Litchfield Plantation Kings River Rd., Pawleys Island, S.C.; 800/869-1410 or 843/237-9121, fax 843/237-8558; doubles from $88, including continental breakfast. On a finger of land between the Waccamaw River and the Atlantic Ocean, this Carolina Low Country inn is a gentleman planter's dream estate, with a lustrous vermilion dining room, a library paneled in polished mahogany, perilously high four-poster rice beds, and a quarter-mile-long avenue of Spanish moss-draped live oaks leading up to the blindingly white main house. Built in 1750 as a working plantation, the house is surrounded by lingering remnants of antebellum life: former rice fields that are now home to gators and waterfowl; an indigo-drying building made from sand, mud, and oyster shells; a few cockfighting chairs, with attached tables where gamblers could lay their money down; even Dr. Tucker, a former owner whose ghost is said to haunt the grounds. Enjoy the early-fall weather: play a game of tennis on one of the Har-Tru courts, walk in the well-tended pecan grove, or take a dip at the beach, where the water is still a seductive 80 degrees.
Lake Placid Lodge Whiteface Inn Rd., Lake Placid, N.Y.; 518/523-2700, fax 518/523-1124; doubles from $300, including breakfast and afternoon tea. Live like a robber baron on retreat in Great Camp style with Adirondack-style twig beds, imposing granite fireplaces in every room, and tubs with wilderness views. During the day, fish or canoe on the lake or the nearby Ausable River. At sunset, admire the fire-colored waters and trees from your own three-sided lean-to supplied with warm blankets, a pit for building fires, marshmallows for roasting, and a No Vacancy sign.
Inn at Langley 400 First St., Langley, Wash.; phone and fax 360/221-3033; doubles from $199, including continental breakfast. A short ferry ride across the Saratoga Passage delivers you to Whidbey Island, where the Inn at Langley has soothed harried guests for a decade. How?There's a simple formula: a five-course feast culled from the island's bounty every weekend; private 10-by-10-foot decks laden with plants; and a view of the moody waters from your bubbling in-room whirlpool.
Canoe Bay Hogback Rd., Chetek, Wis.; 800/568-1995 or 715/924-4594, fax 715/924-2078; doubles from $270, including breakfast. On departure day, one bewitched guest said to her husband, "Say hi to the kids for me." She couldn't bring herself to leave a place where the only sound you hear is the call of a lonesome loon, where mulled wine and down wraps are served on the wooden decks, and where each of the 18 rooms is a paean to peace.
L'Auberge Provençale 13630 Rte. 340, White Post, Va.; 800/638-1702 or 540/837-1375, fax 540/837-2004; doubles from $145, including breakfast. Stocked with great-grandmother's copper pots and Souleiado fabrics, this 1753 stone house overlooks more greenery than Provence could ever hope for. Breakfast is all that the French setting might suggest: hot croissants, poached eggs on brioche with spinach and quail, even lobster frittata.
Mansion Inn 9 S. Main St., New Hope, Pa.; 215/862-1231, fax 215/862-0277; doubles from $195, including breakfast. New Hope is the perfect hub for exploring bucolic Bucks County. And since 1995, when it became an inn offering nine rooms, this butter-yellow 1865 Victorian has been the place to lay your head. After a hearty breakfast, leave New Hope's hustle and bustle behind and drive the meandering River Road north along the peaceful, and surprisingly undeveloped, Delaware River. Turn off on any side road to find 18th-century stone houses standing in fields, or to search for one of Bucks County's 11 remaining historic covered bridges.
Inn at Bay Harbor 3600 Village Harbor Dr., Bay Harbor, Mich.; 800/462-6963 or 231/439-4000, fax 231/439-4094; doubles from $165. When the first guests at the inn's South American Lounge arrived, the husband went to order a drink and the wife sat down to cry. The bar so faithfully recaptured the atmosphere of its inspiration, a Lake Michigan touring schooner on which the couple had spent the night of their 1947 prom, that the woman was overcome with nostalgia. For a 130-room hotel bent on re-creating the lakeshore's rich past, her tears were the ultimate sign of success. Historic reminders are everywhere at this just-opened beacon on Lake Michigan: a council ring, where Ojibwas and Odawas sat on limestone slabs around a roaring fire; Victorian architectural details such as octagonal towers and miles of crown molding; even big-band music playing through speakers under the porte cochère. A croquet lawn, three golf courses, and a pool edged in blue stone are but a few of the place's diversions. But you could just as easily be waylaid by the pillow-top mattresses, down comforters, and 300-count cotton sheets on every bed in the cheery rooms.
Inn at Sunrise Point Fire Rd. 9 off Rte. 1, Camden, Maine; 800/435-6278 or 207/236-7716, fax 207/236-0820; doubles from $160, including breakfast. Through the windows of each of the four cottages and three main-house rooms, views of ruby-red maples and the sapphire sea gleam—throw them open before bed, and let the lull of the waves off Penobscot Bay woo you to sleep. The place closes down at the end of October, but not before bright orange pumpkins and sunny mums have taken over the grounds.
Deerfield Inn 81 Old Main St., Deerfield, Mass.; 800/926-3865 or 413/774-5587, fax 413/775-7221; doubles from $180, including breakfast. Highfliers like the Aga Khan and Charles Schwab stay at the Deerfield when they want to get away from it all. The inn is right on "the Street," Old Deerfield's famed thoroughfare lined with 18th- and 19th-century houses (many open to the public), so to step outside is to feel as if you're in another time. The proprietors, part of the Historic Deerfield organization, call the neighborhood their American Brigadoon. Furnished with items from Historic Deerfield's renowned collection of Colonial decorative arts, the inn's public rooms and each of the 23 guest rooms are indeed an atmospheric time warp.
An approximate guide to peak fall color across the United States
Inn at Thorn Hill, Jackson Village, N.H.
Shaker Inn, Enfield, N.H.
The Equinox, Manchester Village, Vt.
Lake Placid Lodge, Lake Placid, N.Y.
Inn at Cooperstown, Cooperstown, N.Y.
Inn at Bay Harbor, Bay Harbor, Mich.
Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Mich.
Canoe Bay, Chetek, Wis.
Inn at Sunrise Point, Camden, Maine
Deerfield Inn, Deerfield, Mass.
The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Mayflower Inn, Washington, Conn.
Mansion Inn, New Hope, Pa.
Inn at Little Washington, Washington, Va.
L'Auberge Provençale, White Post, Va.
Inn at Langley, Langley, Wash.
Holly Inn, Village of Pinehurst, N.C.
Litchfield Plantation, Pawleys Island, S.C.
MacArthur Place, Sonoma, Calif.
Timberhill Ranch, Cazadero, Calif.
Malia Boyd is a freelance writer living in New Orleans.