By Eva Whalen
Whether you and your family prefer luxurious resorts with amenities and kid-friendly activities, wild roller coaster rides, natural hiking trails, spa treatments or a quaint estate in a charming ocean town, one of these three fall getaways within driving distance of New York City is certain to fit your style and budget. And the trees of October, ablaze with color, will provide a dramatic and fiery backdrop.
The Skytop Lodge is a magnificent, sprawling estate on a high plateau in the Poconos. Only 2 hours from lower Manhattan, this northeastern gem is a Historic Hotel of America featuring more than 5,500 acres of forest, hiking trails, lakes and mountains. Truly a parents’ paradise, it offers holiday festivities, lawn bowling, archery, fishing, boating, tennis, horseshoes, ping-pong, golf, a spa, croquet, dancing and a “kids club.” Evenings are formal in the dining room, and daytimes are spent frolicking on the great lawns, swimming in outdoor and indoor pools, and exploring the flora and fauna on nature trails. Tea and cookies are served at 4 p.m. each day, and comfortable rocking chairs ring the resort’s expansive porch. Take a hay-filled tractor ride down to Skytop’s lakeside BBQ, then hike back along the river with snakes and frogs to greet you.
Skytop is also an ideal place for extended family, not only because it’s large enough to accommodate everyone, but also because it offers something for people of all ages. For grandparents, the well-stocked library and watercolor classes may interest, and the food is decidedly gourmet. The wine selection is thoughtful, and beds are incredibly comfortable. Plan to have a holiday here! Book it at http://www.skytop.com
Visit the town built by chocolate. The Hershey Hotel is a Historic Hotels of America member, with 230 rooms including suites, and a wealth of autumnal activities for families. Located atop a hill overlooking Hershey, PA, it offers hiking trails, tennis courts, festive Hershey Park Halloween celebrations, indoor swimming, an array of restaurants and shops, basketball, and horseshoes to delight children. A ballroom, formal gardens, and fountain square amid Spanish courtyard-style architecture will thrill parents. Parents can relax and unwind at The Chocolate Spa, where rejuvenating treatments center on the beneficial (or beloved) aspects of chocolate.
October is special at the Hershey Hotel because of its Hershey Park In The Dark offer. From 10/19-10/27, on Friday and Saturday nights, exhilarating screams rip through crisp autumn air as families share thrilling roller coaster rides at night. The package includes deluxe accommodations, admission to Hershey Park rides, breakfast with Hershey product characters (get your coffee first), complimentary shuttle to the park, and admission to the gardens and museum.
The Hershey Hotel’s elegant circular dining room provides gorgeous views of gardens, and it goes without saying that exquisite chocolate desserts can be savored there– along with fine wines and gourmet meals. Plus, there are less formal dining options at the hotel. The Cocoa Kids Club ensures that little ones are entertained with supervised programs, and kids love the game room, biking, volleyball and shuffleboard. Climbers and extreme sports enthusiasts can find challenges on The Hershey Outfitters Odyssey Course, which is one of the largest jungle gyms imaginable, and kayaking and fly-fishing will satisfy all serenity-seekers.
Every season is good for visiting this extraordinary place 3-hours from New York City, and each time of year has something unique to appreciate. In autumn, the Hotel Hershey is surrounded by technicolor foliage, the great outdoors has cooled off for exploration, and Hershey Park offers spooky Halloween fun. Visit http://www.thehotelhershey.com for rates and reservations.
The Victorian charm of Cape May, NJ spans all seasons, and children will have plenty to do in this city of gingerbread estates and whaling ships. Located on the Atlantic Ocean at the southern tip of New Jersey, Cape May is a walking city and a perennial family-pleaser. With a boardwalk arcade, lighthouse, boutique area, bikes for rent throughout, ghost tours, miniature golf, whale watching and scores of restaurants for every palate, autumn is a great time to visit. The beach has been emptied of summer tourists, so you and your family can spread out and play volleyball, picnic or simply beach-comb with room to spare.
Where to stay in Cape May? Answer: The Virginia, an impeccably restored 1879 landmark. Located on Jackson Street in the heart of the town’s historic district, the Virginia Hotel blends luxury service with a warm, welcoming style that families can appreciate. The hotel’s restaurant, The Ebbitt Room, serves innovative, upscale cuisine in an elegant atmosphere. Visit http://www.virginiahotel.com for details and photos. Another place your children will never forget is Congress Hall, an enormous, stately hotel with sweeping lawns and white colonnades by the ocean on Beach Avenue. The staff truly pampers at Congress Hall, the ceilings are sky high, and children are more than welcome. Feast your eyes on it at http://www.congresshall.com.
May your autumn be filled with adventuresome trips, lasting memories and pumpkin pie.