Plan The Perfect Fall Family Day Trip or Romantic Weekend Getaway

A view of the Mohonk Tower located in New Paltz, NY.

Most New Yorkers will tell you that the best place on the planet to be during the fall season is–ready?!?–right here in New York City! The temperatures are pleasant, everyone looks fantastic, the culture calendar is packed full, the energy is everywhere, crackling and alive. But, that said, it's still nice to embark upon an out-of-town adventure every now and then, someplace not too far–have to get back for that concert/premier/opening/party–but "away" enough to give you break, help you recharge for the next round of everything. Here, then, are a half dozen suggestions passed along from friends and colleagues, of great fall getaways for families and couples. If you have any other ideas, please let us know in the comments.  


Bear Mountain Cruise 

Let's start with a true day trip–and, best of all, one for which you don't need a car–the Circle Line's "hike" 45 miles up the Hudson River to Bear Mountain State Park. The boat leaves Pier 83 at West 43rd Street at 9:00 a.m. sharp every Saturday and Sunday (and Columbus Day Monday) in October, and takes you on a leisurely, scenic, two-and-half-hour ride upriver to Bear Mountain. Once there you get about three hours to hike around (there are 50 easily accessible trails), have a picnic, row a boat, relax, and/or spend the day at the lovely Bear Mountain Spa and relieve yourself of some of the daily stress of life can sometimes weigh us down. The Circle Line gets you back to Pier 83 by 5:30, and adult tickets are $60. Lots more information about Bear Mountain Cruises can be found on their website. 

An aerial view of the beautiful Mohonk Mountain House in the Hudson Valley

Mohonk Mountain House 

Last year the fall foliage around the incomparable Mohonk Mountain House was still pretty spectacular into late October, but even if you can't get away until later in the season, this fantastic resort (castle?) located 90 miles from the city has long been the affordable indulgence for New Yorkers looking to both commune with nature AND get, for example, an excellent massage. The core Mohonk experience is just, well… hanging out at Mohonk. I mean, just look at this place! There are 85 miles of hiking trails, you can row a boat in that beautiful lake, there's an indoor pool, yoga classes, and all meals (and afternoon tea) are included in your nightly rate. But Mohonk also has a full spa, with a huge massage menu, facials, body treatments, "water cures", all of that good stuff. (Top photo of Mohonk Tower by Katy Silberger) For more info, rates and reservations, visit the Mohonk Spa and Resort website.        



Photo via Mass Travel


If you're looking for a weekend getaway to Massachusetts, don't miss out on the exceedingly charming and cafe-filled town of North Adams and visit MASS MoCA, one of the country's best contemporary art museums. The design of the space itself is part of the appeal here: 26 interconnected 19th-century buildings that were abandoned by industry and transformed into a truly special place to look at art. The main gallery–Building 5–is gigantic, nearly 100 yards long, and the entire MASS MoCA "campus" takes a full day to appreciate properly… especially if there's a concert, or dance, or some other sort of performance going. Exhibitions stick around for many months, and the Sol Lewitt Retrospective (which is fantastic, from what I hear) will be up through 2033 (not a typo), so if you can't make it there this fall, there's still time. Maybe next summer, when the Wilco's music and art festival, Solid Sound, cranks it up again?    

An exterior view of the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast in Massachusetts

Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast 

For a slightly, shall we say, *different* take on the weekend getaway, check out the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast, located in Fall River, Massachusetts, about an hour south of Boston. Yes, it's THAT Lizzie Borden, and the actual house where she took her notorious axe and delivered those notorious whacks. Overnight guests are given a special evening tour of the historic home–complete with gruesome crime details–and then it's off for a peaceful night's sleep? Oh and there are "ghost cams" set up at strategic locations around the house, so you can see what's making those inhuman ghastly groans emanating from the parlour. And in morning your cheery proprietors will serve you an exact replica of poor mother and father Borden's last meal.

The film selection showing at the 2014 Woodstock Film Festival

Woodstock Film Festival  – October 15th through 19th

In extension of our Guide to NYC Fall Film Festivals, the battle cry of the Woodstock Film Festival, happening next week in the lovely upstate New York town where history's most famous music festival famously did NOT take place, is "Fiercely Independent". Which, of course, is totally fitting for a setting that prides itself on its iconoclastic nature. Anyway, Woodstock, the place, is charming and pretty, as is the neighboring towns of Rosendale, Rhinebeck, Saugerties and Kingston, which are also hosts, and the Film Festival, now in its 15th year, is loaded with intriguing movies, both narrative and documentary. The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as cryptanalyst and World War II hero Alan Turing, is an obvious highlight, and I had the great pleasure of seeing Debra Granik's documentary Stray Dog the other night, and highly recommend this portrait of a Vietnam vet/biker/trailer-park denizen from southern Missouri who defies all of your pre-judgements. Other titles of note include Courteney Cox's feature film directorial debut, Just Before I Go, about a man intent on suicide who visits his home town one last before he ends it all; and the Tilda Swinton-narrated documentary Antarctica 3D: On the Edge, about the perilous state of that stunningly beautiful continent. 


Whiteface Lodge 

If you want to the feel of "roughing it" while giving yourself the treat of an truly luxurious resort, Whiteface Lodge is the place. Opened less than ten years ago up in Lake Placid, Whiteface Lodge was designed to evoke the "Great Camps" that used to make this region THE summer spot for New York City's wealthiest families. So although the resort looks the getaways of yore, Whiteface Lodge is laden with up-to-the-minute amenities such as all-season indoor/outdoor swimming pools, a nightly s'mores bonfire, everything you'd expect from a luxury spa, a private beach with complimentary canoes, a catch-and-release fishing pond, a 56-seat movie theater, on and on. All the rooms are actually suites, with private balconies, jetted tubs, and cast-iron gas fireplaces. Basically: it's great for families; even better for a romantic weekend. And, of course, it also functions as a first-class ski lodge once winter comes. For lots more information follow the Whiteface Lodge on Twitter and Facebook.        


Lancaster County

Ok, so I know "Lancaster County" as a fall getaway idea is kind of vague, but I've heard so many tales over the years of excellent weekends out there in Amish Country that I thought I'd throw it out there. This Pennsylvania Dutch Country website is unusually well-designed for a tourism destination, and suggests plenty of places to stay–the inns under the Heritage Lodging banner look particularly appealing, as do any number of the "Farm Stay" ideas, especially if you have younger kids–restaurants (including a number of "authentic" Pennsylvania Dutch spots), and a calender of fall events and unique tours (Covered Bridge Scooter Ride, anyone? Or maybe a Hot Air Balloon Ride? ). Check out Disocver Lancaster on both Facebook and Twitter


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