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Fabulous Fall Getaways

Fabulous Fall Getaways
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BY MARY JANE HORTON

If you live in the country, you probably have to go no further than your back yard to see a blaze of leaves changing color, but if you live in the city – after a long, hot summer – you may want a last getaway before the winter ascends. Feel the wind in your hair and get a change of pace, even if it’s only for a weekend. Here are some easy trips from major cities.

New York to Portsmouth New Hampshire

Not only do you get the changing seasons in this New England village, but you get the ocean as well. About 250 miles from New York City, Portsmouth sits near the mouth of the Piscataqua River, a short, wide river that divides New Hampshire and Maine. Settled in 1623, Portsmouth is the third oldest city in the nation. And with its rich fishing, shipping and brewing past, and a still active working port, Portsmouth has a lot to offer visitors. There are endless brick sidewalks to walk, charming boutiques to shop, and wonderful restaurants to eat in – can you say lobster roll!!

No visit to Portsmouth is complete without a visit to the Strawberry Banke Museum, http://www.strawberybanke.org/. Learn about traditional architecture, heritage plants and foodways, traditional crafts and the tools, clothing and collections families used for everyday life in this waterfront neighborhood from 1695 through 1954 when the site was saved from urban renewal. Explore heritage gardens, historic buildings and crafts, preservation programs, hands-on activities, the stories told by costumed role-players, traditional crafts and the changing exhibits that offer hours of fun and discover

And for fine dining, don’t miss the Black Trumpet, http://www.blacktrumpetbistro.com/. Housed in a former 19th-century ship’s chandlery, which once serviced ships, this bistro and wine bar bring you right back in time. The low ceilings and hand-hewn beams hint at its nautical past. The food, however, is definitely current. The menu is broken down in to small, medium, and large dishes with such delicious offerings as Fried Almonds, Olives and Garlic; Warm Maine Crab and Ricotta Dip; and Seafood Paella with local fish.

Chicago to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Lake Geneva is an idyllic getaway located about an hour north of the city. In the summer, the quaint town hosts plenty of Chicagoans fleeing the city for lake houses, but it’s still packed with plenty to do when the weather gets a bit colder. There is history and architecture to explore, as well as wide open nature. For a unique perspective, experience Lake Geneva from above on a canopy tour, http://www.lakegenevacanopytours.com/, encompassing five suspended bridges and eight zip lines. And for a foray on your own into nature, Lake Geneva has a Shore Path that let’s you walk or jog between the Lake and most private houses. It is a nice beautiful walk.

Black Pointe Estate, http://blackpointestate.wisconsinhistory.org/ only reachable by water, is a great example of Queen Anne Architecture. Built in 1988, the estate was restored and started taking visitors in 2007. The exterior has beautiful gardens and lots of fountains and other water features. And the indoor boosts Persian rugs and original wood furnishings.

Another great venue in Lake Geneva is The Studio Winery, http://www.studiowinery.com/Studio_Winery/Studio_Winery.html, which isn’t just a winery. It is also an art gallery and a recording studio, so expect to view some art and be serenaded with your wine tasting experience. They feature high quality, small batch, artisan style wines made from fresh grapes right here in their Lake Geneva winery.

And for fine dining, don’t miss locally owned, Sopra, An American Bistro, http://www.soprabistro.com/, in the heart of downtown Lake Geneva. Sopra boasts an extensive selection of micro-brew beers and a full selection of spirits, including specialty house martinis. Some of the standout dishes are Cavatappi with braised lamb shoulder, sweet peas, cilantro, goat cheese and pan-seared duck with peach and ginger glaze, grilled asparagus, sweet potato fries, cinnamon sugar, chipotle aioli.

Atlanta to the North Georgia Mountains

About an hour’s drive from Atlanta is one of the best-kept secrets of the South: the north Georgia Mountains, a haven for outdoorsy types with options for hiking, camping, and watersports. Its location at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains makes it a pristine spot for nature lovers, while small mountain towns offer tons of character and charm. In addition, a burgeoning wine industry with more than 30 wineries, gives travelers a wonderful new way to enjoy the area.

Beautiful Lake Lanier is the go-to spot among city dwellers for boating, waterskiing, and simply enjoying the serenity of nature. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountain range, the lake offers gorgeous views and more than 700 miles of shoreline. And for sustenance, nearby in Flowery Branch is Antebellum, http://www.antebellumrestaurant.com/, which offers wonderful contemporary southern cuisine. Start with the Sweet Corn Soup with pink peppercorn whipped cream and baby basil, then move into the Cornmeal Crusted Pork Loin with grilled okra, bacon, peanut and bread salad with corn pudding and buttermilk vinaigrette and finish with a homemade seasonal dessert.

For a serious workout and a great blast of nature, visit Tallulah Gorge State Park, where the 1000-ft gorge is one of the most spectacular in the country. For a serious workout, hike the approximately 1,100 steps down to (and back up from) the gorge floor. Just 100 permits are issued daily, so arrive early, especially when the weather is nice. Another option for outdoor activities is town of Toccoa, about 20 miles south of Tallulah Falls. There are several hiking options around 900-foot Mt. Curahee, where Army paratroopers trained during World War II.

Finally, try some of those wineries. Georgia wines are growing in popularity in Georgia and beyond. One winery that’s getting lots of press is is Yonah Moutain Vineyards, http://www.yonahmountainvineyards.com/, which is open 7 days a week for tastings and has a great mountainside view. The nearby Habersham Vineyards and Winery, http://www.habershamvineyards.com/#!home/mainPage, is another great venue, with a quaint tasting room, self-guided tours, and complimentary tastings.

San Francisco to Yountville

Yountville is a quiet country town, just an hour from the city, where you can rest your body and mind surrounded by natural sights and sounds of geese and pheasants in the hills. You will be surrounded by world-class wineries as well, so wine tasting is also a must-do. And only in Napa Valley, where Yountville is located, could a small town boost so many restaurants with Michelin stars – the French Laundry and Bouchon. But don’t worry if you haven’t booked months ahead, there are other great restaurants. For instance, Bottega, http://www.botteganapavalley.com, where Emmy-award winning chef Michael Chiarello of the Food Network’s Easy Entertaining offers Italian flavors with a twist. Try the Insalata di Fagioli with Brentwood Blue Lake, Romano, and yellow Wax beans, zucchini sott’olio with lemon, garlic, and Roman vinaigrette and the Confit of half Sonoma duck, sautéed wild pea greens, grilled strawberry-rhubarb mostarda, duck jus. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

You can’t turn around without seeing wineries here, such as the world-renowned Domaine Chandon, http://www.chandon.com/, and Cliff Lede Vineyards, http://www.cliffledevineyards.com/. And the town itself is a great place for a stroll or a bike ride with some great shopping options such as the gastronomy inspired NapaStyle. For a great overview, Napa Valley Aloft balloon rides, http://nvaloft.com/#, is the best way to go. Situated at historical V-Marketplace, they provide hot air balloon baskets that carry fewer passengers than other companies. And FAA certified hot air balloon pilots are among the most experienced in the world with extensive knowledge of ballooning over Napa Valley.

A visit to Yountville would not be complete without a spa treatment. The Villagio Italian villa-style spa, http://villagio.com,has 16 treatment rooms and five private spa suites designed with elements like natural wood, fieldstone, waterfalls, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, reflecting pools, and European antiques and paintings. Mud and mineral baths, skin care, hand and feet treatments, and a multitude of full-body massages are available by appointment to standard guests, while the suites offer all of these treatments together in one package, as well as flat-screen televisions and a private terrace.

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