Best Fall Getaways
Been there, done that. Or have you? Discover 23 weekend getaway properties so transformed, you’ll never believe you’d set foot in them before (and why fall is the perfect time to visit them).
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Henniker House Bed and Breakfast
New England College
Corner of Main and Ramsdell Rd /// Henniker, NH (603) 428-3198; (866) 428-3198
From White Plains: 4 hours
Henniker House Bed and Breakfast offers lots of opportunities to relax on the 1920s porch.
The raging water and old stone bridges of the Contoocook River takes center stage at this five-bedroom country B&B, formerly a 1920s birthing hospital. “Think of it as going to your favorite aunt’s house,” says buoyant owner Kate Bartlet, who bought the place a few years ago, updated the rooms and, last year, added two more. Bartlet’s three Rs (“Relax, Renew, River”) are easy to follow once you venture past the bear pelt complete with bear head (shot and skinned by Bartlet’s companion, Phil) that sits on a dining room table.
Room: Ask for one of the newer suites (built in 2008), each with sliding glass doors that open to a private deck from which you can practically swan-dive into the fast-moving river below. Large enough to drive a truck through, each eclectically appointed room has a brass king bed, a twin day bed, and Jacuzzi bathroom. (Arranged for parents taking their kids on the college tour). A gorgeously vibrant king-sized multicolored quilt hangs on the wall going up to the second-story room, a gift from a quilting club that routinely gathers here to stitch.
Board: Bartlet’s signature breakfast—yummy puffed apple pancakes, made with apples from a local orchard owned by a guy who was born in the house—is served in the best room in the place, a solarium with unobstructed views of the Contookook. Pickings are slim in town, but you can’t beat the river views from casual Daniel’s Restaurant right next door.
Only Here: Bring or rent a bike and take one of Bartlet’s favorite mapped-out routes. She’ll send you on a serious ride through stunning foliage and river
While Here: If there’s an early snow, skiers “under 16 and over 60” will love Pats Peak Ski Resort (24 Flanders Rd, 603-428-3245), according to Bartlet. If old books are your thing, drive a mile across the bridge to Old #6 Book Depot (603-428-3334) with 160,000 tomes of all kinds and ages. This is a word-of-mouth place with no discernable signage or website—and looks like someone’s backyard garage until you walk in; the sheer number of volumes on a labyrinth of stacks will astound you.
Facts: Five rooms range from $95 to $165 per night and include a deluxe homemade breakfast.
Middlebury College 14 Court Sq /// Middlebury, VT (802) 388-4961/(800) 842-4666
From White Plains: 4 ½ hours
Middlebury Inn's shabby-chic rooms offer four-poster beds.
This grand lady is 183 years old and has had more facelifts than most of the Hollywood elite. But the 71-room Middlebury Inn retains a distinguished “shabby chic” character. “For a dear old gem, she’s really kept up,” says a staff member, who points out the “human operated” wrought iron elevator off the main room. In the center of this college town, the Inn has spread out to encompass a main building, the Porter Mansion, and some ill-conceived motel units that bring the curb-appeal down a few notches. Last year, a courtyard garden was added to beautify the entrance from parking lot into the lobby, (which formerly looked like a service entrance), flat-screen TVs were placed in most rooms and free WiFi was made available throughout the inn.
Room: A grand ballroom was once located on the third floor, explaining the wide hallway (to accommodate the hoop skirts of the day) and soaring 12-foot ceilings. Ask for a four-poster queen deluxe room with sitting area; new navy floral carpeting, fresh paint, and white comforters have freshened up fading accommodations. Though bathrooms, with black-and-white mosaic floors, are small and clean, they honestly could benefit from an upgrading as well.
Board: The inn lays out a bountiful, complimentary afternoon tea with baked sweets, warm and cold tea, and lemonade in a Federal-style lobby full of wing-backed chairs and other vintage furniture. In Morgan’s Tavern (the in-house restaurant) elbow up to the one-of-a-kind bar—cut from a rare vein of Vermont Swanton Red Marble. This being a college town, there is a broad range of eateries within walking distance. Crowd-pleasing American Flatbread at the Marbleworks (americanflat bread.com) offers every conceivable foodstuff on flatbread toasted in a large wood-burning oven.
Only Here: Gaze over the waterfall that cascades under the Main Street stone bridge, then walk a few steps to Vermont Folklife Center (vermontfolklifecenter.org), where an innovative interactive computerized “quilt” tells the story of small town and farm life. In the evening, take in a live show at the $5 million-renovated Town Hall Theater (townhalltheater.org).
While Here: See “America’s Finest Breed of Horse” at University of Vermont’s Morgan Horse Farm (uvm.edu/morgan), open daily from 9-4 from May until the end of October.
Facts: Rooms and suites are $119 to $269 including afternoon tea, passes to Vermont Sun Fitness Center, early morning coffee/tea and 24-hour Business Center.
Never Resting on Laurels
The Hotel Hershey Woodside Cottages
Hershey, PA (717) 533-2171
From White Plains: 3½ hours
The 1933 Hotel Hershey satisfies your sweet tooth by dispensing chocolate bars upon check-in.
The product that made Milton Hershey a household name—chocolate—dominates everything here; at Hershey Park, on Chocolate Avenue, downtown where the streetlights are Kisses, and, of course, at The Hotel Hershey where you get your choice of dark or milk chocolate at check-in. Big-hearted philanthropist Hershey put 600 people to work during the Great Depression in 1933 to build this marquee hotel. It’s a place where everyone—from infants to oldsters can gather happily. So when talkative family members started having mid-night pow-wows in the hallways disturbing other guests, Hershey Hotel folks hatched a plan. Create luxury cottages that are part of but away from the main building so that Grandpa Joe and Cousin Rick can reminisce into the night without worrying about keeping their guffaws down. Part of a staggering $67 million expansion that includes a recreational area, a Kids Club building, a stand-alone locavore restaurant and other enhancements, the Woodside Cottages have proven to be an immediate hit.
Room: Soothing neutral shades of butterscotch, chocolate browns, and greens, each large bedroom is lusciously appointed. No radical décor, just comfy, very upscale accommodations (think Louis XIV meets Williams-Sonoma Home). But, um, someone’s got a masochistic sense of humor: all massive, tumbled-tile floored bathrooms sport digital scales. Book two cottage rooms and you can get a center “great room” as part of the deal. Reserve four or six separate bedrooms and the whole cottage becomes your personal estate for the night. It’s a hugely successful recipe for gatherings—the cottages are nearly always booked since opening in May 2009.
Board: Naturally, sweets take center stage—but the new and excellent Harvest Restaurant is dedicated to “farm-to-fork” cuisine. In some cases, the “farm” is within arms length—some of the herbs and veggies are grown right outside the kitchen. The renovated domed circular dining room in the main building remains a spectacular, sunlit space where an award-winning Sunday brunch is often sold out (so make reservations when you book your room).
Only Here: Luxuriate in a 15-minute patented hot- cocoa bath ($45) or other tasty treatment at the incomparable Chocolate Spa, take a historic tour of the hotel (Mon-Wed-Fri at 10 am), or hang out in the breathtaking mosaic, arched and sky-painted Fountain Lobby, inspired by the Heliopolis Hotel in Egypt.
While Here: Fall is a fabulous time to visit Hershey, with half-price weekend admission in comparison to the summer prices to Hershey Park in the Dark, “Creatures of the Night” at the ZooAmerica (100 W Hersheypark Dr, 717-534-3900, zooamerica.com), and a bevy of activities right on the vast Hotel Hershey campus. Ice skate year- round on a special polymer surface rink (bring your own skates or rent for $3). And don’t miss a visit to the Milton Hershey School (1201 Homestead La 717-520-2000, mhs-pa.org)—a free boarding school for 1,800 disadvantaged kids as young as five—supported by Hershey product profits. The school just celebrated its 100th year; you will truly be moved.
Facts: $279 to $534 per room includes chocolate bar at check-in, discounts to Hershey Park, free shuttle to local attractions, free passes to area museums, and a host of amenities.