Other laid-back havens for honeymooning couples

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Stanfordville, N.Y.

This rural village near Rhinebeck in Dutchess County, just a 90-minute drive from New York City, is all farms (look for the woolly beefalo!) and quiet country roads, perfect for strolling hand in hand. A fine place to stay is the Lake House, (800) 726-3323, a four-suite bed-and-breakfast inn on the shores of a seven-acre pond. Each room has a large Jacuzzi, wood-burning fireplace and private deck. From the Lake House, it's an easy drive to Rhinebeck, where you'll find antiques and crafts shops, fine dining and the famous mansions of Hyde Park. General information: Dutchess County Tourism, (914) 463-4000.

Spring Lake, N.J.

Beautifully landscaped shore community has an ocean-front boardwalk, tree-shaded paths for strolling and cycling around the town's several lakes, and many good cafes. The town is filled with Victorian gingerbread houses; it's a quieter, classier version of Cape May. Some 30 gracious Victorian bed-and-breakfast inns. A favorite is Sea Crest by the Sea, a block from the ocean: (800) 803-9031. General information: Spring Lake Chamber of Commerce, (908) 449-0577.

Edgartown, Mass.

Getting to this small Cape Cod community is half the fun. It's about a 4 1/2-hour drive north from New York to Woods Hole on Cape Cod, then a 45-minute car-ferry ride to Vineyard Haven on Martha's Vineyard, and another 15-minute drive to Edgartown. Once home to whaling captains, the village still has loads of 19th-century houses. The beach outside of town is great for walking, and you can bike around the village, which has neat craft shops and great New England clam chowder at the Wharf Restaurant. Most romantic place to stay is the Charlotte Inn, (508) 627-4751., General information: Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, (508) 693-0085.

Monhegan Island, Maine

A land of high rocky cliffs, crashing surf, inland forests and artist studios, this one-square-mile island in Penobscot Bay is an hour's mail boat ride from Port Clyde, which is about a 2 1/2-hour drive north from Portland Airport. Occupied year-round by xTC lobstering families, Monhegan is favored in summer by scores of painters and writers, who come for the tranquillity and simplicity of life here. There are several rustic accommodations, as well as rental cottages. Most comfortable nightly lodgings are at the Island Inn, (207) 596-0371. General information: Rockland Area

Chamber of Commerce, (207) 596-0376

Mackinac Island, Mich.

Only horse, bicycle or foot-powered traffic is allowed on this 2,100-acre resort island in the state's far north, most of which is dominated by a forested state park. The chic hotel is the elegant Grand Hotel, (906) 847-3331, but bed-and-breakfast inns abound well, including the pretty Bay View B&B;, (906) 847-3295. General information: Mackinac Island Chamber of Commerce, (906) 847-6418.

Little Palm Island, Florida Keys

This five-acre dot of palm-fringed tranquillity is a 2 1/2-hour drive south from Miami and 15 minutes offshore by schooner. Just 30 luxe suites in 14 oceanfront thatched cottages -- each with a rope hammock for two swinging from coconut palms -- make Little Palm Island about as uncrowded as a retreat can get, unless you happen to own your own island. The indoor-outdoor restaurant is gourmet, but informal, the snorkeling at nearby Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary among the best in American waters. For more information, call (800) 343-8567.

Mendocino, Calif.

Perched on a heather-covered headland 150 miles north of San Francisco, this is Northern California's oceanside enclave for artists. You'll find quality art galleries on every block, innovative restaurants and cozy bed-and-breakfast inns. This is the perfect area for hiking, canoeing and mountain biking, and you can take weekend art classes at the Mendocino Arts Center. My favorite place to stay is the Stanford Inn by the Sea, (800) 331-8884, about a five-minute drive from downtown. General information: Fort Bragg-Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce, (707) 961-6300.

Canyon Ranch Spa, Tucson, Ariz.

Considered by many to be the United States' premier health resort, this beautifully landscaped oasis in desert country is a neat option for newlyweds who are fitness buffs. Unlike most spas, which cater mainly to women, the Canyon Ranch Spa, (800) 742-9000, also has aerobics, stretching and sports programs specifically geared to men, but there are numerous coed classes as well. Couples can get plenty of alone time on walks into the surrounding hills, or jaunts into downtown Tucson to explore the adobe architecture and sample great Mexican food or out to Saguaro National Monument to see the giant cactuses. General Tucson information: Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau, (800) 638-8350.

Jasper, Alberta, Canada

One of western Canada's most beautiful wild areas, Jasper is set in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. All around are snow-capped peaks and crystalline lakes of Jasper National Park, with abundant wildlife and fine hiking trails. Horseback riding is a particularly popular sport. Hands-down winner for romantic resorts is the Jasper Park Lodge, (403) 852-3301, a collection of cedar cabins on Lake Beauvert. General information: Jasper Tourism and Commerce, (403) 852-3858.

Peter Island, British Virgin Islands

This private resort island in the Caribbean's British Virgin Islands is a 20-minute ride across Drake's Channel from Tortola. The resort is set behind palm-fringed white sandy beaches, its pathways ablaze with tropical plants and flowers. The island is crisscrossed with hiking trails, and guests have free use of sailboats, kayaks, bicycles, tennis courts and snorkeling equipment. A particularly romantic package combines a five-night stay at the resort with two nights aboard a private yacht with crew. For more information, call Peter Island Resort and Yacht Harbor: (800) 346-4451.

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