Real Honeymoon: Sonoma, Kauai & South Korea

Not only does the multi-leg itinerary make this honeymoon incredibly unique, but it’s also the first one that I’ve ever come across that involves both sets of in-laws! Read all about Jane and Sean’s one-of-a-kind honeymoon in wine country, Kauai, and South Korea below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We had three legs to our honeymoon (Sonoma, Kauai, and South Korea), and we left the very next day after our wedding [May 11, 2014]. It was ambitious on our end, but we wanted to maximize the number of hours we had on actually enjoying our first destination rather than spending the precious time on a plane. Needless to say, we were two very, very, very tired (and hungover…) passengers on our flight [from Chicago] to California.

Healdsburg Honeymoon

Wine Country!

Kauai Honeymoon


South Korea Honeymoon

South Korea!

How long was your trip?

We spent three nights in Sonoma, six nights in Kauai, and five nights in South Korea.

hawaii honeymoon

How did you decide on your honeymoon destinations?

My in-laws have always wanted to visit Northern California (specifically, wine country) so we thought, “let’s go there first and invite them along!” So, we spent the first leg of our honeymoon with them in beautiful Sonoma (specifically, the adorable town of Healdsburg). If anyone is planning a trip to wine country, I would highly recommend staying at Hotel Healdsburg. Perfect location, exceptional hotel staff, and intimate (without being too quiet) ambience.

Healdsburg honeymoon

We live in Chicago so our Norcal destination was “on the way” to the second destination of our honeymoon (Kauai) which segmented the overall flight time. Kauai was an easy pick for us because that is our favorite of the Hawaiian islands. We’d both been there separately as kids so we were excited to explore the beautiful island together as adults. And, of course, Kauai did not disappoint!

Kauai honeymoon

As for the last and final leg of our honeymoon, we chose South Korea as Sean had never been there before and because every husband should see where his wife was born/raised! My parents joined us for this leg of the trip and they planned out the entire itinerary for our stay there. Since the majority of my extended family still reside in South Korea, my parents also planned a second wedding reception while we were there so that extended families who couldn’t make it to our Chicago wedding could attend. :)

south korea honeymoon

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Risking the fear of sounding too corny and mushy, the best part of our honeymoon was that we were ON our honeymoon. We were both bitten by the travel bug at an early age so we’ve both (together and separately) had significant travel logs under our belts. But, there is something so special and charming about being on your first trip as husband and wife. Even the most mundane activities such as enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning from the balcony of your hotel is novel and sweet. However, If I had to pick a single activity of our honeymoon that stood out the most, I’d have to say it was the 17-mile kayak tour along the Napali coast. Absolutely breath-taking.

napali coast



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Weekend Getaway Recommendations for Californians

Unless you’re a full-time traveler, business school student, or lottery winner, you probably get to go on one or two big trips each year, tops. (If you don’t fall into one of those categories and you go on lots of awesome international vacations every year, please message me – you need to teach me your secrets!) That means that the majority of the trips that you go on are on the smaller side, and we haven’t discussed those types of trips too much on the blog, aside from the few mini-moon posts.

Many of my blog followers and I live in California, so I wanted to write a post about some of the best in-state weekend getaway destinations, and where to stay. We Californians are pretty lucky with a plethora of local vacation options; no matter what city we’re in, beaches, mountains, deserts, or forests are just a short drive away. Naturally, I asked my team of local travel experts (a.k.a. my friends) where they’ve recently stayed when they needed a a quick little vacation from their lives in the “big city” (a.k.a. San Francisco and Los Angeles). Some of the hotels are bigger splurges than others, but all of them have received an honorary gold star as a great accommodation for a weekend getaway.

California getaways

We’ll start the list with “North California” (ugh), and make our way south. If there are any cities/hotels that you’d like me to add to the list, please send them my way!

Mendocinoperfect for total relaxation by the sea.
Stanford Inn by the Sea
Stevenswood Lodge

Tahoe: perfect for skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and boating.
Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort
Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe

Healdsburg: perfect place to drink wine with your four-legged friends (there are lots of dog-friendly wineries!).
H2 Hotel
L & M Motel

Calistoga: perfect for drinking wine and soaking in mineral pools.
Indian Springs

Yountville: perfect for winos and serious foodies.
Vintage Inn

Napa: perfect for wine wine wine, and, oh yeah, wine!
Westin Verasa Napa Hotel
Napa River Inn

Half Moon Bay: perfect for those seeking classic elegance on the beach, and pumpkin festivals in October.
Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay

Carmel/Montereyperfect for golfers, beach-lovers and aquarium enthusiasts.
Carmel Valley Ranch
Bernadus Lodge & Spa
Sprindrift Inn

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Honeymoon Destination Recommendations for… Wine Lovers

It’s been quite awhile since I wrote my last Where To Go? post, so in honor of my good friend Stephanie who’s visiting San Francisco this week and in the midst of planning her own wedding, I thought it would be quite appropriate to cover a topic that’s dear to her heart: wine.

The following is a list of honeymoon destination recommendations for wine-loving couples created by myself, someone who knows little to nothing about wine.*  Since I am faaaar from being a wine expert, let’s just say that everywhere on the list is known for great wine, and hopefully my non-wine related comments will help you decide whether a particular location suits your particular honeymoon interests.  Pour yourself a glass, and let’s begin!

1) South Africa

Cape Winelands, South Africa

The Cape Winelands, South Africa

I’m starting off the list with the place that I want to visit the most.  South Africa really has it all: beautiful beaches, incredible wild life and safari opportunities, and the infamous wine regions of Constantia, Stellenbosch and Paarl.  It’s not a budget-friendly destination (especially if you want to go on safari as well), but if you’re going to go big on your honeymoon, I think South Africa would be absolutely fantastic.

2) Argentina


I guess that’s what Malbec looks like?

On the other end of the budget spectrum, Argentina’s Mendoza region is another perfect honeymoon destination, especially if you love steak and a good Malbec.  While Argentina may not be as cheap as it used to be, it should still be significantly less expensive than a honeymoon in either South Africa or Europe.  Keep in mind though that Argentina is a huge country, so if you want to check out Buenos Aires as well as Mendoza, you’ll need to book some additional flights.

3) Australia

Hunter Valley, NSW

The beautiful Hunter Valley

If you’re going down under for your honeymoon, you’re in for a treat because Australian wine is delicious, and you don’t have to travel far from Sydney if you want to experience the wineries first-hand.  You can easily take a day trip to the Hunter Valley region in New South Wales, and then sleep off your hangover on Bondi Beach the next day.

4) France


A winery in Bordeaux

There are three things that the French sure know how to do properly: food, wine, and romance.  What else do you need during your honeymoon?   The correct answer (at least for me): Beaches.  Fortunately, the French Riviera is just a short flight or train ride from Paris so you can have the best of both worlds, as well as Champagne, Burgundy, Loire Valley, and Bordeaux in between.  Stay tuned for an amazing Real France Honeymoon post coming up in a few weeks from a very food and wine-savvy couple.

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Real Honeymoon: Argentina

This week is the first South American Real Honeymoon on Peonies to Palm Trees, and I’m so excited to share Ashley and Jason’s awesome trip to Argentina!  I’d definitely recommend Argentina to anyone who likes cosmopolitan cities, good wine, and red meat.  Don’t get me wrong, vegetarians will also have a great time in Argentina, but steak lovers will be in heaven.  Enjoy!

When and where did you honeymoon?

Jason and I left for our honeymoon in Argentina a few days after our wedding in June 2012. While in Argentina we traveled to Buenos Aires, Salta, and Mendoza.


How long was your trip?

Our honeymoon was two weeks! I always recommend getting off as much time as possible—it seems like one of the few times where work will give you a lot of time off!**


How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

In some ways, the decision to go to Argentina was made for us. We had never traveled to the southern hemisphere, so we searched where we could go on miles in the southern hemisphere—Argentina was the best option! While it felt like a random choice at the time, Argentina clicked with us! We fell in love with the country.


The best part of our honeymoon was….

If I had to pick just one, the best part of our honeymoon was visiting Mendoza, the Argentinian wine country. The wineries were all so beautiful and the wine was so different than what you find in Napa/Sonoma. One day we took an amazing horseback ride with “Finca Las Lechuzas” to various wineries—it was magical!

There were so many other amazing parts too! In Salta we drove north to Purmamarca to see the “Hill of Seven Colors” and salt flats—they were stunning!

In Buenos Aires, per the suggestion of a local, we took the “Hop On, Hop Off” bus. It turned out to be a fantastic way to see the entire city!


If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

Two things! First, we were shocked at how expensive it was to fly between cities in Argentina. It’s a huge country so if you don’t have a lot of time, flying is generally the best option. Along the trip we heard of new overnight buses with full reclining seats—I may have checked those out in hindsight. Second, in Buenos Aires we rented a Jetsetter apartment. While very cute, we missed having suggestions of what to do in the city that a concierge or other guests can provide.

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Real Mini-moon: Napa

I’m excited that today we have Peonies to Palm Trees‘ first ever real MINI-moon blog post!  More on mini-moons in general later on, but check out Jennie and Chris’ quick trip to Wine Country below.  And then next Monday, make sure to come back and read all about their longer European honeymoon, too.

When and where did you honeymoon?

Napa in June 2011. We stayed at the Napa Valley Lodge in Yountville, which I would highly recommend.

How long was your trip?

3 days.


How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

We wanted to go somewhere close to our wedding location (Santa Cruz) since we only had a few days available for our mini-moon. And we love wine and good food, so Yountville was the perfect place to go to enjoy both.

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Staying in a hotel that was walking distance from so many fabulous restaurants. It meant we got to go on some nice walks, we didn’t have to drive to all our meals, and we didn’t have to spend lots of money on cabs.


If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

I’d eat a little less of each course at French Laundry so I didn’t get too full by the time the meat courses arrived. They give you a ton of food, so unless you have a huge appetite, I’d suggest eating a portion of every serving and taking the rest to go so you can enjoy all of it without feeling too full.

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