7 Fall road trips within two hours of NYC
NYC is undoubtedly lovely this time of year, but something about the autumnal air makes us want to get out of town. And whether you're in the market for a bucolic retreat, a quaint hamlet or even just a (different) bustling city, these not-so-far-flung destinations are more than worthy of digging out that driver's license.
Litchfield Hills, Connecticut
Litchfield is known for some of the best antique shopping in Connecticut, so if scouring estate sales, curated barns-turned-stores and flea markets for vintage gems is your jam, this getaway is right up your alley.
Stay: Book a stay at Winvian Farm, which boasts 18 luxury cottages each with its own unique spin—like a whimsical-chic tree house, a refurbished helicopter and a nautical lighthouse.
Do: Don't feel like going far? The resort offers horseback riding, cooking classes, bikes for guests and a luxurious spa, along with snowshoeing and cross-country skiing come the winter months. If you're feeling ambitious, you're just a quick ten-minute drive from hot-air ballooning.
Eat: Sample the “seed-to-table" tasting menu at Winvian's onsite restaurant, or head to the West Street Grill for bistro-style eats (the Parmesan aioli peasant bread is a must) and alfresco seating.
Princeton, New Jersey
Though you could spend an entire day touring the campus of Princeton University—full of Gothic architecture that looks increasingly spooky as Halloween rolls around—the Ivy League college is not the only thing of note in this charming town.
Stay: If you want to be within walking distance of all the action, look no further than Princeton's Palmer Square and the The Nassau Inn, a historic landmark hotel where Thomas Paine and Paul Revere hung out.
Do: Princeton has a pedestrian-friendly shopping district full of clothing stores, home décor outposts and a few old-school bookstores with killer names, like Labyrinth Books and The Cloak & Dagger, which is dedicated to mystery books. And drama buffs should be sure to catch a show at the venerated McCarter Theatre Center.
Eat: You could easily spend the better part of your weekend eating your way through town, from the casual and aptly-named PJ's Pancake House to the elegant Peacock Inn, which is housed in an adorable Victorian-era home and doubles as a boutique hotel. Whatever you do, do not skip out of town without trying the unique ice cream creations at The Bent Spoon, a local favorite.
Sure, the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are worth seeing if you've never been, but you'll also want to leave enough time for incredible food and a creepy prison tour.
Stay: Aloft Philadelphia Downtown blends the city's rich history with contemporary vibes. The 179 guest rooms took over the former Liberty Title & Trust Building, built in 1925.
Do: Take a relaxing stroll through Philly's famed Rittenhouse Square: It's a great place to take in the fall colors as you admire the beautiful homes built around it, some of which date back to the early 19th century. The iconic LOVE Park, reopening in late fall 2017, is a must if only for the Instagram opportunity. And those inclined to the macabre need to make a stop at Eastern State Penitentiary, the historic prison where Al Capone was once incarcerated.
Eat: Even the snobbiest New Yorkers won't be disappointed in Philly's thriving dining scene, where chef Jose Garces is king, with his Amada, Tinto and Volver outposts. Or grab a table at the buzzy Vetri for Italian, El Vez for Mexican, Blue Duck for a little bit of everything—and its brand new sister restaurant, The Ugly Duckling, for burgers and sandwiches.
Bedford Post Inn
Bedford, New York
No wonder Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds chose to settle down in this quaint Westchester town—it's close to the city while still maintaining plenty of rural charm.
Stay: Check into the Bedford Post Inn, an eight-room property (with romantic fireplaces in most rooms) that features two award-winning restaurants and a yoga studio.
Do: Spend a nature day at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation; Outhouse Orchards for Halloween-esque corn mazes, spooky hayrides and pumpkin picking; and Rainbeau Ridge for playing with animals and savoring local cheeses.
Additional reporting by Kelli Acciardo
New Canaan, Connecticut
This idyllic town is an hour and a half from Manhattan and offers everything one might need or want for a long weekend: historic landmarks, fall foliage sightings, adorable B&Bs and upscale boîtes (that you don't have to wait hours to get into).
Stay: Reserve a room at Graybarns Inn, a recently renovated rustic-meets-cozy refuge that overlooks the Silvermine River and Guthrie Pond.
Eat: The seasonal salads and outrageously good burger at Elm Restaurant will have you making return trips on Metro-North just for the food.
The Time Nyack
Nyack, NY & The Hudson Valley
Nyack is a great home base if you're looking to explore points north in the Hudson Valley—or you just need the closest possible jaunt outside NYC.
Stay: Check in to The Time Nyack to enjoy the hotel's trendy, luxe loft-style rooms, many of which come equipped with an Amazon Alexa so you can order more towels without having to call the front desk. The hotel also boasts a buzzy local food and nightlife scene, which centers around contemporary steakhouse BV's Grill and a secret pocket lobby bar.
Do: Just across the river you'll find the Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, a Gothic Revival mansion with a noteworthy history, and the historic village of Sleepy Hollow, which—naturally—ramps up the spooky spirit every October.
Asbury Park, NJ
Asbury Park may be on your radar as a summertime spot, but this funky resort town—and its somewhat gritty past—is having a major resurgence, making it a great year-round destination.
Stay: You'll want to hang your hat at The Asbury, which was converted from a former Salvation Army building into a hip beachside hotel, and has beautifully designed rooms and cool lounge spaces throughout. It's also a great place to enjoy one last alfresco cocktail before the weather gets too cold, at Salvation, the rooftop garden bar.
Do: Catch a show at the legendary dive, The Stone Pony where Springstein and Bon Jovi played. Or get acquainted with Asbury's lively LGBTQ scene with a drag show at Paradise, located at the Empress Hotel.
Eat: Grab lunch at Porta, a wood-fired pizza joint and beer garden (though be forewarned, it turns into a Jersey Shore dance club at night).
Eric Rubens (@erubes1) is a MileagePlus member based in Southern California. He is a photographer/videographer who loves meeting new people and traveling the world.
When planning a vacation, one of the first steps is picking a theme. If you're in search of mountains, many look to the Rockies, Swiss Alps, or Dolomites. If a tropical vacation is desired, Hawaii, Mexico, or the Caribbean may be calling your name. There are so many beautiful destinations in this world, but is it possible for one of them to be blessed with incredible mountains, picturesque beaches, and some of the best wildlife viewing in the world?
Cape Town is one of the few places I've found that seems to have it all. With the iconic Table Mountain and Lion's Head rising out of the city, there are hikes leading up to majestic views down the African coastline. The beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay are some of the most incredible beaches on this planet. If wildlife peaks your interest, there's Boulder's Beach, home to one of the only land-based penguin colonies in the world. Did I mention the safari is a short trip away? Add in an exchange rate that is very favorable and you have all the makings of a trip you'll never forget.
Camps Bay Beach
Planning a trip to Africa for the first time can be both intimidating and a bit challenging. I found very few of my friends or family had been, which made my voyage to South Africa even more exciting. Cape Town is home to a hip urban scene, a vibrant melting pot of culture, and jaw dropping landscapes that'll make you wonder why you didn't visit sooner. There's no city quite like it, and this list of top things to do will make sure you maximize your time in the Mother City. Several theories exist regarding the origin of Cape Town's nickname as "The Mother City." Some say it can be traced back to the beginning of the city's history as a trading hub in the 17th century, or its status as South Africa's first metropolis. But many locals have their own theories – one running joke is that it takes nine months to get anything done in the very laid back city.
View from the top of Table Mountain
#1: Take a hike or tram up to the top of Table Mountain
This iconic mountain rising from the city is arguably home to Cape Town's best views. The 2 to 3-hour hike to the top makes for a fun activity if you're up for it. Otherwise, take in the view from the aerial cableway, complete with 360-degree rotating floor and running every 5 minutes from the base. Once up top, there's plenty of walking trails, souvenir shopping, and food and drinks. Table Mountain is known for the blanket of fog that rolls over the peak, so weather at the top can change quickly. Make sure to check the weather before heading up and bring a jacket, since the wind can be intense!
Penguins at Boulder Beach
#2: Visit the penguin colony at Boulder's Beach
Even though it's an hour or so drive from the city, visiting Boulder's Beach and its nearly 2,000 penguins is an unforgettable experience. Watching the penguins lounge on the beach and come in and out of the waves makes for some incredible pictures and a unique encounter. You can also swim in the nearby waters and will often come face to face with members of the colony.
#3: Wake up for a sunrise hike up Lion's Head
One of the most bucket list-worthy activities on a visit to Cape Town is catching sunrise atop Lion's Head. It's a challenging hike and not for those with a fear of heights, but you won't soon forget the view from the summit. If you're willing to scramble and make your way up the final ladders, 360-degree views of the city await, and the sunrise over the city is one for the ages.
#4: Explore the Cape Winelands and the beauty of Constantia
South Africa has some of the best vineyards in the world. Even though the towns of Franschooek and Stellenbosch get the majority of the press, nearby Constantia is home to the oldest wine estate in the country, Groot Constantia. Its proximity (just 15 minutes from the city center) makes it perfect for a day trip. The city sightseeing "Hop-On Hop-Off" bus tour has a purple line that connects through this region, so getting here is easy! If wine tasting isn't your thing, the Alphen Trail is a beautiful trek through the countryside and sure to put you in a relaxing mood.
Chapman's Peak Drive
#5: Take a road trip down Chapman's Peak Drive
One of the most beautiful drives awaits just south of Cape Town. Carved into the cliffs and winding along the ocean, this road between Hout Bay and Noordhoek offers majestic views of the coastline. Just make sure to keep your eyes on the road since the sheer beauty can be distracting!
#6: View the diversity of flora throughout Kirstenbosch Gardens
The flora and fauna of South Africa is some of the most diverse in the world, and no place showcases it better than Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Tucked along the slopes of Table Mountain and widely recognized as one of the most impressive gardens in the world, Kirstenbosch is home to over 7,000 species of plants. The newly completed Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway allows you to walk above the tree line. If you visit in summer, try to make one of the Sunday concerts in the gardens, which are a hit with locals and visitors.
V & A Waterfront
#7: Shop your heart out along the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Known as one of the biggest tourism hubs of the city, the always bustling V&A Waterfront is home to many of Cape Town's finest restaurants, shopping, and the launching point of many tours. There are countless ways to spend your time here, but make sure to stop by the V&A food market, where over 40 vendors sell gourmet street food from around the world.
#8: Make your way to the Southern tip of Africa
If you're up for an adventure, take a trip to The Cape of Good Hope. You'll most likely encounter penguins, baboons, and who knows what else along the 1.5-hour drive. The weather can be very unpredictable, so make sure to check it before making the trip south. While there, visit the lighthouse and if you're hungry grab a bite at the appropriately named Two Oceans Restaurant.
#9 Take a tour of historical Robben Island
Even though the prison has been shut down since 1996, a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Cape Town's most popular tours. Tours take around 4 hours including a ferry ride to the island famous for housing Nelson Mandela for 18 of the 27 years he was imprisoned.
-Use the "hop on hop off" bus for an easy guided tour of the city. The route takes you to many of the best spots throughout Cape Town and allows you to explore at your own pace. Buy tickets ahead of time to save on fare!
-Cape Town has some incredible boutique hotels and bed & breakfasts. My favorites are: Tintswalo Atlantic, 52 De Wet Luxury Boutique Hotel, and Derwent House Boutique Hotel.
-Make sure you don't carry too many valuables on you if you're walking around at night. Although beautiful and mostly safe, there is still a good amount of opportunistic crime throughout the city. Always pay attention to your surroundings.
Opinions expressed by the author are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of United.
Planning a Caribbean vacation around hurricane season isn't necessary if you head to Dutch-affiliated Curaçao. The southernmost of all Caribbean islands — just off Venezuela's coast — is rarely even grazed by hurricanes. It also has an ideal tropical climate with average winter highs in the 80s (and water temperatures to match) and only about one inch of rain a month.
Curaçao will be more accessible beginning December 7, 2019, when weekly nonstops begin from New York/Newark on United Airlines. The new seasonal service on 737-700 aircraft makes Curaçao the 21st Caribbean island destination for United, which already flies to the other two nearby "ABC islands" — Aruba and Bonaire. Why choose Curaçao? Because like the island's famous blue liqueur, it's colorful, exotic and appealing.
Jet lag won't be an issue for Americans flying to Curaçao because it's in the same time zone as New York. Nor is it a long flight — about five hours nonstop from New York/Newark. Upon arrival you can take a taxi, rental car or hotel shuttle from Curaçao International Airport to your accommodations — a resort (reserve early), boutique inn, vacation house or B&B. Most are in Willemstad, a coastal city only five miles from the airport.
Forts above the port
Straat Curaçao Getty Images/iStockphoto
The historic city center and harbor areas of Curaçao's only city of Willemstad are designated as a UNESCO Heritage Site, mostly for the 17th to 19th century Dutch colonial architecture of the houses and forts. The houses are painted a rainbow of bright colors in the Caribbean tradition, and the city is packed with forts — Fort Amsterdam (built in 1636), Fort Beekenburg (1703), Fort Nassau (1797) and Fort Waakzaamheid (1803). All four offer stellar views and are free to visitors.
On the waterfront
Curacao colorful houses Getty Images/iStockphoto
Along with forts, the harbor area is home to the oldest continuously operating synagogue (and museum) in the Western Hemisphere, an African art museum that tells the story of the slave trade through West African art and artifacts, and a maritime museum. These visits can be followed by a tour and tasting at the Curaçao Distillery, where you'll see how the peels of the native Laraha bitter oranges are turned into curaçao liqueur.
Snorkel from the sand
Two people snorkeling off coast of tropical island Getty Images
The chief allure of this 38-mile-long island is, of course, the ocean. Besides sunbathing at any of the dozens of powder-sand cove beaches, you can wade right in and snorkel in the turquoise, bathlike sea, usually around 80 degrees. Visibility is up to 100 feet, a snorkeler's dream. More adventurous types can snorkel or dive from day boats that head to prime diving sites like the Mushroom Forest (mushroom-shaped coral), Blue Cave and several shipwreck spots. There's also a nice aquarium on the shoreline where marine life is seen up close in their natural habitat —from land or aboard a minisub that dives 1,000 feet.
Curaçao is a convenient tropical destination for Americans because U.S. dollars and credit cards are commonly accepted, English is widely spoken and no visa is required. But the local culture and cuisine are still exotic enough to be intriguing with local specialties like stewed iguana and cactus soup served in restaurants and from food carts in Willemstad.
If you go
One of our most treasured events of the year is here – Fantasy Flights! Our Fantasy Flights bring holiday cheer to children in need by taking them on a special trip to the "North Pole." Each station creates a North Pole with care, in preparation for all the children who will soon be there…
Our participating stations this year are HNL (Honolulu), FRA (Frankfurt), CLE (Cleveland), DEN (Denver), IAD (Washington Dulles), LAX (Los Angeles), SFO (San Francisco), MCO (Orlando), ORD (Chicago O'Hare), GUM (Guam), EWR (New York/New Jersey), NRT (Tokyo-Narita), PHX (Phoenix), IAH (Houston), MCI (Kansas City) and SAT (San Antonio).
Please stay tuned for stories, photos and more from these magical events. #UAFantasyFlights