Finger Lakes, New York: 5 hours, 57 minutes (to Geneva)
“This is like being at a wedding minus the awkward conversations,” said our companion Paul Kelley, as we enjoyed music emanating from a nearby wedding tent during our dinner at 1833 Kitchen + Bar (www.1833kitchen.com) on Cayuga Lake. Everywhere we traveled on our recent Finger Lakes trip, we encountered weddings — at the lively monastery-turned-inn, Geneva on the Lake (genevaonthelake.com; from $350), at Belhurst Castle (www.belhurst.com; from $277), a circa 1800s stone mansion with its own winery (some rooms have use of a complimentary wine spigot), and finally at 1833 Kitchen + Bar at the Inns of Aurora (www.innsofaurora.com; from $317). You couldn’t ask for a more beautiful backdrop for nuptial photos: This central New York region boasts 11 fingerlike glacial lakes and one great lake (Ontario) within 9,000 square miles, in a landscape of waterfalls, gorges, and rolling green farmlands.
Love wine? Gas up the car. This is New York’s wine country, home to the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail (www.cayugawinetrail.com), America’s first wine trail. The wineries along the loop (especially pinot noirs and Rieslings) have earned more than 6,000 national and international medals. If you’re not into wine, you’ll probably sample grapes anyway — say, the organic local grape juice at Ports Café in Geneva, or tucked inside pastry at Cindy’s Grape Pies, in Naples. (Grape pies are a local specialty.)
You notice we’re mentioning lots of towns; town-hopping is a great way to experience the Finger Lakes. If you like “unique,” book a stay at Geneva on the Lake, a former Franciscan…