08 Oct 8 Underrated Fall Weekend Getaways From New York City
8 Underrated Fall Weekend Getaways From New York City
October 6 2020
Editor’s Note: If you’re traveling, please check local government restrictions and safety measures related to COVID-19, and consider your health and comfort levels before departure.
Here’s the funny thing about weekend getaways from New York. Most city dwellers tend to flock to the same, predictable places: like the Hamptons, North Fork, and Hudson Valley. But the last thing I want to do, when escaping the city, is bump into people I know. (It’s called escaping for a reason.)
With that in mind, below are eight destinations (listed in alphabetical order), ranging from rural to urban – because cities also need our support, now more than ever – that are a convenient drive (four hours or less) from Manhattan. Even better? None of these spots are in New York State.
1. ALEXANDRIA, VA
What to do: Gracing the Potomac River and just miles from Washington DC is the historic city of Alexandria. If you want to learn more about the area’s Black history and heritage (in the safety of your car, no less), follow the educational driving tour titled Courageous Journey. Though it’s cooler out, locals are still queuing up at the new Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats for Wisconsin-style cool and creamy desserts. Seeking something savory? Just stroll through Old Town, which brims with locally-owned restaurants and bars. (Champagne bar Brut and Japanese restaurant Nasime are my picks.) For a posh pick-me-up, book a haircut with TLC reality star Monte Durham at his recently-unveiled Salon Monte.
Where to stay: Hidden away on Upper King Street, Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa offers a discreet stay a short walk away from the busy waterfront. The 107 guest rooms and suites are appointed in a crisp palette of white, grey, and jewel tones, and in true Kimpton style, the property treats guests to a complimentary daily wine hour and morning coffee. Pets, too, are always welcome, and if you’re too tired to venture out for dinner after a day of exploring, head down to the hotel’s popular ground-floor brasserie Brabo. Here, Chef Sebastien Rondier whips up familiar French favorites such as beef bourguignon and duck leg confit.
2. ASBURY PARK, NJ
What to do: Most people flock to this Jersey Shore town when the weather’s warm, but I think now is the best time to visit. The throngs of tourists have thinned out, and the beaches are blissfully chill. Though there’s plenty of restaurants and bars lining the famed boardwalk, venture out further to the discover the area’s real gems. Old-school stalwarts like Vic’s Italian Restaurant and Pete and Elda’s Bar have turned out dependably delicious thin-crust pies for decades, while the hip, Neapolitan-driven Porta would feel right at home in Brooklyn. Thirsty? Then check out Asbury Park Distilling Co. On top of being the town’s first and only distillery since prohibition, everything, from the syrups to the spirits, are made on-site.
Where to stay: When The Asbury opened in the former Salvation Army building in 2016, it cemented Asbury Park’s status as a year round destination – not just a summer, daytime jaunt. The minimal, all-white rooms are kitted out with everything you need for a comfortable stay, and punctuated with colorful textiles and vintage photos of Asbury’s storied past. While the hotel’s common areas all are safely reserved for hotel guests only, Baronet (outdoor theater venue) and Salvation (rooftop lounge) are open to the public for safe socializing.
3. EASTON, MD
What to do: The Chesapeake Bay may be synonymous with seafood and seaside towns, but Easton proves there’s far more to the region than blue crabs and being on the water. Credit for that goes squarely to Paul Prager, founder of Bluepoint Hospitality, who purchased abandoned buildings in town and brought them back to life as design-driven and service-oriented – Ben Chekroun, Le Bernardin’s longstanding manager, just joined as Bluepoint’s General Manager – restaurants, bars, and shops. And the latest two concepts continue Prager’s winning streak. Flying Cloud Books is a charming neighborhood bookstore, while The Wardroom is equal parts gourmet retailer and buzzy wine bar. Pair a signature Gnocchi, like the simple but sublime mozzarella and tomato sauce-topped Caprese, with one of 25 wines dispensed from state-of-the-art Enomatic dispensers with the swipe of a card.
Where to stay: After all that eating, you’ll need a place to decompress. So book a room at Inn at Perry Cabin in the neighboring town of St. Michaels. The historic property, dating back to 1816, feels more like someone’s laid back residence than a cookie cutter hotel. Though there’s a spotless gym and spa on deck, take advantage of the crisp, briny air with a tennis lesson, or finesse your short game at Links at Perry Cabin. Or even better, go on your own adventure by renting one of the hotel’s bicycles, paddle boards or kayaks.
4. MANCHESTER, VT
What to do: This time of year, leaf-peeping and spending time outdoors is a given. Equinox Mountain – which sports the highest peak in the Taconic Range – and Equinox Pond are local favorite spots, with trails suited for hikers of all levels. And when it’s time to refuel, make a reservation at Social House. Co-owned by husband-wife team Debbie and Luis Pazos, the restaurant turns out artful, globe-trotting dishes featuring local ingredients (like Spanish octopus and crispy chorizo from area Italian market Fortuna’s) by Chef Kyle Garell in a warm, convivial setting. Fly fishing fans will flip for the Orvis flagship store and American Museum of Fly Fishing, while those craving retail therapy should beeline to the outlets, where most clothing and footwear are exempt from sales tax.
Where to stay: It’s all about rustic, New England vibes at Kimpton Taconic Hotel, which opened in late 2015. While the accommodations are inviting with their rugged, earth tones and plush signature Kimpton beds, the best times to be had here are outside the rooms. The wrapround porch and lawn is where you’ll want to relax with a cocktail in hand for scenic stargazing, and Copper Grouse, the hotel’s all-day eatery, has a spacious patio (equipped with heaters for your comfort) and toasty firepit, so you can enjoy both the regionally-inspired cuisine and brisk, mountain air long after the sun has set.
5. PHILADELPHIA, PA
What to do: Now through November 15: Eastern State Penitentiary is offering spooky Night Tours, where you can explore the dramatically lit grounds with audio narrated by Boardwalk Empire’s Steve Buscemi. Since the presidential election is right around the corner, brush up on your knowledge of women’s voting history with two new exhibitions: When Women Lost the Vote at the Museum of the American Revolution, and How Women Won the Vote at the National Constitution Center. When you’re ready to chow down, head to Reading Terminal Market. One of the nation’s longest-running public markets, it offers a thrillingly diverse mix of cuisines and local staples, like DiNic’s roast park sandwich, Dutch Eating Place’s apple dumplings, and Down Home Diner’s scrapple.
Where to stay: The best part of staying at Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center is that the knee-buckling views are, well, everywhere. And that’s because this 2021 Forbes Travel Guide five-star property occupies the top 12 floors of the city’s tallest building. Since everyone deserves some pampering right now, the spa – which also earned five stars in the upcoming Forbes Travel Guide – offers restorative treatments in a sleek, serene setting. And I can’t think of a better way to close a night than with a scotch on the rocks at the hotel’s posh lounge, JG Skyhigh.
6. POCONO MOUNTAINS, PA
What to do/Where to stay: This entry’s different from the others, since everything you’ll want to do at the destination can be done right where you’re hunkering down. Hidden away in the woods of the Pocono Mountains, The Lodge at Woodloch feels worlds away from New York City – even though it’s just a short two-hour drive. And you come here for one reason: to recharge your body and mind in a tranquil, supportive setting.
There’s an ever-rotating calendar chock full of complimentary fitness classes and other relaxing activities (like Full Moon Watercolor Painting, Orchard Tours, and Guided Labyrinth Walks), with participation limited to 50% occupancy for your safety. And the spa here is legendary, for good reason. Encompassing a whopping 40,000 square feet, the facilities feature plush lounges with fireplaces, whirlpools and saunas, and 27 treatment rooms. (Signature treatments such as Deep Forest Body Ritual and Rosemary Awakening are musts.)
The cuisine skews healthful, but is delicious as well – thanks to Executive Chef’s Josh Tomson ability to create hearty, yet nutritionally sound dishes that satisfy every eater. On weekends through October 17: the resort is hosting its popular Chef Curated Garden Dinners, a terrific chance to mingle (safely, of course) with fellow guests and indulge in a multi-course meal with curated wine pairings.
7. WASHINGTON, DC
What to do: Now, you can freely explore beloved monuments and memorials without running into maddening tourists. On top of that, several Smithsonian museums, including The National Museum of African American History and Culture, just reopened. (Free, timed-entry passes and face coverings are mandatory for visits.) To get a taste of some of the city’s best restaurants in one safe, convenient location, check out Union Market. But if you only have time for dinner: book a table at O-Ku, which earns top marks for its hip, industrial design and imaginative Japanese cusine. The skewered proteins are perfumed with gentle smoke from a Binchotan charcoal grill, and while the traditional sushi’s no slouch, O-Ku’s signature versions are knockouts. The best-selling Old Yeller, for example, stars buttery slabs of yellowtail, thin slivers of serrano pepper, and a fragrant truffle ponzu.
Where to stay: The best part of staying at this iconic hotel is location. Rather than a touristy neighborhood, you’ll discover the Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC, discreetly tucked away along Southwest DC’s waterfront. The 400 rooms and suites are elegantly appointed in soft blues and beiges, and accented with dark mahogany furnishings. If having space is a priority, book A Room with a Suite. This special package offers a complimentary room – use it for accompanying friends or family, or even as a fitness space – with your suite. Though the Empress Lounge and all-day restaurant haven’t reopened yet, you can treat yourself to the city’s best omakase at Mini Sushi Bar, a jewel box helmed by beloved sushi chef Minoru Ogawa.
8. WILMINGTON, DE
What to do: Though many associate this Delaware town with politics – Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden resides here – there’s far more to do than hopefully spot the politican out and about. Longwood Gardens, formerly the private estate of Pierre S. du Pont, is an immaculately maintained botanical garden that’s especially dreamy this time of year. Founded by Pierre’s brother Henry Francis, Winterthur is a garden and museum with an exceptionally strong collection of furniture and decorative arts. Want to dive deep into local history? Then visit Hagley, a museum and library where the Du Pont family first settled. But no matter what, stop by Capriotti’s – the original location’s in Little Italy – at some point for The Bobbie, a sub stuffed with all the makings of a traditional Thanksgiving feast.
Where to stay: The Gold Ballroom of the historic Hotel Du Pont is where Joe Biden and Kamala Harris announced their joint ticket, but the adjacent restaurant, the recently unveiled Le Cavalier, is serving up plenty of buzz as well. Under the thoughtful care of chef Tyler Akin (from DC’s Komi and Philadelphia’s Zahav), the cuisine is French with a contemporary twist. From the plating – the shareable ribeye is presented on a vintage Versace dish – to the setting – the dramatic dining room was gorgeously preserved – eating here always feels celebratory and special. But no visit is complete without the heavenly coconut cake. Perfectly layered and fluffy, it’s made even more indulgent with toasted coconut flakes and rum crème anglaise.