Though we can hardly believe it, another NYC summer is in the books, and autumn is officially here. It’ll take a while for the foliage to change downstate, but everyone knows the best place to see the leaves change upstate, which is already happening–just take a look at this crazy foliage chart! As pro Upstate/Downstate commuters for the past three years, our blog Escape Brooklyn has us on the road four days each week. We find, write about, and photograph the coolest, most unique weekend experiences within a few hours from NYC. (Nope, not a bad gig.) With fall in mind, here’s a list we created just for Nooklyn of some of our favorite places to stay in during our favorite time of the year; bonfires, apple orchards, scenic drives, fireplaces, and hiking included.
The Hasbrouck House in Stone Ridge, NY
The Hudson Valley’s newest hotel, The Hasbrouck House, practically exudes luxury. The stone mansion dating back to 1757 just reopened under new management. Co-owners Akiva Reich and Eitan Baron painstakingly restored and redesigned the old Dutch Colonial building, preserving the best parts, and updating others with modern, luxurious amenities. Its seventeen beautiful rooms–plus a nearby carriage house and stable house–comes in all shapes and sizes, each outfitted with details like cozy reading nooks, soaking tubs, marble writing desks, leather club chairs or 200+ year old fireplaces. The in-house bar/restaurant, Butterfield, serves up farm-to-table comfort food by executive chef Shawn Burnette of Husk (Charlotte, NC) and the Breslin (NYC) fame.
Centrally located in the mid-Hudson Valley, The Hasbrouck House is thirty minutes from some of the best hikes in the Catskills, as well as the lesser-known Minnewaska State Park… But a ten minute walk through the woods will take you to the Stone Ridge Orchard, where guests can peruse the grounds and have a go at the U-pick apple orchard, or cozy up at a lakeside bonfire. If you can manage to venture away from the property, check out Arrowood Farms pouring farm-to-glass craft beer, or Westward Orchard for wood-fired pizza and hard cider.
North Branch Inn in North Branch, NY
Just under the two hour mark from NYC, the North Branch Inn is an unlikely hotspot located in a tiny hamlet of the Western Catskills. Drawing in locals and tourists alike, weekends are especially busy here–whether its for a drink, a bite to eat, or a round of bowling at adjoining Bar Room & Restaurant. Its nine rooms are super cozy, with high-quality linens, plentiful light and spa-worthy toiletries; and beyond those, guests are welcome to curl up with a book at the inn’s common spaces, stocked with books, magazines, and complimentary snacks like cookies, brownies and Rice Krispie treats. At the restaurant, Executive Chef Erik Hill (previously of Hudson Clearwater and The Arnold House) cooks up seasonal, hyper-local fare. Everything on the menu is from New York–even the sugar, which is boiled down from local maple syrup.
This area is largely farmland, with lots of fun scenic drives to take in the fall foliage. In Callicoon, grab a cup of coffee at Cafe Adella Dori and check out the loads of antique and thrift shops that line its Main Street. Or take a scenic drive over to Roscoe, the birthplace of American fly-fishing, where you’ll see tons of fishermen wading through on the Beaverkill River trying to catch trout. While you’re in town, check out home of Roscoe Brewery and Prohibition Distillery. In Livingston Manor, grab a sandwich at gourmet grocer and deli Main Steet Farm, or dinner at North Branch Inn’s sister hotel and restaurant, Arnold House.
Spruceton Inn in West Kill, NY
Kick back and immerse yourself in nature at the Spruceton Inn, an eleven room motel in West Kill, NY. The self-described “bed & bar” is near the end of a five mile dirt road, surrounded by beautiful rolling hills that burst with color. Waking up here in autumn is nothing short of magical, where guests can peep the fall foliage from the comfort of their own beds. Spend the afternoon hiking West Kill Mountain, a three-ish hour hike with views along the way, or make a picnic and take it easy at Diamond Notch Falls. Both use the same trailhead, two miles down Spruceton Road.
In the evenings, cook dinner over the weber grills provided, or make reservations at the popular farm-to-table gem, Peekamoose. Either way, plan to spend your nights beside one of their many private bonfire sites, beer in hand, staring at the stars. S’more kits and booze available at the front desk sweeten the deal.
MILK BARN in Hankins, NY
Heading upstate with some friends? Check out the MILK BARN, a Red Cottage Inc. rental that sleeps up to ten people. The beautiful barn dates back to 1783, and has passed through many hands over the ages. Traces as its past, both as a dairy barn and artists studio, can still be seen today–though its recently been through a major design overhaul by its current owners. Inside, the main house sleeps six, while two guesthouses sleep two each. The beautifully designed rooms, a sauna, an indoor/outdoor fireplace, and a swimming pond with a fire pit make it an amazing rental year round–but especially during fall, when you can open the big barn doors during the day, and light up the fireplace or the firepit at night.
Besides the interior being so darn photogenic, MILK BARN’s location is top-notch, set on 15 private acres in the western Catskills. The surrounding landscape is largely farmland, made up of massive rolling hills, which are super photo-friendly–especially during fall. If you’re looking for a hike in the area, check out Jensen’s Ledge in nearby Long Eddy, where the top overlooks the Delaware River at a scenic bend. For meals, stock up on local groceries at Main Street Farm in Livingston Manor, or the Callicoon Farmers Market, and plan on dining in to enjoy the MILK BARN’s unique kitchen and dining spaces.
There may be no better way to take in the outdoors than actually sleeping there. From roughing it to glamping, us New Yorkers have more options than we realize when it comes to camping; some places are even accessible by public transit. No tent? No car? No problem. For fall camping, be sure to pack lots of layers, both clothing and bedding. Also, remember the sun is setting earlier these days, so bring some entertainment for after-dark. (Read: whiskey and a deck of cards.)
Perhaps the easiest way for New Yorkers to go camping is a visit to Black Bear Campground in Phoenicia. Campers can take a Trailways Bus to Phoenicia, and walk to the campground just five minutes down the street. At Black Bear’s office, visitors can rent tents and buy firewood from the owners; everything else you need is in town including meals, dive bars, and groceries. Their campsites all have firepits and picnic tables, but request a creekside site for scenery’s sake. Another public transit option is Malouf’s Mountain Sunset Campground in Beacon, NY. Campers take the MetroNorth to the Beacon station, where a school bus transports riders to one of three trails that hike into the campground. In the meantime, the staff loads your stuff into your campsite.
Both those campgrounds are easy enough for New Yorkers, but staying at such public spaces can get crowded. For a more solitary experience, check out Tentrr, who aims to take the hassle out of camping. Guests simply show up, and kick back, in a premium canvas tent that’s already set up. The Tentrr experience walks the line of glamping; the tents are more like rooms, equipped with a bed. The entire site is lifted off the ground on a wood platform. Once the chilly weather hits, they add wood stoves to their tents, making for a much warmer camping experience than the campgrounds listed above. Outside, each tent has a couple Adirondack chairs, a firepit, sun shower, and a picnic table that doubles as a storage unit. And fear not thy neighbor: Tentrr CEO Michael D’Agostino has very high standards each sites privacy. Campers must (hypothetically) be able to run around completely naked around the tent, without any chance of being seen. In a city of 8.5 million, where we’re practically living on top of each other, these high standards for seclusion and ease of camping are comforting. (And sidenote, we can’t wait to give that naked test a go!)