20 Ideas for the Perfect Romantic Fall Getaway
“Of all the reasons we could have been swept away at Post Ranch Inn—the setting among primordial redwoods, the house-cured salmon at breakfast, the morning yoga classes in a yurt—it was the privacy that made it an ideal romantic destination,” says Christiana Roussel, an Alabama-based food writer. She and her husband stayed in one of the secluded cottages, with a view of Big Sur, CA, from their outdoor hot tub built for two.
While the Post Ranch Inn stokes romance in any season, there’s something special about visiting in fall, when the fog has cleared away and the whales are migrating. Across the U.S., autumn sparks the desire to hit the road with that special someone. From the Eastern seaboard to the tip-top of the Pacific Northwest, the temperatures cool, the leaves turn fiery, and it’s time to enjoy road trips, pumpkin-infused spa treatments, and harvest season at vineyards and orchards.
Related: 50 Best Romantic Getaways
In Oregon’s Willamette Valley, for instance, you can pair Pinot Noir with a hot-air balloon ride. Missouri’s wine country encompasses Katy Trail, the nation’s longest leisurely bike path. Wine tastings here tend to be free and B&Bs affordable, with a backdrop of spectacular color.
For perhaps the most quintessential fall landscape, head to the rolling hills of Vermont, specifically, the Log Cabin at Twin Farms. It’s an idealized rustic experience that treats couples to a soaking tub, a river rock fireplace, and an enclosed porch with a hammock.
If, no matter the season, you associate vacation with sand and sun, consider Alys Beach, a Mediterranean-inspired town along the Florida Panhandle. The crowds dissipate in autumn, when the prices fall, the weather is more temperate, and locals put on a host of food and wine events including a Lowcountry boil and bonfire at sunset right on the Gulf.
Do we have your attention yet? One of these 20 romantic fall getaways is sure to win you over.
With 18th-century buildings and just one traffic light, the town of Middleburg makes a charming introduction to Loudoun County, northern Virginia’s bucolic horse country. You can spend the morning browsing antique shops and local galleries then head over a few streets to reach horse farms and wineries—with a spectacular fall foliage backdrop. If you prefer that someone else take the reins, Salamander Resort & Spa offers carriage rides that include Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. The resort’s spa features a two-person suite with a private wraparound stone patio and garden, an outdoor Jacuzzi, and a fireplace; book the Fall Rebalancing therapy, a Seasonal Ritual designed in partnership with a local herbologist (exfoliation and massage featuring frankincense, eucalyptus, pine, grapefruit, and ylang ylang aromas). And for classic regional dishes—based largely on roasting, braising, and smoking—head to the Tavern at the Red Fox Inn, in a 1728 stone building with period furnishings.
Willamette Valley, OR
Just 45 minutes from Portland, the Willamette Valley promises exceptional restaurants, hiking trails, hot-air balloon rides, wine tours by helicopter or horse, and scenic countryside for picnics. Among the 300 area wineries, we’re partial to Anne Amie in the rolling hills of the Yamhill-Carlton District and Ardiri Winery, where you can sit fireside and take in views of the Chehalem foothills. After a day of tastings, retreat to The Allison Inn, where you can unwind with a couple’s treatment in the 15,000-square-foot spa complete with landscaped garden terraces and fire pits. You’ll be refreshed in time for dinner at Jory, perhaps a Pacific oyster tasting appetizer with pickled citrus–pink peppercorn mignonette or Chinook salmon and dishes sourced from the hotel’s 1.5-acre vegetable garden—and paired with a vintage from its 800-bottle list.
Acadia National Park, ME
Hike hand-in-hand through Maine’s only national park, keeping an eye out for broad-winged hawks and moose along the pine-fringed trails, to get to 1,530-foot Cadillac Mountain. It’s worth rising early to see the sun come up from that spectacular vantage point. Spend the rest of the day exploring Acadia attractions like the scenic Schoodic Byway; sea cliffs formed from granite; and carriage roads around Eagle Lake that are perfect for biking. The park teems with crowds during the summer high season, so visiting in autumn means a little more privacy. Soak up more rugged New England scenery from the Bar Harbor Inn, a shingled lodge on Frenchman Bay, with eight acres of gardens, a spa, and proximity to Bar Harbor’s shops and restaurants.
Food, romance, and adventure are in the air at The Resort at Paws Up’s 37,000-acre Montana ranch. For foodies and wine lovers, Montana Master Chefs is the event of a lifetime with world-class cuisine and exquisite vino. Get up close and personal with a group of James Beard Award winners, finalists, and nominees September 29 until October 2. If you’re a baking enthusiast, head to Upper Crust, a sophisticated cookie, pie, and pizza baking event. For the first time, The ProRodeo Hall of Fame presents Cowboy Experience at The Resort at Paws Up October 20 through 23, or plan to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years on the ranch, which is open year-round. If you’re feeling adventurous, hop a private helicopter to Glacier National Park for viewing golden colors (it’s a three-hour drive from the resort). Or spend the afternoon relaxing at Spa Town, the resort’s cluster of white tents surrounded by nature, for luxurious treatments, yoga classes and pure bliss.
In northwest Pennsylvania, the small town of Bradford erupts in vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red each fall. A chill rolls in at night, encouraging couples to snuggle up by a bonfire around Skipper Lake. Stay at the Lodge at Glendorn, where you have the option of the main lodge—with its impressive two-story sandstone fireplace, beamed cathedral ceilings, stained-glass windows, and sunporch—or an individual cabin by running streams. The lodge’s chef can prepare a picnic spread for you two, or you can take matters into your own hands by enjoying a custom cooking class: think deboning stream-caught trout and preparing some of the 60 vegetable varieties in the new culinary garden.
Big Sur, CA
Big Sur shines brightest in the fall, when the forecast calls for clear, warm days and cool, starry nights. Do your stargazing for two at the Post Ranch Inn, which has not only an enviable position overlooking the Pacific Coast but also one of the largest hotel telescopes in the U.S. Epicureans will also appreciate the hotel’s romantic restaurant, which hosts a five-course wine-pairing experience 1,200 feet above the breaking waves. Back in your guest room, you can settle in by the fireplace and keep an eye out for migrating whales—with some help from the supplied binoculars. Head to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park in time for a romantic coastal sunset, or time your visit to October’s Big Sur River Run, known as the most beautiful 10K in the world.
Charleston’s cobblestoned neighborhoods and grand moss-draped avenues set the scene for romance. More southern charm awaits at historic plantations like Middleton Place. A dynamic food scene has been brewing here, and you can take a culinary tour that starts with sweet tea and grits and ends with authentic Carolina barbecue. Couples who stay in one of the five historic buildings (all circa 1805) at Zero George can also sign up for a Lowcountry cooking class with a guest chef in the kitchen carriage house. And for a meal to remember, book a table at a notable restaurant like Husk or Circa 1886, then toast your good fortune while gazing at the city from the rooftop of Market Pavilion.
Park City, UT
The slopes don’t open until the end of November, so fall is the time to enjoy Park City’s still-temperate weather and other outdoor adventures like hiking and mountain biking. This is also a mountain town with a serious cultural side, from the Kimball Art Center to live-music venue Eccles Center. Treat yourselves to a stay at one of the Resorts West in Deer Valley, The Canyons, and Silver Star. These properties offer in-room check-in, a refrigerator and pantry stocked by request with your favorite items, in-room private chefs and cooking classes, as well as in-room fireside massage. If a boutique hotel is more your style, check in to Washington School House’s 16-foot-ceilinged King Room with a wrought-iron bed dressed in crisp white linens, a white marble bathroom with heated floors, and a 100-year-old European chandelier.
At the all-inclusive resort Twin Farms, couples are treated to an upscale cabin experience complete with a crackling fire and a hot tub. You can picnic among the 300-acre property’s meadows and apple orchards or feast on dinner in the 20,000-bottle wine cellar. Get your hearts racing with a round of tennis, a canoe outing on Copper Pond, or a bike ride along area trails. You can even play croquet or try your hand at fly-fishing at the resort’s fully stocked pond. Rejuvenate any sore muscles at the Bridge House Spa, where amenities include glass-brick steam rooms and furo—a Japanese hot soaking tub—with views of Vermont’s brilliant foliage.
Extreme elevations and more than 100 species of deciduous trees give the Blue Ridge Mountains one of the most vibrant leaf seasons worldwide. For a novel perspective, try Asheville’s newest canopy tour adventure, a mountaintop thrill ride 350 feet above the forest. Other area adventures include biking, horseback riding, and river floating trips from the Biltmore Estate. The historic home hosts a Red Wine and Chocolate Seminar as well as a Biltmore Bubbles Tour devoted to the sparkling-wine-making process. The Chocolate Lounge at French Broad Chocolates has an outrageous menu or hand-crafted cakes, brownies, trifles and drinking chocolate (think ganache-based liquid truffles in exotic flavors such as cayenne and cinnamon or Indian kulfi, or steamy Oaxacan hot chocolate with almonds, cinnamon, and almond milk). You can also fill up on seasonal treats at the Urban Orchard Cider Co., which features a true cider bar, and numerous apple and pumpkin farms around the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway
Missouri Wine Country
The area around Hermann and Augusta—40 minutes apart by car—counts a handful of boutique wineries. It’s part of Missouri’s leisurely wine trail and comes with the bonus of rich fall colors, peaking in mid-October. Plan your itinerary with stops at Chaumette Winery and nearby Cave Vineyard's biscotti bar (flavors range from traditional anise and almond to modern snickerdoodle and bacon chocolate chip); Les Bourgeois Blufftop Bistro for a meal overlooking the Missouri River Valley; and Katy Trail State Park, the nation’s longest rails-to-trails conversion. Missouri’s wine country is more affordable and easygoing than most, and the wineries are situated in small communities big on charm.
Saugatuck has been an artists’ haven since the 19th century, with plenty of galleries as well as beachy pursuits like paddlewheel boat cruises and open-air-Jeep dune rides. Go for beer tastings at Saugatuck Brewing, and pick from 17 apple varieties at Crane Orchards. This is B&B territory, with romantic options including the The Belvedere Inn and Wickwood Inn, which hosts evening candlelight cocktails. Make your dinner reservations at The Southerner, a new Appalacian comfort food restaurant opened this year by two-time James Beard-nominated chef Matthew Millar. Try the shrimp with Antebellum grits or split Nana's fried chicken with your date.
With gardens, a pond, and woodland, the Mayflower Grace is a place to take things slow. You can admire the changing leaves from the wraparound porch, dine on locavore dishes prepared by the culinary team, or enjoy the special fall facial with organic pomegranate, pumpkin, and honey in the 20,000-square-foot spa. The 30-room inn also makes a convenient jumping-off point for exploring Mount Tom State Park or Lake Waramaug, antiquing in Litchfield Hills, or driving to the prerevolutionary village of Kent or the beautiful covered bridge at West Cornwall.
Jackson Hole, WY
At the southern gateway of Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole welcomes couples with a dose of crisp autumn air, golden aspens, a bundle of right-out-your-door activities, and wildlife. The ultraluxurious Amangani does its own part to pamper visitors; you can lounge in deep soaking tubs or get an après-hike foot massage. The resort also arranges excursions, including private trips to Jenny Lake, a favored spot for elks, which mate in fall. Alternatively, the Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa is offering a new "Wyoming on the Fly” package that takes advantage of the season's renowned fly fishing. The package includes a leisurely float trip along the Snake River for unbeatable views of the foliage, the grandeur of the Teton Range, and—of course—honey holes teeming with cutthroat trout prime for the catching.
Alys Beach, FL
Mediterranean-style white buildings with architectural flourishes line the walkable streets of Alys Beach, along a beautiful stretch of the Florida Panhandle. It’s easy to while away the day at the white-sand beach or in a private cabana at the 100-foot, zero-entry saltwater Caliza Pool and at its surrounding candlelit alfresco restaurant. You can also go paddleboarding, bike in search of butterflies, or take a walk in the rare coastal Dune Lakes nearby. Autumn ushers in the lowest rental prices of the year, moderate temperatures, and outdoor food and area wine events like Rosemary Beach Uncorked and the Seeing Red Wine Festival.
One of the Midwest’s most luxurious resorts, The American Club at Destination Kohler, happens to be strategically located two hours from Chicago and one from Milwaukee. You can retreat to the recently renovated Carriage House or splurge on the Eau de Vie Suite with a glass fireplace adjacent to your overflowing chromatherapy bath and a one-of-a-kind shower experience. Kohler is known for golf courses like Blackwolf Run, and fishing is excellent in the fall. (For a more indulgent water experience, the spa offers hydrotherapy services, plunge pools, a whirlpool, and the sound of nearby waterfalls.) Hiking, kayaking, canoeing, and horseback riding are other popular pastimes. Dine outdoors at Whistling Straits Clubhouse, which overlooks the golf course and Lake Michigan.
Get acquainted with this quaint southern town by strolling together down Main Street, past antique shops and antebellum homes. Along the shore of Lake Oconee, you’ll find the Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation, which lures couples with its 251 rooms (Frette linens, marble baths) 99 championship golf holes, and the updated spa, fresh off a multi-million dollar renovation. Biking, kayaking, fishing, tennis, and exploring by Segway are also on the agenda. On a cool evening, cozy up to the lodge campfire for totally sophisticated, grown-up s'mores.
Texas Hill Country
At the Inn at Dos Brisas, Spanish-style haciendas with fireplaces have French doors that lead to your own private screened porch and outdoor pool. (There’s also an indoor whirlpool—big enough for two—with soothing bath salts.) Horses roam the grounds of this tranquil property in the eastern foothills of Texas Hill Country. You can saddle up for a ride past bluebonnet fields, or stick around the inn for a cooking class or a private wine class. One couple complimented the chef on a steak rub and was surprised with a sampling to take home at checkout. In October, enjoy complimentary tastings along the nearby Texas Wine Month Trail.
Hocking Hills, OH
Caves, sandstone cliff overlooks, waterfalls, and hiking trails like the Rim Trail at Conkle’s Hollow are yours to explore in this section of southeastern Ohio. You can rent a cabin at Hocking Hills State Park, which features rock formations like Old Man’s Cave, a narrow, deep gorge with waterfalls. Or stay in a secluded cabin at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, where indulgent meals can be delivered directly to your cabin. Add a dash of fairy-tale-like romance to your getaway at the Ravenwood Castle, a 12th-century turreted hotel that could also be the setting for a murder-mystery dinner party.
Rancho Santa Fe, CA
Thirty miles north of San Diego, you’ll find the rarefied small town of Rancho Santa Fe, a popular retreat for 1930s stars like Bing Crosby, with the mansions, world-class golf course, and horseback-riding tradition to show for it. Still, the vibe here is laid back. You can browse Main Street’s few boutiques and the Rancho Sante Fe Market, held each Sunday morning. At Torrey Pines State Reserve, take the beachside trail, and then walk back along the beach (you don’t have to go uphill on the way back). The recently renovated Inn at Rancho Santa Fe feels like a romantic country retreat, with cottages set along garden pathways. Kick back with cocktails on the croquet lawn in front, and take advantage of the inn’s full couple’s spa suite with a private outdoor courtyard including a shower and tub.