gear. A backpack is key since many of the sights involve full-day tours. Make sure you have comfortable sneakers or hiking shoes and sun-protective clothing for longer walks. Bring snorkel or scuba gear and water shoes if you plan to spend time on the Cayes.

Stay: Fly into Belize City and spend a few nights in the jungle. Gaia Riverlodge offers centrally located private cabanas overlooking the Five Sisters waterfalls, with traditional Belizean accents of thatched roofs and mahogany interiors (villas start at $165). Visit Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker islands to get closer to the famous barrier reef—the second longest in the world! On Ambergris Caye, stay in San Pedro at the Belizean Shores Resort for immediate beach access (rooms start at $169). Or opt for ample privacy and relaxation on Caye Caulker, where a cozy cabana at Colinda Cabanas starts at $59.

Dine & Do: If you're going to the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve in the Cayo district, stop in for lunch at Francis Ford Coppola's Blancaneaux Lodge. The poolside Guatemaltecqua restaurant specializes in authentic Guatemalan cuisine. On Ambergris Caye explore downtown San Pedro for local, cheap eats. Or tryout Aji Tapa Bar for paella and tapas any day of the week. There is so much to do at this destination! Start on the mainland in Belize City, and arrange a day trip to explore the must-see Mayan ruins at Altun Ha in northern Belize or Xunantunich to the west for 360-views of Belize and even Guatemala. Schedule an excursion with Pacz Tours to the archaeological treasure that is the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave, or go horseback riding or zip-lining through the forest. And if you're not tired from a wedding and all of the above, the Cayes also have some of the world's best snorkeling and scuba diving that we highly recommend trying!

Best Rustic Honeymoon: Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole, Wyoming's Grand Teton mountains

Pack: In the summer, bring hiking boots, a baseball cap and sporty sunglasses. For winter, you'll need your usual cold-weather gear: hat, gloves, ski pants and hand and foot warmers.

Stay: Cozy up at Snake River Lodge & Spa, an AAA four-diamond resort known for its views— and honeymoon specials. Rooms start at around $128 per night in the summer (winter rates spike to $255). If you're looking for a mod place to stay, check out Hotel Terra, an eco-friendly hotel that starts at about $200 a night. The flat-screen TVs, romantic fireplaces and sleek décor add to the luxe vibe.

Dine & Do: Head to Snake River Grill (not to be confused with the lodge above). Chef Jeff Drew has been nominated by the James Beard Awards as "Best Chef: Northwest" three years in a row. Entrées are a bit costly ($22-49), but worth it if you're a foodie like me and plan to splurge for a night. For a down-home meal, check out Bubba's BBQ for pulled pork and baked beans. Ski season runs from December to April, with full-day lift tickets costing $61. In warmer months, try a Mad River whitewater-rafting trip (from $58 each). Then tour the Snake River Brewery and down a pint of its namesake ale. Another idea would be to take a trip up the mountains on the Bridger Gondola ($16 each). Not your typical idea of a honeymoon destination, but we'd be down right happy venturing to Jackson Hole for these experiences!

Best Exotic Honeymoon: Marrakech, Morocco

Medina of Marrakech, Morocco

Pack: Wear walking shoes in the city, since roads tend to be dusty. Also bring typical over-the-counter meds, and wet wipes to wash your hands.

Stay: Check into the Riad Azzar (about $182 per night), just steps from the city's marketplace. If you want to lounge in the sun, the Riyad El Cadi (around $195 per night) has a large roof terrace.

Dine & Do: Chow down with the locals at the marketplace food stalls for a cheap lunch with lots of local flavor. Or sit under a citrus tree at Cafe Arabe, where main courses are $10 to $16. Party under the stars at Djemaa el Fna, the city's open marketplace, where people go to eat and dance. For relaxation, head to the Mille et une Nuits spa and hammam, which offers a one-hour steam massage for $77. There are also three popular golf courses in the city as well as an opportunity to take the local flavor home with you by participating in a Moroccan cooking classes at La Maison Arabe are about $110 per person.

Umm.. can we take more than one honeymoon? These picks are too good to be true! What we recommend doing is settling on one based on your wedding date, then each year try to plan a getaway to each of these awesome destinations! They could even turn into something you may want to do with family and friends as well. Take some time to do research like The Knot and devour the details of your honeymoon destination!

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