When it comes to food, “Game, Set, Brunch,” might as well be your personal mantra. Or perhaps you prefer to live by “Keep Calm and Oyster On.” Regardless of what kind of epicurean enthusiast you are, fall has no shortage of incredible destinations for gastronauts. It’s time to pack your best carry-on suitcase and get chomping (and sipping). Curl up with one of these cozy, boozy fall recipes and start plotting your next trip.
1. The Oliver Hotel, Knoxville, Tennessee
Knoxvegas is calling, ya’ll! This chic boutique hotel has you a stone’s throw away from countless culinary gems in this burgeoning culinary city. Nestled in the ground floor with beautiful terrace seating, there’s no shortage of palate-pleasing and affordable options at The Tupelo Honey Cafe (brunch for two with plenty of cocktails and tip won’t set you back much more than $60). While you decide what your brunch plan of attack is, dive into complimentary homemade biscuits and jam and wash ‘em down with with a Queen Mary (or three). This signature drink comes brimming with homemade Bloody Mary mix from roasted yellow tomatoes, garlic, spices, lemon juice and your choice of vodka or moonshine. You’ll be served a mason jar loaded with wedges of lemon and lime, pickled okra, pimento-cheese stuffed olives, grilled shrimp, maple pepper bacon, celery, asparagus, pickled jalapeño, cherry tomato and a lime salt rim.
For your entrée, try classic shrimp and grits or pain perdu with a blueberry compote so good you’ll be begging your server for the recipe. After brunch, venture over to local hangout The Tomato Head for a vegan chocolate chip cookie (hey, you gotta be virtuous somehow) or hit up Knox Brew Tours for a guided booze-fueled tour of this craft beer mecca. Wash down the evening with a “grain to glass” tour with Knox Brew Tours, where you and your girlfriends can taste local brewskis and tour breweries for less than $35 a person in the comfort of a private van or party bus (As long as you can guarantee a certain number of heads, private tours actually wind up costing less than a regular ticket!). Price of oogling the local southern beaus flocking to all these hip venues? Free.
Don’t feel like splurging on the hotel? Holiday Inn World’s Fair Park is just a few minutes’ walk from the heart of downtown and offers great amenities (gym, restaurant, pool) with prices that will please your wallet.
2. Twin Farms, Barnard, Vermont
We’ll admit it: While there’s nothing like poring over a carefully crafted menu to zoom in on your selection, there’s something to be said for the thrill of surprise. Located on 300 acres of lush meadowlands in Barnard, Vermont, Twin Farms offers a unique fall escape for foodie lovers. Executive Chef Nathan Rich spearheads a one-of-a-kind program where guests forgo menus and trust him and his stellar team to whip up beautifully curated meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Expect the cuisine to reflect the changing seasons, inspired by Vermont’s finest produce and Twin Farms’s estate-grown herbs, fruits and vegetables. After dinner, laze in your king-size feather bed or next to a wood-burning fireplace that opens onto screened porches (that mug of fall apple cider beckons…), arrange a special wine tasting in the cellar or head to nearby Prince and the Pauper for dessert and a nightcap for artisanal fare in a relaxed but refined atmosphere.
Walk off the dining at nearby Quechee Gorge (the so-called “Grand Canyon of Vermont”) for a free activity that spotlights a stroll along the Ottauquechee River in Vermont State Park. Or, take a quick trip to Sugarbush Farm, where you can tour the property and purchase local Vermont cheeses (and yes, maple syrup abounds). Not to be missed: Unwind with a visit to Long Trail Brewery — and bring home the gift of beer to make your beer-snob beau or BFF super jealous they missed out.
3. The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Brats and beer fans, rejoice! Oh, and did we mention cheese curds? With temps cooling down, summertime haven Elkhart Lake sees a drop in prices, making this buzzy, lakeside community — brimming with dive bars, wine shops, an artsy downtown strip and more — the perfect fall road trip for midwesterners or weekend getaway for everyone else. Tucked away on the fabled Elkhart Lake, the charming resort offers upscale amenities (without the sticker shock) and small-town, charming service. A must-do on your itinerary? A wine tasting at Vintage Elkhart Lake, where Jaclyn Stuart, owner and sommelier, will teach you the best-tasting wines for the money. The best part of all is that this tasting will run you in the $10-15 range (yes, you read that right) and you’ll leave so confident in your wine tasting prowess, you’ll be ready to go by Ms. Malbec. Oh, and don’t forget to pair your newfound wine skills with a fun class at L’ecole de la Maison French cooking school with your pals before you leave the resort.
4. Mission Point Resort, Mackinac Island
As fall foliage blooms, Mission Point is hosting a tribute to fall with their Harvest and Wine package, celebrating love and wine (a killer combo, if you ask us).
The package includes accommodations for two nights, breakfast each morning in Round Island Bar & Grill, Michigan wine-themed welcome amenities and a dinner at the wish-you-were-a-local-status Italian restaurant, Chianti. Nestled on the sunrise side of Mackinac Island, the Great Lakes icon will have you playing out foodie fantasies from cowboy-inspired western brunches at The Chuckwagon to sweet finishes at Murdick’s Fudge, founded in 1887.
5. Omni Homestead Resort, Hot Springs, Virginia
Virginia may be for lovers, but we think it’s for foodies too. This sprawling resort offers under-the-radar finds like Sam Snead’s Tavern, a gastro-tavern in the Village of Hot Springs with artisan comfort dishes complemented by a wide array of New World wines, regional brews and sake. For a can’t-go-wrong triple threat, swing by Country Cafe. Nestled in the Instagram-perfect Allegheny Mountains, the historic resort offers a slew of outdoors activities, like the Cascades Gorge Hike, led by an entertaining naturalist, which will take you past beautiful waterfalls alongside the stunning, colorful tones of a deep gorge trail (which we hear pairs pretty nicely with some local hard cider). Earn your dinner at Country Cafe, where great fried chicken and pies for a great price are calling your name. In the mood for a lodge-y ambience and vino overlooking the water? Mosey on over to Douthat Lake View Restaurant for a meal with a view (send shots from the glass porch to infuse some FOMO for your friends back at home) Before heading home, make sure to swing by Springhouse Antiques for quirky and vintage one-of-a-kind finds to spruce up your home decor.
6. Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego, CA
Made fresh by Rancho Bernardo Inn’s Executive Pastry Chef Margaret Nolan Carvallo, grab-and-go mini pies are perfect to fight fall ice cream withdrawal. Available all season long, the inn’s mini holiday pies range in flavor from classic apple crumb and pumpkin chiffon to white chocolate and cranberry + pistachio mousse (you can also order full-sized renditions).
After you’ve satiated your sweet tooth, San Diego has no shortage of other-worldly culinary delights, like CUCINA Urbana restaurant and wine shop that’ll keep you glowing with a happy buzz. In the mood to stay put? Walk on over to Veranda Fireside Lounge and Restaurant for cocktails or bites (pesto pizza, we’re looking at you) without even leaving the property. Taco craving? Pffft, when was the last time tacos weren’t a brilliant option? Check out dirt-cheap gem Taco Surf, a hole-in-the-wall local favorite.
7. Half Moon, A RockResort, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Beachfront dining under the stars? You don’t have to ask us twice. Traditionally known for its jerk, Montego Bay is one of the areas in Jamaica where visitors can enjoy the marinated and slow-cooked chicken or pork over a pimento-wood fire. Now a crowd-pleaser, this island tradition was originally started by runaway slaves as a method to preserve food. A more modern preparation of the jerk is prepared with goat, beef and fish, in addition to the traditional chicken or pork.
Ready to take your eating local obsession to new heights? The resort also offers new bespoke cultural excursions granting guests access to local communities and businesses along with knowledge of local plants and trees used in the Jamaican culture. “Stush in the Bush” is a full day adventure where you’ll get a farm tour, learn about herbal and plant remedies and taste, smell and touch the plants grown on-property. Hungry? We thought so. Afterwards, indulge in a stunning lunch under the comfort of tree shade.
8. Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, Hamptons, New York
Located in Montauk’s beautiful stretch of oceanfront real estate, Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa will have you beelining to the Hamptons even though it’s “off-season.” Take a stroll on the private beach before heading to Gurney’s Scarpetta Beach with a new fall menu to indulge all of your senses. Fall may be considered “off season” (read: get serious deals on room rates, local attractions and more) but if you ask us, this is just about as good a time as any for, well, long walks on the beach.
Save up your anniversary dinner brownie points or gather up a flock of your best girlfriends for seasonal offerings that will impress any kind of diner. Some of the featured items this fall include stracciatella made with butternut squash, sweet potato, apple and truffle vinaigrette, warm asparagus soup and Colorado lamb loin – made with crispy lamb neck, braised artichokes and radish. For something more casual, make the most of the night’s slopportunity at dive-y haunt The Sloppy Tuna, where you can enjoy drink specials and seasonal bites beachside or indoors. Just don’t forget your stretchy yoga pants and to schedule that post-feast massage and facial the morning after.
Where is your favorite place to travel and eat? Share with us in the comments!
(Photos courtesy of Jill Burdo, Twin Farms, The Osthoff Resort, Mission Point Resort, Omni Homestead Resort, Rancho Bernardo Inn, Half Moon- A RockResort, Gurney’s Montauk)