Fabulous fall getaways

As warm afternoons give way to cool, crisp evenings, cities awaken from their summer nap, abuzz with new openings, performances and cultural events. Vibrantly hued country roads become stamping grounds for food festivals, wine tours and leaf peepers.

Rather than retreat to the sofa when it's time to put away the hammock, check out these fall getaway itineraries. They are all within a few hours' drive from Baltimore.


Festive fall cities



This city, filled with historic sites, also offers world-renowned arts venues and cultural communities. The question isn't what to do here, it's how to get it all done. Here's a sampling:

Leger: Modern Art and the Metropolis (Oct. 14-Jan 5). This highly anticipated show, in the only U.S. stop on its world tour, features Fernand Leger and his post-Cubist masterpiece "The City, 1919," accompanied by pieces by Leger's avant-garde colleagues Piet Mondrian, Alexandra Exter and Francis Picabia. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 215-763-8100, philamuseum.org

Life and Death in Pompeii (Nov. 9-April 27), premiering at the Franklin Institute, invites visitors to experience what happened to the unprepared residents of Pompeii 1,900 years ago.The Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th St., 215-448-1200, fi.edu

Design Philadelphia Festival (through Oct.18) offers views into Philadelphia's creative industries, with over 100 events, including open studios, exhibitions, lectures, runway shows, and workshops. designphiladelphia.org


Philadelphia Film Festival (Oct. 17-27). The 22nd annual event also includes the debut of the Philadelphia Film Society's new digital and 35-mm projection theater. 2023 Samson St., filmadelphia.org

Dance Africa Philadelphia! (Nov. 7-9) presents three days of African dance, music, lectures, exhibitions, and the Afro Beauty: Health and Wellness Marketplace. Various venues in West Philadelphia, cecarts.org.

First Person Arts Festival (Nov. 6-16). The only festival of its kind in the world, the event celebrates the power of storytelling. Scheduled artists include Toni Morrison and Philadelphia's first poet laureate, Sonia Sanchez. firstpersonarts.org

New York

As the temperatures drop, this metropolis heats up, offering hundreds of diversions each week. Many of the once-ignored outer boroughs — Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens — have become epicenters for progressive-minded entrepreneurs and artists. And New York's subway can zip you there (and everywhere) in a matter of minutes for just $2. Here's a sampling of what's happening this fall in the Big Apple:

Open House New York (Oct. 15-16). The city drops its members-only stance during this event, inviting visitors into some of most exclusive off-limit sites and landmarks, including the intriguing New York Marble Cemetery. ohny.org

The NYC Food Film Festival (Oct. 23-27). This five-day event provides opportunities for foodies to watch screenings of food-related films and then sample those foods. thefoodfilmfestival.com

Lincoln Center's White Light Festival (Oct. 24 to Nov. 23). This festival features more than 20 performances and films by artists from more than a dozen countries. whitelightfestival.org

The ING New York City Marathon (Nov. 3) covers 26.2 miles through five boroughs. Onlookers should claim their perches early between 60th and 96th streets. nycmarathon.org

Broadway: Samuel L. Jackson stars as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in "The Mountaintop," opening Oct. 13 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater. With so many shows available, it's worth looking into discounted "rush" tickets. For that, you'll need to walk up to the box office about an hour before the performance or check out the deals on nytix.com. telecharge.com

New York Comedy Festival (Nov. 6-10). Stephen Colbert and Larry David are two of the headliners featured in the dozens of performances at this annual event. nycomedyfestival.com

'The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk' (Oct. 25-Feb. 23), the first international exhibit of the famed designer's work, is at the Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway), its only East Coast venue.brooklynmuseum.org

The Queens Museum of Art (Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens) reopens Nov. 9 after a 50,000-square-foot expansion and renovation. Visitors can trace the museum's evolution through one of the exhibits. queensmuseum.org

Tour de Bronx (Oct. 27). This free cycling event offers a 25-mile course or a more intense 40-mile course. tourdebronx.org

Fall festivals


Calvert County Fall Farm Festival (Oct. 19-20) is a family-friendly celebration of agriculture taking place on three local farms. Purchase pumpkins and other seasonal produce, take a hayride or sample local wines. calvertag.com

St. Mary's Oyster Festival, Leonardtown (Oct. 19-20). Highlights of this nationally known seafood festival include an oyster-shucking contest and the National Oyster Cook-Off. Oysters are served on the half-shell, grilled, fried, or in a buttery oyster stew. A variety of other foods are available, along with beer and wine, music, entertainment, exhibits, carnival rides and local crafts. usoysterfest.com

Sultana Downrigging Weekend, Chestertown (Nov. 1-4) is one of the largest annual tall ship and wooden boat festivals on the East Coast. It's a celebration of maritime culture, wooden boats and everything else that makes the Chesapeake Bay great. The waterfront is packed with ships, schooners, and wooden boats; there are music, lecture and film performances; and the opportunity to sail as part of a fleet of tall ships. sultanaprojects.org/downrigging

Waterfowl Festival, Easton (Nov. 8-10). The town's streets morph into pedestrian walkways as artists from around the country and local merchants exhibit and sell waterfowl and waterlife art works and provide conservation information. Don't miss the retriever demonstrations on the waterfront. waterfowlfestival.org

Wine Just Off The Vine Festival (Nov. 9-10 and Nov. 16-17). More than 20 wineries of the Mason-Dixon Wine Trail, a group that includes locations near the Maryland-Pennsylvania border, invite wine-lovers behind the scenes for tastings of newly pressed wines, fresh from the fall harvest, before they are bottled. The trail traverses idyllic countryside. masondixonwinetrail.com


Kids Euro Fest (Oct. 16-Nov. 13). Billed the largest performing arts festival in the U.S. for children, this celebration of European arts features family-friendly entertainment from the 38 embassies representing the European Union countries over several weekends. kidseurofestival.org




Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival (Oct. 17-20). This highly respected music event has performances on five stages and at bars and restaurants around Rehoboth Beach and Lewes. rehobothjazz.com

Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival (Nov. 6-10). The five-day festival showcases nearly 100 independent American and international films, including features, documentaries and shorts. There are celebrity guest appearances and seminars to attend, as well. rehobothfilm.com/festival


Fall Foliage Bike Festival, Staunton (Oct. 18–20). Bicyclists of all abilities can participate in two days of cycling events offering a dozen trail options. Beginning in the town of Staunton, the routes follow gorgeous back roads of the Shenandoah Valley. Daytime temperatures usually range in the 60s and foliage is usually at or near its peak during this weekend. shenandoahbike.org

Blue Ridge Folk Festival, Ferrum (Oct. 26). For 40 years, the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival has brought together a host of roots, bluegrass and Americana musicians, along with moonshiners, craftspeople, cooks, mule jumpers, horse pullers, coon dog racers, antique tractor buffs, and old-time gamers for a celebration of the rich heritage and traditions of the region. Blue Ridge Institute and Museum, 20 Museum Drive, Ferrum, Va., blueridgefolklifefestival.org

Thomas Jefferson Wine Festival, Poplar Forest (Nov. 16). One of Virginia's most popular wine festivals takes place on the grounds of Thomas Jefferson's summer home, Poplar Forest. Fifteen Virginia wineries offer tastings along with food and music. thomasjeffersonwinefestival.com


Pennsylvania Art Guild Fine Craft Fair, Lancaster (Nov. 9-10). The Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen presents its annual holiday fair featuring the work of 140 juried craftspeople. It includes pottery, jewelry, designer clothing, furniture, scherenschnitte and fine art. 25 S. Queen St., Lancaster Convention Center. pacrafts.org

150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, Gettysburg (Nov.19 and Nov. 23) On Nov. 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the first dedication ceremony honoring those who fought and died in the previous summer's battle. Each year on Nov.19, Dedication Day is celebrated in Gettysburg at Soldiers' National Cemetery. Among the traditional ceremonies, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author James McPherson is one of the speakers, in addition to renowned Lincoln portrayer James Getty, who will deliver the Gettysburg Address. Following the ceremony is a graveside salute to the United States Colored Troops in the cemetery. Nov. 23 is Remembrance Day, commemorating the sacrifices made by soldiers and civilians. A highlight of the event is the evening Illumination, with candles lit on the graves of each of the Civil War soldiers. Gettysburg National Military Park, nps.gov/gett or gettysburg.travel

New Jersey

Exit 0 International Jazz Festival, Cape May (Nov. 8-10). Features over 100 international touring musicians in venues throughout the town. Attendees are treated to a variety of music, including R&B, Grammy Award winners, NEA jazz masters and homegrown talent. Several hotels, including The Virginia, Congress Hall and Sandpiper Beach Club, offer packages with accommodations, tickets and passes. exit0jazzfest.com. For packages, go to caperesorts.com

West Virginia

American Conservation Film Festival, Shepherdstown (Oct. 31-Nov 3). It's no wonder that pretty-as-an-autumn-picture Shepherdstown is the site of this festival premiering top-ranking films on conservation. Many of the buildings in the oldest incorporated city in the state predate the Revolutionary War. The town is also filled with homegrown eateries and independent shops — nary a chain store in sight — and hosts music events, theater and jam sessions. conservationfilm.org.


Mid-Atlantic excursions

Bucks County Covered-Bridge Driving Tour. On this tour, you'll meander through country backroads, view a dozen beautiful covered bridges and ogle the brilliant red, orange and yellow landscape close up. If all that makes you hungry, pop in at the Apple Festival in the 18th-century Peddler's Village (Nov.2-3) and check out the remarkable scarecrow collection. visitbuckscounty.com, peddlersvillage.com

Endless Mountains trail. Amid the mosaic autumn vistas spread across the four counties in northeastern Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains, folks can explore the region's rich textile heritage by following a curious trail of quilt squares along the driving route. They are designed to celebrate the rich textile heritage of American farm life. Don't miss visiting the pastoral trails in Rickets Glen State Park. endlessmountains.org

Great Allegheny Passage. Spend a weekend driving the Great Allegheny Passage, from Cumberland to Pittsburgh. You'll traverse mountains, green valleys and charming towns along the way. Be certain to bring your bike and hiking shoes, as the featured itineraries include interactive ventures. atatrail.org

Fall train trips. Let someone else do the driving so you don't miss the natural artistry of autumn. Both the Scenic Western Maryland Railroad and the West Virginia Mountain Rail operate scenic foliage tours through mountain terrain. In Maryland, the train departs Cumberland and snakes riders through the Allegany Mountains. More adventurous folks opt for a one-way passage that allows them to bring their bicycles aboard to Frostburg and ride (downhill) back to Cumberland along the Great Allegheny Passage rail trail. The West Virginia Mountain Rail departs from Elkins or Romney, and offers a variety of excursions ranging from two hours to overnight train adventures deep into terrain not accessible by car. wmsr.com, mountainrail.com

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. Birders should run, not walk to Hawk Mountain in Kempton, Pa., one of the best places to bird-watch in North America. The park is the world's first refuge for birds of prey, an international center for raptor conservation and a 2,500-acre wildlife sanctuary that is open to the public year round. In addition to hawks, vultures, osprey, bald eagles, falcons and many other raptors have been spotted. hawkmountain.org

Skyline Drive. The route travels along 105 miles of vibrant scenery and breathtaking outlooks. Be on the lookout for neon red maples; sumacs, with their tropical-looking leaves brightening to spring green right before they turn color; and Virginia creeper, which becomes a deep scarlet. Owls, hawks, eagles, falcons, and vultures perform acrobatics above the ridge tops, dipping along cascading waterfalls. Crowds are thinner on weekdays and also along the southern terminus. visitskylinedrive.org


Lodging deals

Autumn overnights

Primland Meadows, Dan, Va. The five-star nature resort in southern Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains was designed to celebrate the land, but its distinctive setting appeals to both the outdoor adventurerer and luxury-resort-seeking family. While surrounded by spectacular wildlife, it offers splendid creature comforts such as a fabulous spa, dining that incorporates local ingredients, and cushy digs. Some activities include a stargazing program from their own on-site observatory that boasts a special telescope for views expanding beyond our solar system; professional tree-climbing classes; a world-class fly-fishing and shooting program; and ATV and mountain bike trails. Check out the treehouse lodging. Rooms start at $335 per night. primland.com

Holladay House, Orange, Va. "The Fly Over" foliage package puts guests high above the Shenandoah Mountains in an open-cockpit, 1942 biplane. Package includes two nights' accommodations, breakfast, sunrise or sunset biplane ride for two, and two silk aviator's scarves. Or try the hot-air Balloon" package, which also includes accommodations, breakfast and a champagne toast. Both are $850 per couple. Holladay House is a circa-1830 home restored into an exquisite inn. holladayhousebandb.com

Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton Township, N.J. This 46-acre indoor/outdoor multidimensional environment incorporates more than 250 re-creations of 3-D Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings in bronze by world-renowned sculptors. The works reside within an arboretum of waterfalls, ponds, forests and grasslands. Rounding out the experience are intermittent whiffs of aromas from the on-site culinary treasure, Rat's Restaurant, which displays masters' paintings on its walls. The Inn at Glencairn (innatglencairn.com) in nearby Princeton, with its plush rooms and breakfasts prepared with local, organic ingredients, is perfect for an overnight stay. Grounds for Sculpture, 18 Fairgrounds Road, Trenton, N.J., groundsforsculpture.org

Recommended on Baltimore Sun