Getaways for a fantastic fall

SHERYL NANCE-NASH | 9/5/2019, 12:54 p.m.
There’s something about fall that’s fantastic.
Nashville, Tenn. Lysa Allman-Baldwin photo

There’s something about fall that’s fantastic. The sultry heat is gone, and the snow hasn’t arrived. The temperature is just right. It’s also a great time to travel. The crowds have disappeared, and in most places, so have the high prices, as “shoulder season” is in full swing. Airfares and accommodations are likely to be gentler on your pocket as everyone is trying to lure travelers during this slower period before the holiday rush.

So, why not take advantage of the opportunity, especially if summer came and went without your much desired and deserved getaway? Here’s where to go.

Pontresina, Switzerland

Why settle for New England leaf peeping? Go hard and go for the fall foliage in Pontresina. The folks there claim New England’s fall color show has nothing on them. See if you agree. You can hike mountains or if you’re looking for less, the walking trails in nearby Celerina. The setting is stunning in Pontresina. Less than an hour’s drive is Swiss National Park, not only ideal for admiring Mother Nature, but wildlife like ibex, marmots and red deer. Stay at the Grand Hotel Kronenhof. Their Golden Autumn Days package includes dinner, bed and break, complimentary use of the hotel’s spa, a 10 percent discount on spa treatments, and unlimited access to the Kulm Golf St. Moritz golf course and tennis courts.

Pray, Montana

If Yellowstone National Park is on your bucket list. In the fall, the number of visits compared to summer drops more than 50 percent. Without the crowds you’ll really be able to enjoy yourself. When the trees and grasses turn gold and orange, wildlife emerge, making it the ideal time to wind your way through the backcountry trails and spot elk and bison. Do enjoy Yellowstone’s hot springs and pools. Make your “homestead” in Pray, Montana at Sage Lodge, about 30 minutes from Yellowstone. They can set you up with guided fall foliage, twilight fly-fishing, dry-aged beef tastings and more. Finish off your day with dinner at The Grill at Sage Lodge where they take craft cocktails, wood-fired meats and regional fish seriously.

Greater Williamsburg, Virginia

The Greater Williamsburg includes Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. That threesome adds up to big fall fun. There’s plenty to do outside for adventure lovers and festivals galore. Then there’s the emerging food and drink scene, shopping, arts and culture. It’s also the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving, and this fall there will be events commemorating the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in English North America, like a performance Sept. 13 of a new ballet from the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ballet in Blacksburg, titled “Passage.” “The Forgotten Solider,” special exhibition at the American Revolution Museum in Yorktown, highlights the stories of enslaved and free African Americans, who fought on both sides of the Revolutionary War.  The Colonial Williamsburg Resorts Fall Getaway package that includes five top hotels starts at $129 per night and includes perks like complimentary fitness and wellness experiences and more.

Madeira, Portugal

You’ll like the lovely 70-degree weather as much as the infamous wine. Sail, go dolphin watching, or if water isn’t your thing, hike along the old aqueducts in the mountains, run trails or golf. There’s plenty to explore. Do book any tours in advance, not because of the crowds, but because it’s the shoulder season, some tours may be less frequent or closed. You don’t want any disappointments. What will certainly make you smile is that you’ll be able to find a very good hotel room at $50-$180 a night.

Cooperstown, New York

If you’re looking for an easy get away, Cooperstown is about a four-hour drive from the city, and it’s oh-so-beautiful in the fall. You know Cooperstown is the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, but this town isn’t only for baseball fans. For one thing, it’s a great place for the autumn ritual of apple picking. You’ll be surprised how much fun it is. There’s not only a lot of brew in Cooperstown but cider lovers will be happy too. There’s the Fenimore Art Museum that boasts American folk art and Native American crafts. Sit back and relax on a cruise on the lake. Cooperstown won’t blow your budget either. There are deals to be had at places like the Otesaga Resort Hotel with its Autumn Harvest Package that’s 20 percent off.

Nashville, Tennessee

All aboard! Get ready for a Smoky Mountain Rail Adventure. Start the Vacations by Rail tour in Nashville, and spend nine days working your way through Nashville, Chattanooga, Gatlinburg and Asheville, North Carolina. During the journey, you’ll visit the Grand Ole Opry performance and backstage tour after the show, the Great Smoky Mountains, Biltmore Estate, Lookout Mountain, Country Music Hall of Fame, much good eating and more.

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

The masses flock to The Vineyard in the summer, so swim against the tide and head there in fall. You avoid the crowds and the peak season prices. For example, average summer rates at the iconic Harbor View Hotel start at around $450, while low season rates start at $270. There are trails for biking and hiking. Gallery hop, play a round or two of golf, or, simply chill at the beach.