Most weekend getaways, come fall, replace ice cream with hot chocolate and beach trips for fall foliage. But if you’re in the market for year-round sun, we’ve got that for you, too. No matter your home base, there are fantastic quick weekend escapes for everyone, whether it’s a culture-packed trip to Austin, a foodie getaway to Boulder, or a few days of family adventure in Mount Rainier. These are the top 10 reasons to hit the road this fall, all picked with prime seasonal activities in mind—and none is more than a 3 hour drive away!
From NYC, Boston, or Philadelphia: the Berkshires
Perfect for a girls getaway or an arts and culture weekend, the Berkshires are an easy escape for denizens of the Tri-state area. The hamlets nestled in the mountains are blessed with terrific art, music, theater, and antiquing, not to mention the gorgeous natural setting that turns to mind-boggling shades of orange, red, and gold come autumn. Oh, and did we mention all the spas out there?
Where to Eat: Eggs with roasted potatoes or croissant French toast will get your day off to a perfectly glorious start at Haven in downtown Lenox.
Where to Stay: Harking back to a bygone era, the stately mansion Cranwell (rates from $199/night) got its start about 100 years ago as a getaway for the wealthy. Take your choice of restored rooms in the main mansion, or in any of the luxurious cottages sprinkled about the rolling grounds.
From San Francisco: Mendocino
San Francisco is absolutely surrounded by perfect weekend getaway destinations, from wine country to small coastal towns. In the fall, head to Mendocino for your pick of eclectic galleries, fantastic nightlife, and (of course) unbelievable views of the coast and the iconic windswept cliffs.
Where to Eat: Pop into Boonville’s pocket-sized Paysanne for gourmet ice cream, handmade caramels and scrumptious cookies in flavors like sea salt chocolate. Or linger over the weekly Champagne brunch at the historic Mendocino Hotel Garden Cafe, whose menu is sourced with local ingredients such as crab, mushrooms, and salmon.
Where to Stay: Mendocino Village’s Blue Door Inn (rates from $175/night) is a charming B & B, formerly the Whitegate Inn, whose extensive renovation unveiled airy, spacious rooms with clean white décor and luxurious touches like Neiman Marcus linens and Kiehls bath products.
From Miami: Naples
Explore downtown Naples’ newly intriguing dining scene, which has seen some inventive new twists in recent years. And East Naples is now blossoming into a destination in its own right, anchored by the Botanical Garden. The combination of stylish downtown bars and restaurants with beautiful beaches make this a prime weekend escape well into the fall and winter seasons.
Where to Eat: Go for dinner at Chops City Grill, a long-running favorite in the heart of downtown that tends to stay open later in low season. Although it’s a steakhouse, the menu mixes it up with Asian flavors and a raw bar. Then walk to Osetra, a new champagne and caviar bar on Fifth Avenue South, to end the evening on an indulgent note.
Where to Stay: Our pick for downtown convenience that doesn’t skimp on charm is the Bellasera Hotel (rates from $129/night), a Tuscan-flavored property hidden in plain sight on the east side of historic Naples. The larger suites with kitchens are ideally suited for groups of friends.
From Los Angeles: Palm Springs
There is nothing quite like a luxe, sun-drenched getaway to fuel the soul, and with its pool scene, spas, food, and shopping, Palm Springs is tailor-made for just such weekend escapes. Drive to Palm Springs with a bikini on under your dress because even in the fall, the first stop you want to make is the hotel pool to ease into your weekend.
Where to Eat: A lot of people look to Kings Highway at the ACE Hotel for filling breakfast fare, but the modern comfort diner food with a seasonal, artisanal twist is perfect for dinner, too. And since brunch is necessary on weekends like this, head to Norma’s at The Parker. It’s secluded and oh-so-stylish, and the patio is one of the best you’ll find in this desert.
Where to Stay: Two of our favorite desert sleeps are the super colorful Saguaro (rates from $179/night) and uber-hip Ace Hotel (rooms from $260/night). Both have great pool scenes, good restaurants, and quality service.
From Chicago: Galena
Chicagoans looking for a bit of adventure paired with great food and wine, there’s no better spot than Galena. With hills big enough for some decent downhill skiing and autumn beauty that draws fans far and wide, it’s a charm-filled destination that’s less than 200 miles away. Plus it’s home to some fantastic local eats to discover.
Where to Eat: Head to Galena’s favorite Italian spot, Fried Green Tomatoes where exposed brick and stone walls and linen tablecloths create a homey, but upscale feel. Be sure to start with the eponymous veggies, then try the lobster ravioli, espresso-encrusted filet, or pork osso buco. Wind down for the night gazing over the Mississippi River with a glass of vino from the Stone Cliff Winery in nearby Dubuque, Iowa.
Where to Stay: Overlooking the Mississippi River, the idyllic Goldmoor Inn (rates from $315/night; 2-night minimum on weekends) bed and breakfast has all the trimmings of romance.
From Houston: Austin
In recent years Austin has become known for a variety of attributes, most notably its live music scene. The unofficial motto of "Keep Austin Weird" seems to permeate daily life. And that’s a good thing. From funky boutiques to unique movie theaters to restaurants dedicated to doing things their own way, you’re sure to have a memorable time when you spend a weekend here.
Where to Eat: Austin is home to a slew of wonderful breakfast taco joints. Among the most famous is Torchy’s Tacos. Tacos here include the Monk Special (eggs, bacon, green chiles, and cheese) and the Wrangler (eggs, potatoes, smoked brisket, and cheese). By night, hit Perla’s Seafood and Oyster Bar for cocktails (and complimentary hush puppies) or dinner.
Where to Stay: If you’re looking for fun, funky and upscale, don’t miss the opportunity to stay at the Hotel Saint Cecilia (rates from $300), a hotel that aims to "stir the poet and artist in each of us."
From Denver: Vail
When it comes to American ski resorts, it’s hard to top Vail. Obviously best known for its winter slopes and apres-ski scene, it is truly a year-round destination with notable restaurants, grand hotels with European-style architecture, and one-of-a-kind boutiques, not to mention endless opportunities for romance. Take a weekend this fall to browse the shops and galleries, enjoy a gastronomic extravaganza, and soak up unforgettable mountain views during a private gondola ride
Where to Eat: Sweet Basil is Vail’s best—and arguably most romantic—restaurant. The vibe is traditional with dim lighting, white linens, and intimate tables for two, calling to mind an era when a man always pulled out a lady’s chair.
Where to Stay: Vail’s newest luxury accommodations, the Solaris Residences (rates from $525/night), are located in the Village’s new town center area. The 79 residences range from studios to six-bedroom penthouses, each the epitome of Vail extravagance.
From Atlanta: Savannah
When it comes to gastronomy, Savannah never disappoints. This Southern belle is an epicenter for Creole flavors and classic dishes like shrimp and grits, while the city’s leading chefs play with emerging trends without going overboard, making it a dream gastronomic getaway destination. And between meals, the city’s tree-lined squares provide an enchanting way to burn off some indulgences.
Where to Eat: Toast to your epicurean escape at Circa 1875, an upscale pub and restaurant oozing with classic Parisian charm. Or at the end of a day spent exploring in town, wind down the night at Pinkie Master’s, one of Savannah’s most legendary dive bars.
Where to Stay: For a sexy splurge, the Bohemian Hotel, on the River Walk, boasts luxurious rooms complete with handsome touches like wooden and velvet headboards, driftwood chandeliers, and artwork from the owner.
From Seattle: Mount Rainier
If you’ve spent any time in Seattle, you’ve seen majestic Mt. Rainier looming to the southeast of the city, calling adventurous types to visit. Families flock to the 14,410-foot mountain year round for skiing, climbing, and hiking, and no wonder: it’s an easy three hour drive away. Stop first at the popular resort town of Crystal Mountain, then head to the north side of Rainier along wildflower hikes, old-growth forests, and alpine lakes, and finally loop around the Paradise stop.
Where to Eat: At Crystal Mountain resort, ride a cherry-red gondola (the first installed in a Washington State ski resort) for dinner at the on-site Summit House Restaurant, featuring comfort food at 6,872 feet (the highest elevation restaurant in the state).
Where to Stay: For the first leg, stay at Alta Crystal Resort (rates from $169/night), a lodge that dates back to the 1920s and offers a 90-degree pool, outdoor grills, snowshoe rentals in winter, and kitchens. And to the west, pick Copper Creek Inn (rooms from $79/night), that provide room for 2 to 12 in retro wooden bungalows and suites
From Dallas: Granbury and Glen Rose
It’s easy to shake off city life in Granbury and Glen Rose, both less than 100 miles from Dallas. Here, among a hilly landscape lush with juniper, pecan, and sycamore trees, the outdoor possibilities include everything from hiking among dinosaurs footprints and kayaking along the Brazos River to a lazing on a lakeside beach and even overnighting at a wildlife refuge.
Where to Eat: Pop into Pie Peddlers to pick-up one of their famous baked goodies—voted among the best in Texas. The cozy cafe is the go-to spot in town for holiday pies, but also draws crowds all year with signature flavors like Every Berry, Coconut Caramel, Strawberry-Rhubarb, and Buttermilk. And on the way to Granbury, stop for lunch at Hammond’s BBQ, located on US 67 just outside of downtown.
Where to Stay: Set in a historic building near the Glen Rose town square, Inn on the River (rates from $139) has 22 rooms outfitted with feather beds and garden views.
Berkshires: Denis Jr. Tangney/iStockphoto/Thinkstock; Mendocino: S. Greg Panosian/iStockphoto; Naples (Florida): FloridaStock/Shutterstock; Palm Springs: TIM MCCAIG/iStockphoto; Galena: Richie Diesterheft/Flickr (CC BY 2.0); Austin: GSPhotography / Shutterstock.com; Boulder: Paul Bousquet/Boulder CVB; Savannah: Â© Ed Francissen | Dreamstime.com; Granbury/Glen Rose: nsmithtnz/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0); Mount Rainier: Jerry Sanchez/Shutterstock