NYC is undoubtedly lovely this time of year, but something about the autumnal air makes us want to get out of town. And whether you’re in the market for a bucolic retreat, a quaint hamlet or even just a (different) bustling city, these not-so-far-flung destinations are more than worthy of digging out that driver’s license.
Litchfield Hills, Connecticut
Litchfield is known for some of the best antique shopping in Connecticut, so if scouring estate sales, curated barns-turned-stores and flea markets for vintage gems is your jam, this getaway is right up your alley.
Stay: Book a stay at Winvian Farm, which boasts 18 luxury cottages each with its own unique spin—like a whimsical-chic tree house, a refurbished helicopter and a nautical lighthouse.
Do: Don’t feel like going far? The resort offers horseback riding, cooking classes, bikes for guests and a luxurious spa, along with snowshoeing and cross-country skiing come the winter months. If you’re feeling ambitious, you’re just a quick ten-minute drive from hot-air ballooning.
Eat: Sample the “seed-to-table” tasting menu at Winvian’s onsite restaurant, or head to the West Street Grill for bistro-style eats (the Parmesan aioli peasant bread is a must) and alfresco seating.
Princeton, New Jersey
Though you could spend an entire day touring the campus of Princeton University—full of Gothic architecture that looks increasingly spooky as Halloween rolls around—the Ivy League college is not the only thing of note in this charming town.
Stay: If you want to be within walking distance of all the action, look no further than Princeton’s Palmer Square and the The Nassau Inn, a historic landmark hotel where Thomas Paine and Paul Revere hung out.
Do: Princeton has a pedestrian-friendly shopping district full of clothing stores, home décor outposts and a few old-school bookstores with killer names, like Labyrinth Books and The Cloak & Dagger, which is dedicated to mystery books. And drama buffs should be sure to catch a show at the venerated McCarter Theatre Center.
Eat: You could easily spend the better part of your weekend eating your way through town, from the casual and aptly-named PJ’s Pancake House to the elegant Peacock Inn, which is housed in an adorable Victorian-era home and doubles as a boutique hotel. Whatever you do, do not skip out of town without trying the unique ice cream creations at The Bent Spoon, a local favorite.
Sure, the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are worth seeing if you’ve never been, but you’ll also want to leave enough time for incredible food and a creepy prison tour.
Stay: Aloft Philadelphia Downtown blends the city’s rich history with contemporary vibes. The 179 guest rooms took over the former Liberty Title & Trust Building, built in 1925.
Do: Take a relaxing stroll through Philly’s famed Rittenhouse Square: It’s a great place to take in the fall colors as you admire the beautiful homes built around it, some of which date back to the early 19th century. The iconic LOVE Park, reopening in late fall 2017, is a must if only for the Instagram opportunity. And those inclined to the macabre need to make a stop at Eastern State Penitentiary, the historic prison where Al Capone was once incarcerated.
Eat: Even the snobbiest New Yorkers won’t be disappointed in Philly’s thriving dining scene, where chef Jose Garces is king, with his Amada, Tinto and Volver outposts. Or grab a table at the buzzy Vetri for Italian, El Vez for Mexican, Blue Duck for a little bit of everything—and its brand new sister restaurant, The Ugly Duckling, for burgers and sandwiches.
Bedford, New York
No wonder Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds chose to settle down in this quaint Westchester town—it’s close to the city while still maintaining plenty of rural charm.
Stay: Check into the Bedford Post Inn, an eight-room property (with romantic fireplaces in most rooms) that features two award-winning restaurants and a yoga studio.
Do: Spend a nature day at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation; Outhouse Orchards for Halloween-esque corn mazes, spooky hayrides and pumpkin picking; and Rainbeau Ridge for playing with animals and savoring local cheeses.
Eat: The Bedford Post’s onsite eateries mean you don’t have to venture far: Try The Barn for country classics and a killer brunch, or Baldanza for handmade pastas and wood-fired fare.
New Canaan, Connecticut
This idyllic town is an hour and a half from Manhattan and offers everything one might need or want for a long weekend: historic landmarks, fall foliage sightings, adorable B&Bs and upscale boîtes (that you don’t have to wait hours to get into).
Stay: Reserve a room at Graybarns Inn, a recently renovated rustic-meets-cozy refuge that overlooks the Silvermine River and Guthrie Pond.
Do: Between The Glass House, Grace Farms and Waveny Park, the area’s a dream for anyone who loves architecture and landscape design.
Eat: The seasonal salads and outrageously good burger at Elm Restaurant will have you making return trips on Metro-North just for the food.
Nyack, NY & the Hudson Valley
Nyack is a great home base if you’re looking to explore points north in the Hudson Valley—or you just need the closest possible jaunt outside NYC.
Stay: Check in to The Time Nyack to enjoy the hotel’s trendy, luxe loft-style rooms, many of which come equipped with an Amazon Alexa so you can order more towels without having to call the front desk. The hotel also boasts a buzzy local food and nightlife scene, which centers around contemporary steakhouse BV’s Grill and a secret pocket lobby bar.
Do: Just across the river you’ll find the Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, a Gothic Revival mansion with a noteworthy history, and the historic village of Sleepy Hollow, which—naturally—ramps up the spooky spirit every October.
Eat: Head to Communal Kitchen for locally sourced bites and great wine, or find authentic homestyle Filipino eats at Karenderya.
Asbury Park, NJ
Asbury Park may be on your radar as a summertime spot, but this funky resort town—and its somewhat gritty past—is having a major resurgence, making it a great year-round destination.
Stay: You’ll want to hang your hat at The Asbury, which was converted from a former Salvation Army building into a hip beachside hotel, and has beautifully designed rooms and cool lounge spaces throughout. It’s also a great place to enjoy one last alfresco cocktail before the weather gets too cold, at Salvation, the rooftop garden bar.
Do: Catch a show at the legendary dive, The Stone Pony where Springstein and Bon Jovi played. Or get acquainted with Asbury’s lively LGBTQ scene with a drag show at Paradise, located at the Empress Hotel.
Eat: Grab lunch at Porta, a wood-fired pizza joint and beer garden (though be forewarned, it turns into a Jersey Shore dance club at night).