Maybe it’s the changing leaves, but autumn always inspires a change of scenery. Luckily, we’ve got great getaway spots just a few hours outside midtown, from historic little towns to artsy hotspots. Here are our fall favorites:
Lehigh Valley, Pa. (About 95 miles from NYC)
One of the best-kept secret getaways is a little more than an hour west of the Holland Tunnel and home to three charming cities – each with their own vibe and within a 20-minute drive of one another. On the western side of the valley sits Allentown, with its revitalized downtown, hip restaurants, happening culture and beautiful historic district. The jewel of the downtown scene is the Allentown Art Museum (allentownartmuseum.org), where a glam exhibition of Hollywood costumes opened this month. Gape at postcard-perfect homes across Old Allentown’s (oldallentown.org) 16 square blocks. Crash at circa-1910 Historic Benner Mansion (historicbennermansion.com), with its plush queen-size beds and unbeatable location. Fifteen minutes to the east is the city of Bethlehem, home to the famed and long-shuttered steel plant (steelstacks.org). It has been turned into a destination for 20th century history buffs – and casino fans. Nearby is a small restaurant – The Bayou (dat-bayou.com) – serving up big Cajun flavors with the best fried chicken in the northeast. Ten minutes east of Bethlehem is Easton, home of legendary boxer Larry Holmes, and a downtown square that houses the Easton Public Market (eastonpublicmarket.com), where you’ll find a wide variety of delicious deserts to stock up on for the ride back to New York.
Lambertville, N.J. (About 70 miles from NYC)
Lambertville’s rep as New Jersey’s antiques capital is well-deserved, but there’s more to this Hunterdon County hamlet than tchotchkes. Arrive early to savor the likes of the Full Moon Cafe (cafefullmoon.com), a beloved breakfast haunt with killer French toast and dinner that’s only served during — yes — full moons. Check out the circa-1816 James Wilson Marshall House (ambertvillehistoricalsociety.org/james-wilson-marshall-house) with its perfectly preserved period architecture and intriguing artifacts. Antiquing is a religion here, and The People’s Store (peoplesstore.net) might be its temple, with more than 45 quirky, hand-picked vendors. Stash your loot at Bridge Street House (bridgestreethouse.com), a chic B&B in a circa-1850 National Register of Historic Places property smack on Lambertville’s main drag.
Litchfield County, Conn. (About 100 miles from NYC)
If leaf-peeping’s your thing, set Siri for Litchfield County, where painterly fall foliage has drawn admirers for decades. In Washington Depot, 727-acre Hidden Valley Preserve (steeprockassoc.org/hidden-valley-preserve/) looks positively psychedelic come autumn, with mind-bending views from rolling hillsides. The town of Litchfield, about 12 miles northeast, offers historic scenery to rival nature’s, with its well-preserved homes resembling an 18th century New England burg. Ease back into the present with a tasting at Connecticut’s first winery at nearby Haight-Brown Vineyard (haightbrownwine.com), a perfect whet for the elegant comfort food at Carole Peck’s Good News Restaurant & Bar (goodnewsrestaurantandbar.com), like velvety lobster soup. Slumber in Colonial grandeur at The Litchfield Inn (litchfieldinnct.com), whose 32 plush rooms include a swish Bridal Suite .
Pocono Mountains, Pa. (About 90 miles from NYC)
Fall foliage sparkles across the Poconos, which sprawl across four counties. Big Pocono State Park (dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/BigPoconoStatePark), set on majestic Camelback Mountain, makes a great starting point with summits and slopes that offer scenic views of three states. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, explore kid-friendly Great Wolf Lodge (greatwolf.com/poconos), seven miles northeast, replete with an indoor water park that includes the famous Double Barrel Drop slide. There’s also mini golf, bowling, and just-renovated guest rooms. Craving adult refreshment? Mountain View Vineyard (mountainviewvineyard.com) sits just 12 miles south and offers $10 beer flights and a comfort food Bistro. Top it all off with an art show and first-run flick at Stroudsburg’s nearby Pocono Cinema & Cultural Center (poconocinema.org).
Woodstock, N.Y. (About 110 miles from NYC)
A half-century after its namesake festival, Woodstock has blossomed into a quietly affluent Ulster County town and an alluring weekend destination. Stroll down Tinker Street, where “minimalist clothing” boutique Woodstock Design (facebook.com/woodstockdesignNY) abuts beloved indie bookstore Golden Notebook (goldennotebook.indielite.org/) and artisan treat maker Fruition Chocolate Works (fruitionchocolateworks.com). Woodstock’s artsy spirit still looms large: lose yourself at Opus 40 (opus40.org), a 6-acre sculpture maze just outside town, or the resplendent Buddhist monastery, the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (kagyu.org) atop Overlook Mountain. Dine at Silvia (silviawoodstockny.com), whose wood-fired grill churns out delectable, locally sourced chicken, beef, and veg. And stay at the just-opened Herwood Inn (theherwoodinn.com), with sleek, serene suites inspired by Stevie Nicks, Aretha Franklin, Manhattan native Carole King, and “Woodstock” crooner Joni Mitchell.
Lake George, N.Y. (About 200 miles from NYC)
Once the summer crowds fade away, it’s time to rediscover this Adirondacks gem. You can take in the fall foliage while whitewater rafting, scavenger for deals at the “World’s Largest Garage Sale,” test your nerves on Spook-tacular rides at Six Flags Great Escape or just relax with a cocktail at one of the reduced-priced inns and hotels that line the majestic lake. Those looking for luxury can check into The Sagamore resort, where prices on rooms are a fraction of what they cost in the summer. The garage sale in nearby Warrensburg, featuring more than 500 vendors, runs from Oct. 5-6 and features more than 500 vendors. For a family friendly activity, navigate the slow-flowing class rapids on the Sacandaga River with the experienced crew at Wild Waters Outdoor Center. Lastly, go on a shrill-ride at the Great Escape Lodge’s Fright by Night, where zombies and ghouls roam around the park from Sept. 28 to Oct. 27.