This Spot Is The Perfect Fall Day Trip From New York City

Fall can feel like the most bittersweet of all seasons. With the nights drawing in and the first breath of autumn in the breeze, you can't escape the fact that another year is quickly coming to an end. On the other hand, those of us who suffer from the summer heat relish the prospect of actually wearing clothes again and walking around without passing out in sweat. New York City really comes into its own in the fall when milder temperatures make enjoying the streets, parks, and outdoor dining such a pleasure before the cold weather really sets in.

Central Park looks magnificent with the changing foliage set against the surrounding skyscrapers in the sunshine, but even that pales in comparison to the riot of fall colors beyond the city limits. Every year, New York State becomes a brilliant patchwork of deep reds, burnished oranges, and mellow yellows as the forested hills, valleys, and mountains relinquish their summer greens. From the rolling peaks of the Catskill Mountains to the plunging waterfalls of Letchworth State Park, there is no shortage of beautiful day trips from the Big Apple to take at this time of year. However, if you want to combine scenic views with a bit of luxury, consider treating yourself to a day at Mohonk Mountain House, one of the oldest hotels in America.

Mohonk Mountain House offers good old-fashioned luxury

Situated on the northern shore of Lake Mohonk, only a 90-minute drive from New York City, the grandiose Mohonk Mountain House had humble beginnings as a 10-room inn. That was until school principal Albert Smiley came along and decided that the location was the perfect place for his retirement. He bought up the property in 1869, and over the decades, the site was developed into the sprawling and dramatic blend of architectural styles we see today. Now the resort boasts 259 rooms and proudly sits amid 40,000 acres of protected forests, which, as you can probably imagine, look spectacular in the fall.

Still retaining its Victorian atmosphere, the Mohonk Mountain House offers a reassuring sense of old-school luxury. Actually staying overnight is prohibitively expensive for many, but luckily a dining or spa reservation booked in advance allows day visitors access to most of the amenities, including the public spaces of the complex itself, the Victorian garden, and hiking trails. They even throw in afternoon tea and cookies as a nice little perk. More active types can opt for the sports pass, which also includes the use of the tennis courts, golf course, and rental of a rowboat on the lake. But the real highlight of visiting the resort in the fall is hitting the trails and soaking in all those wonderful colors.

Hit the trails around Lake Mohonk

If you're traveling to Mohonk, especially to look at the foliage, you will be well-catered with 85 miles of hiking trails and scrambles crisscrossing the region. The trips are divided into three categories to suit all types of fitness levels: Short and Easy, Moderate, and Strenuous. For those who don't plan to exert themselves too much, a stroll around the picturesque lake may be sufficient in the lower category, or you can snag a rowboat to take in the scenery from the water.

You can get a bit more of a workout by taking the trail up to the landmark Skytop Tower for magnificent views of the surrounding area, and the more adventurous can take on The Labyrinth and the Lemon Squeeze, a dramatic route that climbs through narrow crevices and rock formations. Whichever route you choose, there will be plenty of those gorgeous fall colors to enjoy.

Guided hikes and tours are also available, which provide a greater understanding of the area's nature and history, and you can book ahead for activities like archery and tomahawk throwing. Golfers can take in the scenery while tackling the resort's 9-hole course, which is one of the oldest in the United States, and the Hudson Valley Spa is a great way to unwind in luxurious surroundings. Dining options aren't exactly cheap but are worth the splurge; the main dining room was voted the second-best hotel restaurant in the country in 2023.