By Sydney Kerelo and Marilyn Odesser-Thorpey
With its cool, crisp days and fabulous colors, fall is the perfect time for a getaway to celebrate the change in seasons by feasting your eyes on vibrant foliage. Here, we take you to five prime leaf-peeping spots—all just a short road trip away.
Driving along Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountain roads is a delight, especially in autumn when roadsides are ablaze with crimsons, rusts and golds. When the tiny town of Jim Thorpe, with its beautifully preserved Victorian-era architecture, comes into view, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled to another place and time.
Travel time: Three hours from Lewes
Peak time for foliage: Mid-October
Play: Hugging the Lehigh River, the Lehigh Gorge Trail stretches over 20 miles and is ideal for hiking or biking to Glen Onoko Falls in Lehigh Gorge State Park. Bike rentals and shuttles are available at Pocono Biking for $11.99 hourly, or $29.99 for a full day.
7 Hazard Square • 800-944-8392.
A unique way to see the countryside is by BMW motorcycle sidecar, available through Jim Thorpe Sidecar Tourz. Each vehicle accommodates one rider and a guide. Sightseeing excursions range from 1.5 hours to three hours, and some even include wine-tasting tours. $130–$275; $170 for wine tasting.
16 W. Broadway • 570-249-1570
Hop aboard an early-20th-century passenger car (some dating back to 1917) on the steam- or diesel-operated Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, which runs from downtown Jim Thorpe station through Lehigh Gorge State Park. Standard coach tickets are $17 for adults, $9 for children 3-12, and the open air car tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for children 3-12.
1 Susquehanna St. • 570-325-8485
For a mead-ieval experience, buzz into Stonekeep Meadery, where you can revel in tastings of the ancient honey wine (believed to be the oldest alcoholic beverage). Flavor profiles range from dry and bold to sweet and fruity. Sample any three for free, or five for $5.
77 Broadway • 570-369-0573
Stay: Disney used the exterior of the Gothic-style Harry Packer Mansion as its model for the Haunted Mansion attraction in Walt Disney World. Inside is the epitome of 19th-century elegance. Bed-and-breakfast rates run $225–$295, double occupancy in the Mansion and $195-250 in the Carriage House.
19 Packer Ave. • 570-325-8566
Eat: If a romantic dinner for two is on the menu (or fine dining for a party of any size), indulge your senses at Moya downtown. Enjoy comfort cuisine, like house-made pastas and sauces, paired with wine varietals from a thoughtfully curated but extensive list. Starting at $13.
24 Race St. • 570-325-8530
A short distance from Catoctin Mountain, the town of Frederick in western Maryland is home to the Camp David presidential retreat and exquisite foliage views. It also offers spectacular public art, a destination-worthy Civil War museum, and a vibrant downtown with specialty shops, galleries and restaurants.
Travel time: Two hours and 30 minutes from Dover
Peak time for foliage: Mid- to late October
Play: Take a hike in Cunningham Falls State Park, where the Catoctin Mountain trails range from relatively easy (half a mile at a slight incline) to challenging (a steep and rocky 7.5 miles).
14039 Catoctin Hollow Road • 301-271-7574
At the 50-acre Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo, you can observe and interact with several animal species from around the world. Admission is $22.50 per person.
13019 Catoctin Furnace Road, Thurmont • 301-271-4922
The self-guided Frederick Art Trail stroll is a must. Start with the trompe l’oeil (French for “fool the eye”) murals on historic buildings, then head to the centerpiece Community Bridge spanning Carroll Creek. Before a self-guided tour, pick up a map at the Frederick Visitor Center. For history buffs, the Museum of Frederick County History also offers docent-led tours for $8 per person.
151 S. East St. • 301-600-4047
24 E. Church St. • 301-663-1188
A great way to pack in a lot of sightseeing without breaking a sweat is by electric bike, available at Pedego Electric Bikes. Rentals are $25–$36 per hour; $100–$120 for day use. To be sure you don’t miss the best Frederick has to offer, sign up for a guided neighborhood tour; some include wineries or scavenger hunts.
125 S. Carroll St. • 301-624-4000
History buffs will want to visit the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, where exhibitions convey conflict from the perspective of wounded soldiers and their medical caregivers, both on and off the battlefield. Admission is $9.50 per person.
48 E. Patrick St. • 301-695-1864
Stay: The nearby Inn at Springfield Manor, set on a 135-acre private country estate, features eight guest suites. Wander the vineyards, lavender fields and trails; cozy up inside the Manor brewery, winery or distillery; or relax by the outdoor fire pit and enjoy stargazing with other guests. Breakfast and tastings are included. $225, double occupancy.
11836 Auburn Road, Thurmont • 301-271-0099
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Eat: Housed in a 19th-century brownstone mansion, Thacher & Rye (formerly known as Volt) is known for its sophisticated and deeply flavorful fare, such as cacao e pepe risotto made with roasted honey nut squash, pickled corn di toro peppers and layered with parmesan. First course is from $16-$89, the second course is $14-$19 and the entrées are $19–$58.
228 N. Market St. • 240-332-3186
When the Green Mountains take on their festive autumn hues, the back roads of southern Vermont beckon. Come for the colors, stay for the history and the outdoor recreational activities.
Travel time: Five hours and 30 minutes from Wilmington
Peak time for foliage: Mid-September to late October
Play: Let Backroad Discovery Tours do the driving so you can focus on the scenery. Narrated van tours are three hours and are $45 per person. If you want an early start, a three-hour History Buff’s tour is available for $35 per person.
21 Bonnet St. • 802-362-4997
The Green Mountain Falconry School offers the opportunity to handle a trained hawk under the expert guidance of a master falconer. You’ll also learn about this ancient sport of royalty, believed to have originated in China around 2000 B.C. Introductory lessons, about 45 minutes long, are $150–$190. Add a 45-minute hawk walk along wooded trails, with your bird flying above, for $180–$240.
1550 River Rd. • 802-362-7873
Hildene: The Lincoln Family Home is a 1905 Georgian Revival mansion set on a 412-acre estate built for Robert Lincoln, the only surviving son of Abe and Mary Todd Lincoln. Their descendants lived here until 1975. For $23, you can enjoy a self-guided tour.
1005 Hildene Road • 800-578-1788
The Battenkill River is prime fly-fishing territory. Take a turn with Orvis Manchester Fly-Fishing School, held in a state-of-the-art schoolhouse, a fully stocked casting pond or out on the Battenkill. $279 full day and $489 for two days.
4169Main St. • 866-531-6213
Stay: Cozy up at The Reluctant Panther Inn and Restaurant, luxury accommodations in the heart of Manchester village. Antique furnishings and in-room fireplaces evoke a feeling of olden times, as does the complimentary breakfast. Polite pets are welcome. $229–$399 weekdays in the deluxe suites; $329–$379 weekends.
39 West Road • 802-362-2568
Eat: At The Reluctant Panther Inn and Restaurant, marvel at the magnificent views over Mount Equinox while imbibing and dining on contemporary twists of such classics as crab-stuffed trout made with mushroom risotto, spaghetti squash, and creamed leaks, drizzled with a chardonnay sauce. $31–$42.
The Silver Fork is situated inside the old Mark Skinner Library surrounded by local community and literary history. This local, eclectic restaurant’s menu changes frequently but stop in to enjoy dishes like the salmon strudel wrapped in spinach with lemon butter and a side of mashed potatoes. $30–$52.
48 West Road • 802-768-8444
The country’s first spa destination, this small town in West Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains has been drawing folks to its healing mineral springs since the beginning of time. The first Native Americans were known to soak here, and it was also a favorite retreat for George Washington. Choose from more than 55 different treatments available at the town’s numerous spas.
Travel time: Two hours and 45 minutes from Newark
Peak time for foliage: Mid-October
Play: Two state-operated spas at Berkeley Springs State Park, the nation’s smallest state park, offer Roman baths heated to 102 degrees Fahrenheit in private, walk-in 750-gallon tubs and 150-gallon heated whirlpools. Round out the day with a therapeutic or hot-stone massage. Pricing starts at $27 per half hour for Roman baths.
2 S. Washington St. • 304-258-3976
For a more exotic experience that energizes all the senses, Renaissance Spa at the Historic Country Inn offers a Moroccan Incense Body Ritual ($120) and Detoxifying Thai Body scrub ($120).
110 S. Washington St. • 304-500-2642
At Atasia Spa, don’t miss the foot-to-neck massage by owner Frankie Tan ($85 for 45 minutes; $170for 90 minutes).
41 Congress St. • 304-258-7888
View the scenery in Cacapon Resort State Park on horseback during a one-hour guided trail ride with Triple C Outfitters. $35.
251 Saddle Lane 818 • 304-258-1022
The Ice House Artist’s Co-op features works for sale from about three dozen local and regional multimedia artists, including stained glass, sculpture, pressed metal, woodwork, paintings and wearable art.
138 Independence St. • 304-867-3073
Stay: Highlawn Inn is a lovingly restored Victorian home perched high on a hill overlooking downtown. The inn now has complimentary wi-fi in all its buildings as well as great outdoor activities. $108–$170.
171 Market St. • 304-258-5700
Eat: Chef Damian Heath converted a historic 1913 home to his Lot 12 Public House restaurant, where he’s created an elegant menu featuring his take on such dishes as herb braised chicken with Italian sausage and white bean ragu with sautéed spinach and herbed mashed potatoes. $28–$38.
117 Warren St. • 304-258-6264
The décor and ambience at Tari’s Café are as artful as the menu. Think pasta Chesapeake with pan-seared scallops or shrimp and blue crab in a lemon white-wine cream sauce. $14–$30.
33 North Washington St. • 304-258-1196
This historic seaport village offers the full spectrum of seasonal colors from aboard a sleek schooner on southeastern Connecticut’s Mystic River. There’s a lot of nautical history packed into this four-square-mile seaport village settled in 1654, plus an aquarium where you can see sea life up close. Its must-stroll Main Street is lined with colorful mom-and-pop establishments.
Travel time: Four hours and 30 minutes from New Castle
Peak time for foliage: Mid-October through early November
Play: Immerse yourself in the village’s nautical legacy at the Mystic Seaport Museum, featuring 19 acres with 500 historic watercraft, a recreated New England coastal village, a working shipyard and four National Landmark Vessels. $25.95 per adult, $21.95 for ages 13-17, $18.95 for children ages 4-12 and $23.9 for seniors age 65 and up.
75 Greenmanville Ave. • 860-572-0711
Book a close encounter with a seal, penguin, sea lion or whale at the Mystic Aquarium. Paint with a stingray, or be part of the California sea lion show. Tickets start at $30.99 but vary depending on the day.
55 Coogan Blvd. • 860-572-5955
Feeling artsy? You can try your hand at an array of art projects during one of the Mystic Museum of Art’s studio classes. Children and adults can participate in a fall class where they learn how to draw, paint and be taught by an art instructor. $20-$330.
9 Water St. • 860-536-7601
Stay: Nestled in a serene residential area on the outskirts of Mystic, the Old Lyme Inn estate was renovated and restored in 2012 to accommodate 13 guest rooms and indoor and outdoor dining. Starting double occupancy rates for the newly restored guest rooms are $139–$269. For an evening of lively entertainment, take in a performance at the property’s renowned Side Door jazz club.
85 Lyme St., Old Lyme • 860-434-2600
Eat: Remember the movie Mystic Pizza? Here’s the original place that inspired it. Build your own or try one of the pizzeria’s creative pies, such as the chili chicken delight made with sweet chili sauce, green pepper, red onion, pineapple and jalapeños. $14–$31.
56 West Main St. • 860-536-3700
The restaurant at the Old Lyme Inn presents innovative takes on classics, such as the chicken cordon bleu with chive mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. Try its delicious butternut squash crème brûlée or the pumpkin-chocolate chip pound cake for a sweet treat after dinner.