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Beyond leaf peeping: New fall getaways add even more color

By Kathy Witt
McClatchy-Tribune

While Mother Nature shows off her autumnal assets, these getaways add to the seasonal spectacle with lots of colorful goodies:

Seasonal sights and sounds

Drift above the treetops in Hocking Hills, 40 miles southeast of Columbus, Ohio, and feast your eyes on a blazing tapestry of color sweeping across 10,000 acres: the fiery reds and oranges of maples, the bright yellows and golds of aspens, oaky browns and rusts and the deep evergreen of pines and hemlocks.

Guests of A Georgian Manner, a bed and breakfast inn overlooking Lake Logan in Hocking Hills State Park, may book a hot air balloon for an early morning or evening float above the variegated forests, plus waterfalls, caves and cliffs. Back on terra firma, you’ll be charmed by innkeeper B.J. King’s Southern hospitality and exquisite guest rooms characterized by lake views, Civil War-era antiques, Jacuzzi baths and other special touches.

Additionally, guests can take in the fall color via horse-drawn wagon through Hocking Hills. Departing from the Lake Hope State Park Nature Center, the free rides are offered from 2 to 5 p.m. Oct. 13, 20 and 27. Free fall color hikes also are led by state park naturalists.

Storytelling fall hikes, led by a flute-playing native Shawnee guide, are offered for a fee. Fluent in the life, song and history of his people, Wehyehpihehsehnhwah’s (pronounced “Wee-uh-puh-SHEN-wah”) tours take visitors to undiscovered areas of Hocking Hills.

Details: www.hockinghills.com.

Water(front) color

Enjoy autumn’s spectacle in Camden, Maine, where the historic waterfront lends an equally brilliant palette to the show. The Hartstone Inn, a gorgeous bed and breakfast known for its romantic touches – fluffy featherbeds and fine linens, candlelight and fresh flowers, gas fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs – is offering a “Whatever Floats Your Boat” package for $202 in addition to your room charge.

Set sail from picturesque Camden Harbor and along beautiful Penobscot Bay for a two-hour adventure aboard the Schooner Surprise or take an eco tour on the Lively Lady Too lobster boat. You’ll board with one of the inn’s famous Maine lobster roll picnic pails, which includes twin Maine lobster rolls, fresh dill, Maine potato salad and the Pine Tree State’s signature treat, the cream-filled chocolate whoopie pie.

Post-sail, look forward to the inn’s five-course gourmet dinner for two, featuring fresh seafood and dishes made with local ingredients and reflecting the season. The package also includes two nights’ lodging and multi-course breakfasts. Add a relaxing spa treatment at the onsite Hideaway Spa; the menu includes scrubs and massages, including the inn’s trademark massage that includes a warm lavender foot soak.

Details: www.hartstoneinn.com.

Sugar, spice… everything nice

The AAA Four Diamond-rated urban chic retreat, The Chattanoogan Hotel, in Tennessee, is feting autumn’s beauty with an attractive Fall Getaway package. Available from Sept. 13 to Nov. 20 and starting at $99 per night, this package tucks guests into rooms that are elegant hideaways made for sleep-in mornings in an amenities-rich hotel within strolling distance of the Tennessee Aquarium as well as Chattanooga’s museums, art galleries, shops and restaurants.

Adding to the theme will be lots of fall yummies guests can opt for: hot apple cider and gingerbread cookies; freshly baked apple pie topped with bourbon ice cream; a Fall Harvest Tasting at the hotel’s excellent Broad Street Grille; special treatments at The Spa at The Chattanoogan, like the Organic Spiced Pumpkin Chai Treatment Package. This seasonally-inspired 50-minute massage is complemented by a full body exfoliation and organic pumpkin Chai body masque, organic ginger foot soak and pumpkin Chai natural exfoliation and foot masque.

The Chattanoogan will also offer a $299 Fall Foliage package for couples during peak viewing season (late October through early November) that includes overnight accommodations, tickets to Southern Belle Riverboat’s fall foliage cruise, breakfast at the Broad Street Grille and other amenities.

Details: www.chattanooganhotel.com.

Salsify down on the farm

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, Ky., marks the season’s bounty in characteristic simplistic style with an Heirloom Supper, 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Sept. 28. Dine on grilled pork with cornbread dressing and cream gravy, eggplant casserole, signature coleslaw, country ham, lemon pie and salsify casserole, made with the white carrot-like root veggies or “poor-man’s oysters” the Shakers themselves once grew.

Other fun fall activities include free “Evenings on the Lawn,” Sept. 28 and 29, with bonfire and make-your-own-s’mores, and HarvestFest, Sept. 29, where you can make apple cider, taste apple butter made with apples straight from the orchard, tour the fall garden and learn how to prepare foods for the winter.

New activities at Shaker Village include Fall on the Farm Weekends, Sept. 29 through Oct. 28, with Kids’ Village and a chance to pick your own pumpkins and apples, and Saturday guided fall foliage hikes, scheduled Oct. 6 through Oct. 27.

Give yourself time to tour America’s largest restored Shaker community by making a weekend of it with a stay at The Inn at Shaker Village. The historic property encompasses 70 guest rooms, suites and private cottages spread throughout 13 restored 19th century buildings on 3,000 acres of preserved farmland.

Details: www.shakervillageky.org.

Multihued mountainscape

Get a bird’s eye view of the magnificent color North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest puts out by signing up for Biltmore Estates’ Architectural Tour. Located near the Blue Ridge Parkway - a key destination for leaf peepers - this 250-room chateau in Asheville, N.C., built in the late 19th century by George Vanderbilt, offers a panoramic view of the forest from its roof. This daily 60-minute guided tour not only shows off the fall foliage, it also nips into areas not on the regular house visit.

Combine the tour with the Biltmore’s two-night Fall Celebration package (from $1,318), Oct. 26-28, and indulge in seasonal bounty to your heart’s – and stomach’s – content. The package includes a gourmet breakfast buffet and an exclusive dinner at Antler Hill Village Barn with a fresh-from-the-grill menu, wine, beer and live music. Also included: accommodations, estate daytime admission, audio guides to Biltmore House, pumpkin carving event and pumpkin lighting ceremony Oct. 27, a Halloween candy bar in the lobby and more.

Also reflecting the seasonal palette are the Biltmore’s wines, and free tours and tastings are offered daily at the winery, formerly the estate’s dairy milking parlor. Pinot noir, merlot, Sangiovese, syrah, zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc… oenophiles will find collections of award-winning wines worthy of Vanderbilt himself.

Details: www.biltmore.com.

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