9 Unforgettable Fall Getaways in the U.S.
We get it—leaving home is hard when crisp temps and brief daylight hours make you want to curl up in a duvet cocoon for hours on end. Sadly, the season is fleeting, so to make the most of it, we've come up with 9 fall getaways that are totally worth leaving bed for.
A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.
New York, New York
NYC street fashion doesn't lie, and since September hit, we've witnessed a transition from off-the-shoulder tops to chunky knits. But beyond our beloved layering, we're ready to pounce on so many other fall commodities: brisk walks through the changing leaves of Conservatory Garden, the fall NYC ballet season, Archtober events, and Open House New York Weekend being just a few. Hot restaurants are a dime a dozen in our city (a real shame, we know), but we’re still enjoying eating our way through the Gotham West Market, a Hell’s Kitchen communal dining hall brimming with international fare from some of NYC's best brick and mortars like Choza Taqueria, Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop, and The Cannibal. Like gourmet dining options, slick sleeps are also around every corner, but Central Park-facing rooms at the glitzy Carlyle, on the Upper East Side, are always worthy of our rec.
Let's be clear: Boston is a year-round destination, but when fall's cooler temps slide into town and the Common and Garden go through their seasonal metamorphosis, this New England capital kicks its charm into overdrive. As a super walkable hub, you can easily capitalize on the crisp autumnal air, moving between the cobblestone streets of Back Bay (look out for Tom Brady); the $1, $3, and $5 shelves at the Brattle Book Shop’s outdoor lot in Downtown Crossing; and the handmade jewelry, antique collectibles, and fresh produce at the SoWa Open Market in the South End. For a handsome meal, head across the Charles to The Table at Season to Taste in Cambridge. Chef Carl Dooley serves up four-course prix fixe menus in his 20-seat open kitchen, which includes plates like yellowfin tuna crudo and house-made semolina bigoli. At night, take the T back over the water (or walk the bridge and esplanade) and retire to the elegant Taj Boston with its killer views, crystal chandeliers, and classic French décor (spoiler: there's lots of gold).
Most who flock to Denver in fall are responding to the siren call of its 47-year-running Oktoberfest. The six-day festival has been lauded as one of the best in the country, with more steins of authentic German brews and gastropub fare than you could imagine. For a family-friendly afternoon, you can try to find your way out of the eight-acre corn maze at Chatfield Farms, or, for a nice scenic drive, the 22-mile Guanella Pass (which navigates valleys of spruce, aspen, and fir and passes creeks surging through sprawling meadows and the often (already) snow-capped Mount Bierstadttakes) takes only an hour to complete. When you’re not sipping on suds or fighting your way out of a field, relax at The Crawford Hotel, which has a pretty sweet location inside the landmark 1881 Denver Union Station. Mixing in modern luxury while staying true to the historic building's roots, the hotel’s guest rooms fuse Art Deco and Victorian designs, throwing in 14-foot ceilings and exposed brick walls for good measure.
Salt Lake City, Utah
The months of September and October are prime times to head to Salt Lake City. Post-summer’s blistering temps and before the ski season rush, Utah’s lush forests, craggy peaks, and sun-baked salt flats are yours for the taking. The glacier- and steam-eroded Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons are popular hiking and picnicking spots this time of year, as summer’s fleeting wildflowers make way for autumn's vibrant leaves. Once it’s time to kick back, head for the fashionable Hotel Monaco Salt Lake City. While the Kimpton Hotel calls a 1923 bank building home, its décor is anything but traditional; playful mod touches, bold patterned linens, and attention-grabbing details like horse-head lamps offset the hotel’s historical digs.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole slips into shoulder season each September and October, the sweet spot where prices drop as steadily as temps and summer's tourist masses have long packed up and flown home. With the city so delightfully vacant, it’s a prime time to drop by Grand Teton to get your fix of fall hiking (with more than 200 trail miles to choose from). When you’re not testing your mountaineering skills, stretch out at the Rustic Inn, a log cabin lodging bordering Jackson’s National Elk Refuge that’s far from roughing it. On 12 acres of lush lawn, you’ll find a heated outdoor pool, spacious patio with fire pits, and plush furnishing, kitted out teepees, and, if you spring for a private cabin, your own deck with astounding views of Wyoming’s wildlife. When morning hunger strikes, hightail it to Persephone Bakery for breakfast. The boulangerie makes everything fresh and, while you can’t really go wrong, our standbys are the savory Italian-prosciutto-and-French-gruyere croissant and the sweet tooth-pleasing lemon lavender bread.
When in Anchorage, a ride on the Alaska Railroad is an absolute must regardless of the season. You can plan your own route, but this fall, the railroad has a couple of events up its sleeve, including the Great Alaska Beer Train, which runs along the Turnagain Arm and includes six half pints of Glacier BrewHouse beer. If you'd rather see the season's active wildlife up close and personal, hop on a guided glacier or wildlife walk with Salmon Berry Tours, where you could spot Dall sheep, mountain goats, moose, caribou, and more as you explore the Chugach Mountains and Cook Inlet. Of course, every night in these parts should be spent trying to catch sight of the northern lights, especially this time of year. Lucky for you, the chateau-style Hotel Alyeska plops you in the middle of Alaskan wilderness, with ocean views, hanging glaciers, mountain peaks, and aurora borealis views all around.
Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
New Hampshire swells with seasonal leaf peepers at the start of September and right on through November. While crowds on the Kancamagus can admittedly be a bit much, they're an inconvenience we’re willing to deal with in order to witness the small state light up in every shade of red, orange, and yellow. Work your way upstate to the Omni Mount Washington Resort, a grand dame that debuted back 1902, with interiors—roaring stone fireplaces, great halls with vaulted ceilings, marble baths, four poster beds—as cozy as its mountain setting. From the Omni, you can leaf-peep like never before on a zip line tour of Bretton Woods, where you can take in 360-degree views of Rosebrook Canyon and the White Mountains while cruising through the canopy at an elevation of over 1,000 feet. Three-hour guided tours on the Mount Washington Cog Railway are also always a good idea. The world’s first mountain climbing train chugs 6,288 feet up the mountain, a climb which affords views of the peaks and valleys of New Hampshire, its New England siblings, Canada, and the Atlantic.
Greenville, South Carolina
Greenville is going through something of a renaissance, what with a flourishing downtown and boutique hotels and trendy kitchens popping up across the city. With fall’s moderate temps replacing summer’s chart toppers, take to the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail. The once abandoned railway line was revived in 2010 and transformed into a 21-mile walking and biking route that runs along the Reedy River, connecting downtown Greenville to the Blue Ridge foothills of funky Travelers Rest. As for stylish sleeps, let the design-forward Hotel Domestique catch your eye (like it did ours) with its rustic chic charm, where common spaces and guest rooms pair hand-hewn wooden beams with contemporary furnishings and plush linens. Staying through the weekend? Sleep in before treating yourself to a boozy brunch at Ink n Ivy, where pecan-encrusted French toast, strawberry buttermilk pancakes, and margarita mimosas will be waiting.
When it comes to fall foliage trips, Gatlinburg is a truly underrated gem; the quiet Tennessee town is all romantic mountain slopes and lush valley trails (plus a few campy attractions). For outdoorsy types, a hike though Roaring Fork in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must. The 5.5-mile trail crosses paths with Rainbow Falls (named for the rainbow that frequently appears in the waterfall's mist), historic mountain homesteads, and thick hardwood forest. If you're more of a foodie, take a seat on the rustic wraparound porch at the Restaurant at Buckberry Creek, where unsurpassed views of Mount LeConte and the Great Smoky Mountains accompany plates of tenderloin crostini, kumato tomato gazpacho, and pan-seared duck breast with chimichurri and pineapple salsa. No matter how you spend your time in Gatlinburg, your temporary country home should be Eight Gables Inn, a comfy B&B with a wraparound porch, full breakfast, and complimentary desserts delivered straight to your room at turndown each night.
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