With summer coming to an end, it’s time to start thinking about long weekend trips that distract from the knowledge that #winteriscoming. Whether you are a ‘see everything’ or ‘do nothing’ kind of traveler, we have a recommendation for you with a little help from our favorite bloggers: Blair Eadie of Atlantic-Pacific, Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam, Amy Havins of Dallas Wardrobe, Jessica Sturdy of Bows & Sequins, and Kat Tanita of With Love from Kat.
The Northeast is already widely considered one of the places to visit in the fall, especially if you are a fan of changing leaves, rolling hills and crisp fresh air. “I love visiting coastal areas in the fall, which can be so magical as the crowds start to dissipate from summer,” says Eadie. “But this fall, I am changing it up and hoping to take in more foliage.” With tourism at its peak, we curated a few off-the-beaten-path locales to ensure you are able to fully immerse yourself in the season — pumpkin spice latte included.
Domino Pick: Quebec City, Canada
Designated a World Heritage treasure by UNESCO, Old Quebec is the only walled city north of Mexico. As the cradle of French Civilization in North America, it’s a living history lesson with a remarkable mix of architecture, heritage, art and culture. Plus, it’s historically been voted as one of the best places to visit during the holiday season, as the city transforms into a winter wonderland in mid-November.
Where to Stay: The Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is ideally located inside the walls of Old Quebec and recently underwent a multi-million dollar renaissance project that blends the charm of the hotel’s past with modern innovations, like a self-guided city tour mobile application and a global cocktail program.
What to Do: Take a ride on the 200’ high and 800’ long toboggan slide that runs along Terrasse Dufferin toward the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac; visit the Parc de la Chute-Montmorency’s 272’ high waterfalls – taller than those at Niagara Falls – and cross the suspension bridge spanning the falls for sweeping views of Quebec City; and shop the Petit-Champlain district’s narrow cobblestone streets lined with one-of-a-kind boutiques and bistros.
Blogger Pick: Kennebunkport, Maine
“I was here a few years ago in October,” says Eadie. “The coast of Maine always feels like a true getaway – hopefully you get lucky with the weather but if not, it’s still fun to be by the water, bundle up with layers and be cozy.”
Where to Stay: “We stayed at the Old Fort Estate, which is part of the Cape Arundel Resort,” says Eadie. As a guest of the property, you will be treated to luxury accommodations, stunning ocean views, and fine dining – all set in a pristine natural environment situated in a quiet neighborhood of grand and stately mansions on Ocean and Old Fort Avenues.
What to Do: “We took a quick trip up to Cape Elizabeth and Portland to visit close friends and eat lobster – my favorite,” says Eadie. Looking for something else to do? Check out the L.L. Bean flagship in nearby Freeport, Maine for your fall wardrobe essentials and book table 16 at On the Marsh restaurant, one of the top 100 most romantic restaurants in America with table 16 tucked away in a hidden corner, the site of more than 40 marriage proposals.
The Midwest is well-known for its All-American persona and for its abundance of apple and pumpkin farms; ciders and doughnuts; collegiate football; and chilly temperatures. With so much to do and see, we asked Illinois-native (and former NYC resident) Jessica Sturdy to help us pick the best of the best that the area has to offer.
Domino Pick: Kohler, Wisconsin
The Village of Kohler, Wisconsin is just 55 miles north of Milwaukee and about 2.5 hours north of Chicago and is award-winning for its commitment to a single level of quality that brings charm, good taste and generosity of spirit to all. Within the Village is Destination Kohler, a world-class attraction listed on the National Register of Historic Places that preserves the history of yesteryear while offering the gracious hospitality and single level of quality that remains a signature of Kohler to this day.
Where to Stay: The American Club at Destination Kohler has received the AAA Five Diamond Resort hotel recognition for 30 consecutive years. It is the only Forbes Five-Star hotel in Wisconsin and one of 52 in North America with this designation. Destination Kohler is home to championship golf courses at Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run, Kohler Waters Spa, eleven dining outlets, The Shops at Woodlake, River Wildlife, Sports Core and other resort properties.
What to Do: Book a yoga session at Yoga on the Lake at The Shops at Woodlake Kohler; try the Urban Repair Facial or When Life Hands You Lemons Massage at the award-winning Kohler Waters Spa – bring your swimsuit to enjoy the co-ed 30-foot relaxation pool with waterfall after the services; or take advantage of the trap shooting experience at River Wildlife.
Blogger Pick: Ann Arbor, Michigan
There’s nothing like a classic college town, like that of the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor, in the fall back-to-school season. With plenty of football fans and weekend tailgating, local apple orchards, and charming scenery, Ann Arbor is one of our favorite spots to visit in autumn, despite being a rival of Sturdy’s alma mater, the University of Illinois.
Where to Stay: With a 24-hour fitness center and a pet-friendly policy, Graduate Ann Arbor feels like home. It’s ideally located across the street from the University of Michigan campus at the corner of Huron and State streets — right amid the hustle of the town’s best restaurants, shops and game day buzz. A cozy club feel envelops the lobby with hand painted mosaic patterns on the wide planked wood floors, handsome millwork, leather clad columns and a grand center staircase patch-worked in Persian rugs. Traditional library furnishings are recovered for a twist on the classics – and to truly embrace the back-to-school vibe – while a 40-foot communal wood table encourages conversation and camaraderie.
What to Do: “If you are in the Midwest, then you really can’t go wrong with finding a rural farm to go apple and pumpkin picking,” says Sturdy. Try Wiard’s Cider Mill and Apple Orchard with 100 acres of u-pick apples and pumpkins, a corn maze, cider tastings, hayrides, country store and Night Terrors haunted thrill park. Or cheer on the Michigan Wolverines at The Big House, visit the Ann Arbor Distilling Company to try hand-made, locally-sourced spirits, and create a custom sandwich at the award-winning, can’t-miss Zingerman’s Deli.
For those snowbirds chasing the summer warmth, our southern spots are for you. Both have the perfect balance of southern hospitality and adventure and come highly recommended by Dallas-based blogger Amy Havins, whose fun-loving travels are well-documented on her blog Dallas Wardrobe.
Domino Pick: New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, nicknamed the Big Easy, is one of the country’s most culturally and historically diverse destinations. A city on the water – the Mississippi River near the Gulf of Mexico, to be exact – New Orleans is best known for its round-the-clock nightlife, vibrant live music scene and spicy cuisine reflecting the city’s history as a melting pot of French, African, and American cultures.
Where to Stay: The Hotel Modern offers 135 guest rooms that were designed in-house with a modern eclectic aesthetic that mirrors New Orleans’ juxtaposition and Old World charm with New World diversity – all to showcase a different side of the Big Easy. Not only that, but the hotel provides its guest with same-day dry cleaning and pressing, bath amenities from C.O. Bigelow, a hand-curated selection of books from the Hotel Modern’s private library, and convenient access to the St. Charles streetcar line.
What to Do: It’s a classic for a reason – don’t miss the traditional beignets (French-style doughnuts covered with powdered sugar) at Cafe Du Monde; stop by MIMI to shop its edited range of designer apparel with contemporary sportswear and accessories and try the full-service beauty bar, complete with makeup application, hairstyling and manicures; or try a seasonally-appropriate cemetery tour, like the St. Louis Cemetery #1, home to voodoo Queen Marie Laveau’s grave. But don’t go alone – entrance is restricted to family members of the deceased and tour groups only.
Blogger Pick: Charleston, South Carolina
“One of my favorite places to visit in the fall is Charleston,” says Havins. “October is the best month because the leaves are changing, and the air is crisp. It really doesn’t get any better than that.”
Where to Stay: “I love the gorgeous (pink) Mills House Hotel,” says Havins. “They have the loveliest staff and are within walking distance of the best shopping on King Street.” Experience the ultimate in southern charm in the heart of downtown Charleston. The unique hotel is close to the Museum Mile and many historic downtown sights, like City Market, Old City Jail and Fort Sumter. The beautifully appointed rooms were recently renovated in a coastal palette in an artfully appointed design that is refined yet comfortable with a complimentary morning paper to enjoy with a view of the pool or of the city.
What to Do: “I truly believe that Charleston should be on everyone’s bucket list,” says Havins. Get a behind the scenes understanding of some of Charleston’s best chefs and their restaurants that have created the city’s cuisine renaissance with the Bulldog Tours’ Charleston Chef’s Kitchen Tour; shop one of the top boutiques in the country at Hampden, described as the closet of your most fashionable friend, or its sister accessories store James; or take a candle making class at the BYOB Candlefish, which boasts a library of more than 100 handmade fragrances.
The West coast – with its abundance of national parks, Pacific Ocean views, and mountain vistas – has a little bit of something for everyone, whether you crave action and adventure or calm and relaxation. California native Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam helped us narrow down a few favorites before she packs up from San Francisco and moves east to – where else? – Charleston!
Domino Pick: Lake Tahoe, CA
Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America on the border of California and Nevada, boasts more than 274 days of sunshine at an elevation of 6,225 feet. The North Shore is a stunning 180 degree panorama calling more than romantics and outdoor enthusiasts. Even scientists journey to this place to understand its incredible, unmatched blueness and ensure that it remains an icon of alpine perfection.
Where to Stay: The AAA Four-Diamond Resort at Squaw Creek is ideally situated on 195 hillside acres at the base of Squaw Valley, home of the 1960 Winter Olympics and is currently undergoing an exciting $50-million renaissance in on-mountain improvements. The property features 405 luxury accommodations, including fireplace suites and bi-level penthouses, with panoramic windows that frame the majestic backdrop of the surrounding mountains. Enjoy two outdoor heated swimming pools, a luxury full-service salon and space, a boutique health and fitness center and on-site shopping.
What to Do: The annual Kokanee salmon run at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center takes place each October and offers the opportunity for visitors to see Tahoe’s native black bears in their natural environment as they prep for winter hibernation; take in Tahoe from above with Reno Tahoe Helicopter tours that showcase the best of the area’s fall foliage at attractions such as Emerald Bay, Zephyr Cove and Sand Harbor in a Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter, one of the safest and quietest helicopters in the industry; or try a guided kayak and paddleboard tour with Tahoe Paddle and Oar through spectacular Crystal Bay.
If you have a bit of extra time, take a day trip to Apple Hill, which is about 80 miles south of Lake Tahoe. “Every year since I was a little kid, I have been going to Apple Hill,” says Engel. “It always feels like the official start of fall.”
Blogger Pick: Dunton, Colorado
“I love visiting anywhere that feels homey,” says Engel. “In the fall, I want to spend the day outdoors in the crisp air and evenings cuddled up by a warm fire. I first visited Dunton after looking at the resort for two years – we went early last November for my birthday.”
Where to Stay: The perfectly restored ghost town at Dunton Hot Springs thrives on contradictions: hand-hewn log cabins exquisitely furnished, a life-worn saloon serving food of startling quality, lung torturing trails followed by pampering massages, sensuous hot springs beneath shimmering snow banks. All meals, the hot springs, screening room, etc. are included. Dunton Hot Springs lies across the mountain from Telluride in 1,600 acres of wilderness area in the San Juan Mountains and is open all year, with the entire town available for reservation for use of up to 44 people. “We flew into Colorado on the morning of my birthday,” says Engel. “When we arrived at Dunton Hot Springs, we promptly ordered hot chocolate and had a snowball fight outside – it was the first snowfall of the season. I usually have a hard time shutting down, but there was something so calming about Dunton.
What to Do: For the adventurous, Dunton offers more wilderness than can be reasonably explored in one lifetime. Guided on and off property activities are available year-round, including vineyard tours and tastings, spa services, yoga, photography and fine art lessons, horseback riding, ice climbing, fly fishing, backcountry skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, rock climbing, dog sledding, rafting and archeological day tours. “One of my favorite features of staying at Dunton was the library,” says Engel. “My husband and I would head over after breakfast with a book in one hand and hot chocolate in the other and spend the late morning reading next to the cozy fireplace while the snow fell outside.”
For those of you with a few extra vacation days saved this year, try a quick trip abroad to one of our favorite destinations for fall. Lucky for us, blogger and travel expert Kat Tanita, who recently debuted a travel mobile application With Love From Kat and has a line of travel accessories with GiGi New York, gave us a sneak peek of where she’s headed this season before it’s guaranteed to become a 2017 hot spot.
Domino Pick: Lapland, Finland
Lapland is the largest and northernmost region of Finland, bordering Sweden, Norway and Russia. Easily reached by flying into the Finnish capital of Helsinki with Finnair and then onward to Rovaniemi with VR (Finnish Railways), which runs double-deck overnight sleeper trains with free Wi-Fi and a superb restaurant car. Finnish Lapland is as close as reality gets to those who dream of a fall/winter wonderland. The hustle and bustle of the towns and ski resorts is just minutes away from the peace and quiet of the wild wilderness.
Where to Stay: Lapland Hotel Bear’s Lodge makes it easy to find peace in its 70 rooms on the picturesque shore of Lake Pohtimolampi in a warm environment, just 30 kilometers from the city of Rovaniemi. The alpine chalet-style hotel allows guest to simply walk down to the lake stocked with fish, play on the beach, or test their wits on one of the area’s hiking trails. Formerly known as the Arctic Hotel Pohtimo, the property is the tenth member of the Lapland Hotels chain and its upgraded rooms add sofabeds, while chic suites have living areas and balconies. Guests are able to ski-in, ski-out and are encouraged to take advantage of the lakeside sauna during their stay.
What to Do: Finland is one of the best places on Earth to spot the Northern Lights, and they appear on more than 200 nights a year in Finnish Lapland. Grab a blanket and rent cross-country skis to find the ideal viewing spot. In doing so, take advantage of Everyman’s Rights, which is the right to roam freely in natural areas like forests, fells, lakes and rivers without permission from landowners (an assumption of mutual respect is presumed). In the fall, enjoy ruska – a short period when all the foliage turns into bright colors like red, yellow and orange that makes looking at the already breathtaking landscape an out-of-this-world experience – in autumnal Lapland, one of the best spots in Finland for witnessing this phenomena. Do all of the above via Lapland Safaris, which gives you the opportunity to travel by either reindeer or husky.
Blogger Pick: Marrakech, Morocco
“This fall, I am planning to head to Marrakech,” says Tanita. “Marrakech has been on my dream destination list forever so I really hope this trip pans out!”
Where to Stay: In the heart of one of the world’s most captivating cities, the Royal Mansour Marrakech welcomes you with wonder, luxury and unparalleled services. The main reception building with its fabulous lobby, bar, different lounges, beautiful library, as well as the three renowned restaurants, entice guests in. Inspired by North Africa, Spain as well as Portugal’s traditional Moorish architecture, the Royal Mansour Marrakech hotel design showcases symmetry entwined with classical forms. As for the interior, it is a pure celebration of the diversity and virtuosity of master craftsmen from the Kingdom, with lace embedded plaster, carved ceilings, floors and walls, where Tadelakt and Zelliges take turns in the spotlight. The ground-breaking, distinctive and ingenious masterpiece hotel design is magnified by an intricate series of underground tunnels to each of the property’s 53 riads, accessed only by staff and thus guaranteeing the utmost privacy and discretion.
What to Do: Visit the 12-acre Jardin Majorelle, a fusion of flowers and fashion with Moorish and art deco features, that was gifted to Marrakech by French artist Jacques Majorelle and later purchased in the 1980s by acclaimed designer Yves Saint Laurent, whose ashes are scattered among its rare plants. Take in the sites and contrast of the town versus the countryside with a hot air balloon ride from Ciel d’Afrique with an early morning departure, one-hour flight and light meal with a local inhabitant of one of the flight-path villages. Or try the celebrated Les Bains de Marrakech, a luxurious spa experience with in the traditional pastime of a hammam steam room, in a 21,500 square-foot space devoted entirely to health and well-being.
Bonus–Insider advice from our well-travelled bloggers!
What’s your vacation style: See everything or do nothing?
BE: Hopefully a perfect balance of the two! I like to get the days started early and then enjoy some downtime or a workout later in the day before heading to dinner. I find most of the sights are much less crowded in the mornings and the light is better for taking pictures. I also love dining out and hate to feel rushed before dinner. I’d much prefer to have a bit of downtime in the later afternoon to catch my breath.
JE: See everything! I definitely prefer an adventure over relaxation. Although they’re much more complex to plan but so worth it.
AH: Breezy – enjoy where you are and do not force anything.
JS: Sometimes I wish it weren’t the case, but I usually end up trying to see and do absolutely everything.
KT: A mixture of both – I like having an itinerary to lightly follow but don’t pressure myself to see and do everything in one trip. Traveling is all about the unknown and the unexpected – oftentimes my favorite experiences have happened by mistake.