20 Relaxing Fall Getaways
As autumn rolls in, it’s the ideal time to get away. From California’s majestic redwoods to the quiet shores of North Carolina, here are a few serene destinations perfect for the cooler weather.
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Cape May, N.J.
Cape May is great in the summer, but it’s magical in the fall. Autumn is when monarch butterflies converge upon this beach town for a few charmed weeks during their migration. Stop for brunch at the Blue Pig Tavern in the historic Congress Hall hotel (one of President Ulysses S. Grant's favorite places to stay) before doing some serious shopping along Washington Street or bike riding along Beach Avenue.
Oktoberfest in Leavenworth is one of the most extravagant Oktoberfests in the U.S. For three weekends in October, visitors descend upon the foothills of the Cascade Mountains to explore the traditional Bavarian village and get their fill of authentic cuisine and imported beer. But even if it’s not October, there’s still much to love about this town, from the Bavarian architecture to the Maypole in the town square.
Katy Trail, Missouri
The 225-mile Katy Trail runs along the Missouri River for much of the way and cuts right through the state’s wine country. In the 1800s, this area is where German immigrants settled, bringing their wine-making traditions along with them. There are plenty of adorable B&Bs situated along the trail if you need a rest from a long day of biking or hiking through the dense forests and limestone bluffs of Missouri.
Pennsylvania Dutch Country, better known as Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is an idyllic place to visit during the harvest season. There are apple orchards ripe for the picking, corn mazes that hearken back to a simpler time and farmers markets bursting with homemade baked goods and fresh produce. Just 30 minutes northeast, you’ll find “Antiques Capital, U.S.A.” in Adamstown, home to over 3,000 antique dealers, traditional Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine and, of course, that Amish charm.
Walla Walla, Washington
If you’re looking for a scenic wine tour to kick off the autumn season, skip the tourists of Napa and head straight for Walla Walla, a hot, new destination for wine connoisseurs. Not only is the region home to more than 120 wineries, but Walla Walla was also named “Friendliest Small Town” by both USA Today and Rand McNally. Head to Maryhill Winery to indulge in wine tasting and live music in the vineyard’s gorge, surrounded by breathtaking scenery.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Located in Lake Huron, this island resort is not only a National Historic Landmark, but it is also a portal back in time to when Victorian architecture was prominent and the only modes of transportation were foot, bicycle or horse. Mackinac Island is known for its opulent fall foliage, and it is also famous for its fudge. In fact, many of the island’s confectioners have been making fudge for more than a century.
In the fall, Boston is the destination for crisp weather, history and excitement. Hop across the Charles River to explore Cambridge and sit in Harvard Yard for excellent people watching, then recharge in one of the many independent coffee shops, expand your mind in the 86-year-old Harvard Book Store and finally, grab a cleverly named, famous burger from Mr. Bartley’s. We recommend The Big Papi with a side of sweet potato fries.
With its surprisingly moderate climate and otherworldly terrain, Sedona is a town full of surprises. The town is considered a spiritual mecca because it’s considered home to a series of vortexes and whirlpools of energy that are believed to facilitate mediation and healing. Whether you believe this or not, stop in one of the many spiritual gift shops for the chance to get your aura read. Or just take a jeep tour high into the red rocks for a surreal adventure.
San Antonio, Texas
You can’t go wrong with a stroll (or a cruise) along San Antonio’s famous River Walk in the fall. Tucked just below street level, the River Walk features some of the city’s best restaurants, shops and galleries -- all just steps away from The Alamo. And the Natural Bridge Caverns are only a 30-minute drive away if you’re up for a little amateur spelunking. Take a tour 180 feet underground to see stunning natural formations or head over to Bracken Cave to see one of the world’s largest bat colonies.
Hogback Mountain, Vermont
You won't be lacking with colorful, scenic views at Hogback Mountain. If you drive Route 9 on a clear day, you'll be able to enjoy views of Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. If you stick around long enough, you might even be able to spot a black bear, bobcats and deer, which are just some animals that are part of their diverse wildlife species.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Many people have "see the Grand Tetons" on their bucket list, but they probably never thought they could see them like this. The Jackson Hole Aerial Tram takes you 4,136 vertical feet above Snake River Valley, Grand Teton National Park and the Gros Ventre Range. Did we mention the 360-degree views? But once you’ve recovered from the shock and awe of the amazing views, explore the topnotch restaurants, quirky shops and luxury resorts in town.
Ozark Mountains, Missouri and Arkansas
With secluded cabins, glistening rivers, and hiking and biking trails, the Ozark Mountains in Missouri and Arkansas offer some of the most picturesque sceneries during fall. If you find yourself in the Ozark Mountain Region, you have to take a scenic canoe ride through the Black River, Jack's Fork River and the Buffalo River. Surrounded by natural beauty, visitors can enjoy horseback riding, trail riding, camping sites, live concerts by the river and many more family-friendly activities out in the Ozarks. If you're not one for water or heights, be sure to reserve a river-front camping site to enjoy a sky filled with radiant stars. While you're in Arkansas, be sure to check out their National Parks in fall.
Shenandoah Valley’s Skyline Drive offers 105 miles of scenic byway surrounded by stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. Whether you tackle the sloping, winding road by bike or car, you’ll encounter plenty of quaint Virginian towns along the way. Stop in Staunton’s Red Brick District to check out the arts scene or visit Waynesboro for world-class fishing.
Mill Valley, California
Head beyond San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge, to the sublime setting of Marin County. This is a prime spot for outdoor enthusiasts, who will never want to go indoors. Take a winding drive into the region’s mountains to visit Muir Woods National Monument. An easy hike through towering redwoods – that range in age from 400-800 years old – will leave you breathless. Afterward, head back down the mountains into Mill Valley, where quaint shops and first-rate cuisine await.
The Great Smoky Mountains
Visit the Great Smoky Mountains for a relaxing getaway. Head to Blackberry Farm, nestled in the foothills, for a luxurious stay that’s not to be missed. For travelers looking for adventure, there’s hiking, fly-fishing and horseback riding aplenty in these iconic mountains.
Maroon Bells, Aspen
Located just 10 miles west of Aspen, the Maroon Bells offer scenic dog-friendly hiking trails, camping sites, lakes for fishing and some of the most beautiful views of fall foliage. During high season in summer and fall, bus transportation is offered to visitors, directing them to the best places to see the mountains. If you're one for hiking, head over to the Maroon Creek Trail, where you're likely to spot sheep, porcupines, deer and many other wildlife species.
Tybee Island, Georgia
There’s never a bad time to visit Savannah, Georgia, and if you head just 30 minutes east to the shore, you’ll find the secret treasure that is Tybee Island. If you’re lucky enough to be on the Island in October, you should experience the annual Pirate Fest when the island transforms into a pirate village. During your stay, climb to the top of Tybee Lighthouse to watch the sunset, but make sure you keep an eye out for incoming scallywags.
Grafton Notch State Park, Maine
A recreational destination, Grafton Notch State Park offers some of the most breathtaking views of the mountains in Maine. For hikers who are up for a challenge, the lands offer rugged terrains and trails, and the Appalachian Trail offers some of the most challenging 12 miles. Those who manage to make it to the end on Old Speck are rewarded with pictorial views. If you're not up for hiking the challenging trails, try one of the shorter walks that lead up to one of the serene waterfalls throughout the park.
Lithia Park, Oregon
Located in Ashland, Oregon, Lithia Park is 100 acres of emerald lawns, tennis courts, picnic areas and some of the most colorful landscapes you'll find. Wander through the beautiful Japanese garden, their rose garden and through the undeveloped woodlands. You'll find yourself emerged in the vibrant fall foliage, discovering the diverse range of plants in the park.
William O'Brien State Park, Minnesota
With a beautiful view of the St. Croix River, the William O'Brien State Park offers its visitors a great deal of family-friendly activities, while providing beautiful views of the autumn trees. Visitors can go canoeing, fishing, camping and enjoy other fall activities. If you're there in winter, they offer cross-country skiing. Basically, it's never a bad time to visit the park, with numerous fun activities to do at the park. Plus, it has a great view.