Last-Minute Trips to Catch the Fall Foliage
An Indian summer on both coasts has kept leaves on the trees later than usual, and since the possibility of foliage-ending snow is never far from our minds, we’ve rounded up the best hotels (with availability) on both coasts for a last-minute, leaf-peeping getaway. Though there’s nothing like a cozy weekend in an inn, or a swift recharge in a luxury hotel, we’ve also heard great things about a new app called Tentrr: a minimalist glamping operation with tents across the Northeast that outfits guests with a tent, comfy bedding, lanterns and even bedside reading. Most of the destinations below are an easy drive from major cities, but we’ve also included a few options for those who want to venture farther afield for total seclusion.
For a hard-earned fall weekend getaway, hop on MetroNorth to find yourself in the midst of this historic properties’ rustic grounds in little more than an hour. The eight, surprisingly spacious rooms (many have exposed beams, reclaimed wood furniture, and walk-in showers) are outfitted with all the modern trappings of a luxury hotel—Frette sheets, claw-foot tubs, and a room service menu—without sacrificing the inn’s understated aesthetic. If you can, pry yourself from the comfort of your plush bed and working fireplace to take advantage of on-site yoga and other wellness-centric happenings (guests can enjoy complimentary classes). For casual snacking and relaxed farm-to-table meals, The Barn serves up a seasonal menu in a no-frills, homey atmosphere, but Altamarea Group’s Italian eatery Campagna is also on-site, with a la carte, hand-made pasta dishes and a thoughtful prix fix menu designed by award-winning chef and restauranteur, Michael White.
Originally built in 1901, Blantyre was modeled after the owner’s family’s ancestral Scottish castle–complete with ivy-covered turrets, towers, and gargoyles. It didn’t become a hotel until 1981, when the house was restored by Ann Fitzpatrick Brown—and reinstated as a tribute to the Gilded Age. The décor here is fittingly lush, i.e. exactly what you’d expect to find in an English country manor. You’re supposed to spend your days relaxing in overstuffed armchairs by the fire, before descending to the dining room for canapés and champagne, and then a long, formal dinner (the dining room calls for jackets for gentlemen, and something a bit dressy for ladies). While high season here is spring-summer, fall with it’s cooler air and changing colors is the most beautiful time to take advantage of the nearby hiking and golf course. The Edith Wharton House, an estate the writer built, then lived and wrote in for many years, is just a mile away and open daily for visits. If you’re willing to go two miles, you’ll find The Shakespeare & Company playhouse, which hosts evening performances on weekends.
The concept at The Collective is to provide luxury access to difficult-to-reach destinations using fully furnished tents. Their newest destination in Hudson is a short two-hour drive from NYC, occupying a secluded corner of a working organic farm and equestrian center, and close to Hudson village’s boutiques and restaurants. The tents themselves feel like the dreamiest log cabin you can imagine, but with a white canopy roof: Inside, you’ll find bleached wood floors, four-poster beds, crisp white linens, and individual wood-burning stoves (complete with pails of freshly chopped wood). Meals can be taken at the nearby lodge or under the stars or at your tent, and all the food is organic and grown locally (literally, on the farm ). The Hudson Valley landscape is the real draw at this time of year, so have the chef pack you up a picnic, take in the golden fall foliage, and come back just in time for evening s’mores around the fire.
Tucked into the Catskills, Phoenicia is a quirky little town with a vibe all its own just 15 minutes from Woodstock. The 20-room property, formerly a rustic motel, sits at the bottom of Hunter Mountain, making it particularly good base camp in the winter months. Admittedly, the guest rooms are pretty no-frills—but that’s kind of the point: It’s the kind of place you’d happily cozy up by the fire pit or go on a long hike by Tanbark Trail (a nearby two-mile loop known for its views, especially right now when the area sees the craziest fall foliage). In warmer months, there’s a lively pool scene and free Schwinn bikes available for guest use to cruise into town. Come evening, everyone hangs out for a nightcap around the fire pit, where they’re likely roasting s’mores. While Graham & Co. doesn’t have its own watering hole, there are a handful of solid options within striking distance: The Bloody Marys at the Phoenicia Diner are kind of a thing; the Goods Lunchonette serves up gourmet hot dogs and grilled cheese, making it a great spot to bring littles, plus the pancakes at Sweet Sues are just as good as everyone says.
The Lake Placid Lodge has the distinction of being the only hotel that sits on the shores of Lake Placid, and almost every room has gorgeous views of the lake and surrounding woods. The building is actually one of the newest in the area, as the original burned to the ground in a huge fire back in 2005—the new construction is perfectly in the style of the Adirondacks, with stone fireplaces, sweeping porches, and exposed wood elements both in and outdoors. Inside, the decor can skew a bit campy, but the elements are all famously luxurious, including feather beds, private outdoor lounge spaces, roomy bathrooms. The Lodge’s restaurants are some of the town’s best, including a main dining room that serves a formal farm-to-table menu, plus a lively pub that’s popular among locals in the evenings. While activities on the lake always take center stage, the thousands of miles of hiking and biking trails offer an opportunity to see the changing leaves up-close.
Formerly known as the Mayflower Inn & Spa (Grace Hotels acquired it a few years ago), this is one of those resorts that is a consistent siren song for worn-out New Yorkers. Overstuffed chairs, feather-topped beds, and softly printed toile wallpapers are design hallmarks here, which all add to the feeling that you’ve descended upon the guestroom of your most hospitable aunt. In short: You won’t want to leave. The spa is one of Connecticut’s best, though for those who are more inclined to be outside, the resort sits on 58 acres. There’s a taproom for casual eats, as well as a more formal restaurant, The Mayflower Dining Room. There’s plenty of antiquing and good eating in the surrounding villages. (Don’t miss Privet House.)
Built in 1868 as a bed and breakfast, this two-story townhouse, just two hours north of New York City, was revamped back in 2015 but still retains plenty of its early charm. (Two-lane bowling alley with pins from the 1950’s and tiny cinema with seats from Radio City Music Hall, included.) The fourteen bedrooms, set across three buildings, are light-filled and lived-in—there are plenty of tasteful antiques, plus modern conveniences like Sferra towels and bathrobes, Malin and Goetz products, and crisp linens. While Sullivan County truly shines in the fall, with ample opportunities for, say, scenic drives, bike rides, and apple-picking, North Branch also hosts culinary-themed weekends throughout the year, which includes a Saturday afternoon cooking class. (More on that here.) A tip: If you end up springing for a picnic or need fuel post-hike, stop by Main Street Farm in Livingston Manor to stock up on made-to-order sandwiches and homemade soups that are easy to pack and go.
Perched on a hilltop overlooking the ocean, this historic, Victorian hotel was rescued from demolition in 2005 and lovingly restored by husband-and-wife team, Charles and Deborah Royce. In just a few years, it’s become one of the East Coast’s most favored retreats, thanks to its modern rooms, water views, cabanas, surf lessons, and fleet of yachts. The seafood-centric, on-site restaurant, Verandah—which overlooks Naragansett Bay and the Atlantic—is great, too, making for a pretty classic seaside stay. There’s a lot for kids, including a kids-club if you want some alone time. The Cliff Walk, a three-mile trail with stellar views of the Gilded Age mansions is especially beautiful in the fall when it’s less crowded and the leaves are changing.
Housed in a former 1920’s movie theater, Rivertown Lodge is one of the newer spots in the Hudson Valley. A welcoming library is stocked with old books (best enjoyed by the open, wood-burning stoves) and there’s often a hot tea or cider on the stove for taking during colder months. The design is a lesson in taste, much of it with a minimalist Scandinavian bent replete with vintage and custom furniture, handwoven rugs, a gorgeous front desk designed by Brooklyn-based Workstead, Zak + Fox upholstery, and brass lighting. Cozy up on the screened-in porch with a book and soak up the last of the fall foliage.
Tucked into the heart of the Catskills in Hunter, New York, this former 1960’s motor lodge has been reimagined by Brooklyn-based design firm Studio Tack. Each one of the 38 rooms in this mountain retreat is outfitted with dark maple flooring, layered Persian rugs, and mid-century furniture. Bonus: many of the rooms have private decks overlooking the Catskill range. It’s an easy trip from New York City, making Scribner’s a no-brainer for weekend getaway. (The in-room fireplace doesn’t hurt, either.) There’s ample fishing, hiking, yoga, swimming in one of the two pools, and, come fall, pretty epic leaf peeping. Prospect, the on-site restaurant and bar, calls upon much of Hudson Valley’s local farm produce for a seasonally-driven menu that includes deeply satisfying dishes like Moroccan carrots with Marcona almonds and preserved lemon, salmon with manila clams, and beets with quinoa.
Originally built as a jail in 1851, the Liberty Hotel is one of Boston’s architectural landmarks, thanks to the fact that the dramatic space was reimagined by a team of designers and architects who collaborated closely with both historians and conservationists. So, despite its transformation in the 2000s, much of the building remains unchanged, which sounds off-putting, but in person, the total effect actually feels strangely magnificent. The center of the hotel is a soaring, 90-foot atrium; light spills in from all the interiors, and the hotel affords stunning city and Charles River views. The wrought-iron work windows are still there; the catwalks are now elegant black iron-railing balconies, and the exercise yard a garden courtyard. In sum: pretty cool, full of luxe amenities, and thrilling to kids.
Perfectly secluded and endlessly hospitable, The Point is a modernized, 5-star throwback to the on-the-low decadence of the 1930’s when William Avery Rockefeller set out to build the stunning 75-acre resort. All amenities (including a tennis court and unlimited libations), activities (ice skating, boating), and meals (served in the Great Hall in the company of other guests, dinner attire required) are included in the rate. As far as accommodations go, the beautifully appointed log cabins, roaring fires, and strict kids-free policy meet all the requirements for a luxe Adirondack retreat. New ownership brought a significant renovation including fully refreshed bathrooms and guest rooms, plus spruced-up common spaces. Request The Boathouse—the wraparound deck looks out over Upper Saranac Lake.
Originally a country home for journalist Dorothy Thompson and her novelist husband Sinclair Lewis, this adults-only, all-inclusive luxury hotel still has the feel of a bohemian writer’s retreat. Woodsy, outdoor activities including cycling, canoeing, and picnicking (perfect for fall leaf peeping) are all on offer. Indoors, Twin Farms’ art collection, which includes pieces from David Hockney and Jasper Johns, is outstanding. You’ll find ten individually themed cottages dotted throughout the Vermont forest, which means that you might end up in a fisherman’s lodge, or a Moroccan style cottage with mosaics and a tented ceiling. Meanwhile, the chef prepares a fresh, set menu daily, and consults you on your preferences before you arrive. The customized meals and wine pairings are part of the all-inclusive package. You can eat at the Main House, or in your cottage. Take note: This is a special place for a romantic getaway, not for kids.
Kennebunkport is sort of the quintessential New England hamlet—and the beaches of Maine, while not the best for swimming, are stunning in their own way. The award-winning restaurant here is located in an historic barn that’s been on the property since colonial days, and is staffed by old-school, tuxedoed waiters. During the day, you can explore the town or check out the surrounding area by bike or canoe. Ask the concierge to arrange for a picnic basket, which you can bring along for a beachside lunch near one of the area’s idyllic lighthouses. While summer is peak season in Maine, it’s pretty great in the fall, too.
The historic White Hart Inn, located right on the town green in Salisbury, Connecticut, is a central fixture of Litchfield town life. The historic Tap Room has been serving local spirits for literally two centuries and the permanently packed restaurant leans heavily on local produce from nearby farms and growers. While there’s plenty to see and do in the Connecticut countryside, the Inn itself is set up to provide a cozy, luxurious getaway should you choose to spend most of your time reading in your room. If you want to get out, you can walk to the Appalachian Trail straight from the inn, so bring your hiking boots and get ready to take in the stunning fall landscape. The beautiful Bash Bish falls are also within striking distance: You’ll be in Hudson River School country, so breathtaking views are a given. There’s always a lot of fun, family-friendly stuff going on in the nearby villages (hay rides, animal judging, iron skillet tosses), and great antiquing and shopping. Privet House, owned by Richard Lambertson (of Lambertson Truex), is particularly wonderful.
Occupying a long-abandoned ghost town in the Colorado Rockies, this luxe spin on a dude ranch offers everything you’d expect from a trip to the mountains. You can go on long trail rides, fly fish on the Dolores, or hike, mountain bike, or mountain climb (for those truly vertically inclined). They also offer white-water rafting and archeological day trips to the desert. All the activity is met with welcoming luxury back home in camp, whether you’re staying in a log cabin, a perma-tent, or a teepee. You’ll find cozy beds outfitted with high-thread-count sheets and Pendleton blankets, fireplaces, and a well-appointed spa. Obviously, there’s a saloon, and plenty of barbecue, too.
The historic Jerome has been part of Aspen’s story since it opened as the town’s first hotel more than 120 years ago. Still housed in the original building (albeit with an updated interior and an expansion), the hotel was purchased by Auberge in 2012. While it retains its small-town charm, it now offers Auberge-style amenities like a gorgeously decorated bar, in-house ski rentals through Gorsuch, a luxe spa, and two full-service restaurants. As for the décor, it feels warm and stately, with deep greens, rich leathers, and western touches like plaid and vintage portraits throughout the rooms and public spaces. The concierge have maps prepped with all the best places to see the aspens, plus leaf pressing books to bring your memories with you. The hotel’s location, perfectly situated between the base of Ajax and the river, is just the icing on the cake.
The Little Nell is famously the most luxurious of Aspen’s resorts, so it follows that it’s also home base for the ritzy see-and-be-seen scene the town is known for. Still, it’s perfectly possible to have a discreet stay, if only because the rooms themselves—designed by LA-based Holly Hunt and turned out with Fili d’Oro down, heated marble bathrooms, cozy fireplaces, and mountain views—are so exquisite. You’ll also be grateful for the impeccable service, which makes every activity from skiing to making a dinner reservation blessedly simple. In the hotel’s two restaurants, Element 47 and Ajax Tavern, take advantage of the over-the-top wine list from Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy, a relative youngster for the wine world who’s already earning top stars for his management of the hotel’s deep wine collection. Art lovers, take note: The Nell is also home to a legendary collection of contemporary art, which occupies all of the hotel’s hallways, restaurants, and guest rooms.
Sprawled across fifty-seven acres in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, this Four Seasons resort is both spacious and cozy at once. Pretty much any amenity you’d expect from a Four Seasons property is a given, plus the Santa Fe-specific perfection of an adobe fireplace in every room, which can be lit on demand with a phone call to the concierge. Plentiful sage and lavender plants contribute to its paradise-like vibe—although expansive, unimpeded views of the mountains and the mesas of the Rio Grande River Valley don’t hurt, either. Make sure to dine at Terra, their stylish restaurant, which is a destination in and of itself.
While we couldn’t be bigger fans of the Montage Deer Valley, the St. Regis is a great option too, with tons of bells and whistles—from their signature butler service to a funicular that brings guests from the valet to the main lobby. Kids love the big swimming pool, and the fire pits on the terrace, where you can roast s’mores under the astonishingly starry sky. For parents, their impeccable service makes planning activities and getting around the town incredibly easy.
Sun Valley is one of the country’s oldest ski resorts, so their resident grand old lodge is built in the tradition of the outdoor movement in the 1930’s. Designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood (the man behind the lodges in almost every major national park), it features an enormous entrance with stone columns, a dramatic lobby, and vaulted ceilings with views of the ski hill. Last year, they re-opened after a major renovation, reducing the overall number of rooms to make each slightly larger and more comfortable, and refreshing everything from the furniture and linens to the fitness center and yoga studio. Winter (world-class skiing) and summer (fly-fishing, hiking, biking) are the obvious seasons here, which actually makes fall one of their best-kept secrets: In addition to plenty of golden aspens, you’ll find a beautiful, cozy mountain town without a tourist in sight.
Buttermilk biscuits with a view. Equal parts luxury hotel, world-class kitchen, and working farm, this 4,200 acre foodie resort in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains is a slice of heaven for those hungry for rest, relaxation, good music, and, of course, incredible Southern cooking. The farm takes fall seriously with a calendar full of food, wine and wellness events. The autumn summit (Oct 29th-Nov 1st) will take hikers—warmed up with farm-fresh food and restorative yoga–up through the tree-filled Smoky Mountains to the summit, for the most epic red and gold-hued hills to seen in the South.
Set within 300 acres, the lush green meadows and rolling countryside of Dos Brisas come to life after the summer heat fades. The hotel is a Spanish-style ranch offering up a little bit of rural Texas (with plenty of foodie and outdoor activities)—that said, it has all the amenities you’d expect in the city. After trying your hand at cheese-making courses, wine tastings, and cooking classes, take a breather at one of the nine Spanish-style Haciendas or Casitas. Home to one of Texas’s biggest equestrian facilities, the horseback riding is out of this world. If you like to keep both feet firmly planted on the ground, have the chef’s pack up a picnic and take in the fall colors on one of the many trails. The on-site restaurant sources organic and seasonal ingredients from Dos Brisas’ very own farmland and orchards. It also happens to be the only Forbes five-star in the entire state of Texas.
This spectacular retreat—built on Native American spiritual ground—is one of our favorite destinations in the U.S. The rooms are basic but the treatments, thanks to incredible practitioners, are anything but. The menu offers everything from psychic massage to a Sedona clay wrap, to reiki and lymphatic drainage. Meanwhile, spiritual treatments include meditation, hypnosis, and past life regression. It’s like three years of therapy in three days. Boynton Canyon is full of gorgeous hiking trails, but come October, the concierge will send you to nearby Oak Creek Canyon, where the maples and oaks turn a deep red color.
The Great Outdoors
Tentrr, a brand-new startup out of New York, spent the summer pitching lovely canvas tents on private properties throughout the Northeast. Essentially Airbnb, but for camping, Tentrr rents space from private landowners, which allows them to provide a camping experience that requires zero planning, is insulated from the crowds at National and State Parks, and comes with a built-in camp-keeper that hosts activities like kayaking on a local lake or mushroom hunting in the woods behind your tent. Each camp comes with Tentrr’s signature large canvas tent (with room for two queen-sized cots) a pop-up tent for parties with larger guests, two Adirondack chairs, and an outdoor camp toilet. Individual sites are also customized–many offer wood-buring stoves and thoughtful details like bedside crates full of books, chic storm lamps, and picnic tables. Almost everything is in prime leaf-peeping territory, from an organic farm in the Berkshires to a secluded hayfield in the Northern Catskills. Tentrr is limited to the Northeast (for now–they’re opening in the Pacific Northwest in the coming months), but Hipcamp offers a comparable experience on the West Coast, with over 300,000 private campsites (including ranches and vineyards) up for grabs, though the experience is more varied: Owners land-sharing with Hipcamp can either list structures on their property for a full-on glamping experience, or campers can bring their own tents and gear.