Fall Weekend Getaway Ideas

  • Mount Desert Island, Fall, autumn, weekend getaway, tree, mountain

    Photo: iStockphoto

    1 of 20

    We’ve mapped out fall getaway itineraries full of outdoor activities, harvest menus, cozy inns, even college football games. All you have to do is pick one.

    From November 2012 By ,

    The small town of Keene, NH, has been buzzing with tourists for weeks. Some stop for photo-ops by the white-steepled church and four covered bridges. Others hike up Mount Monadnock for spectacular panoramic views. But really, they’ve all left the city to be here among autumn’s eye-popping colors.

    Mix those brilliant reds and yellows together, and you get a whole lot of green. In many states, leaf-peepers spend more than a collective $1 billion on fall getaways annually. It’s no secret that the season inspires the urge to take off for a long weekend, whether you’re out among the Rocky Mountains’ golden aspens or New England’s yellow birches and flame-hued maples. And while some small inns do book up well in advance, it’s not too late to hit the road for a spontaneous day trip or overnight before winter closes in.

    Poet William Cullen Bryant called autumn “the year’s last, loveliest smile,” and we’ve plotted easy weekend getaway from major U.S. cities to help you take advantage of the season’s charms. Each loosely themed itinerary includes suggestions for where to stay, eat, and play in a picturesque, revel-in-the-crisp-air setting. Take South Bend, IN, for instance, where Chicagoans can make a weekend out of college football and whitewater rafting.

    Outdoor adventure fans who spend weekdays cooped up in the office will appreciate the appeal of ditching D.C. for a hike in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park or Boston for sea kayaking in Maine’s rugged Acadia National Park. In fall, Acadia’s tourist crowds dissipate, it’s blissfully quiet, and you can tuck into seasonal dishes like slow-braised ribs with maple glaze by the fireplace at Red Sky restaurant.

    Every U.S. state cultivates wine, and if celebrating this fall’s grape harvest is more up your alley, set your GPS for the ridiculously scenic Finger Lakes region of Central New York or for Walla Walla, WA, where a Main Street of Victorian-era buildings meets wineries known for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

    Browse these getaways to find the one that’s right for you, and sign up for T+L’s weekend getaways email newsletter for more trip ideas all year long.

  • Road trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains

    Photo: Tara Donne

    2 of 20

    Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip, VA

    Getaway from: Washington, D.C.

    This traditional country road cuts a ribbon through small-town life in Virginia’s hilly southwest. Fall weekends call for fresh cider from a red-roofed log-cabin store, bluegrass concerts, and spectacular views at every turn in the road.

    Get the Details>>

  • Sam Herrup antiques in the Berkshire Mountains.

    Photo: Sam Herrup

    3 of 20

    Antiquing in Berkshires, MA

    Getaway from: Boston, New York City

    Forgotten vestiges of the past—from furniture and bric-a-brac to take-a-load-off roadside cafes—are rediscovered and given a modern dust-off in the Berkshires. This four-season destination is especially breathtaking in fall, when forest canopies are brilliant shades of red and gold. Among the winding, leaf-strewn roads, you’ll want to pull over at the pleasantly rustic Old Inn on the Green, where dinner is lit entirely by candles.

    Get the Details>>

  • Seattle Weekend Getaways

    Photo: Buddy Mays / Alamy

    4 of 20

    Rafting in Bend, OR

    Getaway from: Portland, Seattle

    In this Oregonian sport mecca, the mighty Deschutes River and trout-filled mountain lakes mean plenty of action on the water. Spend your days whitewater rafting or fly-fishing (or, if you’re a lubber, stick to the hiking trails in nearby Deschutes National Forest), and, come evening, cap it off with a glass of fantastic Washington wine.

    Get the Details>>

  • Photo: Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau

    5 of 20

    Affordable Culture in Galena, IL

    Getaway from: Chicago

    At the northwestern tip of Illinois, the town of Galena counts fewer than 5,000 residents, but draws more than a million visitors each year. The appeal? A great Main Street, trolley tours past beautiful 19th-century buildings, canoeing trips along the Galena River, and, for history buffs, seeing the place where President Ulysses S. Grant’s family lived and worked—and where he himself lived for about two years. The town also has galleries, craft shops, and boutiques.

    Get the Details>>

  • Perfect weekend in Lambertville, New Jersey.

    Photo: Kevin Giannini / Alamy

    6 of 20

    Romance in Lambertville, NJ

    Getaway from: Boston, New York City

    This town, filled with Victorian and Federal-style homes, is the perfect spot for a low-key romantic getaway. Expect antique stores, wine shops, and moderate biking and walking trails, set along the eastern shore of the Delaware River. For the utmost in romance, take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the historic part of town.

    Get the Details>>

  • Anderson Valley, fall, autumn, fog, fence,

    Photo: iStockphoto

    7 of 20

    Tasting the Best of Anderson Valley, CA

    Getaway from: San Francisco

    In Northern California’s Mendocino County, the 25-mile-long Anderson Valley encompasses several tiny communities. In one such town, the folks at the Philo Apple Farm (who once owned French Laundry) grow 80 varieties of apples and rent out charming cottages. The vibe is very low-key, and there’s not a lot of infrastructure, so the area’s wineries are best explored by car. Be sure to sample the specialty, pinot noir.

    Get the Details>>

  • Berkeley Springs State Park in West Virginia.

    Photo: William S. Kuta / Alamy

    8 of 20

    Spa-Going in West Virginia

    Getaway from: Washington, D.C.

    The warm mineral waters of Berkeley Springs have long been touted for their healing properties. The surrounding area is also perfect for hiking and birding. Case in point: Berkeley Springs State Park, where you can sample treatments at the historic spa and also spot cardinals and bluebirds.

    Get the Details>>

  • Harwood Museum of Art in Taos.

    Photo: Courtesy of the Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, NM

    9 of 20

    Exploring the Arts in Taos, NM

    Getaway from: Denver

    A renowned art colony for more than 100 years, Taos abounds with museums and galleries. It’s a walk-able town, where desert pine trees cast sparse shade over adobe buildings, at the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. You’ll find that lots of the art reflects the surrounding southwestern landscape—how could it not?

    Get the Details>>

  • steeple, flag, flagpole, tree, autumn, weekend getaway, fall

    Photo: Andre Jenny / Alamy

    10 of 20

    Road Trip in Keene, NH

    Getaway from: Boston

    In leaf-peeping season, it’s all about the views—and hiking, fishing, and simply exploring on foot—in this scenic New Hampshire town and its surroundings. Drive Route 10, between Keene and Walpole, to discover four historic covered bridges (also known as “kissing bridges”) and 3,165-foot Mount Monadnock, which has views all the way to Boston.

    Get the Details>>

  • Photo: South Bend/Mishawaka Convention and Visitors Bureau

    11 of 20

    Football Action in South Bend, IN

    Getaway from: Chicago

    Best known as the home of the University of Notre Dame, South Bend scores high for college-football enthusiasts. If you can tear yourself away from the football stadium—and the institutions that house game memorabilia—there’s also an array of outdoor activities such as whitewater rafting and hiking through nature preserves.

    Get the Details>>

  • Shot from Little Stony Man Cliffs, the Skyline Drive winds its way through the Shenandoah National Park.

    12 of 20

    Hiking in Shenandoah National Park, VA

    Getaway from: Washington, D.C.

    Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park is lovely, easily accessible, and kid-friendly. Road trip along the scenic and slow Skyline Drive, stopping for family photos above vast landscapes of America’s oldest mountains, brilliant red and gold in the fall. Big Meadows lodge has rustic wood-paneled rooms and a playground for kids.

    Get the Details>>

  • A winery in Finger Lakes.

    Photo: iStockphoto

    13 of 20

    Wine Tasting in the Finger Lakes, NY

    Getaway from: New York City

    New York’s Finger Lakes have gorgeous scenery—plus the wines to toast them with. The area has more than 35 wineries on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, all sited along routes 14 and 414 in a loop around Seneca Lake. Check into a romantic Victorian B&B, then start your tour with the dry Rieslings at Wagner Vineyards.

    Get the Details>>

  • Seattle Weekend Getaways

    Photo: John Warburton-Lee Photography / Alamy

    14 of 20

    Biking and Hiking in Snoqualmie Pass, WA

    Getaway from: Seattle

    Set in the Cascades, the wintertime ski trails at Snoqualmie Pass are a mountain-biker’s dream in warmer weather. Bordered by national forest preserve, the area offers an array of great beginner to advance-level trails that also happen to be among the state’s best places to spy fall foliage. The payoff is indisputable: Several the more challenging lead to views of Mount Rainier.

    Get the Details>>

  • Mackinac Island, fall, autumn, Weekend Getaway, town, lake

    Photo: Dimitry Bobroff / Alamy

    15 of 20

    Romance on Mackinac Island, MI

    Getaway from: Chicago

    Ditch your car and catch a ferry from Michigan’s Mackinaw City or St. Ignace, and 15 minutes to reach the shore of the 2,000-acre Mackinac Island. Horse-drawn taxis greet you at the dock at this former summer colony (the British built a fort here in 1780) on Lake Huron, where you’ll travel back in time to the turn of the century. Live like a local, exploring by bike and dining on fresh seafood come sunset.

    Get the Details

  • Mount Desert Island, Fall, autumn, weekend getaway, tree, mountain

    Photo: iStockphoto

    16 of 20

    Exploring Mount Desert Island, ME

    Getaway from: Boston

    Acadia National Park’s Mount Desert Island is the largest island off the coast of Maine. A reliable bus network stops throughout the park, but it’s the perfect cycling and kayaking destination. In fall, the tourist crowds dissipate, it’s blissfully quiet, and you can tuck in seasonal dishes like slow-braised ribs with maple glaze by the fireplace at Red Sky restaurant.

    Get the Details>>

  • Garden of the Gods in Colorado, Springs.

    Photo: Courtesy of Colorado Springs CVB

    17 of 20

    Decadent Getaway in Colorado Springs, CO

    Getaway from: Denver

    Colorado Springs—the state’s second largest city—is perfect for a sybaritic retreat. With a sumptuous resort and proximity to artsy Manitou Springs (which has long drawn travelers to its mineral waters), the metropolis is one of the most well rounded in an area historically marked by mining and ranching. Weave hiking, spa treatments, shopping, and hearty seasonal fare into one indulgent long weekend.

    Get the Details>>

  • Touring Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

    Photo: ClassicStock / Alamy

    18 of 20

    Touring Pennsylvania Dutch Country

    Getaway from: Washington, D.C.

    Central Pennsylvania’s Amish communities provide a glimpse of a simpler time. Driving from town to town is easy, and ideal in the fall when leaf peeping is at its peak (buggy rides are another way to go). Snack on homemade shoofly pie while shopping for souvenirs at the Bird-in-Hand farmer’s market and enjoy dinner at a historic B&B’s wine cellar. 

    Get the Details>>

  • Seattle Weekend Getaways

    Photo: Gramercy Cellars

    19 of 20

    Wine Tastings in Walla Walla, WA

    Getaway from: Seattle

    Washington’s premier wine destination is polished—with cafés and galleries clustered in a historic downtown—but not pretentious. Its Native American-derived name means “many waters,” but today wine is the only liquid that flows abundantly in this dry landscape. Sip cabernet sauvignon and merlot on half- or full-day vineyard-hopping tours in fall harvest season.

    Get the Details>>

  •  

    20 of 20

  • Mount Desert Island, Fall, autumn, weekend getaway, tree, mountain

    The small town of Keene, NH, has been buzzing with tourists for weeks. Some stop for photo-ops by the white-steepled church and four covered bridges. Others hike up Mount Monadnock for spectacular panoramic views. But really, they’ve all left the city to be here among autumn’s eye-popping colors.

    Mix those brilliant reds and yellows together, and you get a whole lot of green. In many states, leaf-peepers spend more than a collective $1 billion on fall getaways annually. It’s no secret that the season inspires the urge to take off for a long weekend, whether you’re out among the Rocky Mountains’ golden aspens or New England’s yellow birches and flame-hued maples. And while some small inns do book up well in advance, it’s not too late to hit the road for a spontaneous day trip or overnight before winter closes in.

    Poet William Cullen Bryant called autumn “the year’s last, loveliest smile,” and we’ve plotted easy weekend getaway from major U.S. cities to help you take advantage of the season’s charms. Each loosely themed itinerary includes suggestions for where to stay, eat, and play in a picturesque, revel-in-the-crisp-air setting. Take South Bend, IN, for instance, where Chicagoans can make a weekend out of college football and whitewater rafting.

    Outdoor adventure fans who spend weekdays cooped up in the office will appreciate the appeal of ditching D.C. for a hike in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park or Boston for sea kayaking in Maine’s rugged Acadia National Park. In fall, Acadia’s tourist crowds dissipate, it’s blissfully quiet, and you can tuck into seasonal dishes like slow-braised ribs with maple glaze by the fireplace at Red Sky restaurant.

    Every U.S. state cultivates wine, and if celebrating this fall’s grape harvest is more up your alley, set your GPS for the ridiculously scenic Finger Lakes region of Central New York or for Walla Walla, WA, where a Main Street of Victorian-era buildings meets wineries known for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

    Browse these getaways to find the one that’s right for you, and sign up for T+L’s weekend getaways email newsletter for more trip ideas all year long.

  • Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip, VA

    Getaway from: Washington, D.C.

    This traditional country road cuts a ribbon through small-town life in Virginia’s hilly southwest. Fall weekends call for fresh cider from a red-roofed log-cabin store, bluegrass concerts, and spectacular views at every turn in the road.

    Get the Details>>

  • Antiquing in Berkshires, MA

    Getaway from: Boston, New York City

    Forgotten vestiges of the past—from furniture and bric-a-brac to take-a-load-off roadside cafes—are rediscovered and given a modern dust-off in the Berkshires. This four-season destination is especially breathtaking in fall, when forest canopies are brilliant shades of red and gold. Among the winding, leaf-strewn roads, you’ll want to pull over at the pleasantly rustic Old Inn on the Green, where dinner is lit entirely by candles.

    Get the Details>>

  • Rafting in Bend, OR

    Getaway from: Portland, Seattle

    In this Oregonian sport mecca, the mighty Deschutes River and trout-filled mountain lakes mean plenty of action on the water. Spend your days whitewater rafting or fly-fishing (or, if you’re a lubber, stick to the hiking trails in nearby Deschutes National Forest), and, come evening, cap it off with a glass of fantastic Washington wine.

    Get the Details>>

  • Affordable Culture in Galena, IL

    Getaway from: Chicago

    At the northwestern tip of Illinois, the town of Galena counts fewer than 5,000 residents, but draws more than a million visitors each year. The appeal? A great Main Street, trolley tours past beautiful 19th-century buildings, canoeing trips along the Galena River, and, for history buffs, seeing the place where President Ulysses S. Grant’s family lived and worked—and where he himself lived for about two years. The town also has galleries, craft shops, and boutiques.

    Get the Details>>

  • Romance in Lambertville, NJ

    Getaway from: Boston, New York City

    This town, filled with Victorian and Federal-style homes, is the perfect spot for a low-key romantic getaway. Expect antique stores, wine shops, and moderate biking and walking trails, set along the eastern shore of the Delaware River. For the utmost in romance, take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the historic part of town.

    Get the Details>>

  • Tasting the Best of Anderson Valley, CA

    Getaway from: San Francisco

    In Northern California’s Mendocino County, the 25-mile-long Anderson Valley encompasses several tiny communities. In one such town, the folks at the Philo Apple Farm (who once owned French Laundry) grow 80 varieties of apples and rent out charming cottages. The vibe is very low-key, and there’s not a lot of infrastructure, so the area’s wineries are best explored by car. Be sure to sample the specialty, pinot noir.

    Get the Details>>

  • Spa-Going in West Virginia

    Getaway from: Washington, D.C.

    The warm mineral waters of Berkeley Springs have long been touted for their healing properties. The surrounding area is also perfect for hiking and birding. Case in point: Berkeley Springs State Park, where you can sample treatments at the historic spa and also spot cardinals and bluebirds.

    Get the Details>>

  • Exploring the Arts in Taos, NM

    Getaway from: Denver

    A renowned art colony for more than 100 years, Taos abounds with museums and galleries. It’s a walk-able town, where desert pine trees cast sparse shade over adobe buildings, at the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. You’ll find that lots of the art reflects the surrounding southwestern landscape—how could it not?

    Get the Details>>

  • Road Trip in Keene, NH

    Getaway from: Boston

    In leaf-peeping season, it’s all about the views—and hiking, fishing, and simply exploring on foot—in this scenic New Hampshire town and its surroundings. Drive Route 10, between Keene and Walpole, to discover four historic covered bridges (also known as “kissing bridges”) and 3,165-foot Mount Monadnock, which has views all the way to Boston.

    Get the Details>>

  • Football Action in South Bend, IN

    Getaway from: Chicago

    Best known as the home of the University of Notre Dame, South Bend scores high for college-football enthusiasts. If you can tear yourself away from the football stadium—and the institutions that house game memorabilia—there’s also an array of outdoor activities such as whitewater rafting and hiking through nature preserves.

    Get the Details>>

  • Hiking in Shenandoah National Park, VA

    Getaway from: Washington, D.C.

    Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park is lovely, easily accessible, and kid-friendly. Road trip along the scenic and slow Skyline Drive, stopping for family photos above vast landscapes of America’s oldest mountains, brilliant red and gold in the fall. Big Meadows lodge has rustic wood-paneled rooms and a playground for kids.

    Get the Details>>

  • Wine Tasting in the Finger Lakes, NY

    Getaway from: New York City

    New York’s Finger Lakes have gorgeous scenery—plus the wines to toast them with. The area has more than 35 wineries on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, all sited along routes 14 and 414 in a loop around Seneca Lake. Check into a romantic Victorian B&B, then start your tour with the dry Rieslings at Wagner Vineyards.

    Get the Details>>

  • Biking and Hiking in Snoqualmie Pass, WA

    Getaway from: Seattle

    Set in the Cascades, the wintertime ski trails at Snoqualmie Pass are a mountain-biker’s dream in warmer weather. Bordered by national forest preserve, the area offers an array of great beginner to advance-level trails that also happen to be among the state’s best places to spy fall foliage. The payoff is indisputable: Several the more challenging lead to views of Mount Rainier.

    Get the Details>>

  • Romance on Mackinac Island, MI

    Getaway from: Chicago

    Ditch your car and catch a ferry from Michigan’s Mackinaw City or St. Ignace, and 15 minutes to reach the shore of the 2,000-acre Mackinac Island. Horse-drawn taxis greet you at the dock at this former summer colony (the British built a fort here in 1780) on Lake Huron, where you’ll travel back in time to the turn of the century. Live like a local, exploring by bike and dining on fresh seafood come sunset.

    Get the Details

  • Exploring Mount Desert Island, ME

    Getaway from: Boston

    Acadia National Park’s Mount Desert Island is the largest island off the coast of Maine. A reliable bus network stops throughout the park, but it’s the perfect cycling and kayaking destination. In fall, the tourist crowds dissipate, it’s blissfully quiet, and you can tuck in seasonal dishes like slow-braised ribs with maple glaze by the fireplace at Red Sky restaurant.

    Get the Details>>

  • Decadent Getaway in Colorado Springs, CO

    Getaway from: Denver

    Colorado Springs—the state’s second largest city—is perfect for a sybaritic retreat. With a sumptuous resort and proximity to artsy Manitou Springs (which has long drawn travelers to its mineral waters), the metropolis is one of the most well rounded in an area historically marked by mining and ranching. Weave hiking, spa treatments, shopping, and hearty seasonal fare into one indulgent long weekend.

    Get the Details>>

  • Touring Pennsylvania Dutch Country

    Getaway from: Washington, D.C.

    Central Pennsylvania’s Amish communities provide a glimpse of a simpler time. Driving from town to town is easy, and ideal in the fall when leaf peeping is at its peak (buggy rides are another way to go). Snack on homemade shoofly pie while shopping for souvenirs at the Bird-in-Hand farmer’s market and enjoy dinner at a historic B&B’s wine cellar. 

    Get the Details>>

  • Wine Tastings in Walla Walla, WA

    Getaway from: Seattle

    Washington’s premier wine destination is polished—with cafés and galleries clustered in a historic downtown—but not pretentious. Its Native American-derived name means “many waters,” but today wine is the only liquid that flows abundantly in this dry landscape. Sip cabernet sauvignon and merlot on half- or full-day vineyard-hopping tours in fall harvest season.

    Get the Details>>

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