10 Great Fall Weekends
01. CAMDEN, Maine
Camden’s Main Street feels like a new England movie set, particularly in the fall, when the birch and red maple leaves pile up against clapboard-and-shingle shops and glance off the white spire of the Chestnut Street Baptist Church. Autumn visitors come for that stunning foliage, as well as hiking and boating. You can experience the former with a climb up nearby Mount Battie, the latter with a day trip across Penobscot Bay to Monhegan Island or a private chartered sail on the 87-year-old Schooner Olad. We recommend a stay at the Camden Harbour Inn and dinner at the Relais & Chateaux property’s restaurant, Natalie’s. The food is inspired by the region—fresh-caught lobster, greens from the nearby Dilly Dally organic farm, salmon roe, blueberry compote—along with a wine list of over 200 bottles.
Contact: Camden Harbour Inn, email@example.com, 207.236.4200, camdenharbourinn.com; Hardy Boat Cruises, 800.278.3346, hardyboat.com/monhegan_ferry.htm; Natalie’s, 207.236.7008,nataliesrestaurant.com; Schooner Olad, 207.236.2323, maineschooners.com
02. GATEWAY, Colorado
The pro-baja trophy truck is a strange-looking beast. Thanks to a 36-inch rear suspension, the pickup-like frame appears to float above its enormous off-road tires. You’ll feel like you’re floating, too, as you drop, twist and jump around Gateway Canyons Resort’s two-mile track in the heart of Colorado’s canyon country. The four-wheeled theme continues back at the resort: Gateway’s owner, John Hendricks, the founder of Discovery Communications, has what might be the world’s finest private collection of American automobiles on display at the Gateway Colorado Automobile Museum, including a Duesenberg and a one-of-a-kind 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 concept car. If you’re inspired by the museum, you can take one of the resort’s 20 luxury vehicles, including cars from Mercedes, Bentley and Porsche, for a drive; two beautiful fall routes are the two-hour drive up to Gateway’s sister property in Telluride or the sweeping Unaweep/Tabegauche Scenic Byway to John Brown Canyon and the edge of the Moab desert. You can also view all this from above via one of Gateway’s custom aerial tours in a Eurocopter AStar B3. In four hours, you can see a swath of Colorado and be back in time for dinner (try the Colorado lamb at the resort’s Entrada Restaurant).
Contact: Driven Experiences, firstname.lastname@example.org, drivenexperiences.com; Gateway Colorado Automobile Museum, 970.931.2895, gatewayautomuseum.com; Gateway Canyons Resort,email@example.com, 970.931.2458, gatewaycanyons.com
03. CATALINA ISLAND, California
Catalina has traditionally been slow to change, but in recent years the small, hilly island 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles has undergone a hospitality renaissance. The vast majority of Catalina remains a private conservancy, but its craggy, rugged cliffs and blue-on-all-sides vistas are now accessible via the Catalina Trail: 37 miles that run along the island’s spine, with six- to eight-mile loops for day hikers. One of the Catalina Island Conservancy’s Jeep eco-tours will drop you off and pick you up anywhere along the trail; stay long enough, and you might see a few of the island’s 150 wild bison. If a ride back in a Jeep sounds anticlimactic, try the new zip line at Hog’s Back or take one of Island Express’s private aerial tours. In the pastel seaport village of Avalon, more improvements are evident. Lounge on a cabana with a potent Rum Punch at the renovated Descanso Beach Club, or charter a boat to tiny Two Harbors and snorkel or scuba in giant kelp forests amongst seals, bat rays and blue-banded gobies. For dinner with a view, head to another newcomer, Bluewater Grill, for fresh-caught white sea bass and California spiny lobster. End your day stargazing from the balcony of your beachfront house at the Hotel Metropole.
Contact: Bluewater Grill, 310.510.3474, bluewatergrill.com; Catalina Island Conservancy, 310.510.1445, catalinaconservancy.org; Descanso Beach Club, 310.510.7410, visitcatalinaisland.com/ activities-adventures/descanso-beach-club; Hotel Metropole, 310.510.1884, hotel-metropole.com; Snorkeling Catalina, snorkelingcatalina.com; Zip Line Eco Tour, 877.778.8322, visitcatalinaisland.com/ activities-adventures/land/zip-line-eco-tour
04. WASHINGTON, Virginia
George Washington laid out the five-by-two block grid of his namesake town in July 1749; 265 years and two months later the grid is unchanged. When the summer’s heat has faded, Washington becomes particularly appealing—and beautiful. From your home base at the recently restored Parsonage guest house at the Inn at Little Washington, Virginia’s entire Piedmont region is in reach. The nearby Skyline Drive crests over the rolling flanks of Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains; by October, the hickories, ashes, maples and oaks look like they’re on fire. American history buffs can head to Monticello and Montpelier; horse races are held at the latter on the first Saturday of November. Equestrians will want to visit Middleburg, where fox hunts and steeplechases perennially draw loyal crowds. You’re also in the heart of Virginia wine country; let the Inn’s sommelier know your preferences, and he’ll arrange special tastings and transportation to some of the 40 nearby vineyards. And while Rappahannock County has plenty of good eating, chef Patrick O’Connell’s restaurant at the Inn is one of the best in the country: Dig into ambitious, Virginia-inspired fare (the vegetables are grown in the Inn’s garden), an array of cheeses and a 2,400-deep wine list.
Contact: The Inn at Little Washington, 540.675.3800, theinnatlittlewashington.com; Monticello, firstname.lastname@example.org, 434.984.9800, monticello.org; Montpelier, 540.672.2728, montpelier.org; the Virginia Fall Races, email@example.com, 540.687.5662, vafallraces.com
05. SOUFRIERE, Saint Lucia
At the stunning and isolated sugar beach resort, everything—scuba diving, getting a mud wrap in a tree-house spa, sipping mango-peach punch on the white-sand beach—takes place under the looming, craggy gaze of the Pitons. Active travelers can hike to the top of Le Gros Piton (2,600 feet), while the less physically ambitious can head to Sulphur Springs, slather in volcanic mud and wash off in a volcano-warmed waterfall. Underwater visibility is excellent this time of year, and Sugar Beach offers scuba, snuba and snorkeling options at its PADI dive center. All that activity is bound to work up an appetite; you can satisfy it at the resort’s terrific Great Room restaurant, or venture into town for salt fish and spicy jerk pork at Martha’s Tables. On the last Sunday of October, St. Lucians celebrate their Creole heritage with music and food at Jounen Kwéyòl (Creole Day); dance to the rattle of flamboyant tree pods and have some callaloo at what feels like the world’s friendliest block party.
06. PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania
New York looms so large as an art city that Philadelphia, about 70 minutes by train from Manhattan, can get lost. Find it. There is nothing quite like the Barnes Foundation, the highly curated collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings from Albert C. Barnes, or the Rodin Museum, the largest collection of Auguste Rodin sculptures outside of Paris, which recently reopened after a three-year renovation. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has diverse and iconic holdings, and architect Frank Gehry has conceived an extraordinary plan for updating the building—including the iconic steps featured in Rocky—that is itself a work of art. PMA’s massive mobile by Philadelphia-born Alexander Calder is linked to a fountain down the parkway with sculptures by his father, Alexander Stirling Calder. Travel farther to City Hall and take a small elevator to an observation deck just below the 37-foot-tall statue of William Penn on top of the building—created by Alexander Milne Calder, Alexander Calder’s grandfather. If art-gazing makes you hungry, Philadelphia offers plenty of great restaurants. Stay at the ideally located Sofitel Philadelphia; a.kitchen—forgive the precious name—is steps away on the edge of Rittenhouse Square, and chef Eli Kulp is creating hardwood charcoal-grilled dishes that are not to be missed.
Contact: A kitchen, 215.825.7030, akitchenandbar.com; the Barnes Foundation, 215.278.7000, barnesfoundation.org; City Hall Tours, 215.686.2840, visitphilly.com; Philadelphia Museum of Art, 215.763.8100, philamuseum.org; Rodin Museum, 215.763.8100, rodinmuseum.org; Sofitel Philadelphia, 215.569.8300, sofitel.com
07. NAPLES, Florida
For travelers with kids, Naples has a lot to offer. Check into the Ritz-Carlton and go directly to its eco-sanctuary and aquarium for the Nature’s Wonders program, where kids 5 and up can search for dolphins, catch butterflies and watch baby sharks and crocodiles alongside Florida naturalists. While the kids are occupied, adults can visit the spa for a hydrafacial or massage and a plunge in the hot, cold and mineral pools, then head to the high-fashion hub at Third Street South and Fifth Avenue South. Wash down your shopping with a mai tai at the Sunset Beach Bar. On day two, anglers can go kayak fly-fishing in the Everglades, while those who wish to be less sedentary can take out one of the hotel’s stand-up paddleboards. When naptime comes, the Club Level suites—with copious food, a dedicated concierge and views of white beaches, aqua seas and vivid sunsets—should do the trick.
Contact: Everglades Fishing, firstname.lastname@example.org, 239.695.3633, evergladesareatours.com/kayak_fishing.htm; Nature’s Wonders, 239.514.6001, ritzcarlton.com/en/properties/naples/childrens; Ritz-Carlton Naples, email@example.com, 239.598.3300, ritzcarlton.com/en/properties/naples; Sunset Beach Bar, 239.261.2222, naplesbeachhotel.com/dining/ sunset-beach-bar
08. MONTREAL, Quebec
On the west side of Montreal, you’ll find street names in English; on the east side, they’re in French. At the Hotel Le St-James, you’re on the French side, in a former Merchants’ Bank in Vieux-Montréal, a neighborhood whose cobblestones and cafes are every bit as charming as you’d imagine. That spirit of Old Europe also reigns in the hotel’s polished dark woods and gilt-framed oil paintings; the ornate paneled library is an ideal place for a nightcap. But first take in the brilliant fall foliage and diverse downtown from the top of Mont Royal or the Olympic Park Tower, a 541-foot swoop over the site of the 1976 summer games. When your sightseeing is over, it’s time to feast. Try omakase at Park or Singapore hawker fare at Satay Brothers, but make time for the classics: foie gras poutine (Au Pied de Cochon), duck breast and heart (Toqué!) and smoked-meat sandwiches (Schwartz’s). Before heading home, have a hot stone massage back at the hotel in what used to be the bank vault.
Contact: Au Pied de Cochon, 514.281.1114, restaurantaupieddecochon.ca; Hotel Le St-James, firstname.lastname@example.org, 514.841.3111, hotellestjames.com; Olympic Park Tower, email@example.com, 514.252.4141, parcolympique.qc.ca/en; Park Restaurant, 514.750.7534, parkresto.com; Satay Brothers, 514.587.8106, sataybrothers.com; Schwartz’s Deli, 514.842.4813, schwartzsdeli.com; Toqué!, 514.499.2084, restaurant-toque.com
09. MIAMI BEACH, Florida
Miami doesn’t really have a fall—what it does have is an October and November that are free of hurricanes (usually), humidity and Art Basel crowds. Stay at the Setai, where the mix of teak floors, airy courtyards and infinity pools will remind you of Bali even before you’ve had your traditional Balinese massage. You could spend the entire weekend on one of the hotel’s queen-sized beach chairs, but the mainland deserves a day. Start at the Wynwood Walls, an expanding collection of warehouse murals painted by a who’s who of the international street-art and graffiti world. For art you can bring home, wrangle an appointment at Holly Hunt; the Design District doyenne offers a compelling collection of interior furnishings, including Christian Astuguevieille’s stunning rope-and-wood chairs. Caipirinhas with a view are on offer at Juvia, the bar atop the Herzog & de Meuron-designed parking garage-shopping-restaurant complex; follow up with bold seafood (and a glorious raw bar cart) at Michael Mina 74 in the Fontainebleau. If that hotel’s buzz proves contagious, book a private skybox at LIV upstairs—the city’s hottest nightclub continues to lure celebrities and athletes like LeBron James and Alex Rodriguez.
Contact: Holly Hunt, firstname.lastname@example.org, 305.571.2012, hollyhunt.com; Juvia, 305.763.8272, juviamiami.com; LIV, 305.674.4680, fontainebleau.com; Michael Mina 74, 877.326.7412, fontainebleau.com; the Setai, email@example.com, 305.520.6000, thesetaihotel.com; Wynwood Walls, 305.531.4411, thewynwoodwalls.com
10. SEA ISLAND, Georgia
A decade after the G8 came to Sea Island, the characteristics that made this small barrier island an ideal place to host world leaders hold true: peace, quiet and world-class golf. The quickest way to get here is by plane—fly into Brunswick or use the well-maintained private airstrip on St. Simons Island. Your first port of call is Sea Island resort’s Broadfield Sporting Club and Lodge, a 5,800-acre hunting preserve full of quail, pheasant, squirrel and two lakes’ worth of bass and bream. Come fall, Broadfield hosts regular continental pheasant shoots; its unique falconry program runs from November to March. Once you’ve bagged your share, Broadfield’s chef will cook you up a southern-inflected, hyper-local feast, and then it’s a quick ride to the Cloister, the opulent, sprawling Mediterranean-style villa that we recommend for your stay. Before the sun sets, there’s time for a kayak ride through stunning saltwater marshland—keep your eyes open and you may spot a bottlenose dolphin. Evening activities abound (including concerts and a recent Upstairs/Downstairs ball with the cast members of Downton Abbey), but make sure to save some energy for one of the hotel’s three 18-hole courses (the McGladrey PGA uses the famed Seaside Course). Bringing the family? Sea Island offers a slew of teen-focused activities including golf, tennis and nighttime survival skills, plus an all-day children’s camp.