Take a fall road trip to these ‘north of the fork’ locales

Finger Lakes Wine Country. (Credit: Stu Gallagher Photography)

Brought to you by:

Summer may be in our rearview mirrors, but cabin fever season is still miles away. Though the North Fork has plenty to offer during the fall, the season is ripe for going on one last adventure before it gets too cold to function.

Towns north of Long Island boast some of the same things we love about the North Fork. Think bucolic settings, fresh crops and wine to write home about. Put the top down and enjoy the crisp air and crisper apples. An idyllic excursion awaits further north.

Great Northern Catskills

The foliage in the Northern Catskills. (Credit: Daniel Case, Wikimedia)

This mountain region, located two hours from the city, is vast, but once there visitors note its small town charm. And come fall, the foliage is aplenty. Catskill Mountain House, the Catskills’ first luxury resort, may have burned down decades ago, but its former location remains a hotspot for foliage and views of the Hudson.

Hannacroix Creek Preserve also pops in autumn. There are a few miles of trails for people of all hiking levels, and a waterfall that will cause most anyone’s jaws to drop.

For a trail with a twist, try the Catskill Beverage Trail — it’s full of wineries, breweries and distilleries, including Crossroads Brewing Company and Hudson-Chatham Winery Tannersville.


Shawangunk Wine Trail

Benmarl Winery. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

This wine trail extends from New Paltz to Warwick and is home to the nation’s oldest operating winery, Brotherhood. Tour groups can explore the cellars, which produced the winery’s first commercial vintage in 1839. Dry and medium bodied, the NY Burgundy is a perfect transitional vino. Hard ciders are also available for those feeling festive.

The history lesson continues at Benmarl Winery. Founded before the Civil War, the 37-acre estate boasts vineyard and Hudson River views. And of course, there’s wine. The Baco Noirs and Cab Francs are estate grown, but try merlot for a taste of home — the winery sources its grapes from the North Fork.

Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs is tops for scenery. (Credit: Gail Stein)

Crowds block you out of Harbes? Though Saratoga Springs draws ample crowds, the patches are bountiful. Ditto for theapple orchardsand they’re full of the cider and doughnuts that make cooler air and shorter days easier to swallow.

Walk it off at Saratoga Spa State Park. Legend had it that the Saratoga Springs water had healing powers, and in the early 1990s, more than 200 private wells tapped into the resource. It has since been protected, and, now a National Historic Landmark, it’s home to classic architectureand some of the best foliage around.


Finger Lakes Wine Trail

Finger Lakes Wine Country. (Credit: Stu Gallagher Photography)

Riesling enthusiasts should consider a pilgrimage to Central New York (Ithaca and Syracuse residents cringe when you call them upstaters). The Finger Lakes is known for producing some of the best rieslings in the nation— they’re so good, even the staunchest cab franc drinkers will approve. The cool climate, driven in part by the lakes surrounding the region, makes the grounds ripefor producing clean, crisp bottles of the grape variety.

Islanders will get sticker shock at Anthony Road Wine Company — tastings are $5. Enjoy the touted dry and semi-dry rieslings inside the tasting room filled with local art. Red wine enthusiasts, Instagrammers and of course wine drinkers will want to make a point to visit Lamoreaux Landing. Perched atop Seneca Lake, the winery offers picturesque views. Snap a few photos, but be sure to head inside, where the cabernet franc holds its own alongside the popular chardonnays and rieslings.


Ithaca

Buttermilk Falls State Park. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

Though part of the Finger Lakes, Ithaca is decidedly less bucolic but just as charming. It oozes small-town vibes and is home to two renowned colleges in Cornell and Ithaca. Ithaca Commons sits between the two and features a host of restaurants and bars. Some are worth leaving to the college crowd (Moonies), but most are fit for all ages. Ithaca Ale Househas an ample craft beer menu (anyone who’s a fan will want to head to nearby brewery Ithaca Beer Co.), and Mahogany Grillserves American food and creative cocktails in an upscale casual setting.

Vegans and adventurous omnivores should check out Moosewood. Named one of the 13 most influential restaurants of the 20th century byBon Appétìt magazine, the restaurant serves vegetarian and vegan fare. Reservations are a must.

Also, the rumors are true: The area is gorges. A hike to Buttermilk Falls State Park is bucket list worthy. There are about 10 waterfalls in the park, but Buttermilk Falls, in its cascading glory, is the main attraction. It’s visible from the lower parking lot.


Skaneateles

(Credit: Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce)

Charming inns and B&Bs and mom-and-pop shops give Skaneateles small town USA charm. Known as the eastern gateway to the Finger Lakes, Skaneateles is home to Sherwood Inn, a stagecoach stop-turned-upscale-hotel. Individually decorated with period furnishings, Sherwood Inn offers views of Skaneateles Lake and is a four-minute walk from downtown. Once downtown, Doug’s Fish Fryserves generously portioned seafood so fresh, even people from coastal towns are impressed. And, since it will be a while until we’re donning swimsuits again, consider a trip to Johnny Angels Heavenly Burgers, where both the patties and shakes live up to its name.

For waterfront views, pop over to Skaneateles’ Pier or Clift Park.


West Point

Army vs. Hawaii at Michie Stadium, Sep. 15, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Cadet Zachary Brehm)

Sports, scenery and history collide at the nation’s oldest continuously occupied military post. Come fall, the drive from Long Island to the academy, which sits along the Hudson River, is a colorful one — foliage is in full force.

Guided tours are available most days through the Visitor’s Center, where guests can learn about the history. Be warned, walking the hilly campus is something of a workout. If it’s open, braving the steep hill that leads to Fort Putnam, built during the Revolutionary War, is worth it for sights of the Hudson River.

Football has been a big part of Army’s tradition, though it had been a sore spot for a while. That’s changed in recent years — the Black Knights have topped Navy in each of the last two seasons after dropping 14 straight.

Win or lose, rain or shine, the atmosphere and tailgate are always good. Fans get there in the wee hours of the morning to cook anything from breakfast to burgers and throw back a few.

Inside, it’s hard not to get goosebumps as the school recognizes alums who are also veterans. And if the game isn’t going well, peer out at the river. The sights earned Michie Stadium the No. 9 spot on USA Today’s list of best places to watch a college football game last year.