Getting away from the city during autumn is one of the pleasures of life. Before the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season hits, it's nice to just get away and relax. And doing that on the East Coast means a variety of weather and locations to choose from. Whether it's in Florida's sunshine or Maine's snow, you're sure to find a place to find your inner calm while the world around you goes crazy.
Here are 10 blue chip fall getaway destinations on the east coast.
1. Acadia National Park, Maine
Located on Maine's rugged eastern coast, Acadia National Park is home to Cadillac Mountain, the first place in the United States to see the sun each day.
Every year, millions of people travel to the park to hike, camp, ride and ski through the seven 1,000-foot or taller peaks. With more than 150 miles of hiking and 45 miles of carriage roads with 16 stone bridges, the park is a great place to explore the beauty of fall and the natural wonders of the northeast -- the park is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna.
The area was originally a fishing village, but it was made famous by artists in the late 1800s. When painters like Thomas Cole and Frederic Church depicted its beauty in landscapes, it inspired friends and patrons to flock to Acadia, where they stayed with local fishermen and farmers. By 1880, there were 30 hotels to accommodate the surging crowds.
Now the area is popular year-round. Visitors can enjoy not only world-class accommodations, but also access to gourmet food and thrilling outdoor adventures.
But it is Maine, so snow comes early in the mountainous park. Be sure to check with the park about road access and weather conditions before setting out.
2. Adirondacks, New York
Created in 1892 by the state of New York, the Adirondack Park covers more than one-fifth of the state and is the largest park in the contiguous United States. Part of the Adirondack Mountains, the park is known for its pristine forests, lakes, and rivers, its expansive, breath-taking views, and its plethora of outdoor recreational opportunities.
State officials estimate that between seven and 10 million people visit points of interest like Old Forge, Saranac Lake, Lake Placid and Lake George each year. Locals recommend Newcomb, Tupper Lake, Inlet, Speculator and Schroon Lake for weekend getaways, as well.
While local inns and restaurants provide quiet and homey getaways, if your tastes are more outdoorsy there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice skating, boating, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing and bird watching.
3. Ocean City, New Jersey
Ocean City may be part of the Jersey Shore, but that doesn't mean the area closes up shop at the end of summer.
Known as America's Family Resort city, Ocean City has lots to offer in the fall, including shops, eateries and Carson's Inlet State Park, with trails and a boat launch, shorebirds and wetlands. And there's plenty of fishing and golf in the area too.
4. New York City, New York
Is there ever really a WRONG time to go to NYC?
From changing leaves in Central Park to a multitude of festivals and parades to Broadway shows and gourmet dining experiences, there's no shortage of options to get away from it all and take a long weekend to live it up in the City That Never Sleeps. And who knows? You might get some quick pre-holiday shopping done as well!
Make reservations at a place like Park Central Hotel New York to look down onto Central Park, as well as to be in the middle of it all. With trendy, upscale atmosphere inside of a 1920s building, and affordable prices, you can get the best of the NYC experience, without breaking the bank.
5. The Berkshires, Massachusetts
Western Massachusetts' beautiful natural playground is another year-round travel destination. But the area really comes alive in fall when the trees turn and the air gets a chill in it.
Enjoy pick-your-own apple farms, or hiking, or sitting near a fire in your cabin or campground. With a variety of cabins, hotels and inns to choose from, you'll be sure to find a place that feels like a home away from home for your stay. Dining options abound with restaurants from gourmet fare to mom's home cooking to pizzerias and Chinese take-out.
6. Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
From 1699 to 1780, Williamsburg served as the capital of the Virginia Colony, and was a key backdrop of the American Revolution. Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg form the "Historic Triangle" of cities that were critical in the fight for American independence.
At the heart of town lies Colonial Williamsburg, a historic district that serves as a living-history museum where actors in period costumes live as people would have done in Colonial days.
Sip some chilled apple cider and walk the streets with the smell of fresh-baked gingerbread cookies wafting through the air as you learn about what it was like to be a blacksmith in our country's early days, or to be a seamstress while waiting for the war to end. Williamsburg gives you the chance to step away from modern life for a while, and into the mythic past.
7. Charleston, South Carolina
One of the most historic and picturesque cities on the east coast, Charleston is known for its cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, antebellum houses and history-filled bay. The Battery promenade and Waterfront Park overlook the Charleston Harbor and Fort Sumter, the stronghold where the first shots of the Civil War rang out.
Visitors can enjoy some of the best food in the country here, as well as revel in great shopping in the cities Market area. The Charleston Food and Wine Festival isn't something to be missed. And recently, explorers brought up the first US submarine, the Hunley, which is now on display for visitors to see. With old prisons, historic churches and Civil War battlefields, Charleston is a treasure trove of things to see and do.
8. Savannah, Georgia
Just south of Charleston, you'll find Savannah, a city known for its Spanish-moss covered trees, manicured parks, antebellum architecture and Gothic churches. Historic parks, like Forsyth Park, are surrounded by cobblestone roads and towering oak trees. And at the center of the historic district, you'll find St. John the Baptist Church.
Made popular by the book "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," Savannah's cemeteries are also popular with tourists. Being the home of Paula Deen's restaurants The Lady and Sons, and Paula Deen's Creekhouse Seafood and Grill, rest assured there's good eating here as well.
9. Vero Beach, Florida
What can you say about a beach area that has a complex named "Leisure Square"?
Vero Beach is just a little Florida city, but it packs a big punch when it comes to being a quick getaway. Located on the barrier island across from Indian River Lagoon, the town offers white sands, volleyball courts, South Beach Park that illustrates about the local citrus industry, the McKee Botanical Garden and north of the city, the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge for brown pelicans.
Once spring training grounds for the Dodgers, Vero Beach is a great beach getaway in the fall as well. Cooler temperatures don't prevent long walks in the sand, and night breezes make dining on the water a pleasure. Plenty of shops and galleries make your time there in the fall a nice way to unwind without the chill of the coming winter!
10. Key West, Florida
Key West in the fall gives you all of the benefits of a summer vacation, without the stifling heat.
At America's favorite Key, you can snorkle, scuba dive, take a bike trip around the island, travel to Dry Tortugas or Fort Jefferson, or take in the most stunning sunset in the country. Once the sun goes down though, the party light flickers on and it's time to have fun in some of the famous local bars, like Sloppy Joe's, or take out on a ghost adventure to learn about places like the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, the African Slave Cemetery and Captain Tony's Saloon.
We hope this article gives you some ideas for your next fall excursions. Seasons change, and so do we. Happy trails!