10 Great American Weekends


By Brenna Fisher


A college town on the rise.


Surprised? Us too. But New Haven, about 90 minutes from New York and 2.5 hours from Boston and saddled with a once-deserved tough reputation, offers visitors an abundance of architecture, culture and food. Stay at The Study at Yale, a boutique hotel with a collegiate theme (ask for a campus view). Yale provides most of the culture in New Haven, but in a small city, a world-class university goes a long way. Tour the campus, which features architectural icons such as the stunning Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and Paul Rudolph’s beautifully restored Art and Architecture Building. Art and theater lovers should visit the Yale Center for British Art—the world’s largest collection of British art outside the U.K.—and the Yale Repertory Theatre, which this fall will stage Chekhov’s Three Sisters and a new play, Belleville, by buzz-generating playwright Amy Herzog. At mealtime, try the Union League Café, a French restaurant that upstages many of its counterparts 90 miles to the south, or Miya’s Sushi, where Chef Bun Lai distinguishes himself by refusing to serve overfished species.


Make the Most of It: Visit during a football weekend and catch a game at the 60,000-seat, century-old Yale Bowl. Home games this fall include Dartmouth, Brown and Harvard. The football isn't great, but the spectable more than compensates.


Contacts: The Study at Yale, 866.930.1157,; Yale University visitor's center, 203.432.2300,; Union League Café, 203.562.4299,; Miya's Sushi, 203.777.9760,


Napa is beautiful year-round, but autumn is extra special.


Nestled in the absurdly picturesque Napa Valley, Yountville is a gourmand haven best explored on foot. Experience eco-friendly wine-country living at Bardessono, one of only three hotels in the world that are LEED Platinum Certified. Cellars and tasting rooms such as Ma(i)sonry, housed in an historic building, are well within walking distance. You can also walk to restaurants featuring some of the country’s most acclaimed chefs. Lunch on micro-regional Italian cuisine at Michael Chiarello’s Bottega or Richard Reddington’s internationally influenced local fare at Redd. Between culinary discoveries, trace the path of the Yountville Art Walk to see more than 30 outdoor public sculptures in the crisp fall air. Keep walking to dinner at Thomas Keller’s comfort-food restaurant Ad Hoc. Then sample innovative chocolates from the newly opened Kollar Chocolates at the charming V Marketplace.

Make the Most of It: Harvesting season is in full swing this time of year so make appointments to see a couple of estates in action. Keever Vineyards and Domaine Chandon are two excellent choices in Yountville.

Contacts: Bardessono, 707.204.6000,; Ma(i)sonry, 707.944.0889,; Bottega, 707.945.1050,; Redd, 707.944.2222,; Ad Hoc, 707.944.2487,; Domaine Chandon, 888.242.6366,; Kollar Chocolates, 707.815.5728,; Keever Vineyards, 707.944.0910,


Old West flavor combined with modern luxury.


Under two hours southwest of Telluride, Dunton Hot Springs captures the charms of rustic living but not the hardships. The restored mining town, originally built by gold diggers in the late 1800s, serves as a retreat that revives the weary with its mountainside beauty and restorative mineral springs. After hiking, river rafting and horseback riding in summer and fall, guests return to the communal table at the Saloon to enjoy organic meals. Nights are spent in unpretentious but luxurious log cabins. Off-site activities range from visiting archaeological sites such as the prehistoric finds of Sand Canyon or the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings to sampling wines at the Sutcliffe Vineyards in McElmo Canyon.

Make the Most of It: Reserve the entire town, which accommodates up to 42 people, for an exclusive private retreat

Contacts: Dunton Hot Springs, 970.882.4800, duntonhotsprings. com; Mesa Verde, 800.449.2288,; Sutcliffe Vineyards, 970.565.0825,


Art, beer, wine, coffee and nature. The rest is up to you.

Compact, visitor-friendly and surrounded by lush natural beauty, Portland in fall offers crisp weather and seasonal festivals celebrating everything from a giant corn maze to locally brewed beer. Stay at the Hotel deLuxe, an Art Deco homage in the revitalized Pearl District. After touring some of the area’s numerous art galleries, escape to the West Hills for tea at the Pittock Mansion, a Renaissance-style château overlooking the city. Other scenic areas beyond downtown include the Columbia Gorge, rich with rivers, wildlife and waterfalls like the 611-foot high Multnomah Falls. Back in town, make time to appreciate the breweries (both coffee and beer). The Stumptown Coffee Roasters Annex will walk you through the coffee selection process, while many of Portland’s 32 microbreweries will educate you on the art of craft beer.

Make the Most of It: Fall is a great time to hit the Oregon wine trail in the Willamette Valley. Visit the Archery Summit estate for old-world aesthetics and award-winning pinot noir.

Contacts: Kensington Tours 888.903.2001, kensington; Hotel deLuxe, 866.986.8085, hoteldeluxe; Pittock Mansion, 503.823.3623, pittockman; Stumptown Coffee, 503.467.4123, stumptown; Archery Summit, 503.864.4300, archerysum


What’s better than an island in the summer? The same island after Labor Day.


Come September, the crowds fade and Nantucket becomes a blissful respite from fast-paced living. Just steps away from the beach on the bay, The Wauwinet Hotel offers serenity (children under 12 are not permitted) and off-season activities such as cooking classes and lobster cruises. With the water still warm enough for swimming, beach and water activities abound. Pick up specialty sandwiches from Cowboy’s Meat Market & Deli, then charter a Hinckley Picnic Boat from Barton & Gray Mariners Club to see the island from the water. Back on land, the historic downtown is ideal for boutique-perusing along cobblestone streets, and the Boarding House restaurant highlights the best of Nantucket’s produce. For golfers, starting in October, the private Sankaty Head Golf Club—arguably New England’s most exclusive golf club—is open to the public.

Make the Most of It: Nantucket offers autumn harvest festivals from September through November, starting with Fall Restaurant Week (Sept. 26 to Oct. 2) and the Nantucket Historical Association Harvest Fair (Oct. 1) and finishing with the Cranberry Harvest Festival (Oct. 8) and the annual Clam Chowder Fest (Oct. 15).

Contacts: The Wauwinet, 800.426.8718,; Cowboy’s Meat Market & Deli, 508.228.8766, cowboysmeat; Barton & Gray Mariners Club, 617.728.3555,; Boarding House, 508.228.9622, board; Sankaty Head Golf Club, 508.257.6655, sankatyheadgc. com; Nantucket Chamber of Commerce, 508.228.1700,


Texas hospitality, international culture.



Metropolitan diversity meets Texan warmth in this urban oasis. Travaasa Austin, the first lodge from Travaasa Destinations, offers guests numerous ways to unwind, including horseback riding, an outdoor challenge course and massages choreographed to the music of Texas musicians. “We give people the opportunity to try something outside of their comfort zone,” says general manager Tim Thuell. That informality doesn’t translate to lack of sophistication, however. Head to downtown Austin for Japanese flavors at Uchi by chef Tyson Cole, just recognized as “Best Chef, Southwest” by the James Beard Foundation. Bess, a southern-style bistro owned by Sandra Bullock, is also a good bet. For music and nightlife, walk along Second Street in the warehouse district.

Make the Most of It: Plan your visit during the Austin City Limits Music Festival, September 16-18, which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary and features more than 120 bands including Arcade Fire, Stevie Wonder and Coldplay.

Contacts: Travaasa Austin, 512.258.7243, travaasa. com/Austin; Uchi, 512.916.4808, uchiaustin. com; ACL Music Festival, 888.512.7469, aclfestival. com; Bess, 512.477.2377,


Gorgeous views, literary history and the soul of a legendary fishing town.


The reclaimed canning district of Cannery Row in Monterey embraces its fishing past with touches of the bygone industry. Home to a lively boardwalk, shops, restaurants and the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row rewards fall visitors with fewer crowds, cool weather and laid-back seaside charm. Stay at the InterContinental/The Clement Monterey for a comfortable, contemporary ambience that complements its surroundings. See more of the picturesque coastline along the 17-mile drive to Pebble Beach, home to world-class golf, and nearby Carmel. Stop for lunch at the upper garden of The Forge in the Forest, once a hangout for writer John Steinbeck. Return to The Clement for spectacular bay views and an aperitif at sunset before local abalone bisque and Pacific Coast sand dabs at the nearby Sardine Factory.

Make the Most of It: Time your visit for the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, August 21, to see new car debuts and rare vintage autos on display. For tickets, call United Way of Monterey County at 877.693.0009.

Contacts: Monterey Bay Aquarium, 831.648.4800,; Sardine Factory, 831.373.3775,; The Clement Monterey, 831.375.4500,; The Forge in the Forest, 831.624.2233,; Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance,


Urban amenities and southern hospitality.

Yes, it’s the Music City, and yes, you can arrange private tours of the Country Music Hall of Fame, take in a live show at the radio broadcasts of the Opry and enjoy discovering new artists at Bluebird Café’s Sunday writers nights (where Garth Brooks and Faith Hill got their breaks). But Nashville offers more than music. You can also appreciate the stylish digs of the Hutton Hotel and sip a cocktail at The Patterson House lounge, known for its obsessive bartenders and creative drinks such as the Bacon Old Fashioned (bacon-infused bourbon and homemade coffee pecan bitters). Dining options range from down-home to sophisticated, whether you line up to try Jack’s Bar-B-Que Tennessee pork shoulder sandwich on Broadway in The District or survey the up-and-coming downtown Gulch neighborhood from the rooftop patio of the contemporary southern Watermark restaurant.

Make the Most of It: Time your visit for Keith Urban’s third annual “We’re All for the Hall” concert (date TBA) this fall and support the Country Music Hall of Fame while enjoying star performances.

Contacts: Country Music Hall of Fame, 615.416.2001,; Grand Ole Opry, 800.733.6779, opry. com; Bluebird Café, 615.383.1461,; The Patterson House, 615.636.7724,; Hutton Hotel, 615.340.9333,; Jack’s Bar-B-Que, 615.254.5715, jacksbarbque. com; Watermark, 615.254.2000,


History, art and surreal landscapes.



The oldest capital city in North America, Santa Fe boasts both ancient and modern finds. Stay at the Inn of the Five Graces—the intimate 24-room inn is a few blocks from the heart of downtown, which is home to an array of art galleries and museums showcasing Southwestern and contemporary art. The variety is impressive, as is the quantity: There are nearly 200 galleries in Santa Fe. Drive the Taos Scenic Byway running along the crest of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The 67-mile stretch will take you through ancient villages, past mountains and through desert landscapes. Along the route, take a pit stop at the village of Chimayó and its nearly 200-year-old adobe church, Santuario de Chimayó, and then visit the hacienda-style restaurant Rancho de Chimayó for hearty green chile stew and shrimp enchiladas.

Make the Most of It: Plan your stay between September 3 and 11 to participate in the Fiesta de Sante Fe, a festival held every year since 1712 involving parades, crafts and food booths and mariachis playing throughout the city.

Contacts: Black Tomato can arrange the above itinerary, 877.815.1497, blacktomato.; Inn of the Five Graces, 505.992.0957,; Santa Fe Gallery Association, 505.982.1648,; Santuario de Chimayó, 505.351.9961,; Rancho de Chimayó, 505.984.2100,


A charming city blends tradition with an eye for the new.



Charleston is known for its history, architecture and manners, but in recent years the cozy city has become a mecca for art lovers and foodies as well. Check in at the Planters Inn in the city’s historic district, then head out for a walking tour with go-to guide John Laverne. Try McCrady’s, F.I.G. or Hank’s Seafood for dinner; all offer inventive, inspired cooking based on local traditions and sustainable fishing and farming. Visit nearby Middleton Place and Drayton Hall plantations, which tell the story of Charleston’s bittersweet past. Other options: perusing the art galleries of the French District, chartering a motor yacht from Coastal Yacht Charters to see the famous Low Country from the water, or playing golf at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, site of the 2012 PGA Championship.

Make the Most of It: Other restaurants well worth experiencing are Husk, High Cotton and the iconic Charleston Grill, whose ebullient general manager, Mickey Bakst, treats everyone like an old friend.

Contacts: Planters Inn, 800.845.7082,; John Laverne (Bulldog Tours), 843.722.8687,; McCrady’s, 843.577.0025,; F.I.G., 843.805.5900,; Hank’s Seafood, 843.723.3474,; Middleton Place, 800.782.3608,; Drayton Hall, 843.769.2600,; Coastal Yacht Charters, 843.557.5805,; Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, 800.576.1570,; Husk, 843.577.2500,; High Cotton, 843.724.3815,; Charleston Grill, 843.577.4522,


This article originally appeared in the August/September 2011 issue of Worth.