Travel

Clear Your Head This Fall at These Breathtaking New England Escapes

When doctor’s orders call for peace, quiet, and absolutely no cell phones, these soulful sojourns are the best medicine.


There’s brilliant color everywhere at the summit of New Hampshire’s Mount Major. / Photo by John Welch

HIKE TO A HEAVENLY VIEW

Hiking is fun—until you finish off your trail snacks and water halfway through, that is. For a quick trek with a huge payoff, head to the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and follow the rocky Brook Trail, near Alton Bay, to the summit of 1,785-foot Mount Major. In about an hour and a half you’ll welcome euphoria as you soak in breathtaking views of Lake Winnipesaukee, which stretches an impressive 72 square miles, and some of its hundreds of foliage-dotted islands.

WHILE YOU’RE THERE: Tuck into a juicy burger topped with bacon and a fried egg at the Local Eatery in Laconia, which sources (you guessed it) fresh, local produce, meats, fish, and cheese, all from within 138 miles of the restaurant.

OR TRY: A 75-minute drive outside of Portland, Maine, brings you to Pleasant Mountain’s Southwest Ridge Trail, a mix of easy, wide paths and a more-challenging granite ledge with panoramic views of the Saco River valley and New Hampshire’s White Mountains at the top.

A campfire on the back porch of Vermont’s Green Mountain Tiny House. / Photo by Chris and Lauren Krieger

SLEEP A NIGHT IN THE WOODS

Tiny but ultra-plush, these rental cabins in the wilds of Vermont prove that sometimes, the best excuse to get outdoors is limited space indoors. The 290-square-foot Green Mountain Tiny House in Jamaica boasts a firepit perfect for roasting s’mores with views of the surrounding Green Mountain National Forest, while Honeycrisp Cottage, a timber-frame lodge in Putney, is situated on 9 acres of land perfect for lacing up the hiking boots.

WHILE YOU’RE THERE: Pull a chair up to the community table at Fat Crow, a recently opened restaurant in Newfane serving up an eclectic mix of comfort food, from brick-oven pizza to barbecued ribs. 802-221-4177.

OR TRY: Get lost in nature in one of Getaway’s handcrafted New Hampshire cabins. With no WiFi and limited, if any, cell service, all you can do is enjoy the view.

SURVIVAL TIPS
How to Connect to Nature, Not Wifi
Here’s an easy way to ensure you actually power down on vacation: Fry your iPhone with a solar charger. In an attempt to keep up with work e-mails, group texts, and news alerts on a recent camping trip in Plymouth, I tossed one into my bag, thinking it’d be a smart, eco-conscious way to stay connected. Instead, it ended up permanently killing off one of my most prized possessions. (Note to self: Leave the charger in the sun and then plug in your device.)While my unplugged weekend in the woods was unintentional, there are plenty of ways you can mindfully disconnect while out in nature this month. Catherine Price, author of How to Break Up with Your Phone, suggests creating a “vacation home screen” with only the apps you absolutely need (think: Google Maps and your camera). And if you don’t want to hear from anyone besides, say, your kids, adjust the settings so only calls from preferred contacts come through. “You want your phone to be a tool, not a temptation,” she says.

As for my trip, I don’t have many photos, but I do have vivid memories of morning lake swims and evening campfires. I’m betting those last longer than my new phone will, anyway.

SEE A STUNNING SUNSET

Searching for twilight solitude? Find it in the same place artists such as Jack Kerouac and Jackson Pollock have: along the winding dunes of the Cape Cod National Seashore in Provincetown. The farther you venture into the sandy Martian landscape, the fewer people you’ll see, as only hikers and permit-holding vehicles are allowed in the inner dunes. Family-run Art’s Dune Tours has enlightened Provincetown visitors on the geology of this fragile ecosystem for more than 70 years; although rides in its seven-passenger Suburbans are smoother than they were in a 1936 Ford Woody, you’ll still get an appreciation for the area’s natural beauty—not to mention an unrivaled sunset view over the flames of a crackling beach fire.

WHILE YOU’RE THERE: Stroll over to Provincetown Brewing Co.’s taproom, opened this summer, for a pint of the autumn-appropriate Crandaddy Sour (a tart sour ale flavored with cranberries).

OR TRY: Pack some charcuterie and bring your pour outside to the patio at Sunset Meadow Vineyards in Goshen, Connecticut, aptly named for the prismatic evening shows over Mohawk Mountain and Mount Tom.

Photo by Hillary Henrici

SAIL THROUGH THE SKY

It’s nothing but you, the wind, and a tiny wicker basket. But relax: Spirit Ballooning pilot Jordan Long says a sunrise or golden-hour hot-air ride over the Berkshires feels more like floating than flying, so although you may be thousands of feet above ground, you can still keep your cool while taking in the six-state view. Back on land, indulge in a picnic featuring homemade sweetbread, local cheese, and fruit—a playful homage to the original French balloonists.

WHILE YOU’RE THERE: End your day at the Inn at Kenmore Hall. Opened last year by Frank Muytjens, J.Crew’s former head of menswear, and his partner, artist and restauranteur Scott Edward Cole, the 18th-century Georgian home is set on 20 acres of Berkshires beauty.

OR TRY: A flight with Quechee Balloon Rides takes you high above Vermont’s Green Mountains, covered bridges, and bucolic farms.

Check out more New England adventures to take this fall