Where to Get Away This Fall in the South

Southern escapes as the weather finally turns a little cooler

Photo: Courtesy of High Hampton

High Hampton in Cashiers, North Carolina.

Summer may be considered the season of travel, but fall trips mean a slower pace, fewer crowds, and an embrace of crisper days and chillier evenings. Here are seven places throughout the South—mountains to coast—that celebrate the changing season.

The Hermitage Hotel

Nashville, Tennessee

This Nashville icon, a Music City fixture for 110 years, just completed a full restoration. The redesign gave a facelift to its rooms, suites, and historic ballroom as well as to the gracious lobby that has long been a Nashville meeting spot. The renovation also ushered in two new restaurants—Drusie & Darr and an all-day café, the Pink Hermit, by the Michelin-starred chef Jean-George Vongerichten. The Hermitage’s opulent high tea, featuring scones and champagne, is also a standout.

photo: Alyssa Rosenheck

The General Lewis Inn

Lewisburg, West Virginia

An easy drive from New River Gorge, the newest U.S. national park, the General Lewis Inn is a destination unto itself. The family-owned spot, which has been in continuous operation since 1929, has defined itself as a stylish jumping-off point for the park and events in the area. Speaking of jumping-off point, check in for Bridge Day (October 15), when the steel arch bridge spanning the gorge is closed to cars and hosts thousands of visitors, who look on as extreme sport enthusiasts rappel and BASE jump into the river below. If you prefer steady ground, the General Lewis Inn makes a quiet place to retreat after attending the Healing Appalachia music festival (September 23–24).

The Equestrian Hotel

Ocala, Florida

This sprawling, luxe hotel is the newest addition to the 380-acre World Equestrian Center in central Florida. The 248-room property features seven restaurants, a luxurious spa, and well-heeled shopping for toys, diamonds, and everything in between. The estate keeps a full calendar of events this fall, including the Championship Show (October 1–15), which will feature competitions in western pleasure, reining, ranch riding, and more. For those less horse-inclined, the Ocala Food and Wine Festival (November 4–6) will bring in dozens of local restaurants, wineries, breweries, and distilleries.

photo: Andrew Ryback Photography

The Inn at Willow Grove
Orange, Virginia

The Inn at Willow Grove is a longstanding launch point for exploring Virginia’s wine country. Beginning in November, the area surrounding the hotel will honor and celebrate one of Southern cooking’s grand dames, Edna Lewis—an Orange County native and one of the first African-American women to write a cookbook that didn’t conceal her race or gender. This fall, local restaurants, including the BBQ Exchange, Spoon & Spindle, and Champion Ice House, will come together to form the Edna Lewis Menu Trail, adding some of Lewis’s recipes to their menus. More reasons to book a stay here: the powerful Mere Distinction of Colour exhibit at James Madison’s Montpelier and the new Orange County African American Historical Society Interpretive Parklet.

photo: Courtesy of the Inn at Willow Grove

Post House Inn

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

The seven-room Post House Inn, which occupies a converted 1896 post office, opened in 2020 and has become a fixture both locally as a neighborhood watering hole and globally as one of the South’s most charming places to lay your head. Post House’s easy proximity to Sullivan’s Island makes it a must-stay for fall, when the water is still warm and the sand a little less crowded. The inn’s beachy sister restaurant, Sullivan’s Fish Camp, opened this summer with fish sandwiches and local oysters on the half shell.

photo: Courtesy of Post House Inn

The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island

Amelia Island, Florida

Fresh off a 2021 renovation, this Ritz-Carlton resort—located on a tranquil barrier island in northeastern Florida—always provides a welcome respite. This autumn, the Ritz is taking its atmospheric serenity a step further by introducing a Fall Wellness Retreat (September 30–October 2), but for a less structured escape, the property’s newly renovated spa is the largest in the area, and the chef de cuisine Okan Kizilbayir is always turning out the best of land and sea (wagyu beef and lobster are highlights) from his helm at Salt.

The Lodge on Little St. Simon’s Island

Little St. Simons Island, Georgia

Located on one of the least developed of Georgia’s barrier islands, the Lodge on Little St. Simons Island is a nature lover’s paradise all times of the year, and perhaps most so in the fall. Cooler temperatures bring migrating birds, including American redstarts and yellow-rumped warblers. Guests can join naturalist-guided bird-watching expeditions on more than twenty miles of trails throughout the island and participate in evening bat monitoring programs. Fall also brings the return of the lodge’s Friday night oyster roasts.

High Hampton
Cashiers, North Carolina

Beloved retreat High Hampton, in Western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, is celebrating its hundred-year anniversary on the heels of an extensive renovation. The two-year makeover reestablished the inn’s historical integrity (think bark-sided exteriors, wrap-around porches, and wood-paneled interior spaces) and brought new life into the guest rooms and restaurants. Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, High Hampton is one of the South’s favorite places to watch the leaves turn orange and gold.

photo: Courtesy of High Hampton