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The Weddings Issue

Honeymoons that won’t break the bank

Six destinations, from mid-coast Maine to Mexico, all blissfully affordable.

By Elizabeth Gehrman
February 14, 2010

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White Mountains Cottage With a cottage in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, you won’t have to decide between a mountain or water view -- many have both. Stand-alone places, which run as low as $500 a week, tend to be more secluded, whereas cottage communities ($43 a night and up) provide the option of mingling. Find your perfect fit at sites such as franconiarentals.com, vacationrentals.com, and craigslist.org. Among the activities: hiking in Franconia Notch State Park, a canopy tour at Bretton Woods, shopping and antiquing in Littleton and Bethlehem, and trail riding in North Conway. Save money by cooking meals in your cottage kitchen or on the grill; for the occasional splurge, try one of the area’s many restaurants.

San Francisco The City by the Bay’s famous sights -- such as Lombard Street and Golden Gate Park -- are worth visiting, but explore the unbeaten path, too. The self-guided Alcatraz tours are amazing, and Angel Island has even more to appeal, from kayak rentals to the Immigration Station, where newcomers from China carved poems into the walls in the early 1900s. Culture buffs should check out the Legion of Honor, with its European antiquities, and SFMOMA, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. For nightlife, head over to the Mission District or the Castro. The city boasts stunning variety of cuisine, from vegan to steak, from Colombian to Arabic fusion. Nonstop flights from Logan start at around $300, and in-town hotels can be had for $200 a night -- sometimes lower through Priceline and other bargain websites.

Riviera Maya Cancun is everyone’s first thought for a Mexican vacation, but a little farther south you’ll find bargains and smaller crowds. The price for a week at many all-inclusive resorts, with airfare, can run as low as $3,000 a couple. Excursions, which cost extra, include horseback riding, watersports, jungle tours, and the impressive Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. Each of the area’s towns is known for something different: Playa del Carmen, for example, has a downtown area great for shopping; Cozumel, Akumal, and sleepy Xcalak are celebrated for their diving and snorkeling.

Costa Rica There are no direct flights from Logan to San Jose, but it’s only about five hours and $300 to get there with a stop in Miami, and the all-inclusive resorts -- there’s at least one in every region of the country -- can run as low as $3,000 a couple per week. If you don’t want to limit yourself to one resort, try a guided tour; Caravan has a 10-day trip that starts at $995 each and takes you to the city, beach, and rain forest. If you’re the do-it-yourself type, you can still get great deals. Double rooms at the Arenal Observatory Lodge, in the shadow of an active volcano, start at $62 a night. You can kayak in the nearby lake, soak in hot springs, and take a trail ride through a forest full of toucans and other exotic birds.

Southern United States Road Trip With a classic American road trip, you set the itinerary, pick the activities, and choose the restaurants. JetBlue and Delta have nonstop flights from Logan to North Carolina’s Raleigh-Durham airport for under $200 round trip, and you can rent a car for about $350 a week. If you stay at small inns and bed-and-breakfasts, you’ll get Southern hospitality along with good value; rooms can be had for as little as $135 a night. From Raleigh it’s a 3½-hour drive to the Litchfield Inn, on the ocean at Pawleys Island, South Carolina. Meander for a day or two before heading to Charleston, which offers barrier-island eco-tours and carriage rides along the waterfront. From there it’s off to Savannah for its gardens and art galleries and a day trip to Georgia’s Cumberland Island National Seashore; the castlelike ruins, wild horses, and miles of beaches there spell romance. Once back in Savannah, a six-hour car trip returns you to Raleigh for the flight home.

Mid-coast Maine You can’t get more quintessentially New England than mid-coast Maine, with its lighthouses, church spires, rolling hills, and working harbors. For day trips, athletic couples can head toward Camden Hills or Acadia National Park (above), while water lovers can choose from any number of sails leaving out of Rockland. Save a day for downtown Rockland’s Farnsworth Art Museum, with works by artists such as Fitz Henry Lane and Winslow Homer; afterward, dine on grilled pumpkin swordfish and vanilla-bean creme brulee at Primo, a restaurant that gets many of its ingredients from its own working farm. Most bed-and-breakfasts charge around $200 a night, and larger hotels can range from $100 (for an “economy” room at the ocean-side Ledges by the Bay near downtown Rockland) to $450 (for a pool-house suite at the swish Inn at Ocean’s Edge, 4½ miles from Camden).

Elizabeth Gehrman is a freelance writer in East Boston. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.