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Who Knew That Seaside Inns and Ski Lodges
Are the Places to Go When Autumn Descends?

By Robin Cherry

After the beaches clear out and before the ski lifts start up, these famous resort towns are both more accessible and less expensive. You're not one to follow the crowd, so pack up your Sonic set off on your own adventure (bungee jumping optional).

The Limelight Hotel

Aspen, CO
When Aspen’s namesake trees turn to glittering gold, the town enters a quiet time before the frenzy of winter, when skiers descend in droves. The Limelight, a contemporary certified-green hotel, is within walking distance of Aspen’s famed shops, restaurants and galleries. It was originally a nightclub owned by folk singer Glenn Yarborough of The Limeliters, who liked performing there so much he bought it and named his band after it. Today, you can gaze at The Rocky Mountains from one of two rooftop lounges, the outdoor swimming pool or an outside hot tub. After the sun goes down, head to the lounge and enjoy pizza hot out of the wood-burning oven with a local craft beer. Or just retire to your spacious room and put out the “do not disturb” sign of a bear snoozing that says “Shhh ... We’re hibernating.”

Old Fort Inn and Resort

Kennebunkport, ME
In a wooded residential neighborhood steps from the Atlantic Ocean, this resort’s guest rooms are set in the original carriage house and stables. In the Club House, you can settle into an overstuffed chair by a crackling fire or enjoy a cocktail at the turn-of-the-century-style bar. To immerse yourself in New England’s magnificent fall foliage, hike up Mount Agamenticus, kayak around Goat Island or take the short, scenic drive to Dock Square. For Maine’s quintessential crustacean, head to no-frills Nunan’s Lobster Hut, where they boast, “We catch ’em; We cook ’em; We crack ’em; You eat ’em.”

The Sunset Inn

Sunset Beach, NC
This barrier island 15 miles from Myrtle Beach is blessed with a semi-tropical climate, which means the autumn temperature rarely falls below 50 degrees—perfect for playing some of the area’s 100 golf courses. The intimate Sunset Inn is ideally located, overlooking the inter-coastal waterway. For breakfast, guests are encouraged to load up a tray with such southern delicacies as cheese grits and sausage biscuits and eat them out on the private screened porch. Fall is when you’ll notice the sweet smell of marsh marigolds perfuming the air. The hotel promises “lazy mornings, relaxing afternoons and romantic moonlit evenings”—also known as “the perfect vacation.”

The Rusty Parrot Lodge and Spa

Jackson Hole, WY
This family-run lodge is small, friendly, luxurious and completely devoid of pretense (and off season, it’s a steal). The name has inspired so many tall tales that there was a contest for best story: The winner posited that Rusty and his outcast pals, including Mangy Moose and Lame Duck, were welcomed in Jackson, where they could bask in the area’s beauty, free from persecution. For the real story, you’re going to have to go ask owner Ron Harrison. The Wild Sage restaurant excels at local specialties like Bison Ribeye and Pheasant Saltimbocca. With breakfast, enjoy a Huckleberry Mimosa. One of the highlights of visiting Jackson Hole in autumn is the opportunity to hear the unique sounds bull elk use (a haunting combination of guttural grunts and high whistles) to summon females for mating.

Tremont House Hotel

Galveston, TX
Just one hour from Houston, this coastal island was once home to famed pirate Jean Lafitte. Today the pirates are gone and visitors flock to Galveston’s beautifully restored Victorian district and lively East Beach, famed for fishing and bird-watching as well as raucous parties and live concerts. In autumn, all the summer activities are still available (fishing, boating, windsurfing, golf and tennis), but the mood becomes more tranquil. Enter the beautifully restored Tremont House Hotel, originally built in 1839, and marvel at the soaring ceilings and ornate ironwork. You can almost envision the Wild West, when former guests General Sam Houston and Buffalo Bill Cody roamed the very same halls.

Robin Cherry’s travel writing has appeared in Afar, Islands, Wine Enthusiast and The Atlantic.


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