America's Best Hotels for Fall Colors
Chebeague Island is a short ferry ride from the hipster scene in Portland, ME, but it still moves to a 19th-century tempo. So you can take your time walking among the brilliant fall colors and, when the evening turns cool, cozy up to the fireplace of the Chebeague Island Inn.
That crispness in the air is a sure sign it’s time for the annual pageant of vivid reds, oranges, and yellows that inspires leaf-peepers to explore the towns and byways of New England, the Midwest, the mid-Atlantic, and the Northwest. But what makes a fall foliage pilgrimage truly memorable is where you choose to stay. We searched the country for properties that put you in the thick of things—and discovered that the best hotels for fall colors are as varied as the colors themselves.
You could wake up to a view of the Green Mountains and a breakfast with local maple syrup in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Or opt for Colorado, where a fall getaway means experiencing the golden splendor of Aspen trees from the minimalist aerie of a Bauhaus-inspired, largely glass-walled hotel.
Related: America's Best Fall Foliage Drives
Whatever their aesthetic, these are places where the breakfasts are homemade and the views are vibrant with fall colors. Of course, some rooms are better than others, so we’ve singled out which rooms savvy travelers will want to book. At North Carolina’s Applewood Manor, for instance, the York Imperial room stands out for its country charm (sleigh bed, gas log fireplace) and private balcony for enjoying the foliage that brightens up the misty Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Blue Ridge lends itself to exploring by car—the parkway was a WPA project built to blend in with the spectacular landscape—but these inns can also be convenient bases for hiking, antiquing, canoeing, even wine tastings at local vineyards, where it also happens to be harvest season.
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So when exactly should you head out for a leaf-peeping trip? Anytime from mid-September to early November; generally, the further north you are, the sooner the leaves turn. State tourism boards and this handy interactive foliage map are your best resources for monitoring the local progression of color. But don’t delay. Wherever you’re headed, you can never book too early. Fall colors mark the year’s busiest time for many of these inns—and you’ve got a room to request.
Omni Mount Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods, NH
This 1902 grande dame hotel in New Hampshire’s White Mountains has wide verandas, baronial public spaces, and views of Mount Washington—the highest peak in the Northeast—in all its blazing fall glory. History is served in the Main Dining Room, with its potted palms and Edwardian splendor, and in The Cave, a vaulted-ceiling Prohibition-era speakeasy. One welcome touch of modernity: the 25,000-square-foot spa complete with a glass-encased day pool. Doubles from $387 with full breakfast.
Room to Book: The Corner Vista rooms have seating areas with huge windows overlooking the White Mountains.
Get Outdoors: New Hampshire’s best hiking trails are minutes away, and there are zipline canopy tours through the maple trees at adjacent Bretton Woods Resort.
Ashby Inn, Paris, VA
About 20 miles from Skyline Drive—one of the country’s best foliage routes—you’ll pull over at the Ashby. Built in 1829, the inn welcomed Stonewall Jackson during the Civil War and retains a refined country look. Ten rooms are decorated with 19th-century furniture, Oriental carpets, and four-poster beds. And the restaurant is a destination in itself, serving farm fare like roasted beet soup and braised rabbit. Doubles from $160.
Room to Book: The Settle Room has a wood-burning fireplace and a private porch with Adirondack chairs overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Get Outdoors: Put on your hiking boots and walk under the foliage umbrella of Sky Meadows State Park, a half mile away.
Chebeague Island Inn, Chebeague Island, ME
This restored 1920s Greek Revival inn overlooking the ocean lies on one of Maine’s most beautiful islands in Casco Bay, a 25-minute water taxi ride from Portland and its bevy of hip restaurants. After a day of leaf peeping and lobster boat sightings, kick back on the porch or in front of the stone fireplace in the Great Room. Doubles from $360.
Room to Book: An ocean-view room with a private bath. It comes tailored in crisp ginghams and plaids with a queen-size bed and works by local Maine artists.
Get Outdoors: Walk to the rocks at Deer Point for fantastic views of the bay and island.
Aspen Meadows, Aspen, CO
Designed by Bauhaus alumnus Herbert Bayer in 1949, Aspen Meadows has spacious, minimalist rooms with huge windows—all the better for taking in views of 42 mountainside acres of golden aspen trees. The hotel is on the Roaring Fork River in Aspen’s historic West End. And you may even feel smarter by association here since it’s the headquarters of the prestigious Aspen Institute. Doubles from $144.
Room to Book: Upgrade to a spacious one-bedroom suite with a private balcony or terrace.
Get Outdoors: It’s an easy hike around Maroon Lake, at the foot of the Maroon Bells, arguably the most photographed mountain peaks in America.
Stonover Farm, Lenox, MA
In the heart of the Berkshires, Stonover Farm was built in 1890 as a gentleman’s farm and opened to guests in 2001. The Inn has eight luxury suites and sits beside a duck pond with 10 surrounding open acres. There’s a well-stocked library, three working fireplaces, and a gallery in the barn that displays contemporary painting, sculpture, and photography. Doubles from $385.
Room to Book: The three-room Suite One boasts views of the field and forest from the sitting room, which is furnished with a cozy armchair and ottoman. There's also a writing desk, a marble-encased soaking tub in the bathroom, and the woods just beyond the bedroom.
Get Outdoors: The bucolic roads around Lenox are made for pedaling, so book a Trek road bike rental from the Arcadian Shop.
Applewood Manor, Asheville, NC
This turn-of-the-century six-room B&B in the historic Montford District shares 1.5 acres with giant oaks, pines, and maples. It’s a pleasant stroll into downtown Asheville and a 10-minute drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway, but it can be just as tempting to settle into a rocking chair on one of the five porches. Doubles from $170.
Room to Book: The York Imperial has a sleigh bed, a gas log fireplace, and a private balcony with Adirondack furniture for enjoying the foliage on display across the mountains.
Get Outdoors: Hike a portion of the Mountains to Sea Trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Columbia Gorge Hotel, Hood River, OR
The Columbia River Gorge was the country’s first declared National Scenic Area, and it’s easy to understand why when you gaze at the majestic confluence of mountains and river. Overlooking the gorge, the 39-room Columbia Gorge Hotel supplies the comforts of homemade granola, spa treatments, and stately touches like canopy beds and Art Deco tiling. Doubles from $139.
Room to Book: Ask for a River View Fireplace Room, with a gas fireplace and a panoramic view of the Columbia River Gorge.
Get Outdoors: This is a fantastic place to windsurf and kite board; be prepared to get wet with a rental from Big Winds. If you prefer wine to water, explore local vineyards during their harvest season.
Wickwood Inn, Saugatuck, MI
An artsy beach town along Lake Michigan, Saugatuck is known for dunes, galleries, and a range of brilliant fall colors as the beech and sugar maples turn. The Wickwood fits right in. Its 11 rooms each have an artsy or destination-theme—Matisse and Picasso are two of them—and are lavishly furnished. The pampering continues with cocktails in candlelight each evening. Doubles from $269.
Room to Book: The Christy suite has a fireplace, two cozy wingback chairs, a four-poster bed, and new decorative artworks and sculptures.
Get Outdoors: Take a hike in the sand dunes by the deep blue waters of Lake Michigan and the shoreline’s fiery trees.
Otesaga Resort Hotel, Cooperstown, NY
Built in 1909, this Federal-style 132-room resort makes a grand first impression thanks to 30-foot pillars and a lengthy walkway up to the entrance. Wide verandas face out at Lake Otsego, dubbed the Glimmerglass (now the name of the new a la carte restaurant), and the manicured grounds. Business casual is still required for dinner—jackets optional—at this old-world hotel: breakfast is still included and afternoon tea is complimentary. Doubles from $369.
Room to Book: Room 340, a Grand Lake View Suite, is the largest guestroom, with high ceilings, great views, a parlor, and the resort’s typical florals on the drapes and furnishings.
Get Outdoors: Rent a canoe or paddleboard from the resort to see the foliage from a lakeside perspective.
The White Gull Inn, Fish Creek, WI
Door County is a 75-mile-long peninsula that juts out into Lake Michigan amid wooded shoreline, lighthouses, and gently rolling farmland. About three quarters of the way up the peninsula you’ll find The White Gull, a clapboard inn from 1896—not long after Fish Creek started attracting summer vacationers. Doubles from $176.
Room to Book: Henriette’s Cottage is the only one-bedroom cottage at The White Gull. Guests can cozy up to the gas log fireplace in the living area, a private screened porch, and a separate bedroom with a four-poster bed and an antique English pine armoire.
Get Outdoors: Edge of Park rents bikes in Fish Creek for exploring nearby Peninsula State Park.
Rabbit Hill Inn, Lower Waterford, VT
Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom is among the first places in the Green Mountain State to see the leaves turn red and gold. This inn, an 18th-century structure with a 19th-century addition, makes a convenient base for exploring. Vistas of the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the hills of Vermont can be seen from the front porch, and complimentary afternoon tea is served daily. Doubles from $170.
Room to Book: The superior Music room offers a four-poster bed topped by a handwoven canopy, a gas fireplace, a fainting couch, a Victrola, and a historic pump organ from the church across the street.
Get Outdoors: Ten surrounding acres of wooded trails are ideal for an early morning foliage ramble.
Cedar Glen Lodge, Lake Tahoe, CA
North Lake Tahoe is a fine starting point for fall color drives—especially when you wake up at Cedar Glen, a series of 31 rooms and cottages built in the 1950s and recently updated to the tune of two million. You don’t need to wander off property to eat, thanks to a continental breakfast included in the rate. There are also a variety of California wines to sample in the wine bar. Doubles from $179.
Room to Book: Families and groups will appreciate the two bedrooms, two baths, and gas-burning stone fireplace in Cottage No. 14.
Get Outdoors: Hiking past aspens along the Tahoe Rim Trail.
Point Pleasant Inn, Bristol, RI
With lovely Federal and Colonial architecture, Bristol is waterfront New England minus the crowds of nearby Newport. The best accommodation in this traditional Yankee sailing town is the Point Pleasant Inn, which calls itself “a bed & breakfast resort.” The mansion has just seven suites and rooms, leaving space for an open bar, a swimming pool, a hot tub, a tennis court, a sauna, fitness center, billiards, and bikes. Doubles from $295.
Room to Book: The Bristol Harbor Suite for its king size four-poster bed and views of Bristol Harbor from the private deck.
Get Outdoors: Borrow a bike from the inn to ride along the East Bay Bike Path.
The Inn at Kent Falls, Kent, CT
You’ll find Kent in Connecticut’s northwest corner, where forested hills blend in with the Berkshires of neighboring Massachusetts. Make yourself at home at the Inn at Kent Falls, a six-room property dating back to 1741 that’s been meticulously renovated. French antiques furnish the living room while a screened porch overlooks the inn’s acreage and Cobble Brook’s waterfall. Doubles from $215.
Room to Book: The Lakes Suite has a king-size four-poster bed, a claw-foot soaking tub, a separate rainfall shower, and two fireplaces lit by candles instead of logs.
Get Outdoors: Local hiking paths intersect with the Appalachian Trail for a workout combined with foliage viewing.
The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, Hocking Hills, OH
Not all of Ohio is flat. Hocking Hills, in the state’s southeast corner close to West Virginia and Kentucky, is covered with oak, walnut, and hickory trees. Base yourself at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, a rustic getaway with 26 rooms, cottages, and cabins—not to mention a destination spa with more than a dozen treatments (book the seasonal papaw facial with an oat, honey, yogurt and papaw scrub that could probably double as breakfast). The Kindred Spirits Restaurant delivers a contemporary take on American cuisine. Doubles from $170.
Room to Book: The Tree House Whirlpool Cabin, which has a gas log stove, private deck, and whirlpool hot tub.
Get Outdoors: There are six major hiking trails in the Hocking Hills along with climbing and rappelling opportunities.
The Lodge at Woodloch, PA
At the 57-room Lodge at Woodloch, hatha yoga sessions are paired with wine tastings—in other words, this is not your grandparents’ Poconos of heart-shaped tubs. After a day of rigorous leaf peeping, the 40,000-square-foot spa with 27 treatment rooms promises deep relaxation, as does the Aqua Garden, a hydrotherapy area flanked by boulders. Doubles from $229, including all meals.
Room to Book: All of the rooms were refreshed this summer, though we recommend a Veranda Deluxe room facing the resort’s private lake and outfitted with a king-size bed and a marble walk-in shower.
Get Outdoors: Paddle a kayak on the resort’s 15-acre private lake.
Sun Mountain Lodge, WA
About four hours northeast of Seattle, this 3,000-acre resort is set atop a foothill in the North Cascades mountain range, an ideal perch for admiring fall colors. Guests come here to embrace the outdoors and to relax, with hot river rock massages and horseback riding through October. It helps that Sun Mountain’s service is among the best in the Northwest, and that its notable wine cellar boasts more than 3,500 bottles. Robinson and Gardner building accomodations come with gas fireplaces and balconies or patios from which to admire the autumnal hues. Doubles from $195, including breakfast.
Room to Book: One of the Mountain View Guest Rooms, with unimpeded views of the Cascades, and handmade maple and cherry furniture. There is wi-fi, but these rooms are TV free: all the better to help you unwind and unplug.
Get Outdoors: Fly-fishing on the Methow River for cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, and steelhead.
Hacienda del Sol, Taos, NM
This husband-and-wife-run B&B counts 12 rooms across four adobe buildings dating back to 1804, with the charm to prove it. Handcrafted quilts by local artists, antiques, kiva fireplaces, and viga and latilla ceilings set a romantic scene. Adjacent to Taos Pueblo, Hacienda del Sol occupies a little more than an acre; pull up a lawn chair to soak up the fall scenery of Taos Mountain. It’s the definition of tranquility, yet only a short drive from artsy Taos, with its shops, cafés, and galleries. Doubles from $255.
Room to Book: The Cowgirl room, with a king-size bed and a spectacular view of Taos Mountain framed in a picture window.
Get Outdoors: See the changing aspens on a hike to Williams Lake.
Clearwater Lake Lodge, MN
On the Gunflint Trail in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, the Clearwater Lake Lodge epitomizes the rugged spirit of the Great North Woods. The hand-hewn log lodge is the state’s oldest (with a spot on the National Historic Registry). Its collection of nine cabins and five guest rooms (with a clutch of bunkhouses for canoers passing through) looks across the water at 400-foot palisades. The rooms and suites don't come with kitchens, but a morning breakfast of pancakes and bacon before heading out on the lake is included. Doubles from $80.
Room to Book: Suite A, a two-bedroom cabin with a view of tree-ringed Clearwater Lake.
Get Outdoors: Canoe among the loons, bald eagles, and changing leaves.
Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, MT
Montana’s Triple Creek Ranch, a Relais & Châteaux mountain sanctuary, presents the American West at its most luxurious. At this ranch, walls are covered in a museum-quality collection of western art while the on-site restaurant showcases the talents of chef Jacob Leatherman, who recently cooked at New York’s James Beard House. The 24 cabins come with wood-burning fireplaces, hot tubs, and locally woven woolens. Doubles from $950, including all meals.
Room to Book: Chipmunk, a secluded cabin with a fireplace and a loft for reading and writing.
Get Outdoors: Horseback rides through the 4 million acres of surrounding forest are the best way to see the fall colors. But that’s just one of the activities staff can arrange to suit your interests.