The 8 Best Hotels in the Northeast to See the Changing Leaves

Last updated 5th October 2018

Summer may be coming to a close but families planning a fall getaway to New England and New York State are in luck. The region offers spectacular opportunities to view the magnificent blaze of scarlet, pumpkin and golden leaves. Enjoy sun-kissed days filled with fresh-air activities such as apple picking and hiking.  Crisp autumn nights are tailor-made for family togetherness and bedtime snuggling. These eight family-friendly hotels are perfectly situated to get the most out of the season.

1/8 Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, New York

Housed in a Victorian-style castle ringed by 40,000 acres of unspoiled wilderness, the resort is only 90 miles from Manhattan yet it feels remote.  

Located on the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge, Mohonk takes full advantage of its rustic location with miles of hiking trails offering leaf-peepers plenty of dramatic fall colors. The crystal-clear lake beckons fishermen and kayakers. A riding stable, tennis courts, a golf course and an indoor pool are just a few of the many recreational offerings.

Mohonk is steeped in yesteryear traditions such as afternoon tea and cookies. There’s no television in-room but with family-friendly activities around-the-clock, no one will miss it.

Three delicious meals are included in the room rate. The area’s rich agricultural heritage is a springboard for the kitchen staff. Hearty menus highlight the Hudson Valley’s just-picked produce.

2/8 The Sound View, Greenport, New York

For an escape from the Hamptons scene, head to Long Island’s calmer North Fork. The Sound View hotel features waterfront rooms that offer stunning views of the sea and surrounding landscape.

Take advantage of the beauty of the woodlands all of October on a staff-led Rise + Shine walk. The stars of the walk are the soaring osprey and their nests lining the Arshamomaque Pond Preserve. Or, opt to soak in the changing leaves on a scenic bike ride. The property offers complimentary bicycle rentals.

Kids will also love the on-site recreational facility with putting green, bocce court, and multisport court.

Plus, Greenport and its surrounding area offers the ultimate way to enjoy the fall foliage: With a glass of wine in hand. The budding Napa Valley area is famous for its wineries and many are kid-friendly with large outdoor areas and patios, live music and outdoor games. Or spend the day at one of the local farms where the whole family can enjoy fun fall activities like picking apples or getting lost in a corn maze.

At the end of a busy Saturday, head back to The Sound View and cozy up at a beach bonfire, complete with s’mores and stargazing.

3/8 Woodstock Inn, Woodstock, Vermont

Located in Vermont’s Green Mountains, Woodstock’s covered bridges and church steeples look stolen from a fairytale. The Woodstock Inn sits in the middle of this New England hamlet. In autumn, it is surrounded with brilliant red, gold and orange leaves.  Service at the Woodstock Inn is exceptional. Spacious rooms and welcoming common areas complete with fireplaces and Vermont-made flannel blankets add a homespun note.

The inn grows hundreds of varieties of fruits and veggies at their Kelly Way Gardens. Fall’s harvest adds fresh flavors to the resort’s restaurants.  Explore a 19th century farmhouse and creamery when you stop by the Billings Farm & Museum, free for hotel guests. It’s a fully operating dairy farm with over 70 cows, six draft horses and a flock of Southdown sheep.

4/8 Mirror Lake Inn, Lake Placid, New York

With views of Mirror Lake from every room, the Mirror Lake Inn is the Grand Dame of the lake.  Located in the heart of upstate New York’s Adirondacks, the region is a patchwork of freshwater lakes, old-growth forest and majestic mountains. In fall, sugar maple and birch leaves reflect on Mirror Lake’s glassy surface, adding color to the panorama. Once summer visitors have gone home, the lake is so serene the only sound you’ll hear is the call of the loon.

The Mirror Lake Inn draws from the classic Adirondack style, with it’s white-clapboard exterior, crackling fire in the library, handcrafted furniture and walls adorned with taxidermy and cross-country skis, oozing sense of place.

Guests have access to all types of non-motorized watercraft. Try your luck at beanbag toss on the gently sloping front lawn or play a board game in the cozy library. The hotel is just a short stroll from the shops, restaurants and retro movie theater in Lake Placid.

The property is owned by the Weibrecht family, whose son Andrew won two Olympic medals in alpine skiing. Budding athletes may be inspired as they eye his gleaming medals behind the reception desk.

5/8 The Sagamore, Lake George, New York

The Sagamore is a sprawling, casually elegant resort on the shores of Lake George in the Southern Adirondacks. The mountain air and majestic environment provide the perfect backdrop for reconnecting with nature. In autumn, the tall trees explode in striking burst of crimson color.

There are 390 rooms and suites. The Lodge Suites are just right for families, offering plenty of space and modern décor.

The resort offers nonstop activities. Fish off the dock (they provide poles), swim in the indoor pool, play golf or tennis or cruise the lake on The Morgan, the hotel’s 72-foot replica of a 19th-century touring vessel.

The Rec is property’s expansive indoor sports center with mini-golf, basketball, a rock climbing wall and much more. With so many activities under one big roof, even if the weather doesn’t cooperate, no one will be bored.

6/8 Hanover Inn, Hanover, New Hampshire

Hanover is a quintessential New England town. Located on the banks of the Connecticut River with the Appalachian Trail cutting right through town, it presents recreational opportunities both on land and water.  Ivy League Dartmouth College adds collegiate moxie and youthful energy.

The Hanover Inn overlooks the town green.

The 108 cozy rooms include strategically placed Dartmouth memorabilia, splashes of green (Dartmouth’s school color) and New Hampshire-crafted furniture.

The hotel is well situated to explore the town’s offerings. Leafy Hanover is a pedestrian’s dream, full of independently owned stores. Breakfast at the iconic Lou’s Diner is a must.

When it’s time to experience the great outdoors, a hike to Velvet Rocks on the Appalachian Trail offers up-close views of the changing leaves and the distinctive moss-covered rocks that feel like plush velvet.

Rent a kayak or canoe form the Ledyard Canoe Club and paddle the Connecticut River while shaded by a generous sprinkling of colorful leaves.

7/8 Briarcliff Motel, Great Barrington, Massachusetts

The Berkshires have been attracting visitors for generations. Located just a few hours drive from both New York City and Boston, the rolling hills, pine-scented woods and meandering streams have long been popular with families craving soothing scenery. Fall is a stunning time to see the autumn colors.

Briarcliff Motel is a converted 1960s-era motor lodge full of hipster flair. You drive your car straight to the door of your compact room where you’ll find everything you need, including a mini-fridge and high-speed Internet. Kitschy accessories and textiles with personality add a touch of whimsy.

Kids should enjoy the stash of DVDs, collection of board games and small library of children’s books.

Out back, there’s a grassy lawn with a vegetable garden, volleyball net and picnic tables. A locally sourced continental breakfast is included in the reasonable room rate.

Hiking is a favorite fall activity. The property is across the road from Monument Mountain, where you’ll find short hikes with lovely views of the valley as your payoff.  After your hike, pick crunchy apples from the nearby orchard at Windy Hill Farm.

There’s no restaurant at Briarcliff but sister property The Red Lion Inn is just a few miles away in Stockbridge. Reserve a table in the Main Dining Room and feast on traditional fare such as creamy New England clam chowder and roast turkey with all the trimmings. For dessert, don’t skip the Warm Brown Sugar Cake with caramel sauce and ice cream.

8/8 Baron’s Cove, Sag Harbor, New York

The Hamptons are known for being exclusive, yet former whaling village Sag Harbor cherishes its maritime roots and maintains a down-to-earth spirit.

Fall is an ideal time to visit. Prices are lower, crowds have thinned and the bay beaches are still warm enough to build sandcastles.

The crowd arrives early at Grindstone Coffee and Donuts, so set your alarm if you want to taste their popular Nutella doughnut.

Baron’s Cove is infused with a casual vibe that’s as breezy as an autumn afternoon. Rooms have private garden terraces, clean and simple décor and loads of amenities. Rocking chairs on the front porch, a heated saltwater pool, tennis court, bicycles and complimentary beach transportation add up to an unbeatable escape.

Just a few miles from the hotel is the Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge. This bucolic nature preserve’s 1.2-mile flat walking trail winds through the woodlands to Jessup’s Neck Peninsula. View piping plovers, songbirds, black ducks and white-tailed deer as colorful foliage dances from the towering trees.

By Allison Tibaldi