The calendar says summer is over, but the heat index tells another story. Either way, fall is fast approaching and your fall travel plans are the light at the end of the tunnel from the chaos that ensues during back-to-school season. Pack away your bathing suit and flip flops, break out your fleece and scarves and head to Texas, where the fall foliage is prime for leaf-peeping.
There’s no better time to escape into the Texas Hill Country than the autumn, when the green foliage that extends for miles begins to turn orange and red then slowly coat the ground with natural wonder. Consider the following:
Where to go: Fredericksburg already takes you to another time with its simple beauty and freedom from concrete and urban smog, but only when combined with historic cottages full of antiques and Western symbols does it reach its peak. This award-winning bed and breakfast sits on 35-acres of undisturbed rolling countryside. Rates range from $125 to $195 per cottage per night, but there are deals to be had during the week if you can escape for a couple weekdays. Most recently, it’s been declared one of the top 10 bed-and-breakfasts in the United States by Travel and Leisure Magazine, one of 10 great country escapes byFamily Fun and earned passing nods from Country Home, Country Inn and Country Living magazines
Where to stay: Settlers Crossing
104 Settlers Crossing
Fredericksburg, TX 78624
Where to go: If you want to hole up away from civilization, including hospitality staff, these two newly renovated 1940-style guest cottages allow you to do just that. For just $95/night for a couple, you can enjoy the great outdoors near the river with kayaking, canoeing and wildlife watching all on the menu or you can enjoy the sweet simplicity of times gone by without giving up 21st century essentials such as WiFi, DVD and a satellite television.
Bird’s Nest on the Guadalupe
233 & 237 Guadalupe Street
Kerrville, TX 78028
Where to go: You really ought to do a dude ranch before you die, and Rancho Cortez offers the ultimate Western experience. Even over a weekend, owner Larry Cortez and resident cowboy, Rusty, will have you rounding up cattle, racing around rodeo barrels, driving wagons, roping calves, camping out under the stars and eating authentic yet reasonably healthy ranch cuisine. A room for two runs about $310/night but includes all three meals, two hours of horseback riding and all other ranch activities. When making your reservation, be sure to tell them it’s a romantic getaway– they’ll always throw in a little something extra to boost the mood.
Where to stay: Rancho Cortez
872 Hay Hollar Road
Bandera, TX 78003
Where to go: Where better than a town called comfort to kick back and relax with your honey? Off Interstate 10 and state highway 187 on the far outskirts of San Antonio, Comfort offers up that famous southern hospitality and many intimate time traveling experiences at its various Bed and Breakfasts, cottages and manors from the 19th century. The most unforgettable is Haven River Inn, which at rates of $75 to $125 is both affordable and exclusive. There’s much to do around the stunning grounds, but the pool and porch will bring you back toward the Main House in between adventures.
Where to stay: Haven River Inn
105 Highway 473
Comfort, TX 78013
Where to go: If you’re not impressed by down home tranquility and would rather hit the greens for a few rounds of golf or if you’d rather swim in a man-made lazy river than float the Frio, the Hyatt Hill Country is the place for you. The room service menu will please any palate at any hour of the day, and the hotel is able to offer amenities that the local joints cannot. The best time here is during the week, but an adults-only pool lets you isolate yourself from children all the time if you so desire. The price per night varies from $200 to $600 depending on what room style you select, but by the time you pay for food, this is not a trip for the light spender.
Where to stay: Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort
9800 Hyatt Resort Drive
San Antonio, TX 78251
Where to go: The Texas Hill Country Wine Trail now ranks second only to Napa Valley as an American wine destination, so you don’t need to stray far from home to have an extraordinary winery tour and experience. There’s usually at least a few tastings, festivals and tours going on any given weekend, but check the calendar before you go to hit an event that especially appeals to you. The 25 wineries are scattered all around the Hill Country, but they’re most dense around Fredericksburg, Dripping Springs and towns northwest of Austin.
Where to stay: Texas Hill Country Wine Trail
11003 Ranch Road 2222 C
Austin, TX 78730
Where to go: If you’re not staying at Settlers’ Crossing for your tour de vino, consider Mt. Gainor Inn in Dripping Springs, which is centrally located between three of the rural wineries. Surrounded by wooded area, this bed-and-breakfast does not take the breakfast part lightly, serving gourmet home-cooked meals not just in the morning but at dinnertime also, often outside under a canopy in the crisp central Texas air. There’s even a flower garden in the courtyard, making for some romantic moments in passing and a serene, idyllic atmosphere all around. If that’s not enough to get your engine going, they also offer in-room massages, chocolate-dipped strawberries and custom getaway packages. The four unique rooms range in price from $130 to $170 a night.
Where to say: Mt Gainor Inn
2390 Prochnow Road
Dripping Springs, TX 78620
Where to go: Perhaps my favorite aspect of this quaint rural retreat are the Market Days put on nearby on the first Saturday of the month, March through December, where you can find lovely antiques and all sorts of country crafts, but even you miss that, the little town of Wimberley has lots to offer. Hit the Cypress Falls Swimming Hole for a dip you thought you’d only seen in movies or cut your own lavender at Rough Creek Lavender Fields. Stay at the nearby Cypress Creek Cottages for reasonable rates with fun food package options and doggy day care for $20/dog.
Where to stay: Cypress Creek Cottages
104 Scudder Lane
Wimberley, TX 78676
Melanie Kiser is a Seed.com contributor