Autumn Escapes Close To Home

By Patricia Canole

Jetting off to exotic destinations may not be on your bucket list at the moment, but you still need that relaxing escape. Consider the fabulous spots right here in the U.S.A. There are hidden jewels like New York State’s Hudson River Valley, the beautiful seashore coast of Cape Ann, Massachusetts, and even a step back in history at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.

New York
From its days as a haven for George Washington to the Gilded Age, when barons built majestic mansions along its banks, the Hudson River Valley is steeped in history. Rhinebeck, in the rolling hills of Dutchess County, less than two hours north of New York City, is a charming village with colonial-style architecture and antique shops.

What To Do At the FDR National Historic Site, you can visit Springwood, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s former home, the Presidential Library and Museum, which houses 44,000 books, and the President’s White House desk. FDR and First Lady Eleanor lie in the Rose Garden. You can also visit the Vanderbilt Mansion, a 50-room Beaux-Arts house built in 1895 for Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt. After your history lesson, shop for Americana (quilts, lanterns, folk art) in nearby antique shops. Finally, check-out vintage aircraft, including WWI fighter plans and Lindbergh-era planes, at weekend air shows held at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome—thrilling rides in open-cockpit biplanes are also available.

Where To Stay The Beekman Arms-Delamater Inn can genuinely claim that George Washington slept here. This historic inn, with its wide-plank floors, exposed beamed ceilings, and massive fireplace, has been a Hudson Valley hub since it opened in 1766. Guest rooms are housed in several buildings, with those in the main building boasting Americana quilts, locally crafted-furniture, and folk art.  

Where To Eat After a pint of ale in the Tap Room, dine on veal with sweet potato au gratin and braised beef short ribs in the Tavern at the Beekman Arms. 

For more information on the Hudson Valley, visit 

An hour north of Boston, the Cape Ann peninsula is known for its maritime traditions, colonial charm, and fresh seafood. Its nautical beauty has long attracted artists and writers, including Ralph Waldo Emerson. Explore seaside towns like Rockport, home to one of the state’s most beautiful and photographed harbors, and Essex, New England’s original shipbuilding center, now a central hub for antiquing.

What To Do Soak up some rays on Rockport’s picturesque Front Beach and the more secluded Old Garden Beach. There are also plenty of whale-watching tours (humpbacks are commonly spotted here) and harbor tours, where you can see the area’s famous lighthouses. Be sure to browse among the antique shops, galleries, and artist studios in the quaint lanes of Bearskin Neck. In Essex, visit the Shipbuilding Museum to learn how the two-mast wooden fishing schooners were built.  

Where To Stay Named for frequent guest Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Emerson Inn By The Sea is a classic New England inn dating from 1856. Take a dip in the outdoor pool, enjoy the sea breeze on the rocking chair-lined porch (especially at sunset), and meet with fellow guests over tea in the grand salon—complete with concert piano and Oriental rugs. 

Where To Eat Dine on dishes like mussels in white wine sauce at Rockport’s My Place by the Sea, which provides beautiful views of the rocky shoreline. In nearby Manchester-by-the-Sea, reserve a table at Cala’s Restaurant, which features creamy New England clam chowder, pan-fried sea bass, and lobster risotto. For more information on Boston’s North Shore,

Virginia Watching a marching fife and drum band perform, heckling traitor Benedict Arnold, playing Colonia-era dice games in an atmospheric tavern—who knew history could be this fun? At Colonial Williamsburg (the country’s largest living-history museum), you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back to the 18th century. But don’t worry—you’ll be able to find all the 21st-century comforts, like luxurious hotels, elegant restaurants, and pampering spa treatments, here as well.

Where To Stay When it comes time to recharge after the insightful afternoon, the best is Williamsburg Inn, complete with pictures of John D. Rockefeller (the man who financed Colonial Williamsburg’s restoration in the early 1900s) adorning the walls. There’s an outdoor pool. You’ll also discover the fabulous Spa of Colonia Williamsburg, where such treatments include the Orange and Ginger Body Scrub, made famous in the 18th century. 

What To Do Stroll through Duke of Gloucester, the Historic Area’s main street, and visit the apothecary, the blacksmith, the post office, and Josiah Chowning’s Tavern, which serves casual pub fare. Try the pulled-pork sandwich and a mug of the local ale. Don’t miss Revolutionary City, a two-day interactive program that lets you eavesdrop on heated “debates” between Loyalists and Patriots and even join the Colonists in protests.  

Where To Eat To savor a range of Colonial-era dishes like peanut soup, prime rib of beef and maple-glazed pork loin chops, stop King’s Arms Tavern by the, a bustling multi-room restaurant outfitted with wood floors and pewter candlesticks. For more information on Colonial Williamsburg,

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