While New England’s charm spans all seasons, the region’s magnetism peaks in fall. As the summer masses retreat, local life erupts in full bloom. Multihued foliage blankets the land. Mild, sun-kissed days give way to crisp, starlit nights. Rich and varied harvests hold testament to this nexus of fertility. Here, we present three New England experiences for an autumn to remember.
Twin Farms, Vermont
Living room of Twin Farms’ Chalet cottage.
Frolics in fall flora, farm-to-table feasts, snuggles and stories by the fireplace, bucolic farmhouses—Twin Farms (802-234-9999) is what New England dreams are made of. In a state where wilderness claims 75 percent of the land, this boutique hotel packages all of the region’s bounties into 300 acres tucked into the hilltops of Barnard, Vermont.
Sprinkled across the estate grounds, each of Twin Farm’s 20 cottages and suites is singular in design, delivering different incarnations of understated luxury that complement the woodsy surrounds. In the Scandinavian-inspired Barn cottage, Vermont’s natural assets double as art framed within 18-foot cathedral windows. In the more modernist, Peter Bohlin–designed Aviary, a rock-hewn hot tub and a fieldstone fireplace reflect off the floor-to-ceiling glass walls.
Chilled Maine lobster with coconut, beet froth, beet gel, citrus, and fennel at Twin Farms
Building on the natural splendor and diverse architecture, the team at Twin Farms ensures the New England fantasy becomes reality through old-fashioned pampering and new-fashioned gluttony. Each meal is a tantalizing experience that utilizes seasonal ingredients from the estate and neighboring farmsteads. Both lunch and dinner are served as multicourse, wine-paired meals, artistically presented and unimaginably delectable. Everything’s made from scratch—starting with the freshly baked breads that change twice daily and ending with innovative desserts like the green pea sponge cake with vanilla bean gelato. Because rates are all-inclusive, it becomes that much more difficult to decline bottomless Champagne or the next plate of shrimp risotto.
The Aviary cottage hot tub.
Life is simple at Twin Farms. Languid days are spent admiring the maples, picnicking under the shedding trees, and relaxing at the intimate spa. More active hours are peppered with pursuits like hiking and cycling the unspoiled landscapes, canoeing across the estate lake, or visiting the artisan shops in neighboring towns.
Here, the air is pure, the serenity palpable, the experience detoxifying. A rediscovery of nature, self, and simplicity, Twin Farms surfaces as an all-encompassing state of being rather than another haute hotel getaway. It is undeniably the apex of experiential New England.
Barton & Gray Mariners Club
Technicolor milieu notwithstanding, New England’s seascapes also sparkle during autumn. Fewer tourists translate to a reduction in boat traffic, and the waters return to a calmer, more natural state.
A Barton & Gray member vessel on a Hamptons excursion.
Thankfully, Barton & Gray’s fleet of yachts—superbly outfitted and captained Hinckley vessels that offer white-glove service on the seas—linger in New England through late October. This means whale watching off Cape Cod, cruising the Boston Harbor, docking and dining in Marblehead, and beach picnicking on Nantucket are all part of the autumn agenda. With ample departures from harbors in Boston, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts; Newport, Rhode Island; Rowayton and Greenwich, Connecticut; and the Hamptons, the shorelines along the northeastern seaboard and the proximate islands are your oysters.
Lunch aboard a Barton & Gray member vessel.
If the name Barton & Gray (617-728-3555) sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same luxury yacht day club that runs from the Palm Beach Yacht Club, the Naples Bay Resort Marina, Miami Beach, and the Gasparilla Inn and Club during winter. Like all good snowbirds, the water toys of Barton & Gray Mariners Club follow the best weather and are based up north from May to October and down south from November to April.
Annual membership grants unlimited access to the yachts in all seasons and insider access to events such as the Volvo Ocean Race and experiences like VIP oyster shucking at Rhody Oysters in Newport. It’s like having your own yacht—without the hassle—and an open invitation to New England adventures.
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport shines during summer, but fall allows visitors to explore the city beyond the boat races, festivals, and parties.
The Breakers mansion and the Cliff Walk along the Newport Coastline.
Founded as a colony for religious freedom in the seventeenth century and evolved into America’s society capital by the twentieth century, Newport embraces its storied past. Throughout the years, this city by the sea has held claim to several historic firsts: America’s first synagogue circa 1763 (Touro Synagogue), first lending library circa 1747 (Redwood Library and Athenaeum), and first tavern circa 1673 (The White Horse Tavern), all of which remain in operation today. The city was also the site of the first U.S. Open tennis match, an achievement detailed at its International Tennis Hall of Fame (below). Moreover, Newport’s historic mega-mansions are monuments to Gilded Age opulence, none more so than The Breakers, built for the Vanderbilt family in 1895.
Beyond immersion into American history, Newport’s breathtaking outdoors take center stage along the Cliff Walk, a 3.5-mile walking trail hugging the ocean’s edge. Cap off your cliff crawl with an oyster martini or a lobster bake on the sprawling lawn at Castle Hill Inn, a century-old mansion that now is a Relais and Châteaux hotel nestled on its own 40-acre peninsula.
Renaissance room at The Chanler.
For a return to Golden Age mansions, stay at The Chanler at Cliff Walk (401-847-1300). Constructed in 1873 as the summer home of John Winthrop Chanler, the hotel houses 20 rooms, each a chronicle of different periods of European and American design. The Chanler’s Spiced Pear restaurant delivers gastronomic greatness from its open kitchen with seafood-centric specialties like butter-poached Maine lobster over leeks, candied beets, and sunchoke puree. The restaurant’s handsome bar specializes in fine wines and pear-inspired libations like the Spiced Pear martini—the perfect nightcap to an autumn evening.
Dining Room Nook at The Chanler.