It's our third edition of Gothamist's travel content, Gothamist Getaways. A few times a year, we'll have a week of posts featuring looks at travel, food, products and tips—near and far—for making your trips more enjoyable. So sit back, dream of your next journey and let us know if you have any hints for us—email firstname.lastname@example.org.
So you'd like to get the hell out of town for a minute and contemplate New England's glorious kaleidoscope of fauvist Autumnal foliage. There are a wide variety of ways in which you can make this fantasy a reality (including a billion bed & breakfasts to choose from), so if you've never headed north this time of year and you're bewildered by the options, here are a few very specific recommendations.
Rental Car Hack: Why is it so bloody expensive to rent a car in New York City? Only the sinister Gotham car rental cabal knows for sure, but it typically costs triple the price to borrow wheels within the city limits as it does outside of town. Here's how to beat the system if you are traveling somewhere requiring a motor vehicle: take Metro-North to Brewster, NY and rent a car from there. The train station is a short cab ride from an Enterprise location, and if you give them a call they'll usually come pick you up. Last time I did this the rental was less than a third what the Enterprise in Brooklyn wanted to gouge me for. And while they're closed on Sunday, they do let you do an off-hours drop-off too.
Fireplace Lodging: Over the summer I stayed at the gorgeous old mansion-turned-B&B Rock Hall, a fascinating 1912 pile in rural Colebrook, CT. The house was designed by Addison Mizner, a resort architect who gave Palm Beach, Florida its distinctive stucco and stone look. His elegant old country house is decked with beautiful stained glass, impeccably furnished parlors and game rooms, a legit private screening room, a pool and hot tub, and a fireplace in every bedroom. (Some of the rooms have balconies, all are spacious.)
Michael and Stella Somers, the bohemian husband and wife couple who run Rock Hall, are a hoot, and they serve up a killer breakfast feast with house-cured salmon, fresh frittatas, homemade pastries, fruit, and yogurt; meanwhile, the pool house fridge is kept stocked with beer and soda. Nature trails beckon, there's scrabble and pinball for rainy days, and the whole place is so relaxing that simply commuting from the hot tub to the tennis court will start to seem like too much work. You can still see plenty of pretty leaves from the pool anyway.
Dinner & Music at the Dreamaway Lodge: This magical old restaurant and folk music destination is tucked away in the woods near the little Berkshire County town of Becket, Massachusetts. Decorated with cheeky flair by Daniel Osman, the lodge has been a stopover for musicians looking for an intimate gig since Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review put it on the map in 1975. Now it's a lodge in name only; you can't stay overnight, but you can enjoy a delicious dinner in the dining room, live music in the lounge, a cocktail at the retro illuminated bar, and some mystical revelations by the fire pit. There's also "a wildflower meditation labyrinth" and an art gallery in the bathroom.
MASS MoCa: If you're in the Berkshires and get bored of all the stupid leaves, take a break to wander this sprawling contemporary art museum, which is one of the best in the United States. Located in North Adams, the museum fills 26 interconnected buildings left behind by disused 19th-century factory buildings (formerly a textile mill, it was last used as an electronics plant). MASS MoCA's centerpiece is a truly massive single gallery that's as long as a football field; it's been used to great effect by Katharina Grosse, Carsten Höller, Tim Hawkinson, and Robert Rauschenberg, to name a few. The semi-permanent Sol LeWitt exhibit is also a must-see, as is the 1970s "Airstream satellite" that "crash landed" at MASS MoCA a few years back. And if you come at the right time, you may get to catch Wilco or Patti Smith performing in the courtyard.
Bear Mountain Oktoberfest Cruise: Everyone knows you don't need a car to get upstate to admire the foliage, but you don't need to take a bus or train either. Circle Line operates popular autumnal boat rides up to Bear Mountain State Park, where a hilarious Hudson Valley Oktoberfest celebration has all the beer, sausage, and oldsters in lederhosen you could ever want. The boat leaves at 9 a.m. sharp on Saturdays and Sundays through the end of October and returns to Pier 83 at 5:30 p.m. after a full day at the mountain. The extremely scenic ride takes 2.5 hours each way, which still leaves you plenty of time to explore the park, enjoy some Pilsner, dance to the polka bands, and stumble back down the trail to the boat before departure.
John Del Signore is the Managing Editor of Gothamist