Check out these great getaways for the fall, including a mouthwatering weekend at the NYC Food Film Festival and a "Dirty Dancing" themed stay at Mountain Lake Hotel.
If you can't afford the trip to Munich to toss back cold beers with hot frauleins, there are two great options in New England. Harpoon Brewery holds not one but two Octoberfests at its locations in Boston (Sept. 30-Oct. 1) and in Windsor, Vt. (Oct. 8 & 9). Come to the outdoor Bavarian-style beer garden and get your fill of live music, lederhosen, keg bowling, brewery tours and of course, delicious beer. For people with a competitive streak, there is both a chicken dancing contest and a German chocolate cake eating contest.
Founded by nineties alt-rocker Edwin McCain as a Hurricane Katrina relief fundraiser and now in its sixth year of existence, Euphoria has grown into one of the premier food and wine events in the South. Running from Sept. 22-25, the weekend is filled with wall-to-wall tastings and cooking demos with a sizeable music scene to boot. Your hedonism is even for a good cause--all the proceeds go to Local Boys Do Good, a Greenville charity.
It will be hard to go back to regular movie theater popcorn with "butter-flavored topping" after this mouthwatering event. The NYC Food Film Festival, held in association with the James Beard Foundation, serves up both movies about the world's most delicious cuisine and the featured foods themselves. The 2011 official selections include films about coconut macaroons, a Texas molasses producer and the perfect bahn mi sandwich
Stratford Hall, the historic home of Robert E. Lee, is the setting for this regional wine festival. On September 24 & 25, oenophiles can taste 13 wines from the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail, a consortium of regional vineyards, as well as participate in a grape stomp. Non-drinkers can enjoy the petting zoo, tours of the historical grounds, an assortment of vendors and nearby hiking trails. Everyone can chow down on local foods like crabcakes, oysters and BBQ.
If you've ever wanted to pretend you were a character in an Edith Wharton novel or a Merchant Ivory film, get thee to Newport. This Rhode Island seaside town, once the summer retreat of Gilded Age robber barons, is now a vacation spot for everyone. During the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival, you can stroll on the lawn of the Marble House, once the "summer cottage" of the Vanderbilts, sipping wine and gazing out to sea. The combination of fabulous homes and top-level chefs--the event is headlined by PBS cooking legend Lidia Bastinach--is tough to beat.
Contact Raft Maine, a collective of the state's seven licensed whitewater rafting companies, for trips down the Kennebec, Penobscot and Dead Rivers. The Dead River, the longest continuous stretch of white water in the East, has Class IV and V rapids, but you don't need any previous training or a particular fitness level to conquer any of Raft Maine's trips. They require only a love of adventure and the outdoors. The rafting season in Maine ends in mid-October, so don't miss your chance to float (or shoot) down a river as the New England foliage turns pretty colors overhead. Prices range from $80-140 per person.
Bill and Linda Lane, a husband-and-wife team, have been teaching outdoor photography together for 17 years. During their trips exploring central West Virginia (Oct. 5-8), southwestern North Carolina (Oct. 16-19) and Chincoteague, Va. (Nov. 9-12), you¿ll be able to witness natural beauty firsthand and learn how best to capture it for posterity. Snap pictures of the mist spraying off North Carolina waterfalls, or a catch a still moment of one of Chincoteague's famous wild ponies. Bring a camera with a manual mode (i.e., not a point-and-shoot), and ideally with a single reflex lens.
The White Mountains, a range that covers most of the state of New Hampshire, is great for leisurely activities like leaf-peeping and tax-free shopping. But it also has some really challenging hiking trails, if you want to lace up your boots, strap on your camel pack and see how much of those piney peaks you can handle. The nine-mile Franconia Ridge Loop is a classic choice, as is the 8.5-mile hike to the summit of Mount Washington, the highest point in the northeast.