Full disclosure: Warwick is the place I go to most often, but it’s also the spot I mention least to other people because I’m jealously guarding what I consider the cutest and quaintest destination south of New England. Sweater weather makes this small town filled with boutiques, Victorian homes, and neighboring farms even more enticing with pumpkin and apple picking under vibrant canopies of fall foliage. And all of this scenery is just about an hour from Manhattan. It also is rarely crowded, so let’s keep this peaceful village our little secret, okay?
Things To Do In Warwick
Before you head out to see the sights around Warwick, it helps to have a quick geographical primer. First there’s the Village of Warwick, which comprises about five blocks of shops and restaurants on Main Street’s central artery, with several smaller veins of streets with dining spots and a smattering of shops and services. Then there’s the surrounding area known as Warwick Valley. This is where you’ll find apple orchards, cider mills, wineries, and farm stands. You can easily explore the Village on foot, but you’ll need a car to reach the Valley.
Catch A Movie Under The Stars At The Warwick Drive-In
Built in 1950, there’s a wonderful sense of nostalgia to seeing a movie on one of the three screens at the Warwick Drive-In. In the fall, hit the dugout-style concession stand for hot chocolate and tubs of popcorn, then snuggle up under blankets outside or in your car. It’s less about the film on the screen than the experience of sitting out under the stars, but they do get first-run movies here, and there’s one modern update: You can listen on your car radio instead of having a speaker that you attach to your window.
Spend A Day At An Orchard
Fall harvest time gives the Warwick Valley an idyllic, apple-tinted glow. The Warwick Valley Apple Trail offers pick-your-own fruit under leafy bowers, pumpkin patches, hayrides, hot cider donuts and cider, and often live music and performances, too. If you don’t mind a long stroll on a hilly orchard, Ochs is one of my favorites for straight-up apple picking from towering branches. If you’d rather take a hayride to the apples, pick a few, and then have a snack and pet baby animals, Applewood Winery is an easy choice, and they also have a tasting room for their well-known hard cider.
Go Wine And Cider Tasting
Did you know that you can transform apples into adult beverages? Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery has perfected transforming apples into wine and cider, and their tasting room is always a fun outing. On weekends, there’s live music and a cafe serving up pizza from a wood-burning oven. If cider’s more your thing, you can stop at any time to Pennings Farm, where a taproom serves up ciders and beers from around the county.
Take A Hike
The fall foliage is especially glorious in the mountains and fields of Warwick Valley, when the deep shades of autumn are all around you as you walk or hike the miles of trails around the Valley, including sections of the Appalachian Trail. One of my favorite easy and very flat options is the Liberty Loop Trail, which is part of a protected watershed. You won’t run into many other people on the peaceful 2.8-mile loop, but there are plenty of wildflowers and birds, including herons, plovers, and even the occasional swan.
Get A Taste Of The Farm
You don’t have to pick apples and pumpkins to get a taste of the farms in Warwick. Belleville Farms Creamery is a dairy farm with one of the best-reviewed ice cream parlors in the country. Try the Bellvale Bog -- dark chocolate with brownies and a fudge swirl. Not only is the creamery postcard cute, but there are fantastic views of the foliage from their perch at the top of Mount Peter. Another stop for farm-fresh finds is the Warwick Valley Farmers’ Market. Held every Sunday from May through November, you’ll find local produce, breads, and cheese, all perfect for a picnic at the lake.
Explore A Lake
In addition to hiking and walking trails, there’s also an opportunity to get out on the water at Wawayanda, a sprawling state park on the same road as the drive-in and Pennings. Wawayanda offers inexpensive kayak, canoe, and SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) rentals, or you can bring your own small watercraft to launch out onto the peaceful water. There’s no fee in the fall, so if you just want to hang out on the sandy beach with a book to enjoy some late season sun, that’s always an option as well.
Best Restaurants In Warwick
I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t go hungry in Warwick. In fact, there are so many restaurants to try and snack spots to sample that you’ll probably end up with a trunk full of treats to carry home instead of leaving anything behind.
The setting of the Warwick Inn will catch your eye as soon as you roll into the Village. It’s a sprawling, white Victorian with the kind of wraparound porch usually seen in the South and a lake-size, jade-green lawn rolling down to the street dotted with umbrellaed tables. The comforting Italian dishes are just as lovely: lobster ravioli in a creamy champagne-pink sauce and heaping platters of golden fried calamari are two dishes you’ll see on nearly every table.
The Grange is the cozy hug of a restaurant that I crave when I’m in the country. The small farm-to-fork menu focuses on fresh, local ingredients, most of which come from farms you’ll see driving through the Valley. The menu changes with the season, but you can count on it including one of my favorite burgers served on a house-baked bun with garlic fried potatoes; deeply flavored salads with seasonal greens and fresh goat cheese; and calories-be-damned desserts such as flourless chocolate tart and an apple crisp with Warwick fruit.
A touch of warm Latin-American spirit in the Warwick Valley, Coquito focuses on the flavors of Puerto Rico with dishes such as mashed plantain mofongo, paella, and copious cups of potent sangria. Along with food and drinks, there’s another treat waiting here: live dancing and salsa music late into the evenings on the weekends.
Where To Shop In Warwick
Most of the boutiques and individual shops that make Warwick a shopping treat are set along the center strip of Main Street. You’ll find home furnishings, gourmet treats, clothing, jewelry, and even an old-fashioned drugstore. Here are a few highlights, but leave time to leisurely stroll the town and poke your head into the shops.
An emporium of everything for the house from candles to cookware, all curated through the design eye of Michael Newhard, who also happens to be the mayor of Warwick. This is also a great spot to pick up unique gifts for babies and kids.
Candy Apple Shoppe
Warning: If you can’t say no to chocolate, don’t enter! I recently stopped in just to keep someone company and walked out with a heaving bag of chocolate-covered salted caramels I’m still thinking about. In addition to a full range of candy, the shop is known for its namesake treat: candy apples dipped in caramel, covered in chocolate, and smothered in toppings such as cookies and Kit Kats. You’ll definitely want to have friends with whom to share this massive globe.
Best Places To Stay Near Warwick
There are no hotels in Warwick Village, although there are a number of historic homes doing double-duty as bed and breakfasts (in fact, both Warwick Inn and Candy Apple Shoppe have rooms available). For a more full-service experience, try one of these nearby properties located in the outer Valley area that are a quick hop into town and usually even closer to an apple picking opportunity.
Cedar Lakes Estate
A former sleepaway camp reimagined as an upscale glamping getaway, the accommodations at Cedar Lakes Estate range from sleek single bedrooms with luxe bathrooms to sprawling farmhouses with multiple bedrooms. Regardless of which option you choose to lay your head, you’ll eat meals in the spacious open-air pavilion where a French Culinary Institute grad will turn your notion of “camp cuisine” on its head with Southern fried chicken buffets or tender beef short ribs. During the day, swim in the lake, hike the property, or take a cooking or yoga class. At night, fall bonfires provide a cozy spot for stargazing in the dark country skies.
Crystal Springs Resort
Just over the border in New Jersey is the Vernon Valley ski area, the setting for the sprawling Crystal Springs Resort complex, offering everything from spas to golf to dining. There are two different hotels here, the more moderately priced Minerals Hotel and the newer, more contemporary Grand Cascades Lodge. Both offer indoor/outdoor pool complexes with hot tubs and saunas so you can soak in the cool fall air. And both properties are positioned so you can see panoramic views of the fall foliage in the surrounding mountains.
For a romantic fall getaway, Glenmere Mansion is the top choice in the Valley because it’s a luxurious, adults-only property that was voted the most Romantic Hideaway in the World by Hideaways International. Journeying down the regal drive, you’ll feel like you left the Valley and arrived in a European country estate. There are formal gardens to explore, a grand piano lounge, and 18 elegant suites with fireplaces and settees to stretch out on. There are also two noteworthy restaurants for candlelit dinners: The Supper Room and Frogs End.
Pro Tip: Warwick’s Apple Fest, held the first Sunday in October, is the busiest day on the calendar here, with a mix of music, food, crafts, and lots and lots of people. It’s a fun day, but probably also one of the worst to actually pick apples because of the crowds streaming in from the main highway. Pick another day to hit the orchards.